WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021
...portrays our American Babel: Truly, the public discourse here in Our Town gets dumber with each passing day.
Can a society become this dumb and sensibly expect to survive?
Leading experts—anthropologists—tell us the answer is no. It just doesn't work that way.
At present, it's amazingly dumb in the Other Towns, but it's also quite dumb Over Here. These trends are creating an American Babel—and Babel is hard to survive.
A front-page report in today's New York Times portrays our American Babel. It concerns a debate about what should be taught in the public schools. Hard-copy headline included, the front-page report starts like this:
GABRIEL AND GOLDSTEIN (6/2/21): Debate Over Scope of Racism Embroils Schools
In Loudoun County, Va., a group of parents led by a former Trump appointee are pushing to recall school board members after the school district called for mandatory teacher training in “systemic oppression and implicit bias.”
In Washington, 39 Republican senators called history education that focuses on systemic racism a form of “activist indoctrination.”
And across the country, Republican-led legislatures have passed bills recently to ban or limit schools from teaching that racism is infused in American institutions. After Oklahoma’s G.O.P. governor signed his state’s version in early May, he was ousted from the centennial commission for the 1921 Race Massacre in Tulsa, which President Biden visited on Tuesday to memorialize one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.
From school boards to the halls of Congress, Republicans are mounting an energetic campaign aiming to dictate how historical and modern racism in America are taught, meeting pushback from Democrats and educators in a politically thorny clash that has deep ramifications for how children learn about their country.
As far as we know, nothing there is false. One might imagine this complaint:
That nugget emphasizes Republican and conservative conduct while downplaying "pushback from Democrats." One might also lodge this objection:
What the writers describe as "a politically thorny clash" is really a deeply threatening American Babel. At this site, we're told by experts that there may be no way back from this ongoing thorny clash.
How should children—show should 8- or 10-year-old schoolkids—"learn about their country?" Especially when we're discussing a highly fraught topic like "race," there's no perfect way to answer that thorny question.
There's also little sign that "thought leaders" in our warring tribes understand that blindingly obvious fact. We'd have to say that's especially true Over Here.
At any rate, as the Times reporters continue, they continue to describe our spreading American Babel.
GABRIEL AND GOLDSTEIN (continuing directly): Republicans have focused their attacks on the influence of “critical race theory,” a graduate school framework that has found its way into K-12 public education. The concept argues that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other modern institutions, and that the legacies of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow still create an uneven playing field for Black people and other people of color.
Many conservatives portray critical race theory and invocations of systemic racism as a gauntlet thrown down to accuse white Americans of being individually racist. Republicans accuse the left of trying to indoctrinate children with the belief that the United States is inherently wicked.
Democrats are conflicted. Some worry that arguing America is racist to the root—a view embraced by elements of the party’s progressive wing—contradicts the opinion of a majority of voters and is handing Republicans an issue to use as a political cudgel. But large parts of the party’s base, including many voters of color, support more discussion in schools about racism’s reach, and believe that such conversations are an educational imperative that should stand apart from partisan politics.
“History is already undertaught—we’ve been undereducated, and these laws are going to get us even less educated,” said Prudence L. Carter, the dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. Attempts to suppress what is still a nascent movement to teach young Americans more explicitly about racist public policy, like redlining or the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, amount to “a gaslighting of history,” she said, adding, “It’s a form of denialism.”
Are Republicans advocating "a gaslighting of history?" Of one thing we can be sure—it's a thrilling claim.
That said, how about it! What should children be taught about such public policies as the Chinee Exclusion Act of 1882? What should children be taught about that, and at what age should they be taught it?
As accusations fly back and forth, no one seems to say.
By the way, is it accurate to say the following? Is it accurate to say that elements of the Democratic Party's progressive wing argue that "America is racist to the core?"
That's a very exciting claim; to what extent is it accurate? It's hard to answer a question like that, but this the highlighted claim in this passage is pretty much flatly wrong:
GABRIEL AND GOLDSTEIN: Some of the discussion about education has been fueled by the 1619 Project, developed by The New York Times Magazine, which argues that “the country’s very origin” traces to when the first ship carrying enslaved people touched Virginia’s shore that year. “Out of slavery—and the anti-black racism it required—grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional,” the magazine’s editor wrote.
Educators have embraced curriculums created along with the project, responding to a changing nation in which a majority of public-school students are now nonwhite, but the teaching force remains nearly 80 percent white.
Republican pushback has been intense. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the G.O.P. leader, said recently that he disagreed that 1619 was important in U.S. history. He and other Republican senators are pushing the Biden administration to drop efforts by the Education Department to prioritize history courses that emphasize “systemic marginalization” of peoples.
Is that accurate? Did McConnell recently say "that 1619 wasn't important in U.S. history?"
The Times reporters include a link which takes us to this earlier report. In that report, we can't find McConnell quoted saying any such thing.
The American Babel of which we speak is a Babel concerning issues of so-called "race." It's a Babel concerning what children will be told about that sprawling, painful topic, but also at what age.
It's hard for us in Our Town to see it, but Our Town's thought leaders often show comically awful judgment about such deeply felt matters. And not only that! A lot of these amazing thought leaders—the wonderfully brilliant people we so thoroughly trust in Our Town—are committing acts of "ethnic fraud" themselves, if we're able to believe the remarkable claims and suggestions which appeared in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.
"Academia, do we have a problem?" the author often asks.
Is there a 1619 Project curriculum, as the Times reporters say?
Yes there is, and in certain ways, it's a lazy, careless, indolent, howling, ridiculous D-minus disgrace. We'll try to get to that later.
Meanwhile, there's the ongoing dispute about the role (if any) to be played by Aztec gods in California's new public school ethnic studies curriculum.
In a detailed analysis by Snopes, we're told that there's no role for the Aztec gods at all, or at least no role for them "per se." On the other hand, do we really think it makes sense to have kids in public schools engaging in "community chants" such as these?
smoking mirror, self-reflection
We must vigorously search within ourselves be reflective, introspective by silencing distractions and extensive comprehensive obstacles in our lives, (in our lives),
in order to be warriors of love, of love,
for our gente representin’ justice, (justice)
local to global global to local eco-logical, & social, (social), justice (justice).
hummingbird to the left, yollotl,
corazon, heart, ganas, the will to action as we grow in
consciousness must be willing to be proactive,
not just thinkin’ and talkin’ but makin’ things happen,
with agency, resiliency, & a revolutionary spirit
that’s positive, progressive, creative, native,
Passion everlasting work hard in action,
tap in to the spark of our universal heart,
pulsating creation huitzilopochtli cause like sunlight, the light inside of us, in will to action’s what brings …
In its detailed analysis, Snopes is at pains to note this: "The 'community chants' as outlined in the curriculum contain no mention of gods, per se, or of human sacrifice."
Sometimes, though, you just have to laugh, even as our American Babel has our nation sliding toward the sea.
What does the new California curriculum say? We can't exactly tell you! Snopes provides a link to the new curriculum. That link yields this result:
"Page not found."
We tried to find the curriculum over the weekend; we found that was no easy task. Meanwhile, we're spending long, lazy afternoons on a different difficult topic:
What did "the greatest logician since Aristotle" actually prove, discover, demonstrate, find, reveal or say when he was just 24? It isn't easy to learn that either! Even at the allegedly highest levels, sometimes you just have to laugh!
(More on that to come. Anthropologists support our belief that the topic is entertaining, but also highly instructive.)
Things are falling apart in our land. It isn't clear that the center is going to hold.
In obvious ways, a silent secession has already occurred. Anthropologists sat that human projects have always ended this way before proceeding to war..
Our Town's thought leaders in ethnic studies are full of passionate intensity. Some are also "ethnic frauds."
That doesn't necessarily mean that their work is bad. But sometimes, you just have to laugh.
Tomorrow: Emba v. Rufo RE gods?