There is not much California leftists won’t do to reinforce an anti-capitalist globalist social justice narrative. Their latest proposal unites academics and legislators to create a curriculum guide for teachers termed the “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum”, open for public comment until Aug. 15. This Frankenstein legislation heavily villainizes capitalism and attempts to weave social justice and anti-American narratives into virtually all aspects of the learning process. According to the draft overview document, two of the primary objectives of the ‘guide’ are to: “Critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society”, and to, “connect ourselves to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels to ensure a truer democracy.”
To that end, the sample curriculum encourages teachers to have students plan a ‘direct action’ such as a boycott, protest, or rally to become successful ‘agents of change’.
Setting aside the fact that the document is absolutely rife with non-language – I’m not even going to ask what ‘cisheteropatriarchy’ means – let’s reflect on the objective. Hard leftists pride themselves on fighting dominant power structures. Their entire political identity lies in their ability to constantly portray themselves as outsiders, even as they take over and dominate academia and the media. No matter how many democratic socialists are elected to office, or how many It’s Time to Give Socialism a try op-eds they get published in mainstream news outlets, they constantly claim outsider status. They malign capitalism, disparage the U.S. and its laws and borders, and use vague terms like ‘global citizenship’ to push for a globalist agenda. This might play well in a document drafted by naval-gazing bureaucrats, but it is a risky strategy to win over young people.
First, there’s mounting evidence that the youngest generation of Americans – Generation Z – doesn’t fit the quintessential angsty protester persona, and doesn’t value disruptive political action. Market Research Foundation conducted a survey of n=1,500 young people between ages thirteen and twenty-three this spring, and found Generation Z to be much more moderate and conservative compared to millennials. Our survey indicates 63% of young people prefer working within the current political system, while just 21% prefer ‘radical and disruptive change’. Sixteen percent prefer neither.
What’s more, a 2018 study by Public Religion Institute found that young people express more negative than positive views about political protests. The researchers found overwhelmingly negative sentiment for the slew of protests that have dominated the headlines in the past four years, writing: “A majority of young people describe recent protests and marches negatively, as “pointless” (16%), “counterproductive” (16%), “divisive” (12%), or “violent” (11%). Only about one-third ascribe positive value to them, saying they are “inspiring” (16%), “powerful (16%)”, or “effective” (4%).” The researchers also found that race-baiting backfires. Thirty-six percent of young white Americans said they felt reverse discrimination was a serious problem. This sentiment was especially strong in young white men, 43% of whom shared this view.
If compulsive social justice views and disruptive political protests are unpopular with young Americans, perhaps the globalist approach will be an easy sell? Unfortunately for the left, the answer is a responding ‘no’. Generation Z is highly supportive of America First policies, and rejects global policing and foreign meddling.
- 82% of Generation Zers say if the U.S. government spent as much time dealing with economic problems at home as it does on the problems of foreign nations, our economy would be much better off.
- 73% of Generation Zers support an “America First” philosophy, where the primary goal of any law or policy must be to focus on the needs of Americans, even if they are not in line with the interests of foreign nations and allies.
- 70% of Generation Zers think the U.S. should stay out of international conflicts and only become involved when we are forced to. Among young Black Generation Zers, that number climbs to 74%.
- 68% of Generation Z Republicans, an equal share of Generation Z Democrats (68%) and 71% of Generation Z Independents think the U.S. should stay out of international conflicts and only become involved when we are forced to.
Hard leftists have a difficult road ahead if they’re going to remain relevant within the next generation. Social justice, globalism, and eternal revolution are simply not as attractive to young Americans as they were in the past. Most importantly, an educational curriculum that literally instructs students to protest, shows a complete lack of understanding about the objectives of protest. For those young people who do see fault with the current power structures and do want to radically disrupt the system, will a semester project assigned by a teacher that grades them on their ability to organize a rally really fulfill that desire for rebellion? Or will the calls to protest ring hollow when coming from the epitome of academic institutional power?
California’s social justice educational agenda does not seek to empower young people with critical thinking, it seeks to ensure a new generation of so-called revolutionaries, as long as they fight the same tired fight against the same tired villains. Unfortunately for the hard left, this attempt to institutionalize protest shows a comical lack of understanding of young people, and of protest itself.