Carol M. Swain Commentary: Does Progress Require Shaming and Embarrassing Children?

by Carol M. Swain


It wasn’t enough that elements of the radical Left polluted our colleges and universities with its outrageously leftist political views and slanted curriculums. And it wasn’t enough that the Left went full bore in its rampant sexualization of our children and the targeting of their values, which Steve Feazel and I wrote about in Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children’s Hearts and Minds (2016). Now they have taken aim at younger kids, in private school as well as public.

In warning about this, Steve and I saw Christian schools as a safe option for children whose parents opted not to home school. But there’s no underestimating the liberal Left. It has brazenly broadened its reach over the last four years. Aggressive leftists are now targeting America’s middle school children, in both private and public schools, with its radical educational agendas.

The agenda is aggressive and pervasive.

The racial and religious shaming that has become commonplace at colleges and universities has now trickled down to K-12. Shaming videos such as “Your Brain on Drug Policy” and “The Unequal Opportunity Race” are being shown to indoctrinate middle school children. Keep in mind these are highly pliable youngsters who lack the knowledge and skills to handle heavy duty messaging about racism and collective white guilt.

A parent whose child watched “The Unequal Opportunity Race” posted on YouTube: “My kid came home crying because the teacher explained that she, her parents, and her grandparents, her history is responsible for slavery, and her ‘kind’ should be ashamed.” Equally disturbing for children is the despicable, politically distorted video “Your Brain on Drug Policy.” It uses white and brown egg cartoon characters to represent people in various situations, ending with a jarring scene at the end in which real eggs get smashed. Imagine yourself, still a child, watching videos such as this. What message would you or children of any race take away from this?

How is this happening, apparently without resistance from professional educators? It’s because many well-meaning administrators and board members are fearfully acquiescing to racial sensitivity curriculums and agendas steeped in cultural Marxism.

Columbia and Harvard University Professor Herbert Marcuse earned the title of “Father of the Left.” Once a member of the Frankfort School of Social Research, Marcuse eventually left Germany and invaded America, knowing fertile ground awaited his plowing and planting of socialist values. He set up camp at Columbia University, where he wrote many books and articles geared toward changing American culture.

One of Marcuse’s most relevant and revealing essays is “Repressive Tolerance,” published in 1965. In it he argued that tolerance of conservatives should be stripped and instead bequeathed on marginalized groups that would achieve equality and power by quashing the voices of conservatives and their movement. Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and left-leaning campus protesters employ Marcuse’s tactics with great success. Most campuses have been purged of conservative administrators and faculty, and the Marcuse-influenced leftists’ attention has now been redirected at K-12 institutions. There, they stand to find employees not yet under the thumb of left-wing teachers’ unions. More fertile territory.

In businesses, schools, and universities, racial sensitivity training facilitators are given free reign because their race or ethnicity is believed to give them special insights that members of non-marginalized groups lack. Whites laden with guilt grant exclusive unfettered access, and they neglect the potential value of their own contributions to the conversation.

While we have focused on the chaos on campuses, the Left has taken its subversive agenda to K-12 private and public schools. Under the guise of liberal Christianity (an oxymoron if ever there was one), social justice warriors have infiltrated seminaries, divinity schools, and churches to push an anti-white and anti-capitalist social gospel. It is purposely harmful and often contributes to unrest and division on campus instead of nurturing understanding across ethnic lines.

Churches are not immune. Marxism entered the church world through James Cone’s black liberation theology. Cone’s seminal book, Black Theology and Black Power, reanalyzed Christianity using an analytical framework of black victimhood and white oppression. Seminaries and divinity schools are training pastors and church workers to embrace this framework in their interactions with students, congregants, and other stakeholders.

Christian academies that now embrace racial sensitivity and diversity training curriculums use the oppressive tactics of secular universities and public schools to shame children into silenced compliance. There is a situation brewing in Nashville, where I live, that I believe is a microcosm of what is taking place across our nation. Let me explain.

Lipscomb University and Academy

David Lipscomb and James A. Harding founded Lipscomb University, based in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1891. It is a Church of Christ-affiliated institution with a lower, middle, and upper school academy. Although the denomination was once conservative, it has gradually trended toward a more liberal bent under the leadership of its president, Randall Lowery.

Understanding the importance of education, David Lipscomb once stated, “Next to that of the family, there is no influence more potent for good or evil over the lives of individuals than the associations of school days.” He most certainly would not be pleased with the direction the university and its associated middle and upper schools have taken.

This past summer 2019, Lipscomb Academy hired Brittany Paschall, a social justice warrior, as its first dean of intercultural development. Lipscomb’s bringing aboard a dean of diversity and inclusion is part of a trend that started at the university level and has trickled down to secondary schools.

Paschall, a native Nashvillian, describes herself as a “radical liberator, educator, minister, and organizer.” She specializes in diversity, equity, inclusivity practices, and conflict resolution. She is active in Black Lives Matters and has posted some eye-opening materials and quotes on her website. These include direct attacks on white people and her condemnation of the Church of Christ.

About the Church of Christ, she has written:

“I endured debates about if women could speak from the pulpit. I watched as we gave money to serve people who looked like me, while the leader and members of the church refused to speak to me. I sat in meetings and defended the gospel assertion that Black lives matter. . . I experienced firsthand the realities of elitism, racism, and sexism present in the local church body. . . I cannot help but be grieved by the continued maladjustment of the gospel by White Faith traditions and White Churches of Christ.”

Her definition of God, which has been removed from her website, speaks volumes: “The truth is God is not a straight, white, upper class male. She’s just not.” In a YouTube interview about radical stewardship, also removed, she said: “It’s imperative that as a society and a church we move to an ANTI-CAPITALIST SYSTEM.”

Paschall’s views line up with Reverend Jim Wallis, an anti-capitalist, anti-free market activist who is the editor of Sojourners magazine and former spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama. In fall 2019, Wallis spoke at Lipscomb University about the dangers of white privilege and the need for racial reconciliation.

Lipscomb has responded in a letter to parents by affirming its commitment to Christian principles and offering to meet with parents in townhall meetings. There is the usual bureaucratic language wiggle room suggesting that nothing much will change. The administrators tell the parents that there is no easy solution because, they say, the Bible is not always clear on biblical teaching. So, they apparently see their job as offering a biblical worldview that will allow students to figure out what they believe about how they should function in a changing world. In other words, they are implying, we know what is best for your child.

Moving Forward

No good thing can come from shaming children. Today’s Americans are not responsible for the sins of generations ago. A powerful truism was spoken by one concerned parent: One cannot ‘assume’ facts to be true about a group of people based on their skin color. To condemn people, you’ve never met based on the sins that other people with their skin tone have committed, is the explicit expression of hatred for that particular group of people.”

One thing is certain. Shaming white children and embarrassing blacks and Hispanics because of the color of their skin or the resources of their parents is wrong, unnecessary, and unchristian. We should practice unqualified non-discrimination, always keeping in mind that civil rights laws and protections apply to all Americans. Here’s the test to apply: If it would be unacceptable to say or do something to a racial or ethnic minority, the same principle should apply to whites and Asians. Christians of all people should set an example on how we ought to treat one another.

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Carol M. Swain is a former tenured professor at Vanderbilt and Princeton universities. Her Be the People News and podcast empower individuals to think independently, understand their responsibility, and make a difference in the world.






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16 Thoughts to “Carol M. Swain Commentary: Does Progress Require Shaming and Embarrassing Children?”

  1. Trent Benge

    I want to thank you for writing about what’s been going on inside of Lipscomb. I was a student there from fifth through eighth grade and personally witnessed the blatant indoctrination occurring there. I was one of the few students that chose to speak out about it and started a movement between the students to publicly expose what was going on. Many students backed me, so I want to let you know that many, many students are displeased with the administration and their actions. Again, thank you for shedding light on these issues.

  2. Wayne Thurman

    Dr. Swain, I appreciate your insight and courage to write about this subject. Lipscomb was the center of my community when I was a child, but I have virtually no appreciation for or attachment to it now. The current situation is our own fault, we knew what Lowery was like and just sat and watched, many even applauded. Perhaps many were desirous for Lipscomb to become a world class school epitomizing worldly values. The new buildings and landscaping are impressive but at the expense of tremendous debt and exorbitant administrative salaries. As to the aforementioned, check out recent IRS Form 990’s. No matter what my ancestors may have done wrong, I have no intention to go around in perpetual guilt. The Cross, which is not difficult to understand, took care of my and the sins of others by the propitiation of Christ’s death. If those at Lipscomb desire to participate with Satan as aides to the great accuser, perhaps there are more suitable venues for them to practice! Oh, there is a new type of slavery in this country and ironically being promoted by those who abhor such. The new slavery is enormous student debt resulting form easy loans and the Lottery funding used to pay for overpriced and sometimes worthless education ! Easy money causes the price to skyrocket, and rocketing education tuition would put even NASA to shame!

  3. Rod rutherford

    My wife and I both graduated from Lipscomb. We sent our three children there. We would not go there now or send our children there. I am almost ashamed to tell people I am a Lipscomb alumnus and I was once so proud of it. Now I tell people I went to David Lipscomb College, not Lipscomb University. I add “It is not the same school though it is on the same campus.” Many of my professors would be shocked if they knew the direction the school has gone. The ideals and purpose for which David Lipscomb and James Harding began the school have been betrayed by its board and administration.

  4. Ken Y

    As a graduate of Lipscomb, there is no way I would allow my kid to go there now.

  5. Robert Roark

    Your article paints a bleak but accurate picture of public education in America. Shaming students for something they have no control over is cowardly and contemptable. It is child abuse by an authority figure. You ask how this could happen without resistance from professional educators. Aren’t professional educators the ones who are making these shaming issues happen, along with support from professional principals. We must recognize that the education curriculum which teaches teachers is the source of these ideas. That’s why there is no resistance. Decisions to alter student learning are made at the national level by the NEA, the Department of Education, both of whom want a national education policy, and book publishers who need new content so they can sell books. This policy is then transmitted down to content taught at teachers colleges and approved by school certifying agencies. The universe of professional teachers is set nationally, not locally. That’s why shaming teachers first makes it almost impossible for teachers to object or deviate. Local school boards are also complicit in this learning content. I have read of numerous such situations which were inspired by and defended by local school boards. You point out correctly that the church is failing to see, react, and object to this situation. It has been shamed into silence as well by unrelenting criticism in the media and by government coercion. Your voice is welcome in this critical matter. Please keep sounding the alarm. The future of American society is at stake.

  6. William R. Delzell

    You conservatives have done a pretty good job in stealing children’s hearts and minds, especially those of poor and non-white children by making them feel less valued than upper middle class conservative white kids.

    Talk about shaming children! Many public and private schools ridicule children who have to have financial aid in order to afford a decent lunch meal. To stigmatize these indigenous children is very cruel. The perpetrators are the right-wing types.

    What does Swain want; for these children to go hungry during the school day. One needs good nutrition to do well in school. As one who calls herself an educator, she should know better than that!

    Shame on you, Swain!

    1. Carol Swain

      I think you have no idea what you are talking about. You obviously have not read or understood the article.

      1. Erika Perez

        This is a complex issue that does not require shaming and embrassing children (as you suggest) BUT it also does NOT require cuddling of white children and pandering to white fragility (which you so aptly do). Teaching about race also does NOT have to involve demeaning of children of color. The solution to all this (as you suggest) is to not have the conversation at all. This is incorrect. The problem with your approach is that it does not develop critical thinking among students, continues the normative entrenchment of inequality and supports the continuation of the unfair advantages that have been awarded to whites through racist contemporary and historical policies.

        As educators we are responsible to teach, to question and to allow students to examine critically (this applies to all levels). Teaching about race ideally should not be associated with any particular agenda. The truth is Carol that your views and reasoning for your conclusions are incorrect. The question is not that race should not be taught, it is HOW it should be taught. We (and I mean us all – liberal and conservative, white and of color) should want our children to know what has been proven to be indisputable truths about race in this country. Even if this means some level of discomfort and accountability for those who have benefitted from systematic racial inequality. Conversely, for children of color there is also room to teach about the MANY versions of Blackness and take a more disaporic approach that will provide varied narratives.

        What CANNOT be disputed is that we are all racialized and that this racialization has differential consequences across groups. Your discussion is shallow and trite you need to make the distinction between interpersonal and structural racism and understand the nuances of accountability and responsibility.

        From your days at Vanderbilt (and I assume before then) you have continued to push an highly disruptive polarized agenda that supports hate and that demeans perceived difference. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself and your inability to critically think and have a balanced conversation or present a balanced argument. Try to do what is right, try to do what is just and most of all if you claim to be associated with a Christ like point of view try to do what is Christ like….. your current views on this topic are certainly not.

    2. Sue Loveless

      I like your article mr. Delzell, yes the right wing party has no heart for the poor no matter what color they are. They all think they are in heaven. Heartless.

  7. PK

    The public school system is out of control. We all have to get involved at the local level and cut away all but teachers and classroom space. Or just make a Home School Exodus. Parents must reclaim their rightful duty to educate their children. Nobody else loves them like you do.

    65-85% of our property taxes are for failed public schools. This drives up the cost of housing, both for homeowners and for renters to rates far too high to afford anymore. Compound that issue by allowing foreigners to own rentals/real estate in our country, and you have what we see today in California. People living in tents. Only in most states, it’s not warm enough in winter to live outdoors.

    In Maine, there are 7 administrators for every 10 kids. What’s the ratio in your state? It’s probably not good, and another reason why education has become a useless golden calf that only benefits union leadership, not good teachers, and certainly not kids!

    Ultimately all problems are local. Love your own kids, Be involved in your own local public school. Stop consolidation and go back to the one room school model that made our nation great, and kept teachers and parents on the same side.

    1. Carol M. Swain

      Thank you for writing.

  8. Trina Montgomery

    Thank you, Carol, for bringing this to everyone’s attention. We hope and pray Lipscomb will do the right thing and stop this behavior/trend. We are so disappointed that they’ve caved in to politically correct rhetoric and gone this direction.

  9. Sim

    In my opinion, the whole world is coming apart, and to an end.

    I’ve been involved in the Second Amendment movement,
    and it’s unbelievable how people ignore common sense things that benefit them as much as anyone else.
    Why would anyone want to trash the Constitution and allow either State or Federal Government to legislate without any restrictions on them, and take away citizens power of checks and balance by being armed over all governments, which is what these Gun laws are attempting to do???

    I know Scripture speaks of people being “Spiritually blinded”, but I just never equated that to being “Dumber than creek Rock”.

    The Old “Democrat party” of JFK has morphed into a “Communist Party” which will soon lead to another Civil war, and with the level of hate that already exist between parties, I suspect it will be one of the most vicious the world has ever seen.

    Americans should be quite proud of what they have allowed their country to become, blessed with more material things than any nation in the world, yet so morally rotten at the core it’s eating it’s way to the surface and will soon destroy the whole nation.

  10. Sam Boyd

    My thank you Carol Swain for exposing this at Lipscomb

  11. Nya Major

    Great article. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12, ” For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    The Devil defeats you in your mind first, creating guilt where there should be none. One important question that no one asks is what were “Black” people, then called Negroes, doing in Africa before the slave ships came? When you analyze that, you’ll know that God sent those ships for a specific reason; and as long as Black Americans refuse to acknowledge why they will continue to cry victim and blame the wrong people…

    1. Carol M. Swain

      Thank you so much for your kind words of support. I hope we can protect our children and prevent other schools from following their example.