Tag Archives: Allen West

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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Which Students Deserve Amnesty? Only Obama Gets to Decide

by Christopher Paslay

Obama himself–not Congress or the people–will decide which students should be held responsible for the crimes of their parents.   

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  It has also been home to slave masters, segregationists, and illegal aliens who’ve crossed the border or over-stayed their visas.  These sinners and rule breakers have given birth to children–some in the United States, some on foreign soil.  Many of these children are now students in American schools.  Which should be granted amnesty and which deserve a penalty?

This is a decision best left up to the president–at least in the mind of Barack Obama.

Let’s start with granting amnesty to America’s undocumented residents. President Obama’s recent executive decision to override Congress and implement parts of the DREAM Act–granting immunity to an estimated 800,000 illegal aliens residing in the United States–is a case of the president deciding that certain students should not be held responsible for the crimes of their parents.  In other words, youths brought to America illegally by their parents shouldn’t be forced to leave the country.

President Obama stated this in his June 15th speech on immigration policy:

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life, studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.

That’s what gave rise to the DREAM Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, you’ve been here for five years and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. . . .

(The DREAM Act does make a lot of sense and has received some bipartisan support . . . a version of it was actually introduced by George W. Bush . . . unless of course you are one of the thousands of legal immigrants following the law and patiently waiting your turn to become a citizen.)

On the other hand, President Obama’s support of Affirmative Action–a policy that uses skin color to decide which students get into which schools and receive preferential treatment–is a case of the president deciding that certain students should be held responsible for their ancestors’ past crimes.

Jason Kissner, associate professor of Criminology at California State University, Fresno, said it best:

Why should today’s White youth be held accountable, via affirmative action measures, for Jim Crow laws?  Why should they be accountable, via affirmative action measures, for the enslavement perpetrated not by their parents but by people who acted several generations ago?

How about today’s Asian youth?  Why on God’s green earth are they forced to limp around with the lead ball of affirmative action lashed to their ankles?

And what, exactly, is the justification for extending affirmative action to Hispanics anyway?

Also, has anyone inquired whether the beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s immigration pronouncement are now lawfully entitled (which, given Mr. Obama’s proclivities, is admittedly not the same as asking whether they will in fact receive) dispensations such as affirmative action small business loans?

Can anyone at all explain how it makes sense to distribute government benefits, on the basis of “innocence,” to those whom all parties admit are unlawfully here and then discriminate–in spite of innocence–against those whom all parties must admit are lawfully here?

The most interesting part of this all is that President Obama himself–not Congress, not the people–gets to decide who gets amnesty and who gets a penalty.  Despite the fact that Congress shot down the DREAM Act, the president recently used an executive order to implement portions of it anyway.  Many Americans believe that this was an overreach of presidential power.  In fact, President Obama thought so himself.

In March of 2011, the president clearly stated that he could not stop deportations of undocumented students through an executive order when he addressed a town hall forum hosted by the spanish speaking network Univision.

With respect to the notion that I could suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know we have three branches of government. Congresses passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws and then the judiciary has to interpret the law. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system, that for me through simply an executive order ignore those mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

Last month, the president ignored his own best judgement, overrode Congress and gave amnesty to nearly one million unlawful aliens anyway.

As for the hard working American students being penalized for their ancestor’s sins via affirmative action?  The president has offered no such amnesty to these children.

Apparently, these students and their parents will have to hope that President Obama wakes up on the right side of the bed one day and changes his mind.

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Filed under English Language Learners, Multiculturalism