South Africa, though saved some twenty years ago from the injustices of apartheid, is going steadily downhill.
We quote a letter from James E. Martins, teacher and lecturer:
What a fortnight it has been! Really, living in Johannesburg is difficult at the moment.We now have load-shedding daily – electricity cut off from ten in the morning till two in the afternoon. Infuriating. Seeing crowds of people rushing to banks and pharmacies before the blackouts is a disturbing sight. Shades of the Soviet Union …
Trade is suffering severely. I hear from my cousin in Oz that “the South African crisis” has even made Australia’s very parochial news reports. And no wonder! A country collapsing because of monopoly, corruption, and a complete failure to plan adequately should be newsworthy.
We are all expected to be technologically savvy in the midst of such a crisis. At school, there is constant talk of greater use of smartboards, computer avatars, etc., etc. With the country’s electricity supplies at risk, it might be more sensible if we all polished our “chalk and talk” — and not a bad thing, either! (Nothing is superior to a teacher with personality and passion!) Still, it is maddening to live on “this isthmus of a middle state” between First World and disintegrating Third World. To give a rather trivial example, I do not know whether to complain to the local Post Office or simply to grind my teeth and wait: I have a host of orders from Amazon.UK that have not arrived yet. Perhaps I should be patient. After all, I received a couple of Christmas cards a week ago. Africa!
By the way, it is estimated that, in Soweto, people owe R2 billion in unpaid rates for services – i.e. electricity. The ANC will never call such offenders to account for they – or their votes, rather – guarantee the ANC’s retention of power.
I attended an Advanced Programme English Conference this weekend, and had to endure everyone swooning over a YouTube snippet of a speech by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, on the “danger of a single reading”. This is the new catchphrase of the trendy Left. She sneered inevitably at white stereotyping of blacks – while unashamedly doing the reverse! – and made cheap gibes at John Locke. I had to button my indignant lips, but, in my own address, I did make an impassioned plea for accurate reading, not simply fashionable ones. Sadly, I fear that many of my colleagues did not realize my words were a criticism of the rapturously received anti-white diatribe. Adichie mocked whites who believe that Africa is a bloodsoaked mess in which helpless people await redemption by white imperialists.
Africa is a bloodsoaked mess. And there may be people who “await redemption by white imperialists”. But if so, they wait in vain.
Here’s one of the most important reasons why The Atheist Conservative needs to exist. Why what we have to say is important. Why we must make ourselves heard.
From Fox News comes this story of an atheist of the left. In everything except his atheism, he couldn’t be more wrong.
If you sign up for Denver college professor Charles Angeletti’s American Civilization class, be forewarned that you’re going to have to recite his invective-filled “New Pledge” – and according to some of his students, also be ready to swallow a big helping of his politics.
Angeletti, who teaches at Metropolitan State University of Denver, has students learn an anti-American spoof of the Pledge of Allegiance that denounces the U.S. as a Republican-controlled bastion of injustice, all while spewing his own far-left brand of politics, according to current and former students.
The professor hands out this “pledge” on a flier to his students and demands that they repeat it.
I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American. And to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don’t watch your step.
The anti-U.S. recitation, first reported by higher education blog Campus Reform, was a satirical pledge aimed at getting students to question their nation’s leadership, Angeletti said. The self-proclaimed atheist and socialist told the site that he has been distributing the pledge in his classes for nearly 20 years as part of his lesson plan.
“We’re very racist, we’re very repressive, we’re very Christian oriented, we don’t tolerate other kinds of thinking in this country,” Angeletti told Campus Reform. “I could go on and on – and do, in my classes, for hours about things that we need to do to make this a better country.”
Could anything be further from the truth?
Consider that a majority of voters twice elected a black man (though he was completely unqualified for high office) to the presidency, many of them just to prove they were not racist. But see how America has again become over race-conscious as a result. President Obama and his attorney-general Eric Holder are race-hustlers, working with others of their kidney; most prominently Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Malik Zulu Shabazz (head of the New Black Panther Party). Racism is now mostly expressed by black politicians, black trade union bosses, black politicians and “community organizers”.
The voices calling loudly for repression in the US are those of politically-correct lefties.
We too dislike Christianity, and we exist to prove that one can be conservative, a defender of the Constitution, a free marketeer, an advocate for states’ rights, and a patriot without believing in the supernatural, or bible literalism, or creationism, or that “Jesus” is a god or a part of a god, or in that rump of a godthing they call “intelligent design”. Our existence alone disproves his caricature of conservative thought.
And equally that one can be an atheist without being – yes – “Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis”; or politically-correct progressives, Alinskyite community organizers, whitewashers of Islam, collectivists, redistributionists and America-hating racists.
As for “not tolerating other kinds of thinking”, the US is the one country in the world which really does protect freedom of speech. The Left of course would change that if it could.
Academia is dominated by lefties like this professor, and – what is more and worse – his comrades are at present occupying the commanding heights of power.
A student from Angeletti’s class told Campus Reform that the flier was handed out to the entire class and all students were required to recite it.
“This was an attempt to propagandize an entire classroom of young adults,” Steven Farr, a freshman majoring in meteorology, told the blog site.
Officials at Metropolitan State University of Denver did not immediately return requests for comment. The 24,000-student school has the second-highest undergraduate enrollment in the state and has several notable Division II sports programs. It also bills itself as a top choice for active-duty military and veterans to pursue higher education, and has several notable Division II sports programs.
We wonder what the active-duty soldiers and the vets think of Professor Charles Angeletti’s ravings.
Ah! – Fox tells us:
“This is typical elite, progressive, post-modernist garbage,” said Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “I hope and believe that vets in his class will challenge this professor. We have seen this time and time again. Lessons like this stack the deck against veterans and basically tell them, you fought for nothing,” Hegseth added. “You fought for a lie.”
(Hat-tip to our Facebook reader and commenter, Joe Compton. He rightly believes that to counter the lies of ill-informed, malicious, anti-America atheists like this, is why The Atheist Conservative exists.)
At UC Berkeley, students are content to let the flag of ISIS be waved on their campus, and some even wish the flag-waver “Welcome!” and “Good luck!”.
When he switches to an Israeli flag, students shriek fury at him.
How much worse race relations have become since Barack Obama was elected (ludicrously) to the presidency. Of course he got elected because a great many whites voted for him for no better reason than that he is black. A totally racist reason. So the signs for the elimination of race as a divisive political issue were not good.
It was a very poor reason to vote for him, his skin color. In no way did he, although a black American, embody the experience and historical consciousness of most black Americans. Through his paternal line he is a member of the Luo tribe of East Africa. His (Muslim and Communist) Luo father was not even an immigrant in America, only a short-stay student visitor. So if some thought a vote for Obama was a vote to make amends to black Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors, they widely missed the mark.
In two of his columns syndicated today, Thomas Sowell deplores the latest measures Obama is taking to stress and exploit racial differences.
First he writes against a policy being implemented in Minneapolis to privilege black delinquent children by giving them lighter punishment than white children who commit the same offenses:
If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.
Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.
Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis Public Schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25% by the end of this school year, and then by 50%, 75% and finally 100% in each of the following years.
In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.
If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.
When different groups of human beings have behaved differently in all sorts of ways, in countries around the world, for thousands of years of recorded history, why would we accept as dogma that the only reason one set of students gets punished more than others is because the people who are doing the punishing are picking on them?
Politically — which is the way the Obama administration looks at everything — any time they can depict blacks as victims, and depict themselves as their rescuers, that means an opportunity to get out the black vote for Democrats.
On the surface, this may look like a favor to blacks. But only on the surface.
Anyone with common sense knows that letting a kid get away with bad behavior is an open invitation to worse behavior in the future. Punishing a kid for misbehavior in school when he is 10 years old may reduce the chances that he will have to be sent to prison when he is 20 years old.
Other schools in other cities, which have also caved under pressure from the federal government, and agreed to lighten up on black kids who misbehave, have reported an increase in misbehavior, including violence. Who would have thought otherwise?
Letting kids who are behavior problems in schools grow up to become hoodlums and then criminals is no favor to them or to the black community. Moreover, it takes no more than a small fraction of troublemakers in a class to make it impossible to give that class a decent education. And for many poor people, whether black or white, education is their one big chance to escape poverty.
Next, Sowell writes about the absurd policy of enforcing “racial quotas for academic performance” in public schools:
Just as school boards across the country scramble to meet new federal limits for punishing black students, Obama’s educrats now want them to hit racial quotas for academic performance, too.
Last month, slipping almost everybody’s notice, the Education Department’s office for civil rights issued a guidance letter to 14,000 local school districts that expands “racial equity” beyond school discipline into virtually every aspect of public education.
Breathtaking in its scope, the 37-page edict warns school boards that they have to reach the same equity, based on “disparate impact” statistics, in:
1) advanced placement courses;
2) gifted and talented programs;
3) distribution of funds;
4) school facilities;
5) technology; and,
6) teacher talent, experience and diversity.
Those who don’t get their numbers right risk forfeiting federal funding and being investigated for discrimination. It doesn’t matter if school policies provide black students equal access to fast-track programs and resources. Or if standards are color-blind.
If disproportionate numbers of African-Americans don’t avail themselves of those policies, schools can expect a visit from Obama’s diversity cops. …
From now on, racial imbalances in “advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, gifted and talent programs” and other honors programs will be flagged by Obama’s racial bean counters. If your school has “too many” whites and Asians and “too few” blacks in those programs, you might want to lawyer up. …
Of course, most boards will not want to fight Washington and risk losing subsidies. So they’ll more than likely work to get their numbers right — even if it means lowering entrance standards and curving test scores.
Liability does not end there. The Obama regime also sees as racist disparities in the quality of facilities, resources and teachers. …
It blames these allegedly discriminatory disparities for lower black graduation rates. …
School districts that show statistical disparities by race will be aggressively investigated under the administration’s unconstitutional disparate impact theory and “be expected to put in place a clear plan for remedying the inequality in a timely fashion.” …
In effect, activist federal bureaucrats are micromanaging all local school decisions now, with the goal of massive redistribution of resources and outcomes.
The best way to ensure underprivileged kids have access to quality education is to give their parents better options through school choice facilitated by education vouchers. But Democrats and their school union donors fight such common-sense solutions and opt for race-baiting instead.
The incoming GOP majority in Congress ought to demand the administration rescind its draconian new school policy guidance.
Nowhere at this time is the result of Obama’s racist policies more starkly apparent than in Ferguson, Missouri.
Obama made an unscheduled visit to the black leaders of recent protest riots there and told them to “Stay on course”.
Seems they will.
Kerry Picket writes at Breitbart:
Protesters anxiously awaiting the St. Louis grand jury decision relating to the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown have been training activists all weekend in preparation for the day the grand jury makes an announcement about whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death.
Regardless of the verdict, then, “activists” will protest.
In a small room located on South Jefferson Avenue … organizers like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou are instructing groups of individuals about tactics relating to resisting police commandsduring demonstrations. Sekou is a St. Louis native who grew up in the area but now lives in Massachusetts.
He’s come to Ferguson specially for the sport.
Topics covered by organizers like Sekou … included decentralized protest actions, jail support, first aid, legal issues, as well as staying safe on the streets during demonstrations. …
Sekou says to the group, “Our task in part is, in addition to all the information is get a sense as to why we are here. We are part of the guiding principles for this movement. It’s militant non-violent civil disobedience. Can you please say that?”
Attendees respond, “Militant non-violent civil disobedience.”
“Militant” but also “non-violent”?
Sekou continues, “And we use the word ‘militant’ as opposed to the word ‘passive’ non-violent civil disobedience, because we are about a direct encounter with the state to create drama to show that we are willing to take a risk in confronting the state because of injustice. Right?”
Attendees reply, “Right.”
The injustice is accepted as a fact.
“We break unjust laws, because it’s the morally right thing to do. That’s why we do it. And there’s a tradition of that,” Sekou says to the group of mainly white attendees – many who are at least 50 years old.
Elderly whites will be breaking the law to create drama to show that they’re willing to take a risk in confronting the state. If they do, there will be no outcry from the media. It’s not as if these were members of the Tea Party.
“And militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us the 8 hour work day. It gave us women’s right to vote. It gave us the possibility of me standing here in this room with you without the relative fear of arbitrary violence because this meeting would have been historically illegal 50 years ago. That’s what militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us. We are angry, but we will not allow the anger to have the last word,” says Sekou as the protesters-in-training answered him positively with rousing congregational “yeahs” after each sentence.
“So what militant non-violent civil disobedience allows us to do is to create a container that we can channel it directly at the state, because this is not about bad apples. This is about a rotten system,” Sekou tells the trainees.
“Because you can be a good cop who doesn’t shoot black people but if you give out more tickets in Ferguson than there are actually people in Ferguson, that’s an evil system.”
Sekou then starts, “So we are confronting an…”
The audience finishes his sentence stating back to him, “Evil system.”
He continues, “[This is] not about an individual police or about individuals. This is about confronting an evil system. And the thing that guides us is love — not the kind of love that you see somebody and you think they’re cute — not that — [but rather] deep abiding love. Say that.”
Attendees responded, “Deep abiding love.”
“That’s what guides us, because deep abiding love says you’re willing to go to jail for what you believe in. Deep abiding love says you’re willing to risk your life for what you believe in,” Sekou says. “That’s what deep abiding love does. Deep abiding love in the front of tanks and tear gas and pepper spray says you will not bow down.” …
At this point some attendees are asked to participate in an exercise involving locking arms while others play the police vociferously demanding they leave the area.
Sekou asks those who are locking arms how they felt after that experience.
“Did you tense up? In those instances what’s the guiding principles?”
They reply, “Deep abiding love.”
“So when you feel the person next to you, you hold the line. You hold the line. One of the toughest things to do is if you are being advanced upon, if you sit, it’s harder for you to be broken up, right? So as they come for you this time, I want you to sit and lock,” he says.
The topic of race came up briefly as Sekou points out, “Look at all these white folks putting their bodies on the line for black people, because this is not a separate struggle. It is one struggle.”
Another organizer, later in the training, tells the group there is indeed “mostly white folks here.”
The sort of white folks who approve of Obama no matter what he does because he is black. Racist white folks.
If there is a bright side to the existence of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL), it is this: The Muslim savages are making it so clear how life is to be lived under Islamic rule, that it might deter a lot of Western apologists for Islam.
If, that is, they get to know about it.
Those self-righteous Westerners who defend Islam, accusing any of us who criticize it of “racism” or “Islamophobia” or “intolerance”, are obviously ignorant of what Islam is, what it teaches, what it does and has done – and intend to stay that way as long as they can, uncontaminated by information.
This – from the International Business Times – is what’s happening in the caliphate of the Islamic State:
Isis activists are exerting their influence in Iraq and Syria by threatening death sentences for male teachers who teach women, and harsh punishments for teachers who teach any that fall outside of the group’s strict interpretation of sharia law.
People living under Islamic State rule in Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria have been banned from owning academic books, studying [certain] subjects including law and human rights, and educating children privately at home.
This week – the start of the university academic term – Islamic State ordered university departments in law, political science, fine art, archaeology, sports education, philosophy, tourism and hotel management to be closed in areas it controls.
In Mosul and Raqqa, Islamic State have ordered teachers not to teach democracy, cultural education, human rights and law, to maintain what it called “the public good”.
Teachers have been told they must have training in Islamic State’s interpretation of sharia, and should avoid certain subjects in curricula and exams “which do not conform to sharia law”, including “forged historical principles” – a reference to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, and “un-Islamic geographic decisions” by other nation states.
Teachers who fail to separate male and female students were threatened with punishments and sweeps for illegal books and materials are common …
Teachers who teach female students privately risk execution.
Execution can be by shooting, beheading, crucifixon, live burial, stoning, or any other means that these deeply religious men can think up.
It is politically correct to exploit children for sinister ends. Here’s a video of children sweetly singing a blame-America pro-Obama warmist song (from eBaums World).
That was first posted in 2012.
This one was filmed and posted a few days ago. (Video and comment below from Best of Cain.)
Now, admittedly, there are only four or five kids in this video. I’d like to know how many intellectuals Bonham had to interview before he found these numbskulls. That said, this is clearly an ideology that is rampant in American Universities. Whenever there’s a problem in the world, no matter what it may be, the United States is to blame.
It should go without saying that our nation, our wealth, and yes, our military might are the greatest stabilizing forces on Earth. The real threat is the vacuum created by our absence.
Unfortunately, that lesson is nowhere to be found in most of higher education’s most hallowed halls.
P.S. An astute Harvard student sent us this message:
“I effing-well hope the US is more dangerous than ISIS! It is not a threat, but may it forever be the mightiest, most dangerous power on earth!”
We heartily concur.
He redeems the reputation of Harvard.
(Hat-tip for 2012 video: Don L)
Oh, how the dimwits in charge of educating our children surpass themselves from time to time!
We cannot resist giving our readers this prize piece of idiocy in full. It’s a collector’s item.
From the National Review:
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls”, and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls’, ‘you guys’, ‘ladies and gentlemen’, and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.
The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls”, and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening”.
“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.
No more “gendered spaces”? Phew!
The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages”.
We wonder what age the children are who thought all this up. Could be over 40 and still not started on long division.
Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.
If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither”.
“Both” we have long ago come to terms with. It may not be common, but it’s no unknown. But “neither” we find a trifle puzzling.
Small children aren’t usually much bothered by gender differences anyway. But how will progressive teachers start corrupting their innocence with hard-core pornographic sex education – as is now compulsory in the public schools – without mention of gender?
Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.
Get that? It is positively wrong to speak of “boys and girls”. This is pretty extreme stuff by any measure! Good grief – dictionaries will have to be purged. And all literature. Have they any idea of the size of the task they’re undertaking? And what will they do when grandpa and grandma insist on using the forbidden terms?
What about names? Lists of unisex names will have to be drawn up for parents to choose from. (Prison terms for mothers and fathers who thought Rosemary was okay for all – ahem! – genders?)
As is necessary to the Leftist collectivist mind, all teachers and purple penguins are instructed to make sure everyone around them obeys the new rules. Put them right when they stray!
“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”
Obviously it will soon be compulsory for boys and girls – sorry, purple penguins who prefer skateboards to bikes or bikes to skateboards – to dress the same.
Whatever will they do about some purple penguins’ voices breaking at the age when they do?
Since children are not wanted much these days, perhaps many of the purple penguins could be persuaded to be surgically neutered in their tender years, so that all trace of difference is eliminated before the onset of puberty which brings such distressingly obvious gender differences.
If this policy is followed all the way, unisex humanity will be the last generation, the final achievement of civilization. All the young men gone, all the young girls gone, gone to purple ice-floes every one.
The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual”, and an infographic callled “The Genderbred Person“, which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.
Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the Genderbred … penguin.
Despite controversy, Lincoln Superintendent Steve Joel has declared that he is “happy” and “pleased” with the training documents.
“We don’t get involved with politics,” he told KLIN Radio’s Drive Time Lincoln radio show. “We don’t get involved with gender preferences. We’re educating all kids . . . and we can’t be judgmental,” he said.
What a splendid jackass it is!
(Hat-tip Robert Kantor)
This happened in New Hampshire:
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult is a pornographic book that 14-year-olds are being compelled to read at a school in New Hampshire.
Some passages from it can be seen on the video. They are obscene. We could think of better books to educate and entertain 14-year-olds – but perhaps they have all been burnt as the racist, sexist outpourings of privileged dead white men.
William Baer, an attorney and the father of one of the 14-year-olds, complained to the school board at one of its regular meetings that his consent had not been sought for his daughter to be assigned this educational text. So the board had him jailed.
The excuse given by the chairwoman of the meeting for calling a policeman to arrest him was that he had gone some seconds over his allotted time for speaking.
Is it unheard of that speakers sometimes exceed their allotted time? Is it a crime to do so?
Mr Baer went quietly. He had to ask the arresting officer what he was being charged with, and was told “disorderly conduct”. And he was was driven off to be locked away in the slammer where he could no longer threaten society.
At least one other parent made the same complaint as Mr Baer, and others present at the meeting applauded her.
Eventually this official statement was issued in response to the complaints:
The School District policies … refer to the procedures for the use of novels containing controversial material. The district will take immediate action to revise these policies to include notification that requires parents to accept controversial materials rather than to opt out.
So in future the parents will be forewarned – not that there is “controversial material” in a book their children have to read on which they might have their say, but that they are “required to accept” it. (Or do they mean the parent will be asked to “opt in” rather than “opt out”? The school board needs a little schooling in how to express itself clearly.)
Doug Hagmann, who knows William Baer personally, writes at Canada Free Press:
Mr. Baer … first contacted the high school principal, who declined to formally meet with him in order to find a suitable remedy to this issue. After being effectively deferred and deflected at every turn, Mr. Baer was left with attempting to remedy the situation by attending the school board meeting to publicly address this issue. …
The Gilford,New Hampshire, school board was alerted in advance to Mr. Baer’s intention to raise this issue at their normal Monday meeting. In anticipation of Mr. Baer’s attendance, they did a number of things they have not done in the past.
First, they stationed a Gilford municipal police officer inside the meeting venue “to keep order”.
Then, they limited all public comments to two minutes only, and refused to answer any questions of the attendees. Ostensibly, this was done because of the multitudes of those present to speak out against the book, yet not more than a few dozen people were actually present. Also, the number who actually wished to speak remained in the single digits, including Mr. Baer. Accordingly, any sensible person would question the rationale behind such an arbitrary policy instituted for this particular meeting.
The critical back-story, then, indicates that the school board not just anticipated Mr. Baer’s attendance, but took very precise steps to make certain that his objections would be muted and otherwise dealt with in a manner that has been inconsistent with previous public meetings. It would appear that dissent about the book as an assignment in a ninth grade honors class was not merely expected, but the response to such dissent was decided in advance.
When attendees were called to speak, Sue Allen, the board chairwoman, could be heard asking at least twice if anyone cared to speak before Mr. Baer was recognized. When he was permitted … his two minutes, he first noted that there was an unusual “default setting” to the parental authorization that would permit the children to be exposed to this material. Normally, a parent must “opt-in” to allow the book to be read by their child, [just as] parental authorization is given for a field trip. In this case, however, it was only if the parent had an objection to the book that they would need to “opt-out.”
Secondly, Mr. Baer asked the principal present to read page 313 of the book to give those in attendance the reasons for which he was voicing his objections. After all, not everyone there was aware of the contents of the book. The principal refused as did every other board member, calling it “inappropriate”. Mr. Baer attempted to compel the board members to answer legitimate questions about the class assignment and methods, but they refused, asserting they would only allow the attendees two minutes worth of comments to be put on record. As the video shows, it was an exasperating exercise in futility for Mr. Baer to seek redress …
Mr. Baer ultimately exceeded his two minutes by 18 seconds … [The chairwoman warned] Mr. Baer that his time was up and [said] they would have no part in addressing his concerns, [so] he dutifully sat down.
At this point, a man positioned behind Mr. Baer spoke up and glowingly described how the book actually prompted a frank family discussion about the subject matter of the book, taking a tone that seemed to paint Mr. Baer as an advocate of censorship and book banning, which is far from the truth or Mr. Baer’s intent. In response to this false accusation and mischaracterization, Mr. Baer verbally dissented. He calmly defended himself against these public accusations, attempting to set the public record straight.
It was as a result of this egregious offense, one that caused Mr. Baer to add another 30 seconds or so onto his unauthorized 18 seconds beyond the allotted 2 minutes that caused the school board to react – and react with prejudice.
At a signal from the chairwoman, the municipal police officer …
… responded by walking to a stunned Mr. Baer, who was now seated, [and escorting] him from the meeting. Mr. Baer asked if he was being asked to leave, if he was being arrested …
He went quietly. The arresting office handcuffed his hands behind his back. It was then that Mr Baer asked what he was being charged with, and the officer replied “disorderly conduct”.
When they reached the police car, Mr Baer told the officer that he had a neck injury which made it particularly awkward for him to have his hands cuffed behind his back. The officer said that this amounted to “resisting arrest” – but he did have the kindness to re-cuff Mr Baer with his hands held in front.
William Baer will be brought to trial to answer for his disorderly conduct on June 17th, 2014.
Crisis Magazine is a Catholic site.
William Kilpatrick makes some points there that we agree with, among some that we do not. We quote:
Question: What does Boko Haram, the Nigerian terrorist organization, have in common with Western educators? Answer: Both think that Western education is sinful. Fortunately, Western educators will not burn down your church or school with you inside as Boko Haram does to those who persist in their Western ways. Unfortunately, the type of education provided by Western educators will leave you totally unprepared for the likes of Boko Haram.
Roughly translated, “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sinful”. So there’s little doubt about where it stands. But in what way can it be said that Western educators believe the same thing? I don’t know if any educators have actually declared that Western education is sinful, but it’s not unfair to say that contemporary educational theory in the West is built upon a rejection of traditional Western education. Beginning with Rousseau’s Emile (1762), Western intellectuals began to challenge the Judeo-Christian view of the child and along with it traditional ideas about how children should be educated.
He describes what he thinks of as Christian education approvingly:
According to the earlier conception, one which still endures in some corners of our society, the child is born in original sin and, therefore, a good part of his education should be devoted to helping him overcome his natural tendencies to laziness, selfishness and pleasure-seeking. The goal of such education was the transmission of hard-learned cultural lessons through the study of history, literature, scripture and science.
All good subjects (though about scripture, see our last paragraph).
Two comments. One: “original sin” was disobedience followed by lust – not laziness, selfishness and (oh, dear!) pleasure-seeking. Two: For a thousand years, most children in Christendom were taught Christianity but not literacy. Once Christianity descended darkly over Europe, replacing the Roman Empire with the Catholic Church, most children received no education at all except the Christian myth along with the fear of Hell.
But what the writer says next is right on:
According to the Romantic tradition which began with Rousseau and which by the late 1960s had become the dominant philosophy in American education, the child is born in a state of original innocence with trustworthy impulses that should be followed, not denied. Romantic thinkers believed in nature with an almost religious fervor; in their view, man had fallen not from a state of grace but from the state of nature. Sin was a product of civilization, and if there were such a thing as evil, it lay in placing unnatural constraints on the child’s natural spontaneity and wisdom.
The Romantic emphasis on the child’s inner wisdom led to a corresponding de-emphasis on the acquisition of factual knowledge. Learning was thought to be a natural process and the child could therefore be trusted to learn what he needed to know by following his natural instincts. Consequently, book-learning came to be looked upon by Romantic poets and philosophers as an unnatural imposition on the child’s natural development. Take Wordsworth’s poem, The Tables Turned:
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The third stanza extends the anti-book argument a bit further:
Books! ‘tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
In short, why bother with books [boko haram? - ed]) when you can find all you need to know in the book of nature? That is the [we would say “one of the“] basic principle[s] of Romanticism. For a very long time, most educators ignored this highly unrealistic approach to education. Wordsworth, Emerson, Whitman and other Romantics were taught in schools, but they were celebrated for the beauty of their poetry and prose, not for their anti-bookish prescriptions. Eventually, however, these ideas about natural learning came to exert a powerful influence on the imagination of educators — particularly those of the American variety. By the 1930’s, under the name “progressive education”, the Romantic theory had spread to teacher’s colleges throughout the U.S. By the late 1960’s, it was the dominant philosophy in American classrooms.
The triumph of natural schooling theories did result in significant change — for the worse. SAT scores began a long decline and the U.S. students soon ranked near the bottom of developed countries on international assessment tests. The progressive movement did, however, produce a number of catchy slogans such as “holistic learning”, “child-centered schooling”, “at their own pace”, “self-esteem”, and “critical thinking skills”. Those were the terms of approbation. On the other hand, teachers were warned to avoid “memorization”, “rote-learning”, “mere facts”, “textbook-learning”, and “culturally biased curriculums”.
The progressives failed to realize, however, that you can’t think critically unless you have something to think about. But, having been deprived of “mere facts”, students have very little material with which to “construct knowledge” (another popular piece of educational jargon). How, for example, can students think critically about World War II if they’ve never heard of Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin or if they have no idea where Germany, Japan, Poland and France are located?
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Boko Haram? Just this. Boko Haram is one of the more violent manifestations of the global resurgence of Islam in our times. Although it is marginally more brutal than other jihadist groups, it is not untypical. There are dozens of such groups all over the world that seek by force to restore Islam to its former dominance. The problem is, today’s anti-knowledge curriculums do not prepare students to think critically about what is happening in the Islamic world and what it means for the rest of us.
The disparagement of “mere facts” ensures that today’s graduates will know very little about the history of Islam. And the Romantic elevation of non-Western traditions means that they will know even less about the bloody nature of that history. Although American students will hear a great deal about Western imperialism, they are not likely to realize that Islam was one of the great imperial powers of all time. At one time, the Islamic Empire stretched from Spain, across North Africa, and all the way to India. The Empire was created by conquest, but high school and college texts tend to avoid that word in favor of euphemisms such as “the spread of Islam” or the “expansion of Islam.” And how was this expansion accomplished? According to one widely used high school history text, “The persecuted people often welcomed the [Muslim] invaders and chose to accept Islam. They were attracted by the appeal of the message of Islam which offered equality and hope in this world.” …
– A lie constantly repeated by Muslim propagandists.
Indeed, many accounts of Islamic history in American textbooks look like they could have been written by the Saudi Ministry for Propaganda and Whitewash. Many world history textbooks, for instance, take great pains to inform readers that jihad has little to do with holy war but rather is best understood as “overcoming immorality,” “a personal inner struggle to achieve spiritual peace”, or a “striving … to achieve personal betterment”. Moreover, in line with the Western habit of romanticizing non-Western cultures, textbooks present a highly romanticized (some would say, largely fictitious) portrait of Islam’s “Golden Age” in Spain and Baghdad. According to one widely-used college text, “The Muslims created [in Baghdad and Cordoba] a brilliant urban culture” where libraries abounded and where “judges, merchants, and government officials, rather than warriors, were regarded as the ideal citizens”. Meanwhile, over in the Christian Carolingian Empire, “Both gluttony and drunkenness were vices shared by many people…. Everyone in Carolingian society, including abbots and monks, drank heavily and often to excess.” …
It is necessary to remember that Christians burnt piles of volumes from the great library of Alexandria centuries before the Muslims came and destroyed it utterly. (It was ravaged by Christians in 391 CE, and completely destroyed by Muslims in 642 CE.)
There is nothing romantic about Boko Haram, and the facts concerning it don’t fit into the rose-colored narrative that is fed to our students about gentle Islamic expansion, interior spiritual struggles, and a library on every corner. … Absent knowledge of Islam’s 1400-year history of jihad, the Boko Haram campaign to exterminate Nigerian Christians must seem like an aberration — something completely unrepresentative of the true Islam. And so will the attacks on Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, and elsewhere. They will be perceived as discrete, disconnected events that have “nothing to do with Islam” because American citizens are largely unfamiliar with the historical pattern that would help to make sense of these supposedly senseless actions.
What does that pattern look like? Islam scholar Raymond Ibrahim provides this brief description of the European experience with Islam:
Among other nations and territories that were attacked and/or came under Muslim domination are (to give them their modern names in no particular order): Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Albania, Serbia, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Belarus, Malta, Sardinia, Moldova, Slovakia, and Montenegro.
It seems well past time to wake up from the romantic dream and reacquaint ourselves with that once-familiar, now forgotten pattern.
We agree of course with his abhorrence of Islam, and with his objections to Romanticism.
We see Romanticism as the (admittedly godless but nevertheless mystical) religion that replaced Christianity when the Enlightenment broke the power of the Churches and brought Christianity into open question.
We see it as the enemy of Reason, scorning proper education, and science, technological innovation, the nation state, free trade, the free market, capitalism, individual freedom, the productive middle-class, prosperity, rule of law, civilization. Also skepticism. And humor.
At present Romanticism is hammering the Western world with two dogmas that are in an improbable alliance, that of Leftism and that of Islam.
Some Catholics, it seems, can share this understanding with us to an extent, though they would no doubt want the Church to rule again, and the irrationalities of Christianity to replace those of Socialism and Mohammedanism.
We agree with William Kilpatrick that our Western culture should be handed down. That means teaching facts, as he says – and critical examination of all opinion.
We want education to be secular.
The Jewish and Christian scriptures should be taught as literature, and religion in history classes, because they have had a huge effect on our culture. But (as our frequent commenter Frank has urged inspirationally) they should be taught only by atheists.
Free peoples are losing the habits of free speech, and thereby will lose their freedom.
So Mark Steyn writes.
In Australia, they’re trying to get rid of Section 18c, which is … [a] thought-crime law. … The Aussie campaign is not going well.”There is a danger that the Coalition resolve to repeal Section 18C will weaken further,” warns The Independent Australian, saying [to the Australian public) there’s an “urgent need to submit your views on 18C amendments by April 30th”. …
What’s going on? In the western world today, there are far more lobby groups for censorship – under polite euphemisms such as “diversity”, “human rights”, “hate speech” – than there are for freedom of expression. …
That’s the hard political arithmetic of defending free speech in western chancelleries today: There aren’t a lot of takers for it, and the opposition to it is very organized. A government minister with an eye to his press clippings has to believe in it an awful lot for it to be worth taking on.
[In Britain] on Saturday, Paul Weston of Liberty GB, a candidate in next month’s European elections, was speaking on the steps of Winchester Guildhall and quoting Winston Churchill on the matter of Muslims (from The River War, young Winston’s book on the Sudanese campaign).
Winston Churchill did not write favorably of Islam.*
[Paul Weston] was, in short order, arrested by half-a-dozen police officers, shoved in the back of a van and taken away to be charged … with a “Racially Aggravated Crime” – in other words, he’s being charged explicitly for the content of that Churchill passage, and the penalty could be two years in jail.
This is remarkable, and not just because Islam is not a race, as its ever more numerous pasty Anglo-Saxon “reverts” will gladly tell you. For one thing, the police have effectively just criminalized Liberty GB’s political platform. There are words for regimes that use state power to criminalize their opponents and they’re not “mother of parliaments” or “land of hope and glory”.
More to the point, if Mr Weston is found guilty of a “racially aggravated crime” for reading Churchill’s words, then why is the publisher of the book not also guilty and liable to two years in jail? Why is Churchill himself not guilty? …
Civilized societies … lose their liberties incrementally. … Sir Winston’s River War will simply disappear from print, but so discreetly you won’t even notice it’s gone. Personally, while we’re criminalizing Churchill, I’m in favor of banning that “Fight on the beaches” speech, on the grounds that all that “we will never surrender” stuff is … increasingly risible. …
[In America] fifty-five percent (55%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should be allowed to review political ads and candidates’ campaign comments for their accuracy and punish those that it decides are making false statements about other candidates. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% oppose such government oversight. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.
Or to put it another way: fewer than a third of those polled give a hoot about the First Amendment. …
Two generations of Americans have been raised in an educational milieu that thinks, to pluck a current example at random, that using the phrase “Man up!” ought to be banned. If you’ve been marinated in this world from kindergarten, why would you emerge into the adult world with any attachment to the value of freedom of speech?
As I say, free peoples are losing the habits of free speech, and thereby will lose their freedom.
*Here is the passage from Churchill’s book The River War that may not be read aloud in public in Britain:
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step, and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it (Islam) has vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
We hate to disagree with Winston Churchill on any point, and we love to quote this passage for most of what he says in it, but of course we cannot agree that “Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science”. Since the Enlightenment put a stop to the power of the Churches, science has been slowly burying Christianity – we’re happy to say.
The civilization of modern Europe is falling, “as fell the civilization of ancient Rome”.
Christianity brought down the night on the Roman Empire. Islam is doing the same to modern Europe. Churchill saw the danger. He did not foresee that it would start happening just a few decades after he led the West to victory over Islam’s twin and ally, Nazism.