Talking Points for Teens Headed Back to School
Students who publicly express conservative opinions at school often are mocked or bullied by classmates and typically find their views caricatured or misrepresented. As you prepare to return to campus this fall, you may be faced with significant peer pressure to adopt the most radical positions of the “social justice” and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements. For those who choose to exercise your free speech rights, here are some research-backed talking points that may help strengthen your beliefs and hone your arguments.
On Black Lives Matter
“Why don’t you kneel during the National Anthem?”
For me, kneeling means prayer. I stand for the Anthem to show my respect for all who have fought and died to keep us free. About 1.2 million American service members have died in wars since the American Revolution, and the vast majority of those died in two wars: The Civil War (498,332) and World War II (405,399). The Civil War was fought to end slavery in this country. World War II stopped Hitler’s efforts to exterminate the Jewish people and other minorities. The United States has done more to preserve freedom across the globe than any other country, and I think it is important to recognize the sacrifice of so many by standing with my hand over my heart, as set forth in the U.S. Flag Code.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/fs_americas_wars.pdf
“Don’t black lives matter to you?”
Absolutely. All black lives matter, including babies in the womb and victims of violent crime in the streets. However, I disagree with the platform of the Black Lives Matter organization, so I choose to align myself with other groups that work for equality and justice. (GIVE EXAMPLE AS APPROPRIATE).
“What’s your objection to the Black Lives Matter organization?”
The leaders of Black Lives Matter are “trained Marxists,” according to Patrisse Cullors, one of its founders. The organization is a global network with a broad agenda, which opposes the U.S. economy and political system as we know it, and even the American family. For example, BLM seeks to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” and would replace it with collectives or communes (blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/). Research strongly affirms that the traditional family structure, with two parents at home, is the key building block for healthy societies – not communes or collectives.
Source: Interview with Cullors at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCghDx5qN4s&feature=youtu.be
“White people can be ‘allies’ by giving money to Black Lives Matter.”
I prefer to volunteer and give money to hands-on programs that directly help people in need. (ADD PERSONAL EXPERIENCE). Most of the money that goes to BLM’s foundation pays for administrative costs, marketing and PR, community organizing, and developing local chapters, according to Kailee Scales, Black Lives Matter Global Network managing director.
“Real change requires violence to get people’s attention.”
History shows that non-violent campaigns are more successful in bringing about change. One study looked at all violent and nonviolent campaigns from 1900 to 2006 that resulted in the overthrow of a government or in territorial liberation. “Countries in which there were nonviolent campaigns were about 10 times likelier to transition to democracies within a five-year period compared with countries in which there were violent campaigns — whether the campaigns succeeded or failed.”
Source quote: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/02/why-nonviolent-resistance-beats-violent-force-in-effecting-social-political-change/
On Racism and Privilege
“We’re a racist country.”
Shelby Steele, the preeminent African-American historian, says racism is “endemic to the human condition. We will always have to watch out for it.” He is right. But we also should acknowledge all the progress that has been made. Today we all agree that slavery was a grievous sin against fellow human beings. We all agree that the era of segregation was a time of terrible mistreatment of African-Americans. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 shows just how far our country has come. Most people agree that there are still inequalities – for example, in the length of prison sentences — and there is still work to be done.
“White silence is violence.”
If I see injustice I will speak out. I will also get my facts straight before I speak. When I am silent, I am listening to others or self-reflecting. As Plutarch said, “Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.”
“You have white privilege.”
I am privileged to be have been born in the United States. The median family income in this country is $60,000. That’s more than in 99 percent of the world. Did you know that if your family income is only $10,000 a year, you are still wealthier than 84 percent of the world?
Yes, there are economic disparities by race. This is largely because of disparities in education. We need to dramatically improve the educational system in this country to ensure all children have access to high quality teachers, resources, and programs. Research confirms that providing children with a quality education is the most effective way to bring about equality in housing, employment and wealth acquisition.
“Republicans are racist.”
Historically, Republicans have been the party that advanced racial equality. Did you know the Republican Party was founded in the 1850s to oppose the spread of slavery? Did you know that after the Civil War, the Republican majority in Congress pushed for the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to abolish slavery, grant equal protection of the law to African-Americans, and ensure voting rights for black men? A Republican president, Ulysses Grant, signed a law in 1871 to outlaw the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist group. During his term in office, Benjamin Harrison of Indiana (1889-93) championed a “free and equal ballot” and anti-lynching legislation.
In more recent times, Republicans have continued to push policies to improve the lives of African-Americans. Some of these policies are opportunity zones, school choice and programs to increase the number of two-parent families, which, again, are shown to dramatically improve life outcomes for children (including physical health, academic achievement, likelihood of staying out of trouble, employment prospects). Note: Thirty-seven percent of black children live in two-parent households compared with 77 percent of white children.
On Defunding the Police
“We should defund the police.”
“Crime will not end if we abolish or defund the police. If the police are defunded, there will be delayed response when people who are in need call 911. If we defund the police, those most affected will be the poor and the marginalized. Wealthy neighborhoods will hire private security as they are already doing, and poorer neighborhoods will have to fend for themselves even more than they already have to.”
Source quote: Jacqueline B. Helfgott, professor and director of the Seattle University Department of Criminal Justice Crime and Justice Research Center at https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/the-movement-to-defund-the-police-is-wrong-and-heres-why/
“Police are systemically racist.”
There are racist police just like there are racists in other lines of work. But FBI crime data does not support the conclusion that police shootings of suspects are skewed by race. For the last five years, police have fatally shot about 1,000 civilians annually, the majority of whom were armed or acting dangerously. In 2019, according to the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings, police killed 14 unarmed black victims and 25 unarmed white victims.
“Every black man I know has been pulled over by police for no good reason.”
I have heard those stories too, and there is clearly work to be done. A study by the Justice Department, published in 2013, found that black drivers were 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than white ones. The reasons for this are complex, but obviously racial profiling is a factor. This is an area where better police training and focus on neighborhood-based policing would improve things. Studies show that community-oriented policing increases trust between the public and police and may reduce racial profiling by police.
On Capitalism Versus Socialism
“Capitalism is a failure.”
It’s been a huge success everywhere it’s been tried. Thanks to technology and other innovations of capitalism, we all live better and healthier lives. “Over the past two centuries, growth has increased living standards in the West unimaginably quickly. Many more babies survive to adulthood. Many more adults survive to old age. Many more people can be fed, clothed, and housed. Much of the world enjoys significant quantities of leisure time. Much of the world can carve out decades of their lives for education, skill development and the moral formation and enlightenment that come with it. Growth has enabled this.”
Source quote: Michael R. Strain, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
“Socialism would help the poor.”
Socialism has led to less freedom and economic disaster across the globe. Venezuela is a recent example. Monthly wages there for teachers, police officers and medics “can literally only buy a few items of food.” In a socialist system, “all legal production and distribution decisions are made by the government, and individuals rely on the state for everything from food to healthcare.” By definition, socialism is doomed to failure because it ignores human behavior and the role of incentives. In a capitalist society people work and contribute economically because they get to keep the fruits of their labor.
On statues and American exceptionalism
“All those framers were slaveowners and hypocrites. Their statues should be torn down.”
Some of those men were flawed, but their ideals were revolutionary. The constitution they drafted in 1787 has served as a model around the world because of its commitment to rule of law – and because it’s been flexible enough to change with the times. Thanks to the amendment process they created, the constitution has adapted to guarantee due process and equal protection to all people – blacks, women, immigrants.
“What about all those Confederates who defended slavery?”
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe suggested this simple test for deciding what monuments to keep and which should be removed from the public square. What is the person being remembered for? If it is solely his role in the Confederacy, it should be removed through a formal public process. If the person is being remembered for a larger role in our nation’s history, it should remain. In the U.S. Capitol there are portraits of everyone who has served as Speaker of the House. Some of them were members of the Confederacy. Those would stay up to maintain a complete a historical record, but also to remind people of that chapter of our history when Confederates from the Democratic South returned to power. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“America has never been great.”
Then why do so many people want to come here? The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world by far.
“There’s no such thing as American exceptionalism.”
Our Constitution is exceptional. John Adams (who, by the way, opposed slavery) explained that it created a “government of laws and not of men.” This was what made the American experiment exceptional. Government can’t operate on a whim. It can’t throw you in jail because it doesn’t like what you say, as still happens around the world, including – at this very moment – in Hong Kong. So yes, the framers were imperfect men born into a world where slavery had been practiced for generations. We study and remember them because they created a government that protects our freedom of expression, religion and assembly; a government of limited power; and a legal document that thankfully could be changed to make the country “a more perfect union.”
“The Constitution only protected white men.”
It was written during a time in human history when the rights of women and minorities were not on the radar, yet it “has done more to protect minorities than any other document in history. Prior to the Constitution, the rights of a minority were at the whim of despots. Rights came and went with the culture and leaders, not the law. Our Constitution gave our country a groundwork for destroying the institutions of slavery and conserving the sanctity of the individual.”
Source quote: http://gmufourthestate.com/2019/09/23/why-the-us-constitution-is-the-greatest-human-document/