Friday, May 02, 2008

Poisonous "Authenticity"

Jeremiah Wright draws on a long line of Afrocentric charlatans

The list of Afrocentric "educators" whom Reverend Jeremiah Wright has invoked in his media escapades since this Sunday is a disturbing reminder that academia's follies can enter the public world in harmful ways. Now the pressing question is whether they have entered presidential candidate Barack Obama's worldview as well.

Some in Wright's crew of charlatans have already had their moments in the spotlight; others are less well known. They form part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as "authentically black." That their ideas have ended up in the pulpit of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and in Detroit's Cobo Hall, where Wright spoke at the NAACP's Freedom Fund dinner on Sunday, reminds us that bad ideas must be fought at their origins-and at every moment thereafter.

At the NAACP meeting, Wright proudly propounded the racist contention that blacks have inherently different "learning styles," correctly citing as authority for this view Janice Hale of Wayne State University. Pursuing a Ph.D. by logging long hours in the dusty stacks of a library, Wright announced, is "white." Blacks, by contrast, cannot sit still in class or learn from quiet study, and they have difficulty learning from "objects"-books, for example-but instead learn from "subjects," such as rap lyrics on the radio. These differences are neurological, according to Hale and Wright: whites use what Wright referred to as the "left-wing, logical, and analytical" side of their brains, whereas blacks use their "right brain," which is "creative and intuitive."

When he was of school age in Philadelphia following the Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation decision, Wright said, his white teachers "freaked out because the black children did not stay in their place, over there, behind the desk." Instead, the students "climbed up all over [the teachers], because they learned from a `subject,' not an `object.'" How one learns from a teacher as "subject" by climbing on her, as opposed to learning from her as "object"-by listening to her words-is a mystery.

One would hope that Wright's audience was offended by the idea that acting out in class is authentically black-it was impossible to tell what the reaction in the hall was to the assertion. But one thing is clear: embracing the notion that blacks shouldn't be expected to listen attentively to instruction is guaranteed to perpetuate into eternity the huge learning gap between blacks on the one hand, and whites and Asians on the other.

Wright also praised the work of Geneva Smitherman of Michigan State University, who has called for the selective incorporation of Ebonics into the curriculum in order to validate the black experience. Wright gave another shout-out to the late Asa Hilliard of Georgia State University, who told us, Wright said, "how to fix the schools." Like Hale, Hilliard argued that disrupting the classroom through "impulsive interrupting and loud talking" is inherently black. His bogus Afrocentrism, propounded in his "African-American Baseline Essays," metastasized in educational circles during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Hilliard argued that Western civilization was at once stolen from black Africa and crippling to black identity. As the late Arthur M. Schlesinger recounted in his 1991 alarum about multiculturalism, The Disuniting of America, Hilliard urged schools to teach black students that Egypt was a black country; that Africans invented birth control and carbon steel; that they discovered America long before Columbus; that Robert Browning and Ludwig van Beethoven were "Afro-European"; and that the Atlantic Ocean was originally named the Ethiopian Ocean. (City College of New York laughingstock Leonard Jeffries-he of the infamous distinction between materialistic, aggressive European "ice people" and superior African "sun people"-contributed to Hilliard's Essays, asserting therein that slavery was undertaken as "part of a conspiracy to prevent us from having a unified experience.")

Approving of self-destructive behavior in school is just one part of the vast academic project to justify black underclass dysfunction. The academy has also singled out crime as authentically black, another poisonous idea that Wright appears to have embraced. In his NAACP speech, he mocked the tendency of "those of us who never got caught" to treat "those of us who are incarcerated" with disrespect. In other words, we all commit crime, but only some of us get nabbed for it.

This leveling argument recalls the bizarre doctrines of University of Pennsylvania law professor Regina Austin. In a widely reprinted California Law Review article from 1992, Austin asserted that the black community should embrace the criminals in its midst as a form of resistance to white oppression. People of color should view "hustling" as a "good middle ground between straightness and more extreme forms of lawbreaking." Examples of hustling include "clerks in stores [who] cut their friends a break on merchandise, and pilfering employees [who] spread their contraband around the neighborhood." It never occurs to Austin that these black thieves may have black employers who suffer the effects of black crime-as do the larger neighborhoods of which they form the essential fabric. Officially incorporating crime into the black identity, as Austin and Wright do, is a pathetic admission of defeat and marginalization.

To understand how such ideas become mainstream, one need only read the front page of today's New York Times. There, television critic Alessandra Stanley thrills to the authentic voice of black America: Wright "went deep into context-a rich, stem-winding brew of black history, Scripture, hallelujahs and hermeneutics," Stanley effuses. "Mr. Wright, Senator Barack Obama's former pastor, was cocky, defiant, declamatory, inflammatory and mischievous."

One might think that Wright's promotion of the idea that black kids can't sit still in class would raise some worries, even in a television critic. Surely Stanley would expect her own children to listen to their teachers. But the white elite's desire to avoid charges of racism cancels out all reasonable reactions to dangerous nonsense when such nonsense comes out of black mouths. The coverage of Wright's speeches beyond the Times has been just as silent about their crackpot Afrocentric pedagogy, meekly following the agenda that Wright set by asking instead whether the black church, and not Wright, was under attack.

Wright's speeches have shown how quickly academic insanity becomes incorporated into practice. And now we may be on the verge of seeing such madness spread into the White House. The mainstream media have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into questioning Obama's affiliation with Wright. By now, Wright's 9/11 and AIDS diatribes are well-worn-and Obama's repudiation of them a no-brainer. It is imperative that someone at CNN or the New York Times ask Obama whether he, too, believes that the way to "fix the schools" is through Afrocentric curricula and double standards in student discipline, and whether he, too, believes that blacks only think with the "right side" of their brains.


Class for kids: How to be homosexual

A state-funded organization in Maine touted as "a stellar program for social change" is advertising a seminar that essentially provides information to impressionable school-age boys on how to be homosexual, according to a pro-family organization opposing the plans. The seminar, "Queer, Questioning, Quiet: Developing Gender Identity & Male Sexual Orientation," is promoted by the Boys to Men organization in Portland, Maine, during its coming 2008 conference. The session will feature a presentation by speakers from the homosexual Proud Rainbow Youth for Southern Maine, officials said.

"I think it's outrageous," Michael Heath, chief of the Christian Civic League of Maine, told WND. '"This is now starting to happen in public schools throughout our state. The public needs to wake up, become aware, and speak out against it."

The Boys to Men website advertisement about its conference says the outreach is "targeted primarily to middle and high school boys and their adult male mentors." The workshop on homosexuality, the website said, includes "speakers from the Maine SpeakOut Project and PRYSM (who) will discuss their own coming-out experiences and use these as a springboard for exploring LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) issues and resources for youth in Southern Maine."

The organization's "core value" page states: "Traditional media and cultural representations of masculinity and femininity are too narrowly defined and contribute to destructive and damaging behavior towards individuals of all genders and ages. We are committed to eliminating the inequalities and institutional injustices that result from these traditional media and cultural representations of masculinity." It also lists as a goal to teach "young men and young women to work together to enhance school climate by standing up against ... gender stereotyping, homophobia and intolerance of difference."

"This continues to happen to impressionable young boys," Heath said. "The sad thing is the boys who are least able to endure this message, this confusion, are the ones they're preying upon." He said the New England states are just about even with California in pursuit of a sexual liberation that makes the hippies' free love atmosphere of the 1960s look staid. "We have laws protecting transgenders. We have a 10-year-old boy [in the state] being raised as a girl. The elementary school is being forced to allow the boy to use the bathroom with the girls," Heath said.

He said it's so important that families, and especially parents of younger children, realize the "sexual orientation cabal" that is flooding his state and region. "We writing about it [the seminar] right now," he said. "We're going to let folks know ... what's going on."

Heath said the "sexual revolution" is entrenched in the law, and its impacts are both widespread and serious. "I don't think insanity is too strong a word for it," he said. "Here in New England .. urges and pleasures are what drive the culture, the law." Unless there is a rally for traditional and moral views, Heath said, "We will witness the disintegration of a civilization." A best-case result would be that there is enough of a public reaction to the teachings that people start to pay attention and act on traditional moral values."

Sally J. Laskey of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said in a website statement, "Maine's Boys To Men project is a stellar program for social change and the primary prevention of violence because it provides community support and specific skill development for building healthy individuals and healthy relationships." Officials setting up the conference also have scheduled a workshop on "Real Life. Real Talk. Sex in the Movies," which will be led by two people from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a division of the nation's biggest abortion provider. Board members of the Boys to Men organization include Chuck Morrison, a sexuality educator in Portland, as well as retired United Church of Christ minister Bill Gregory. The event is sponsored by local businesses and foundations as well as divisions of the state, officials said.

Heath's organizational website, however, already includes a clear warning about the developments, quoting the late evangelical thinker Francis Shaeffer: "The Christian is the real radical of our generation, for he stands against the monolithic, modern concept of truth as relative. But too often, instead of being the radical, standing against the shifting sands of relativism, he subsides into merely maintaining the status quo. If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point of the cross, and that there is a moral law fixed in what God is in Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field against what is wrong - including man's inhumanity to man."

WND reported previously on homosexual indoctrination not by local tax-enhanced foundations but by public schools themselves. This is the time of year when many schools across the country are promoting the "Day of Silence," a campaign to make students "aware" of the "discrimination" suffered by homosexuals in society by having students and teachers remain silent for the day. Such events typically are organized by a school's "Gay-Straight Alliance" group, but the "Day of Silence" has been promoted by a special-interest group, the massively funded Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

WND also reported the concerted effort by dozens of organizations to alert parents to the indoctrination effects of such school observances and urge them to keep their children home from schools during the events. "It's outrageous that our neighborhood schools would allow homosexual activism to intrude into the classroom," said Buddy Smith of the American Family Association, one group on the long list of organizations working to provide information to parents. "'Day of Silence' is about coercing students to repudiate traditional morality. It's time for Christian parents to draw the line - if your children will be exposed to this DOS propaganda in their school, then keep them home for the day," he said.


Inmate boasts of 'luxury' life in British prison

A man jailed for repeatedly stabbing his wife has said he is enjoying a luxury life in prison and boasted that he was "better off inside". Donal Kelleher, 37, an inmate at HMP Cardiff, said that his en suite accommodation was "outstanding" and disclosed that he was paid œ10 a week - to study for a maths GCSE - which he spends on cigarettes, chocolate and "other luxury goods".

A prison officer who has worked at Cardiff for 15 years said last week that inmates were simply sitting in their cells watching snooker on television or playing computer games. He added that a new health care centre put local hospitals "to shame" and made it easier to see a dentist than on the "outside". The extraordinary claims were made after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last week that a prison officers' leader said jails had become so comfortable that some inmates were ignoring chances to escape. Glyn Travis, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said the latest disclosure confirmed his fears and that "we need to address the root of what prisons are all about".

Kelleher, a former Welsh Guard, stabbed his wife Leanne seven times in the chest and back after she told him she was leaving him. He was jailed in 2005. But writing to a local newspaper from prison, he said: "I am better off in here. I could only imagine how cold it was this winter living on the streets." Kelleher added: "May I just say that the food and accomadation (sic) is of outstanding quality here. We have coulour (sic) TVs, on sweet (sic) facilities, everything is provided for us eg toiletries, laundry."

He stated that the education department at Cardiff was of a "very high standard". He said: "I'm currently doing a GCSE grade in maths which I am paid ten pound a week to achieve which I can spend on tobbacco (sic), chocolate and other luxury goods." The inmate signed the letter "Donal Kelleher, Prisoner No. GE7247, HMP Cardiff".

David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, visited the prison last year. He said: "I saw prisoners sitting in their cells watching television and playing computer games. "It seems to be an unwritten rule if they are left alone to do whatever they want they won't cause any trouble." "They have a right to be treated humanely but we have to remember they are in prison to be punished."

Sian West, the governor of Cardiff prison said last night: "It's ludicrous to say that prison is cushy." She added: "We endeavour to challenge all prisoners to use their time in Cardiff constructively. "Television sets purchased for in-cell prisoner use are paid for by the weekly rental fee of one pound paid by prisoners. "TVs can and will be removed from prisoners whose behaviour is deemed unacceptable."


Should Hate Speech be Banned?

The government of Canada prohibits speech directing hatred against persons of a particular color, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation (the "Hate Propaganda" sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada). Oddly, Canadian law permits hate speech if it is religiously motivated.

In contrast, in the USA, the First Amendment to the US Constitution has protected speech other than slander, libel, incitement to riot, and obscenity. Some religious preachers in the US have advocated genocide, and their hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. In Canada as well as some other countries, people are not allowed to incite or promote hatred or advocate genocide. For example, Sweden enacted a constitutional amendment in 2002 which includes sexual orientation in the groups that one may not target with "unfavorable speech." The United Kingdom bans incitement to racial hatred in its Public Order Act 1986.

These hate-speech laws are arbitrary and contradictory. First of all, by providing a list of groups that the law applies to, other groups are left as targets of hate speech. For example, the Canadian speech ban does not apply to women as a group. So one can utter hate talk about women, but not about some ethnic group. But why is it OK to say bad things about women but not about Italians or Germans? Moreover, if there is a religious bias against, say, Jews, why is it OK to express hatred against Jews if it is based on religious beliefs and not OK if it is a non-religious prejudice?

The basic problem with banning hate speech is that it prohibits acts which are offensive but not harmful. In natural moral law, as expressed by the universal ethic, it is evil to coercively harm others, but not evil to merely offend someone. If offensive speech is banned, then one is prohibited from speaking any time somebody does not like what you say. If offensive speech or behavior is prohibited, then the law is based on the arbitrary whims and beliefs of anyone.

The law should prohibit coercive harm to others regardless of which group categories someone belongs to. In France, for example, some Muslims are attacking Jews. In some neighborhoods, Jews are in danger even entering or leaving a synagogue, as Muslims throw rocks at them. Because of physical attacks and threats, Jews are abandoning these neighborhoods in France. This is not merely hate speech, but physical coercive harm, and it should be prohibited and penalized not because the target is a religious group but because coercive harm to others is evil, and the law should prohibit and penalize any coercive harm to others.

Hateful speech does hurt the feelings of the targeted group, but if it does not put them in physical danger, it is not coercive harm. Hateful speech can be countered with opposing speech. Speech is a danger if it directly incites people to attack the targeted group, so if someone says, "Let's go and attack lesbians," and people then do attack them, that speech should be penalized, as it is part of the physical attack. But if someone merely expresses contempt for lesbians, that should not be banned. The response to physical attacks should include both criminal and civil remedies. One should be able to sue someone who attacks you, even if he just spits on you or pushes you. High penalties for physical attacks would deter most of them.

The police in many areas are lax on dealing with violence, but zealous in acting against victimless crimes. They are in many cases following the culture. Television and movies depict the most horrible violence, yet if particular words are uttered, there are high penalties.

One can understand laws prohibiting hate speech, since the designated groups have been subject to hate, prejudice, and negative discrimination. In many places, homosexuals, religious minorities, and members of racial and ethnic groups have been physically persecuted, and the law is trying to protect them. But there is moral confusion as to what is good and evil. By going too far and stifling free expression, the law itself becomes evil.

Canada, the U.K., Sweden, and other countries have gone too far. The U.S. also goes too far when it inflicts huge fines for broadcasting bad words and for brief depictions of body parts. It should never be illegal to merely offend others. The law should only prohibit invasions into the domain of others - physical attacks and threats to physically attack.

That is the natural moral law that, as philosopher John Locke said, is based on reason, which "teaches all mankind who will but consult it." Locke said that consulting reason, we should all be able to come to the same logical moral conclusions. Unfortunately, most folks don't even try to use reason in making moral judgments, but use their prejudices, even if well intentioned. Good intentions without the full use of reason leads to further oppression in the end.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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