Jimmy Kimmel’s Thanksgiving Pageant is updated for modern sensitivities.
Celebrating our various racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identities has prevented liberalism from “becoming a unifying force capable of governing,” writes Mark Lilla, a Columbia humanities professor, in the New York Times. “Identity liberalism” put Donald Trump in the White House, he argues.
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton “called out to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop,” Lilla writes. Those left out felt excluded.
Schools encourage children to “talk about their individual identities, even before they have them,” he writes.
High school history curriculums “anachronistically project the identity politics of today back onto the past, creating a distorted picture of the major forces and individuals that shaped our country.”
When young people arrive at college they are encouraged to keep this focus on themselves by student groups, faculty members and also administrators whose full-time job is to deal with — and heighten the significance of — “diversity issues.”
Lilla concludes: Teachers should “refocus attention on their main political responsibility in a democracy: to form committed citizens aware of their system of government and the major forces and events in our history.”
Lilla’s op-ed is “making white supremacy respectable,” writes Katherine Franke, a law professor who directs Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. She compares her colleague to Klansman David Duke.
Is your Halloween costume racist? Does it “appropriate” the culture of another group (Native Americans, Latinos, zombies)?
At U-Mass Amherst, students can check the “threat level” of their costume idea on the “Simple Costume Racism Evaluation and Assessment Meter” (S.C.R.E.A.M.) poster.
“If one intends to represent a person on Halloween, the only way to get a ‘green’ threat rating is for the person to be of one’s own race,” reports Campus Reform. “If one represents a person of another race, the ‘threat level’ increases roughly in conjunction with the amount of makeup that one intends to use.”
The flyer also warns about “thing/idea” costumes that reflect “controversial current events or historically accepted cliches,” particularly if “these events or cliches relate to a person or people not of your race.”
One of the displays does give another point of view, reports Campus Reform.
“It’s not fair to ask any culture to freeze itself in time and live as though they were a museum diorama,” one poster quotes author Susan Scafidi. “Cultural appropriation can sometimes be the savior of a cultural product that has faded away.”
Novelist Lionel Shriver defended cultural appropriation at a Melbourne writers’ conference. “I am hopeful that the concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is a passing fad,” she said. “People with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive, fascinating aspects of modern urban life.”
I wonder if students will turn to creepy clowns as a safe costume choice this year. On the other hand, there’s a “moral panic” about the threat of clowns on campus, writes Anne Hendershott. Everything’s scary this year.
A girls’ high school basketball team in Iowa is under fire for a poster honoring the school’s Indian mascot, writes Robby Soave on Reason‘s Hit & Run. The Clarke High basketball team stands accused of appropriating Native American culture by dressing up as Indians. (They dance at the bottom of the poster, above the basketball schedule.)
“Several people pointed out on Facebook that the headdress is sacred in Native American tradition, and only men were allowed to wear it,” writes Soave. “But in that case, aren’t the girls actually striking a blow against the patriarchy?”
“Kudos to the Arbiters of Femininity for cyberbullying these girls,” writes The College Fix‘s Greg Piper.
“The girls look fierce as hell,” writes Soave.
Clarke High asked photographer Ben Shirk to shoot a poster incorporating the mascot, writes Nick Martin. He calls the result “high-quality racism.”
When I started at Stanford, we were the “Indians.” Home football games started with a dance by “Prince Lightfoot.” My roommate, who was Native American, didn’t mind the Indian name, but hated the dance, which she said was pure Hollywood hoke. By sophomore, we were the Stanford Cardinal — a color, not a bird. I wonder what she’d think of the poster.
Most Woodrow Wilson High football players in Camden, N.J., knelt during the national anthem last Saturday. Photo:Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
High school football players across the country are refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Rejecting the rituals of patriotism is a mistake, writes New York Times columnist David Brooks.
The idea of America is that we’re supposed to “create a good and just society,” he writes. And that we’re always “screwing it up.”
“This fusion of radical hope and radical self-criticism” is America’s “civic religion,” he writes. It’s “fired a fervent desire for change.”
When we sing the national anthem, we’re not commenting on the state of America. . . . We’re expressing commitment to the nation’s ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled. If we don’t transmit that creed through shared displays of reverence we will have lost the idea system that has always motivated reform. We will lose the sense that we’re all in this together. We’ll lose the sense of shared loyalty to ideas bigger and more transcendent than our own short lives. If these common rituals are insulted, other people won’t be motivated to right your injustices because they’ll be less likely to feel that you are part of their story.
In short, it’s “we the people” or every man, woman and being for him-, her- or zir- self.
At many schools, “a globalist mentality teaches students they are citizens of the world rather than citizens of America,” Brooks complains. “The multiculturalist mind-set values racial, gender and ethnic identities and regards national identities as reactionary and exclusive.”
Since the post-911 peak in patriotism, Americans are less likely to say they’re “extremely proud” of their country, reports Gallup. The decline is sharpest for those 18 to 29 years old. However, only 1 percent say they’re not proud at all.
In response to after-school Christian Good News Clubs at public schools, a group called Satanic Temple hopes to set up After School Satan Clubs at elementary schools, reports the Washington Post.
“It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think,” said Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple’s co-founder.
Advocates are petitioning public school officials across the country to authorize clubs, reports the Post. “The promotional video, which feels like a mash-up of a horror movie trailer and a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch, will serve to promote the new club along with its website — Afterschoolsatan.com.”
I don’t think organized Satan worship will catch on. Most kids prefer to go to the devil in their own way.
Pokémon Go, which uses GPS to send players in search of digital characters, has become wildly and popular. My niece, who’s 17, showed me a photo she’d taken on her phone of a character she’d “found” in the park.
It’s encouraging gamers to get outside and do a lot of walking, though a San Jose start-up will chauffeur players and the especially lazy can entrepreneurs will hire someone to play for them. (What’s the point? I don’t know.)
Educators dream of using the game to teach local history, mapping, math and literacy, writes Leo Doran in Education Week. “Commentators are weighing in on potential educational applications.”
The game is a “way to enchant the environment,” said James Gee, an Arizona State professor who’s studied gaming. “Every human would love to think that there are fairies running around and the environment is full of magic — that’s been a theme of literature and many cultures actually believe it. Now Pokémon comes out and actually does those things.”
Greg Toppo, author of The Game Believes in You, also looks at Pokémon as an educational tool. “Teachers have been blogging about how they might use the game once school begins,” he writes in USA Today.
Matthew Farber, a Denville, N.J., middle school social studies teacher and author of Gamify Your Classroom, predicts teachers will use the game to get students to “explore and research important historic Poké Stops near their home or school,” writes Toppo.
Pokémon creatures lurk in “art museums and churches and historical places and parks,” game designer Kellian Adams-Pletcher told Toppo. Museums are “thrilled” by the prospect of drawing in new visitors.
Game designer Jane McGonigal noted that scientists are already taking advantage of the game’s millions of users, urging them to take photos of species of bugs, fish and animals that don’t look familiar.
“It’s a slippery slope from video games to citizen science,” she said.
When collecting Pokémon cards was a fad in the late 1990s, Gee called the game a brilliant literacy curriculum, writes Toppo. A generation learned to read “specialized, technical, cross-referenced text” and “analyze and classify more than 700 different types of creatures,” the professor pointed out.
Toppo writes: “Gee predicted, a bit cynically, that if we were to turn Pokémon into a school subject, ‘certain children, many of them poor, would all of a sudden have trouble learning Pokémon’.”