Struggling Amiss

Abolitionist Educators Agitate for Nihilism in the Name of Freedom

Background: Cofounded by education professors Bettina Love of the University of Georgia and Brandelyn Tosolt of Northern Kentucky University, the Abolition Teaching Network (ATN) was officially launched in July 2020. According to its website (abolitionistteachingnetwork.org), its mission is "to develop and support those in the struggle for educational liberation by utilizing the intellectual work and direct action of Abolitionists in many forms." In its first year, it received nearly $1M in donations, distributed $60,000 in grants, launched an online Saturday program for children ages 9-14 called Virtual Freedom School, recruited its first Activist in Residence (AiR) cohort, and hired ten staff "Abolitionists." Clearly, it got off to a phenomenal start.

Reason for Surveillance: The term abolition is deeply significant in Western history. It was abolitionists in England and America, most of them Christians, who labored tirelessly to put an end to the transatlantic slave trade and slavery as a tolerated institution. But what these education activists are doing is a far cry from anything related to abolition or setting people free.

The AiR program, for example, offers a window into this network's modus operandi. Activists are paid $30,000 per year for approximately 20-hour workweeks "organizing" to "dismantle oppressive structures while creating more liberatory structures" through "a Black queer feminist lens."1 (In ATN pedagogy, black queer "womyn" are more qualified to lead due to their three intersecting oppressed identities.2)

AiR organizing, which may include such activities as "raising hell at your child's school" or "working to shut down your local prison or jail," is guided by two books: (1) Love's We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (2019), which opens with a several-pages-long firehose of grievance-mongering, and (2) Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movement, by Charlene Carruthers, which "challenges all of us engaged in the social justice struggle to make the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist."3

The rest of the ATN website and its publications similarly consist of a veritable litany of boilerplate Critical Theory cant that most certainly does not follow from the intellectual work of abolitionists but rather from the failed, misanthropic mind of Karl Marx.

Most Grievous Miscarriage: Bettina Love is clearly impassioned and driven. She's aggrieved (and rightly so) that children of color are educationally underserved. She wants everyone to see the history, ingenuity, beauty, and creativity of black people.4 It's a noble goal, but her means for pursuing it are disastrously misguided. Critical Theory is nothing but reconstituted Marxism for ivory tower elites, and this cadre of academics and teachers, for whom American liberty and equality have afforded access to positions of power and privilege, is devoting its formidable talents and energies to radically nihilistic ends. And doing it all in the name of freedom. You can't get much more misguided than that.

According to a social media post, ATN was launched as "a transformative freedom dream of protecting and cultivating Black & Brown joy." Whether Love and company have been duped into believing that what they're doing is liberatory or whether they have given themselves over to vengeful spite in a misguided attempt to right past wrongs, they are seriously imagining things if they think their activities will cultivate joy for anyone of any color. Their "struggle" is all about undermining the very foundations of Western liberty, which abolished slavery in the first place, and their freedom dream is a nightmare in the making.

Notes
1. abolitionistteachingnetwork.org/activists-in-residence.
2. youtube.com/watch?v=uJZ3RPJ2rNc (51:00-52:30).
3. charlenecarruthers.com/unapologetic.
4. youtube.com/watch?v=uJZ3RPJ2rNc (38:00-39:00).

has a BS in Computer Science and worked in software development with IBM until she hopped off the career track to be a full-time mom. She lives in Indianapolis, IN, where she works as Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #59, Winter 2021 Copyright © 2022 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo59/struggling-amiss

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