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The woke are succeeding where Plato failed. In Plato’s most famous dialogue, the “Republic,” the character of Socrates argues the ideal polity will exclude Homer and the rest of the Greek poets and dramatists. But Plato, who loved the poets, leaves the door open for their return. As with much else in Plato’s work, the proposed ban on Homer should perhaps be taken seriously, not literally.

Today’s cultural radicals, however, have no such subtlety. When they say we should get rid of Homer, they mean we should get rid of Homer, ideally replacing the “Odyssey” with a new novel by a trans woman of color. As Meghan Cox Gurdon reports

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in the Wall Street Journal, their “demands for censorship appear to be getting results” as high school teachers boast of dumping the classics.

Writing in Quillette, Lona Manning provides further background on this movement, loosely organized around the hashtag slogan #DisruptTexts. Encouraged by the current mélange of intersectional ideology and critical theory that has captivated the left, it’s an intensification of the left’s efforts to cull “dead white males” from curricula.

To be sure, efforts to excise the classics from education have been underway for decades. Yet, this latest attempt, however, has far more of an ideological edge to it. Instead of seeing the classics as irrelevant to the modern world, classics are viewed as malevolent sources of oppression.

No great work of art or literature is safe from being declared problematic by the new far-left moralists, which provides the #DisruptTexts project its justification. Those looking for something wrong with a work of art will always be able to find something.

Of course, one shouldn’t be surprised that these modern leftists aren’t always honest about what they’re doing. As Rod Dreher notes, high school teacher Heather Levine boasted to her peers of getting rid of Homer, then started backtracking and lying about what she had done when the Wall Street Journal article brought attention to her actions. This combination of duplicity and leftist jargon is meant to obscure, but examining Plato’s original effort to cancel Homer may clarify what is at stake.

Plato, speaking through the character of Socrates, does not hide the ball. He loved Homer and the other poets, but he nonetheless excluded them from his ideal polity, with Socrates rhetorically asking: “shall we carelessly allow the children to hear any old stories, told by just anyone, and to take beliefs into their souls that are for the most part opposite to the ones we think they should hold when they are grown up?” The obvious conclusion is that “we must, first of all, it seems, supervise the storytellers.”

Control over stories is control over what people believe and who they are. Any such educators who would remake society must therefore remake or replace the narratives that define its people. Thus, the critiques that Plato made against Homer and other artists are echoed in the woke efforts to remake the curriculum — for instance, that it is corrupting to imitate, even for art’s sake, that which is ignoble or wicked.

Hence the instances of woke panic over some obviously negative depictions of racism. It is thought that reading such things, even to condemn them, may be harmful. For the champions of #DisruptTexts and its allies, there is nothing deeper than the desire to control, combined with moral panic over the impurity of art that is insufficiently leftist.

In contrast, Plato’s disavowal of the poets and playwrights of ancient Greece is a nuanced vindication of Socrates and philosophy. Through it, Plato rebuts the charges of impiety and corruption of the young that had been leveled against Socrates.

What is truly impious and corrupting, he suggests, is telling tales in which the gods are human, all too human — lustful, malicious, petty, and cruel. This critique also demonstrated the superiority of philosophic dialogue as a means of understanding the divine, compared to the mythical works of the poets. All of this was embedded within a discussion of an ideal city that was itself hypothesized in order to illuminate why it is better to live a just life than an unjust one.

Plato turned on Homer to make several sophisticated points, and at the end of the “Republic,” he encouraged his readers to defend the poets and present reasons they should not be exiled from the ideal city. In contrast, the woke have rejected Homer, and the rest of the Western canon, because they hate any art that doesn’t reinforce their parochial ideology and cannot stand those who are different from them. In reality, their celebration of diversity is confined to a narrow spectrum.

Far from being genuinely multicultural, the woke are an insular subculture that replicates many of the worst traits of other such subcultures, including an insistence on didactic art. Yet, their overrepresentation in media and education (among other institutions) means that they wield real power, which they can use to mold children to transform society as a whole.

In this case, recalling Plato’s hypothetical cancellation of Homer illuminates the totalitarian control that woke educators seek as they attempt to radically remake society. The traditional texts of the Western canon are valuable for many reasons, which is why they’ve been treasured for hundreds — even thousands — of years.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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