Defuse the Culture War with Liberated Education

  • June 29, 2023
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Mustafa Akyol and Neal McCluskey

America’s culture wars are sometimes perceived as conflict between “conservatives,” who defend the values of white Christians, and “progressives,” who defend the rights of minorities. But there is something new these days complicating this always too‐​simple dichotomy: Some minorities are also quite conservative in their moral standards, and they are raising their voices against impositions from the progressive side.

This is evident in ongoing protests by Muslim and Christian families, among others, from Maryland to Los Angeles, against public schools pushing lessons about gender and sexuality that contradict religious values. “Protect our children” these families have called together, adding, “Protect religious freedom.”

On June 24, in National Review, we highlighted this new development in a co‐​authored article: “Defuse the Culture War with Liberated Education.”

First, we argued that the newly emerging Muslim‐​Christian alliance for traditional values offers interesting lessons:

There are lessons for both political camps. America’s assertive progressives should realize that theirs is a counterproductive campaign. By advancing their ideals through assertion and coercion, instead of persuasion, they are alienating many people, including some minorities they claim to defend. Among Muslims, they are also giving ammunition to hardliners, who preach that Western freedom is a lie, that it only means freedom from religion and tradition, and thus Muslims should reject it everywhere.

On the other hand, America’s conservatives should reconsider their distance from minorities, including a rigid stance against immigration, symbolized by Donald Trump’s famous “Build the Wall” campaign. Those on the political right should realize that they may well share values with some of the people that they want to push behind that wall.

Then, we also proposed a solution to these increasingly intense culture wars in American education:

We believe that the best strategy is to keep government out of decisions about values and culture whenever possible, including — perhaps especially — in education, which is about nothing less than shaping human minds. This requires allowing more choice, so families can decide for themselves what their kids will learn. Instead of diverse people being forced to fight, they can freely pursue what they think is right.

The solution, in other words, was in going back to the classical liberal foundations of America:

Government should not discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, nor should it discriminate against people with traditional values. The only way to treat all equally, while advancing genuine tolerance, is the good old American value of limited government.

Read the whole article here in National Review. Read more about School Choice here. And see our catalogue of culture war in public schools – the Public Schooling Battle Map – here.

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