Scott Yenor lectures to indoctrination task force 5-27-21

BSU political scientist Scott Yenor presents a lecture to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s education indoctrination task force on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education Based on Critical Race Theory, Socialism, Communism and Marxism” is holding a five-hour meeting in the Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium this afternoon; you can watch live here. The meeting, which runs from noon to 5 p.m., so far has included each of McGeachin’s 15 hand-picked task force members discussing why they were interested, followed by a 45-minute lecture from BSU political scientist Scott Yenor, a task force member, entitled, “Social Justice Education over the last 50 years: How did we get here?”

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, who is co-chairing the task force with McGeachin, said the panel will meet three more times, the last Thursdays in June, July and August.

One of the panel members, Laura Van Voorhees, said she just moved to Idaho a couple of months ago, but has been concerned since her daughter attended college in California and then “I lost her,” with the daughter telling her that if she ever married her mother wouldn’t be invited to the wedding. “I haven’t talked to her in a couple years now, it just breaks my heart,” Van Voorhees said. “So I started to investigate what’s going on in Kootenai County.” She said she believes the local elementary school curriculum there is “Marxist,” and added, “They not only have the kids in their bullseye to indoctrinate, but they’re planning to indoctrinate the parents and the whole community.”

Another task force member, Ryan Spoon, said when he went to West Point in the 1990s, "At the time there was nothing like critical race theory at the federal service academies." Now, he said, "I have heard ... everything from critical race theory to socialism and everything in between has infiltrated those institutions. ... In many ways, the military is being transformed before our eyes in a very frightening way."

Yenor, in his lecture, said critical race theory, social justice, and other such concepts are all part of “the reigning civil rights ideology … based on the idea that all the disparities between groups are attributable to discrimination.”

Several people in the audience held protest signs objecting to the discussion; Giddings ordered them removed. That was followed by a brief burst of applause and cheers. “We’ll have order in the committee room,” she said. “Please, no applauding.”

Yenor said, “This idea, our reigning civil rights ideology, has been around and really has been governing policy in this country for over 50 years,” saying, “I think the story of where it comes from starts in 1964, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

This afternoon, the panel also is scheduled to hear a 45-minute presentation from panel member Anna Miller, education policy researcher for the Idaho Freedom Foundation; an hour-long presentation from Dr. James Lindsay, author of the book “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody;” and watch a video.

Giddings presented each task force member with Lindsay’s book, plus “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram Kendi, saying she wanted them to see both sides.

Before the meeting, McGeachin said, “This whole thing is an educational effort. A lot of these issues were brought forward in the last legislative session, and even a certain terminology was written into our code without being defined. So that’s really what this effort is all about, is just really, these citizens from across Idaho that are having a real concern about what’s happening, for us to educate ourselves on what’s happening. And then if there are any recommendations that we could propose to either the State Board of Education or the legislative session that’s coming up, that would be my goal.”

She added, “We’re not planning to take any action today. That’s why there’s no section set up for public testimony. But that doesn’t mean that certainly if there is a proposal or a recommendation, we absolutely would have the chance for the public to weigh in on that.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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