Schools Are the Most Important Battlefield in the Culture War


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

In AD 361, Julian the Apostate became the emperor of Rome. As the name suggests, the new emperor rejected Christianity in favor of pagan Neoplatonism. Julian was disturbed by the rapid Christianization of Rome, and he was determined to return the empire to its pagan roots.

Interestingly, he did not use his power to outright ban Christianity or murder its followers. Julian issued an edict ensuring freedom of religion and allowing exiled bishops to return. Instead, Julian opted for a more subtle yet effective route by which to defeat Christianity: the schools. 

One year into his reign, Julian issued an edict prohibiting Christian teachers from using pagan literature. Such a prohibition may seem arbitrary and insignificant in modern times, but a classical education was the key to advancing through Roman society. In forbidding Christians from teaching the classics, Julian ensured Christians and pagans alike would be forced to send their children to pagan teachers who would give them a pagan education. The historian Ammianus called the edict a “harsh act which should be buried in lasting oblivion,” but Julian had little reason to care as his goal was achieved. The Christians found themselves condemned to the outskirts of society, having no choice but to “betake themselves to the churches of the Galileans to expound Matthew and Luke” as Julian’s edict demanded

Thankfully, Julian would die a mere two years into his reign, and the Gospel spread throughout Rome unabated. But Julian had shown the success that comes from controlling the schools, and tyrants throughout history have learned from his examples. 

Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and countless other tyrants have successfully used schools to brainwash the next generation to fully embrace their evil ideologies. The indoctrination was so successful that children would turn against their parents to prove themselves loyal to the state. 

And today, the Left is using the full weight of its institutional power in an attempt to indoctrinate children. Whether it be critical race theory or the gender unicorn, the Left is determined to force its radical and un-American beliefs on those with the least ability to argue against them. The examples of this insanity have been well documented, and thankfully parents around the country are waking up and fighting against this racist, Marxist agenda. 

But the odds aren’t in our favor. We ceded our institutional power and the education of American children to the Left a long time ago, and they aren’t about to give it back if we ask nicely. As Andrew Klavan observed on his show, teachers’ unions are currently arguing that they would never teach CRT in schools while defending their right to teach the thing they supposedly aren’t teaching because it is allegedly history that must continue to be taught even though it’s not currently taught. The Left and the teachers’ unions are going to see to it that teachers who speak out will be fired and parents who seek information will be sued

Despite the disadvantages we face and the viciousness of the Left, this is a battle we must continue to fight and must win. Simply put, schools are the most important battle of the culture war. As Solomon wisely observed, “Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Today’s curriculum determines tomorrow’s policy and culture. If we lose this battle, children will grow up to believe America is a systematically evil, racist, and sexist nation whose ideals are neither exceptional nor worth preserving. 

If that happens, it won’t matter if conservatives win every other cultural and policy battle. Politics are downstream of culture, and if American children are taught to hate the American way of life, they will grow up to destroy it. 

Tyrants throughout history have shown that taking over the schools is the way to win a culture war and change the identity of a nation. The Left isn’t Hitler or Julian, and they aren’t all socialists, but they can most definitely use the schools to win the culture war in the same way those before them have. 

If we conservatives are to win the culture war, if we are to preserve the eternal ideals of liberty that have made our republic great, we must win in the schools. We must ensure the next generation is not taught to hate our country and embrace a racist, Marxist ideology. Instead, our children must be given a patriotic education that shows America’s greatness and its sins in a way that promotes and defends our ideals. Only then will the next generation embrace the American creed, and only then will the culture war still be a war we can win.

Jack Shields is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently attending Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is an editor and columnist for Lone Conservative, and a reporter for The College Fix.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Jack Shields

Jack Shields is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently attending Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. He is an editor and columnist for Lone Conservative, and a reporter for The College Fix.

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