As the first public university in the United States, UNC claims to have been a beacon of educational freedom and critical thought for centuries. Thousands of North Carolinians and people around the world have left this University with a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them. But the critical thinking encouraged by faculty at UNC and other public universities is now under attack by the federal government.
Recently, Trump and his administration pushed back against "un-American" learning in schools that supposedly paints the United States in a negative light. The "un-American" learning in question? Diversity trainings and critical race theory. He has also pushed for the creation of the 1776 Commission to help “restore patriotic education to our schools.”
This movement toward a singular narrative of the United States goes against what the Editorial Board stands for, and what we have learned in our collective years at UNC. In our time at UNC, we have been taught to read between the lines, engage multiple factors and think about established systems. We shouldn’t be taught to unquestionably “love America" — rather, we should learn the truth about our country's ugly history so we can form an opinion on our own.
Trump’s labeling of anti-racist education as "propaganda" is further evidence that a singular, exclusively positive perspective of America is one that serves him — and only him. A global pandemic and a nationwide reckoning with racism requires us to have a holistic understanding of this country, something the Trump administration clearly doesn’t want for future generations.
This is not the first time that the administration has pushed singular narratives in American higher education. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education ordered the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle Eastern Studies to revise its curriculum or risk losing federal funding under Title VI. The education department claimed that the UNC department focused too heavily on “the positive aspects of Islam” and not enough on national security.