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.