Tag Archives: Racism

Commenter Calls Me ‘A Dangerous Presence in the Political Discourse’

by Christopher Paslay

Instead of addressing my arguments, “social justice advocates” attempt to bully me out of the debate. 

Several days ago I posted a blog headlined “Inventing Racism in America’s Public Schools” which explored the notion that there are folks, mainly on the political left, who exploit race and racism in education for their own benefit; the Philadelphia Public School Notebook went on to link the piece in their January 23rd “Notes from the News.”  The blog also talked about the existence of racism in public schools, data on achievement and discipline, and linked no less than 17 sources as evidence—a book on racism, a speech by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, five education policy reports by Princeton’s Educational Testing Service (ETS) that spanned 25 years of American public education, an interview with a NYT bestselling author on racism, eight newspaper articles, and two public school related websites.

My conclusion was that although episodic racism still exists in isolated cases in classrooms, systematic racism is dying and other causes of the racial achievement gap—such as culture and home environment—should be explored.

Geoffrey Winikur, a White Philadelphia public school teacher, social justice advocate and facilitator for the Philadelphia Writing Project, publicly commented on my blog that I was “a dangerous presence in the political discourse” and claimed I made my arguments “without offering a shred of evidence.”  I guess 17 sources, including five from ETS covering 25 years of public education, isn’t “evidence.”  Winikur also said, “I love it every time you write a new article, because I know I’m in for a good laugh.”  Yes, a highly intellectual response to my arguments indeed.

This, of course, is nothing short of bullying—the kind of thing that happened to Samantha Pawlucy at Carroll High School last fall, the young lady who was asked to remove her Mitt Romney T-shirt by none other than her own geometry teacher because, allegedly, the teacher claimed “this is a Democratic school.”

Ben Shapiro analyzes this topic in his recently released New York Times bestselling book Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.  In his introduction he highlights how on March 10, 2011, President Barack Obama led a White House conference on the crisis of bullying:

The strategy here was simple. Obama and his friends in the media and on the organized left picked the one thing all Americans can agree on: bullying. They strategically placed President Obama at the head of the anti-bullying cause. Then came the brilliant gambit: they appropriated bullying to apply only to anything remotely conservative.

The Tea Party? A bunch of bullies. Religious people? Bullies. Global warming unbelievers, defense hawks, venture capitalists, fans of voter identification or traditional marriage, opponents of affirmative action, right-to-work advocates, supporters of Israel, haters of Glee? Bullies. Those who dislike President Obama? They were the biggest bullies of all. Liberalism and anti-bullying, it turned out, were—miracle of miracles!—one and the same.

Their twisted logic was deceptively easy. Liberals claim that they are all about protecting victim classes from bullies. Conservatives oppose liberals. Therefore, by definition, conservatives must be bullies. And bullies must be stopped.

The irony here is that the true bullies are the ones who callously attack those who disagree with their worldview, like Winikur’s statement that I’m “a dangerous presence in the political discourse.”

I’m not sure why fighting for colorblindness in society—judging people by their core values and not their skin color—is dangerous.  I’m not sure why treating minorities as equals and not as enslaved and oppressed is so worrisome.  I’m not sure why teaching young people that they are the captain of their own ship and not the victim of a corrupt system is a cause for alarm.  Or why the notion that there exist universal human values that transcend race, gender, sexuality and culture—values such as honesty, respect, integrity, loyalty, and hard work—is “Eurocentric.”

The lack of manners from disapproving social justice advocates didn’t stop with Winikur.  Another commenter wrote, “You’re doing what’s called ‘blaming the victim’ and it’s lame.”  The irony of this statement is that the issue of “blaming the victim” was addressed in the video interview I included with my blog post by NYT bestselling author of The End of Racism Dinesh D’Souza.  Interestingly, neither Winikur nor any of the other commenters took the time to click on the link and watch the video (one did, however, reference an article in The Daily Beast that smeared D’Souza because he had the audacity to respectfully challenge President Obama’s policies in a recent documentary titled “Obama’s America: 2016”).

Since none of the commenters took the time to even listen to what D’Souza had to say before smearing him, I’ll include his quote about “blaming the victim”:

“For a generation, people have said you cannot point at these problems because to do so is blaming the victim.  When Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his report on the Black family in the sixties, the illegitimacy rate for Blacks was 25 percent.  He said it was a national tragedy and people said ‘you’re a racist, stop talking about it.’  And he did.  He hasn’t said a word about it since, and the illegitimacy rate for Blacks today is close to 70 percent.   So when these problems are ignored, they metastasize and become far worse . . .”

Another objection made by Geoffrey Winikur (the White uber-liberal teacher who publicly commented that I was a dangerous presence in the political discourse) was one of cultural relativism, that my idea of “colorblindness” was really an effort to push America back to a Eurocentric state.  This was not only a humongous misinterpretation of what I argued constituted colorblindness (I don’t know how judging a person by their actions and values instead of their skin color is “Eurocentric”), but Winikur didn’t bother to click on the link to the D’Souza interview either, which already addressed this objection.  To quote D’Souza:

“That’s the legacy of cultural relativism . . . which says in effect that all cultures are equal and no culture can judge another by its own standards, and cultures should not impose values on each other.  I argue that this relativism played an important historic role . . . relativism was a way to undermine the old racism, which was based on a hierarchy . . . but it’s created a new problem.”

The new “problem” D’Souza explores is one of the functionality of culture, and how relativism has come to hide the dysfunction of some cultures.  Although it may be argued that no one culture is inherently better than another and that one culture cannot judge another by its own standards, things such as quality of life and manageability of life do exist.  I don’t think anyone would disagree that certain cultures in America as a whole have a better quality of life and have lives that are more manageable and functional than other cultures.  The racial achievement gap is one example.  The wealth gap is another.  So are homicide rates within cultures.  So are incarceration rates.  Out-of-wedlock birth rates, quality of nutrition, literacy rates, dropout rates, and the rates of college graduation are still other examples.  (To read the ETS reports on this click here, here, here, and here).

To suggest that all cultures are equal in terms of quality and manageability of life is ridiculous.  To suggest that the differences in quality and manageability of life among cultures is primarily the result of racism is also ridiculous.

In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Americans were “a nation of cowards” because we were afraid to talk about race.  What he seems to have meant by this was that not enough Americas were willing to talk about how White people oppress minorities.  I’d like to take Eric Holder up on his proposition.  Let’s talk about race in America, but let’s really talk about it—dirty laundry and everything.

But to truly talk about race would mean many folks, like Geoffrey Winikur, would have to address opposing arguments head-on and refrain from attempting to demonize those they disagree with.

Tragically, with the exception of publications such as The Philadelphia Public School Notebook—who have recently had the courtesy and open-mindedness to link my articles in their “Notes from the News” to open-up the much needed avenues of discussion (I’d like to publicly thank them for this, by the way)—it doesn’t appear as if honest and frank talk about race and racism in America is going to happen anytime soon.

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All My Babies’ Mamas Reveals Liberals’ Opinion of Blacks

by Christopher Paslay

Conservative African American writer Lloyd Marcus exposes liberals’ typical bigotry of lowered expectations regarding minorities.

From “All My Babies’ Mamas Reveals Liberals Opinion of Blacks” by Lloyd Marcus, published today on American Thinker:

As a teen in the 1960s, I idolized Jim, my slightly older street-smart cousin who lived in a tough area of Baltimore. Murders were common at the bar on the corner from his home. I was Jim’s nerdy, naïve preacher’s-kid cousin who visited from suburbia. Sleepovers at Jim’s home in the city were exciting. “Downtown, where all the lights are bright…” You know the song.

Walking from the Yakamee joint, “Casanova” Jim coached, “Just say you love them.” While I wanted my experience to go beyond the stimulation of excessively close slow dancing to Marvin Gaye songs at un-chaperoned dark basement parties, lying to a girl to have my way with her did not set well. Doggone home training! I was nagged by the truth that it is wrong to use someone solely for my pleasure, not caring about how it affected her.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). In college, I tried to muzzle my conscience with drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, I did not produce any children out of wedlock.

Tom, another cousin of mine, had babies all over town, which destroyed his life. He was incarcerated numerous times for non-payment of child support. In those days, serial impregnators were considered dishonorable men.

Today, in 2013, the liberal Oxygen channel had planned to celebrate dishonorable behavior as representative of the “hip” modern black experience with a new reality show titled All My Babies’ Mamas. Canceled due to public outcry, the star of the show was a rapper whose serial sperm-donating produced eleven babies by ten women.

All My Babies’ Mamas is characteristic of liberals’ typical bigotry of lowered expectations regarding minorities. Liberals accuse black conservatives who reject liberal racist stereotypes of being traitors to their race, trying to be white, and “selling out.”

Long-suffering courageous black conservatives offer blacks real empowerment: liberation from crippling victimhood and entitlement mindsets. Due to liberals’ resentment/hatred for America and traditional values, they are repulsed when black conservatives encourage blacks to get an education, work hard, revive traditional black community morality, and go for their dreams.

In the 1950s, most black kids grew up in two-parent households. Today, most black kids grow up fatherless as a result of liberal policies that destroyed the black family. Only half of black males graduate high school. Clearly, something is wrong in the black community, and it ain’t the white man’s fault. . . .

To continue reading, click here.

God bless Lloyd Marcus for having the courage to reject today’s suffocating and racist groupthink coming from the American left.

 

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Commenter Calls ‘Academic Excellence’ Article Racist

by Christopher Paslay

On July 28th I posted an article here on Chalk and Talk titled, “Obsession with Race is Killing Academic Excellence.”  The following day a commenter with the username philaken lambasted me for being a racist.  Here is philaken’s post (errors included):

What a racist article! Mr. Pasley, are you part of the right-wing campaign to institute a New Reconstruction to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement? After the Civil War, Reconstruction instituted Jim Crow segregation which for some African-Americans was as bad as slavery and resulted in a hundred years of misery for several generations of African Americans. At no time in American history has there been social policies to ameliorate the consequences of centuries of slavery, quite the opposite.

I agree with you that the Obama administrations “White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans” is wrong because it is based on identity politics. History shows, such as the current corruption scandals in some ethnically based charter schools, that this is a course fraught with abuse. There should be programs directed at all low income schools (regardless of ethnicity) to overcome the affects of poverty.

However, the conclusions your draw can only be characterized as racist. Do you, Mr. Pasley, believe that people of African descent are intellectually and socially inferior to people of European descent? This is the implication all through your article. If you do not believe this than you must look to the social causes which lead to the deficit in achievement for many African-American students. This is not an excuse for low achievement, it is a diagnosis.

I was taken aback by your article immediately previous to this one. In it you state, “If CNS truly wants to campaign for nonviolent schools, they should start by demanding that all the hooligans, bullies and thugs stop destroying the system, and fight to promote character and traditional core values among their own peers and classmates.” “hooligans, bullies and thugs”? Students are not born with social and emotional problems, they develop under specific social circumstances. This is the language meant to dehumanize and place individuals outside the human family. It is language that always precedes pogroms and genocide. Governor Corbett is onboard with this mentality. In last year’s budget he cut education funding by $1 billion (the largest cuts being made in low income districts), while increasing the prison budget by $700 million (including three new privately owned, for profit prisons).

Everyone must be held accountable for their actions. However, to ignore the social context of actions, and oppose economic policies which address the gross inequality in our society, is to return to a form of barbarism akin to the serfdom of the Middle Ages.

I urge you to view the program “Confronting the Contradictions of America’s Past” on Bill Moyers & Company to consider these issues.

Here is my response to philaken:

First, I’d like to thank you for your lengthy six paragraph response.  It is a classic example of an ad hominem logical fallacy, and I’m planning on using your comments along with my original post in my 11th grade English class this fall when I teach persuasive writing/propaganda techniques (I’ll be sure to give you full credit). 

The dead giveaway that your argument is an example of an ad hominem attack is your name calling in the opening line of your post when you say my article is “racist.”  The first thing I teach my students is that name calling is a sure fire sign of a weak argument, and to stay away from employing such a technique in their writing; those who respect the open discussion of ideas are never reduced to calling people names just because they don’t agree with them. 

According to dictionary.com, ad hominem is “1.—appealing to one’s prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s intellect or reason; 2—attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.” 

I’ll refrain from calling you names and attacking your character as a sign of goodwill between us, and stick to the actual claims made in your argument.  You ask me “are you part of the right-wing campaign to institute a New Reconstruction to roll back the gains of the Civil Rights Movement?”  I’m not sure how calling for freedom and equality for all students, regardless of race or ethnic background, is rolling back the gains of the Civil Rights movement.  I believe deeply in the principles contained in MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. 

I advocate for colorblindness in our society, and I believe our country (as well as our education system) needs to focus more on the things that make everyone the same and stop dwelling on the differences and playing, as you say, “identity politics.” 

Next, your question: “Do you, Mr. Pasley, believe that people of African descent are intellectually and socially inferior to people of European descent? This is the implication all through your article.”  I have a question for you:  do YOU believe this?  There is something quite telling in your question, and the way you chose to interpret my article.  Where is the evidence that my article implies such a thing?  (Or is this simply an issue you are wrestling with?) 

As for my use of the words “hooligans,” “bullies,” and “thugs”: I’ve been teaching in the Philadelphia School District for 15 years.  I’ve mentored, coached, and tutored thousands of young people from every race and ethnic background under the sun.  I’ve interacted with hundreds of parents.  And when students misbehave and disrespect themselves and their peers, I will call them on it.  When students steal, bully, assault, rape, or otherwise rob their hardworking classmates of their right to learn, I will address this situation head on.  I will call them hooligans, bullies, and thugs, because that is the behavior they are displaying.  You state, “Students are not born with social and emotional problems, they develop under specific social circumstances. This is the language meant to dehumanize and place individuals outside the human family. It is language that always precedes pogroms and genocide.” 

“Pogroms and genocide”?  Spare me the hyperbole and hokey appeals to emotions (propaganda instance #2).  I teach inner-city teenagers for a living, and I will do what I need to do to protect my students’ rights to an education.           

Again, I’m not sure how advocating for equal treatment for all students is Jim Crow.  I’m not sure how suggesting that children in the 21st century should not be held accountable for the sins of their ancestors is “racist.”  I’m not sure how highlighting that there is a difference between equal opportunity and equal achievement is an attack on civil rights. 

I believe that all students should be treated as students—regardless of race—and that they should be rewarded on the basis of individual merit.  You seem to believe that certain children of certain races need special treatment to assure that they can hold their own in society and school.  (Who believes children of African descent are inferior to children of European descent?)  

You state, “to ignore the social context of actions, and oppose economic policies which address the gross inequality in our society, is to return to a form of barbarism akin to the serfdom of the Middle Ages.” 

“Barbarism and serfdom”?  I know, more of your hyperbole and cute appeals to emotion (propaganda instance #3).  Again, I teach real children in a real urban school and am too involved in their lives and educations to manufacture such fantastic analogies. 

No student deserves to be bound by the past, and I will continue to fight for freedom and healthy academic competition.  I urge you to listen to the views of Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, an African American who is now a US Rep. from Florida’s 22nd congressional district.

–Christopher Paslay

 

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (part one)

by Christopher Paslay

 

Currently, I am working on a master’s degree in multicultural education at Eastern University.  This semester I’m taking EDU 517—Multicultural Education.  Here is an excerpt from a reflection paper I wrote after reading the first 90 pages of Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?       

 

          “. . . I guess Tatum gave me a more technical understanding of race/ racism in America; now I’m more hip to the buzz words such as internalized oppression, dominant and subordinate societal groups, and White privilege—the language created to shift power from the dominant society to the subordinate minority culture.    

         

Here are the things that I liked about the first 90 pages of Tatum’s book.  She maps the identity development of African Americans from the early formative years all the way through adulthood.  As a teacher, if I could walk away with one bit of knowledge it would be the importance of recognizing how children—particularly African Americans—form their opinions of themselves and their culture.  It was good to see that Tatum pointed out that young black children (especially adolescents) need to mindfully reject negative stereotypes and find more positive role models. 

         

An example of a role model Tatum would undoubtedly approve of would be none other than Barack Obama.  I recently read in the New York Times about the “Obama Effect,” how Obama is so inspiring that his mere presence as U.S. president is raising scores of black test-takers.  As for the rejection of negative stereotypes—maybe our society could start by cleaning-up the gratuitous sex, violence and materialism found in the hip-hop culture; as educators, we must find substitutes for hip-hop music, possible substituting jazz and blues for gangsta rap. 

         

Of course, there were also things about Tatum’s book that I disagreed with.  To be frank, I found the underlying premise of the text quite hypocritical.  On the one hand, Tatum claims she wants to end racism and bring equality to all people by breaking down barriers and developing a true multicultural society.  Yet through the first 90 pages of the text, she unconsciously (or perhaps consciously) manages to divide the races, creating an us versus them mentality.  Nothing in the book is about synergy, teamwork or sameness—it’s always about a dominant and a subordinate; an oppressor and an oppressed; an insider and an outsider; a privileged and a marginalized. 

         

Granted, I’m not going to deny that these situations exist in American society.  But the problem with Tatum is her philosophy behind who and what should be the catalyst for change.  In Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, the message is quite clear: Change DOESN’T come from within—but from OUTSIDE.  White society is racist.  Period.  And black people and minorities are the victims.  Period.  (Ironically, Tatum says in her book that many black students are “uncomfortable with the portrayal of their group as helpless victims” during lessons on slavery).  Tatum mentioned that during most of her workshops on race, white students rarely mentioned being white.  This makes sense.  She seems to be big on creating an atmosphere of white guilt, so why would anyone want to admit that they were white?

         

According to Tatum, white people are privileged, and they must bear the burden of recognizing this privilege and feel guilty about it (this guilt will supposedly help end racism in America).  But if you subscribe to this logic, than all people should feel guilty about something.  Handsome people would have a Handsome Privilege (being a good looking person sure opens a lot of doors in America), and intelligent people would have an Intelligent Privilege (brains also gets you far in this country), etc.

         

Although Tatum means well, she probably doesn’t realize that her book is filled with racial stereotypes and generalizations.  Worse still, she doesn’t realize the danger of labeling the white American establishment as “racist” (even though America is quite diverse in 2009), just because people worked hard to achieve the American Dream.  She could say the establishment is too competitive, or maybe even intolerant.  But using the word racist in my opinion is a bit radical and done in poor taste.         

         

Tatum might want to write a book on Barack Obama’s new message to America:  SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.  This approach might be less insulting to white people and condescending to blacks.  As a result, it might actually break down barriers between the races rather than pigeon-holing people and creating more anger and resentment.”

 

A second reflection paper—on the second half of Tatum’s book—is due next week.  I’ll be sure to post an excerpt from that paper as well.  

 

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