Last month, a public school in Fairfax County, Virginia, had students play “privilege bingo.” Of course, the bingo card had the usual so-called privileges like “white,” “heterosexual,” “Christian,” or “male.” All meant to lower the self-esteem of certain kids in the class, I’m sure. The card also had a space for “military kid.” Supposedly, that’s now a privilege, too, under the warped rubric of identity politics.  

This nonsense isn’t just a rogue teacher but is an approved curriculum for Fairfax County schools. Parents Defending Education, a national grassroots organization, rightly labeled the privilege tag for military kids as “grotesque.”  

I’m far from an expert on every topic, but I know something about being a military kid. My dad was in the Air Force for over a quarter of a century. While I was blessed to see the world, I also didn’t see my dad but once or twice a year at times. I moved around to seven or eight different schools. It turns out that’s not the best formula for academic stability. I played a lot of catch-up. I lost friends and lived far away from my grandparents and other extended family members. I likely received at least one chronic disease from water contaminated by jet fuel at SAC (Strategic Air Command) bases. I don’t consider myself a victim, but you get the point.  

Spare me any “privilege” lectures.  

I doubt the kids that watched their dad or mom come back from Iraq or Afghanistan in a box took comfort in their so-called privilege. 

This kind of growing grievance industry that infects the left marches on towards clownish levels of absurdity. Much of the nonsense is fueled by the desire to climb up the hierarchy of victimhood. In the new religion of identity politics, being aggrieved is sacramental or a higher state of grace. Those that reach this enlightened state of victimhood are beyond challenge, in their own minds, at least. Some believe that around every corner is racism, an oppressor, or their enslaved to a worldview that believes everyday language is violence.  

The left thrives on division, and shouts of ‘privilege’ are too often weaponized to shut down debate and discussion. Guilt or non-standing is based more on one’s race or sex than substance. We’ve all seen it filter out of the college campus environments and spill over into the culture.  

Equally troubling is that Fairfax County has many of the best public schools not just in Virginia but the entire nation. Because it’s a highly affluent area, education spending is over $16,500 per pupil.  

Yet, woke obsessed education, like privilege bingo cards, does virtually nothing to reflect the mission of public schooling in the first place, which is to train up good, responsible, and productive citizens.  

After their ludicrous bingo card leaked and parents were understandably outraged, the school district said the exercise would be revised and offered an apology, albeit with the caveat they need to take student privilege exercises more seriously. But do you trust these education bureaucrats and administrators?  

Fortunately, the most recent elections in Virginia saw massive pushback to woke agendas and classroom indoctrination. Efforts to divide people by race must be rejected. Efforts that lower students’ self-esteem because they belong to a particular group – particularly if a parent or parents serve in the military – are insane.  

Social engineering and leveling schemes fail wherever and whenever it is tried. The 20th century is the bloodiest in world history because it propagated this kind of ideology around the globe. Parents deserve better. We all do as taxpayers and citizens.  

The exercise rightly produced outrage over the inclusion of military kids, yet the entire assignment is flawed and offensive. Making students feel bad about their circumstances is not for the benefit of the kids but ideologically minded adults with a dangerous and un-American agenda. If this kind of thought goes unchecked, the woke public school establishment can’t die fast enough.  

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and a Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation. 

This piece first appeared in the Feb. / March print edition of Carolina Journal.