The Conservative Women of the Mainline hosted a townhall on Critical Race Theory at the Easttown Library in Berwyn, PA, featuring PA State Reps. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) and Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), and author and Philadelphia public schoolteacher Christopher Paslay.
Paslay opened the talk by discussing his book A Parent’s Guide to Critical Race Theory, which he authored to help parents and concerned citizens understand, identify, and challenge CRT in their schools. Paslay also outlined alternatives to CRT, which he hoped would supplement the identity-based model with a value-driven approach – focusing on universal principles that unify instead of polarize by race and social identity.
PA Sate Reps. Barb Gleim and Russ Diamond discussed current and proposed legislation addressing CRT, highlighting examples of troublesome curriculum in their home school districts brought to them by concerned parents and community members.
The townhall ended with the three speakers fielding a 30 minute Q&A from the 100 member audience. Thanks for watching.
This video compares two pathways to equality: one that is identity-based and endorsed by Ibram X. Kendi (critical race theory and anti-racism), and one that is principle-based and endorsed by Thomas Sowell (individual skill-building and universal values).
Deb Fillman, a homeschooling parent of three, online educator, and former classroom teacher with an MSed from the UPENN Graduate School of Education, hosts a YouTube channel called “The Reason We Learn.” Deb has 10 years of experience homeschooling, tutoring, and teaching online, and runs a tutoring service to help families develop customized education experiences for their children in grades K-12. Yesterday, Deb invited me on her podcast, where we discussed Robin DiAngelo, Critical Race Theory, and the future of public education in America.
The Gates Foundation recently donated $3.6 million to The Educational Trust, an advocacy group behind “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” which has designed a new “anti-racist” math curriculum which is more concerned with ending so-called “white supremacy culture” than teaching students objective, linear math. Please click on the picture above to watch a video analysis of Gates’ support of this program, and his bigotry of low expectations. Thanks for watching!
Tragically, today’s leading anti-racist educators are anti-science, and forward theories filled with logical fallacies that don’t stand up to rigorous inquiry.
Modern anti-racism, which is based in Critical Race Theory and focusses on systems instead of people, has become the new way to think about race in America. Although the term “anti-racism” sounds admirable and courageous — and brings to mind equality and justice — its core tenets are far from productive, healing, or unifying. Anti-racism actually turns Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream” on its head, because it uses race and skin color to stereotype and judge entire groups of people, and operates under the premise that in order for one race or culture to succeed, we must disrupt or dismantle another.
Unlike classic multiculturalism — or Baylor University sociology professor George Yancey’s “Mutual Accountability Approach,” which uses Intergroup Contact Theory based in active listening to unify rather than divide — anti-racism is zero-sum and teaches that all whites are inherently racist and privileged and suffer from internalized superiority; that all people of color are victims who suffer from internalized oppression; and that failure to support anti-racism is to support and perpetuate racism and white supremacy.
The most concerning thing about anti-racism is that it is anti-science. Not only do the leading scholars promoting anti-racism fail to adequately test their theories using measurable, quantitative analysis, but today’s leading anti-racist educators have outright rejected the scientific method as biased, because they argue objective science is the product of Western, white European culture.
Robin DiAngelo, whose book White Fragility has sold over two million copies, has minimalized the use of quantitative analysis. In an article by writer and economist Jonathan Church, titled “The Orwellian Dystopia of Robin DiAngelo’s PhD Dissertation,” Church exposes DiAngelo’s lack of scientific rigor:
For her dissertation, DiAngelo conducted four two-hour sessions on inter-racial dialogue with only thirteen participants—a very small sample from which to derive wide-ranging interpretations about things like whiteness and racism. But that is par for the course in fields like Whiteness Studies and Critical Race Theory. As one paper argues, “many critical race scholars are fundamentally skeptical of (if not simply opposed to) quantitative data and techniques to begin with.”
In DiAngelo’s seminal paper, “White Fragility,” she states “Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism and white privilege exist in both traditional and modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it.”
DiAngelo starts her work with a conclusion (that racism and white privilege exist everywhere), not a hypothesis (do racism and white privilege exist everywhere?), and rather than running tests to prove this false, she only performs scant qualitative studies, based on anecdotal observations, to prove it true. In other words, she sets up her theories so that they can only be confirmed, not falsified — which is a major flaw and does not meet what is known as the principle of falsification.
DiAngelo turns the classic six-step scientific method on its head. She skips the “research question,” the “hypothesis,” and the “experiment,” and goes right to the so-called “results and conclusions.” And what are her conclusions? That racism and white privilege exist everywhere. Has she run tests or done any rigorous quantitative studies to prove this? Of course not. Why? Because she considers objective science biased, and the tools of a white supremacist culture.
Anti-racism is anti-science, and is filled with logical fallacies that don’t stand up to rigorous inquiry; one common fallacy of anti-racism is that correlation equals causation. Which is why DiAngelo refuses to engage in any kind of scholarly debate. She’s more of a political activist or cult leader than she is a serious social scientist. In July of 2020, when her book White Fragility blew up after the George Floyd protests, she was invited to debate John McWhorter on MSNBC’s Moring Joe. But of course, DiAngelo didn’t show. She stayed behind, sending Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson to do her dirty work.
Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Anti-Racist, is also anti-science, which forces him to play the same game as DiAngelo. Kendi refuses any kind of public debate — turning down invitations from Coleman Hughes and John McWhorter — instead preferring to play the role of activist minister, lecturing his faithful anti-racist congregation, shielding himself from any real academic debate over his ideas.
Why? Because as John McWhorter has pointed out, Kendi’s ideas are overly simplistic and lack the backing of scientific research and rigorous quantitative analysis.
Take his idea about the racial achievement gap in America, for example. The very idea itself is racist, he argues, insisting the supposed gap is simply the result of poorly designed, culturally biased standardized tests. As Jonathan Chait writes in The Intelligencer:
It does not matter to [Kendi] how many different kinds of measures of academic performance show [the achievement gap] to be true. Nor does he seem receptive to the possibility that the achievement gap reflects environmental factors (mainly worse schools, but also access to nutrition, health care, outside learning, and so on) rather than any innate differences.
To Kendi, all racial disparities are the result of only one thing: racism. Hence, the racial achievement gap in America isn’t really a gap at all, but merely the result of racist thinking.
But science shows this isn’t the case. The Princeton study, called “Parsing the Achievement Gap II,” by noted researchers Paul Barton and Richard Coley, use three decades of educational and social science research to show that the skills gap is indeed real, and that a multitude of factors — in addition to systemic racism — play a part in the gap. Things like rigor of curriculum, teacher preparation, teacher experience and turnover, class size, technology in the classroom, fear and safety at school, parent participation, frequent school changing, low birth weight, environmental damage, hunger and nutrition, talking and reading to children, and television watching, have an effect on academic achievement.
But to Kendi, who espouses the anti-science behind anti-racism, the skills gap is a myth, based in racism and white supremacy. Because to Kendi, any suggestion that any of these factors has an impact on success in school is a racist idea.
To Kendi, you are either racist or anti-racist, period. Like DiAngelo, Kendi starts with his conclusion — that every racial disparity is the evidence of racism — and instead of running tests to prove this false, he only performs research to prove it true. In other words, he sets up his theories so that they can only be confirmed, not falsified — which is a major flaw and does not meet what is known as the principle of falsification.
Kendi also turns the classic six-step scientific method on its head. He skips the “research question,” the “hypothesis,” and the “experiment,” and goes right to the so-called “results and conclusions.” And what are the conclusions? That racism and white privilege exist everywhere, and are the sole factor at the heart of the skills gap. Has he run tests or done any rigorous quantitative studies to prove this, as Barton and Coley did with their groundbreaking paper, “Parsing the Achievement Gap II? Of course not. Why? Because he considers objective science racist, and the tools of a white supremacist culture.
Anti-racism is anti-science, and is filled with logical fallacies that don’t stand up to rigorous inquiry. Until we admit as much, this trendy yet divisive movement will further polarize and divide, placing politics over science, and indoctrination over education.
Classic multiculturalism — or Baylor University sociology professor George Yancey’s “Mutual Accountability Approach,” which uses Intergroup Contact Theory based in active listening to unify rather than divide — is a better option for bringing about positive, holistic change.
Jeff Sessions’ objective application of the law will be a positive change from the racial divisiveness of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, whose race-based policies demoralized teachers and tied the hands of school administrators.
According to a study published in the Washington Post in July of 2016, America is more racially divided than it’s been in decades. Despite President Obama’s promise to bring Americans together (“. . . there’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America . . .”), the tone of his administration could be more aptly summarized by his statement, If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.
The irony, of course, is that a bi-racial president was so racially polarizing. This divisiveness was felt by many Americans, including our nation’s public school teachers. Following the lead of Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan used the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to label public schools and their teachers as institutionally racist and hit them with suffocating regulations.
According to a 2012 study by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Black students were more than three times as likely as their White peers to be suspended or expelled. That was noteworthy information, being that 84 percent of America’s public school teachers in 2012 were White.
The result of this report, of course, was not only the demoralization of public school teachers, but the implementation of regulations which made it harder to discipline students and maintain workable classroom environments. Teachers were forced to rethink the way they approached their jobs, planning lessons which accommodated the unruly behavior of minority students who were no longer allowed to be removed from the classroom; these challenged children were forced to coexist with their functional hard working peers, and the integrity and quality of everyone’s education, Black and White alike, was compromised.
So how is our new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session going to remedy the situation? By being a fair and objective arbiter of the law. Throughout his confirmation hearing, Sessions insisted he would uphold and protect the United States Constitution, unlike Barack Obama and Eric Holder, who selectively enforced the law. In other words, Sessions will not use race to set policy or interpret the Constitution — a simple enough premise.
In short, Sessions won’t play the part of an aggrieved activist, using skin color to either prosecute — or refrain from prosecuting — American citizens. The new culture of “colorblindness” will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the DOE. This would mean the race card might be put away for a while, and teachers will be free to teach once again. Disciplinarians will be free to discipline, too. Regardless of race.
Perhaps the morale of public school teachers may improve as well. Not being labeled a racist — along with having a manageable classroom environment — will go a long way in terms of school performance. In Sessions, teachers now have an Attorney General whom they can respect as a fair arbiter of the law, an attorney General who will work for everyone equally, not just those minority groups the government deems worthy of preferential treatment.
Unfortunately, though, the campaign to slander Sessions has been in high gear as of late. His critics don’t want a neutral arbitrator of the law but a social justice activist like Holder and Lynch — someone who will selectively prosecute based on skin color, the way Holder did in 2009 when the DOJ dropped the case against the New Black Panthers for intimidating voters in Philadelphia.
The fact that Sessions will be colorblind is the main reason why his opponents label him . . . get ready for this, racist . . . and continue to use smear tactics and spread misinformation about him. In the world of race-baiting and identity politics, being colorblind is akin to committing a hate crime. Despite the disingenuous attacks from fellow senators, Sessions is a good man with a glowing record on civil rights. During a march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” Jeff Sessions held hands with civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Sessions’s actual track record certainly doesn’t suggest he’s a racist. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a U.S. Attorney he filed several cases to desegregate schools in Alabama. And he also prosecuted Klansman Henry Francis Hays, son of Alabama Klan leader Bennie Hays, for abducting and killing Michael Donald, a Black teenager selected at random. Sessions insisted on the death penalty for Hays. When he was later elected the state Attorney General, Sessions followed through and made sure Hays was executed. The successful prosecution of Hays also led to a $7 million civil judgment against the Klan, effectively breaking the back of the KKK in Alabama.
Jeff Sessions is hardly a racist. On the contrary, he’s an honest man with character and integrity, and will have a positive impact on both public school performance and teacher morale.
High teacher attrition rates show that tenure is not preventing the bad apples from being weeded out.
There’s a very real belief in the United States that tenure and seniority are keeping large numbers of burned-out, incompetent teachers in classrooms where they rob students of their right to learn. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s new report “Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in the School District of Philadelphia” is a case in point. According to the Inquirer, the report stated:
Tenure and satisfactory evaluations are virtually meaningless for Philadelphia educators, and bad teachers can linger in the public school system too long. . . . Teacher pay ought to be revamped to keep strong performers, and effectiveness, not start date, should guide layoff decisions.
Does tenure provide lousy teachers with a lifetime appointment in the classroom?
The truth is that it’s extremely difficult for an incompetent teacher to remain in the classroom for an extended period of time in the 21st century. The idea that American public schools are housing a significant population of burned-out educators milking the system just isn’t true.
Teacher turnover is costing America $7.3 billion annually
17% of all of public school teachers quit every year
20 percent of urban teachers quit yearly
Over half of America’s new teachers (56%) quit within five years
In Philadelphia from 1999 to 2005, the teacher turnover rate (70%) was higher than the student dropout rate (42%)
In 2011, over a quarter of America’s public school teachers (26%) had five years experience or less
21% of America’s public school teachers are 29 years old or younger
Teacher attrition is similar when it comes to alternative certification programs and charter schools. Over 50% of Teach for America educators leave their assignments after two years. A study tracking teachers working for KIPP schools (Knowledge is Power Program) in the Bay Area revealed annual turnover rates which ranged from 18 percent to 49 percent from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
The truth is, despite teacher tenure and seniority, public schools are not overpopulated with long term educational louses hiding in the cracks. In fact, the notion that tenure creates a lifetime appointment for teacher incompetence is greatly exaggerated.
America’s public school system is self-regulating. In other words, incompetent teachers don’t last very long, as the above data shows. The biggest factor driving bad teachers from the classroom are the kids themselves. If teachers can’t connect with their students, if they argue, butt heads, and create a toxic learning environment, the odds are they won’t survive. It’s too draining a situation—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The same is true for parents and school administrators. Incompetent teachers are in constant disharmony with the mothers and fathers of their pupils and spend the majority of their energy battling principals. Couple this with more rigorous classroom observations and school overhauls at the hands of No Child Left Behind, and most so-called “lousy” teachers are at the breaking point; it is all but impossible for them to hang on to their jobs for “life”.
Bad teachers do exist, of course, but in no greater quantity than in any other profession. You can argue test scores prove the existence of bad teachers—that an unacceptable percentage of students aren’t reading or doing math at grade-level—but does this prove teachers are lousy or incompetent? Does the fact that homicide rates in big cities are unacceptable prove our police force is loaded with deadwood? Is our country’s unacceptable obesity rate an indictment of American nutritionists?
The National Council on Teacher Quality’s new report, in fact, recycles an old argument, one that Michelle Rhee, former Washington public schools chief, has been pushing for some time. In a November 2011 Inquirer commentary headlined “Experienced teachers aren’t the problem,” I refuted her claim:
Rhee insisted that Last In, First Out laws are getting rid of our best teachers, arguing that layoffs should be based on job performance instead of seniority. . . . The authors [of the study Rhee quotes] do admit, however, that first-year teachers are generally ineffective, and that it takes a teacher an average of five or more years to become skilled. This is not surprising: New teachers tend to struggle with classroom management, they lack experience and objectivity, and they have yet to perfect their instruction methods.
. . . If all the teachers in a particular school are rated effective, what’s to stop a principal from balancing the budget by laying off the highest-paid teachers and keeping the least expensive ones? What would protect experienced teachers from politically motivated reprisals if they encourage their students to think critically about school reform and other public policies? And what will keep the new teachers we’re relying on from constantly leaving the system? In my 15 years with the Philadelphia School District, I’ve watched at least a dozen Teach for America educators leave after fulfilling their two-year contracts, off to use their urban teaching experience as resumé padding.
“Last in, first out” isn’t causing us to lose our best teachers. Far from it. Ending seniority-based layoffs might occasionally save a young talent. But it would also harm teacher morale, leave experienced teachers vulnerable to budget cuts and experimental reforms, and populate our schools with inexperienced teachers who are likely to leave.
Scrapping seniority isn’t going to improve the quality of America’s teachers, although it may do irreparable harm to our city’s best educators.
*This blog post is an adaption from a 3/20/12 post titled, “Ending the Myth that Tenure Protects Bad Teachers.”
“Poverty” has more to do with culture and values than it does money.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says not taking over Camden public schools would be “immoral.” Christie’s plan is to hire a new superintendent and do what he can to fill teacher vacancies. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Once the takeover begins, the state “will ensure that every child has the books, instructional materials, and technology necessary for a high-quality education, many of which are currently not reaching the classroom,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Books, instructional materials, and technology.
And we can’t forget money. School reform advocates will also insist poor urban districts across America need more funding. Noted education scholar Diane Ravitch recently published the post “Do Americans Believe in Equality of Opportunity?” on her blog:
Governor Jerry Brown of California gave a brilliant state of the state speech in January, where he pledged to change funding of public schools so that more money went to children with the greatest needs. . . .
But a Los Angeles Times poll finds that only half of the public support the idea of spending more for those with the highest needs.
This raises the question: Do we really believe in equality of educational opportunity? Or do we feel that it is okay that schools for children from affluent families have more resources than those for children of the poor?
Interestingly, Camden public schools spend over $20,000 per student, yet have some of the lowest SAT scores in New Jersey and a graduation rate of only 49 percent. According to an article in the Notebook:
Camden, the poorest city of its size in America and the most violent — with nearly 70 homicides last year in a population of less than 80,000 people — has a graduation rate below 50 percent. At the same time, due to landmark New Jersey court decisions on school funding, the city spends more than $20,000 per student, close to the amount spent in some of the area’s wealthy suburbs.
According to an article in the Delaware County Daily Times, per-pupil spending and achievement are not correlated:
If spending were an important factor in education we’d expect Lower Merion’s $26,000 per-student spending to rocket their academic performance far above neighboring Radnor’s at $19,000 per student. Yet Radnor is ranked No. 4 by the Business Journal and Lower Merion is ranked No. 7.
But for a stark comparison we should look to Central Bucks where they spend $13,000 per student — less than half of that spent by Lower Merion. And their ranking? Just behind Lower Merion at No. 8!
What folks like Ravitch rarely address, however, is that “equality of opportunity” has more to do with values and culture than it does with money. What does “poor” mean, exactly? My father grew up in a 900 square foot row-home in Southwest Philadelphia with nine siblings, and the only source of income was my grandfather’s salary as a Philadelphia firefighter. Was my father poor? Financially, maybe, but not in terms of his values and character. He learned responsibility, respect, work ethic, honesty, integrity, and the importance of family nonetheless. He went on to become a well-respected teacher and administrator, and eventually earned his Ed.D.
In a 2009 Educational Testing Service policy report titled Parsing the Achievement Gap II, national trends between students of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds were tracked. The report listed 16 factors that have been linked to student achievement. Of the 16 factors, nine were directly related to a child’s home environment.
Camden is over 85 percent minority. If its public schools are going to make any real progress, the next superintendent should have a plan in place to address the following 10 questions (these questions apply to any major urban school district in America):
1. How are you going to get Camden parents involved with school? According to ETS, Black students’ parents are less likely than White parents to attend a school event or to volunteer at school. Children whose parents are involved in their schooling have higher levels of achievement.
2. How are you going to get Camden men to father their children? Minority students were less likely to live with two parents, and 77 percent of Black children in America are born out-of-wedlock. Children who live with two married parents do better both behaviorally and academically.
3. How are you going to keep Camden families from frequently moving and changing schools? Minority students are more likely than White students to change schools frequently. There is a high correlation between frequently changing schools and poor test scores.
4. How are you going to increase the low birth weight of Camden newborns? The percentage of Black infants born with low birth weight is higher than that for White and Hispanic infants. Studies show children with low birth weight do worse in school.
5. How are you going to keep Camden children from getting lead and mercury poisoning? Minority and low-income children were more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards, which harms brain development.
6. How are you going to get Camden children to eat healthy? Minority and low-income children were more likely to be food insecure, which can lead to concentration problems and issues with development.
7. How are you going to encourage Camden parents to get their children to school? Black and Hispanic students have the highest rates of absenteeism. There is a high correlation between truancy and low academic achievement.
8. How are you going to get Camden parents to read to their children? Minority and low-income children were less likely to be read to daily as infants, which studies show impacts a child’s vocabulary development and intelligence.
9. How are you going to get Camden parents to turn off the television? Minority and lower-SES children watch more television. Excessive television watching is associated with low academic achievement.
10. How are you going to keep Camden children from regressing academically over the summer? Minority and low-SES students grow less academically over the summer, and in many cases, lose knowledge.
Until these awkward but important issues are adequately addressed, Christie’s takeover of Camden public schools—along with a new superintendent—isn’t going to make a significant amount of difference.
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.”
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.