A Looming Compelled Speech Fight: Could California’s Ethnic Studies Law Force High School Students To Profess White Privilege?
On October 8, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that requires all California high school students to take an ethnic studies class before they graduate high school. Many critics have called the new law an excuse to force critical race theory into school curriculums.
Critical race theory has drawn intense political and social criticism over the past few years because its most notorious versions compel the acknowledgement of “white privilege” or the acknowledgment that white people, by the very virtue of their skin color, perpetuate an evil system of discrimination against people of other skin color without regarding for their personal struggles and labors. In other words, to be white is to be evil in many formulations of the theory.
Understandably, many Americans including me vehemently object to a political ideology that deems them evil just based on their skin color. We also view the entire theory as a political shakedown for free handouts called reparations. We will never bow to a self-righteous mob’s demands for us to acknowledge our evilness by admitting “white privilege.”
California sets up an interesting showdown in its school system. If critical race theory makes its way into the public school system, I will bet that, within two or three years of it being implemented, students will be given an assignment that forces them to admit their own white privilege and discuss how they can be less evil. Someone will refuse to make that admission, and they will fail the assignment and possibly the class.
Put me on record now as saying I want to represent that person in court. The Supreme Court has emphatically established that, even during classwork, the state and a public school cannot force a student to profess beliefs with which they disagree with. The case? West Virginia mandated that students salute the American flag and recite the pledge of allegiance during their civics classes. The Supreme Court held that such a requirement violated the First Amendment because it compelled speech.
If the First Amendment protects the right to decline to pledge allegiance to the United States, it also protects the right to tell a bunch of woke, race-baiting freeloaders to take a hike.
Sooner or later, this issue will come to a head in California, and a brave student will defy a woke mob’s demands for them to acknowledge their evilness. The First Amendment says the student will win that fight. I just hope that I am the one to tell the mob to get stuffed.