Skip to main content

While trying to figure out why one of my most popular courses at Fordham- my Affirmative Action Seminar—was suddenly under enrolled, I had an epiphany. Students are so exhausted from the Pandemic that they want to avoid any course that adds to their stress. And since the material in my Affirmative Action Seminar is controversial—no matter what side you take - the best strategy may be to avoid it altogether.

If this analysis is true, we may want to explore its applicability to the campaign to ban controversial subjects from public school classrooms, whether they involve race, or questions of gender and sexuality. At first, I thought the campaign to ban discussions of the history of racism from public school classrooms was a non-starter, particularly since it was done through an entirely dishonest label "Critical Race Theory," which most teachers never heard of, much less used to guide their pedagogy.

But the campaign not only took off, it was the central issue in a key Gubernatorial race—Virginia—where the Republican candidate used it to great advantage. And Republicans are using it to great advantage in state after state, where they are adding LBGTQ issues to the Critical Race Theory narrative, and passing laws not only shaping instruction, but at times banning books.

I have long wondered why sensible parents didn't rise up against the climate of hysteria these campaigns are based on, but what just happened to me at Fordham suddenly gave me a different explanation.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

What if parents are so beaten down and exhausted by living through the Pandemic that they want to avoid any additional source of stress on their children and families. Given the polarized political climate, they see any attempt to discuss race, gender or sexuality as an added source of stress that they can do without. So they are OK with efforts to discourage curricular guidance which focuses on those subjects.

Does that make them racists or homophobes? Or just people who want to simplify instruction—and avoid controversy—in a time when they are worn down by multiple layers of stress.

I will leave that conclusion up to you. But right now, I see no level of enthusiasm, in universities or the country, for tackling our society's most difficult and long standing moral and political issues.

With a Brooklyn Accent