Quick Response to William E. Thro Essay

It is perplexing to me that Thro insists on using the distinctly Christian language of Original Sin to describe America’s constitutional tradition—indeed, to explain the very nature of constitutionalism—while at the same time insisting that public k-12 education must NOT push white people to “wrestle with their sins.”

In addition to that tension, I see two problems with this essay: First, the idea that ‘Original Sin’ necessarily underpins the American constitutional system (or constitutionalism as such) is a highly contentious and idiosyncratic position given the First Amendment and the care that the founders took NOT to speak exclusively of the Christian god, but rather, just to take the most important example, of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This is not the sort of thing to gloss over.

Second, while I too see many people advocating for greater racial awareness in K-12 historical education, and one could debate the legitimacy of those efforts, I have yet to see evidence that so-called “Critical Race Theory,” or Kendi, or the 1619 Project, are being taught as a monolithic ideology in American K-12 classrooms. The idea is that some of their ideas would be used as supplements.

The text below, for example, is from the editors of 1619; you can see it if you scroll to the bottom of this link, which is to the letters they published about corrections:


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