Teaching anti-Trump hysteria

Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

The election of Donald Trump should be used to teach civics and history — not scare students or “suggest that only a Democratic victory would have aligned with the nation’s values,” write Rick Hess and Checker Finn in U.S. News. Teachers should keep their bias out of the classroom.

They’re not Trump fans, but they think it’s foolish to see the election only “through the prism of racism and xenophobia.”

If Hillary Clinton had won, some students would have felt “unsafe” on campus, write Hess and Finn. Their list includes:

  • Evangelicals and Catholics whose religious schools and colleges are threatened by federal authorities for non-compliance with directives related to gender and sexual identity.
  • College students muzzled by progressive speech codes or sanctioned by “bias response teams” for posting Trump signs or celebrating America as a “melting pot,” and well aware that a Clinton administration would embrace such restrictions.
  • College students fearful of being falsely convicted by kangaroo campus courts and publicly pilloried or expelled under the Obama administration’s Star Chamber approach to sexual harassment, which has compelled universities to abandon the basic tenets of due process.

If Clinton had won, would educators have canceled classes to comfort Trump supporters? Would anti-Clinton students carrying “not my president” signs be consoled — or mocked as sore losers?

Hess and Finn conclude: “For those who supported Donald Trump because they think the nation’s elites hold them in contempt and have declared war on their values, we fear that the nation’s educators have done little this past week to disprove the point.”


Oh, in a column on how universities are “othering” Trump supporters, Glenn Reynolds links to a great rant by “Jonathan Pie” on how to persuade people to change their minds. Calling them racists isn’t the most effective strategy.

A racist came to Shabbat dinner and now …

Once the “heir” to the white nationalist movement, Derek Black accepted a Jewish classmate’s invitation to Shabbat dinner, made new friends, listened to their arguments and ultimately abandoned his family’s racist beliefs, reports the Washington Post in a remarkable story.

Black’s father created Stormfront to promote white nationalist ideas online; Derek did the child’s version. His godfather is David Duke.

Derek Black Derek Black, 27, was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he began to question the movement’s ideology. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Derek Black was following in his father’s footsteps as a white nationalist leader until he made liberal friends who changed his views. Photo: Matt McClain/Washington Post

Now, “Black is now a liberal who supports immigration, doesn’t believe race should divide people, and admires President Obama,” writes Reason’s Robby Soave.

Black’s conversion is “a subtle repudiation of the kind of emotional safe space that liberals want to foist on college campuses,” concludes Soave.

After attending community college, Black enrolled in Florida’s liberal New College to study medieval European  history. Despite doing a weekly white-supremacist radio show, he hid his views on campus. But, eventually he was outed.

Most students ostracized him. Matthew Stevenson, an Orthodox Jew, invited Black to his Friday night Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner.

Matthew always drank from a kiddush cup and said the traditional prayers, but most of his guests were Christian, atheist, black or Hispanic — anyone open-minded enough to listen to a few blessings in Hebrew.

. . . He went back and read some of Derek’s posts on the site from 2007 and 2008: “Jews are NOT white.” “Jews worm their way into power over our society.” “They must go.”

Matthew decided his best chance to affect Derek’s thinking was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him.

Black became a regular at the dinner.

Week by week, conversation by conversation, Derek softened his views. His new friends challenged him—firmly but politely—and systematically convinced him that he was wrong about everything.

Eventually, he publicly repudiated white nationalism and apologized for his past actions. Black is now a graduate student in history.

Halloween is too scary for college kids

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.

Stress, race and the achievement gap

The stress of coping with racism may widen the achievement gap,writes Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic.

Blacks pump out more stress hormones than their white counterparts, researchers have found. That high level of stress can affect concentration, motivation and learning, according to a new Northwestern study.

Image result for racism stress

Zion Agostini, 15, worries about being stopped by police on the way to Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, writes Anderson.

Once he arrives, the sophomore must go through a metal detector. He’s often late to his first-period class “because I’m being scanned four times because of the metal in my necklace or my keys,” he complains. “It does make it extremely hard to focus on the classwork … You’re upset, or sad, or just emotional about what just happened. It takes a while to settle.”

Blacks and Latinos encounter “perceived discrimination” and “the stress of confirming negative expectations about your racial or ethnic group,” researchers found.

. . . perceived discrimination from teachers was “related to lower grades, less academic motivation … and less persistence when encountering an academic challenge.”

The study also found that the anxiety surrounding the stereotype of academic inferiority undermined students performing academic tasks.

To reduce stress, some students decide they don’t care how they do in school, says co-author Emma Adam. That leads to lower performance. “Promoting positive ethnic racial identity would be one way to reduce those feelings of separation or exclusion and improve students’ ability to focus in the classroom.”

Babar’s Mom: Is read-aloud ‘editing’ OK?

When I read Babar the Elephant to my little daughter, I always skipped the page that shows his mother killed by a hunter. We left the reason for his orphaned state unexplained.

Image result for babar's mother dies

One day, she turned the page herself, saw the picture of the dying mother and was somewhat upset.

Of course, I realized that Babar celebrates French imperialism, but let that go.

On Slate, YiLing Chen-Josephson defends “parents editing objectionable material out of children’s books while reading aloud.”

Maurice Sendak’s Pierre was a favorite of her own childhood. She loved the illustrations, but not the “cautionary” story.

There was once a boy named Pierre
Who only would say “I don’t care!”

One day his mother said
When Pierre climbed out of bed
“Good morning, darling boy, you are my only joy”
Pierre said, “I don’t care!”
“What would you like to eat?”
“I don’t care!”
“Some lovely cream of wheat?”
“I don’t care!”

She was reluctant to introduce her son to “ennui, to disaffection, to insubordination” — even if the alternative was to “defang this book of its glorious mischief.” In her home, Pierre only says “I care!”

Of course, the book made no sense that way. Mom asks: “What would you like to eat?” Pierre responds: “I care!”

It also spoiled Sendak’s narrative arc, which shows Pierre eventually learning to care.

Fellow parents tell Josephson they flip past “outrageously racist illustrations” in childhood favorites.

(See Surprise! It’s Racist! for a review of all the politically incorrect things in classic children’s books: African cannibals, slant-eyed Chinese coolies, etc.

Other parents add make half the trucks female in Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site or say “firefighter” instead of “fireman.”

And sometimes a parent has to go a little farther, making an executive decision that the creatures of the forest loved Snow White not because she was “beautiful and gentle” but because “she worked hard and tried new things.”

One mother was “horrified” to realize that Eloise  is a brat rather than a good role model for her daughter, writes Josephson.

I have to say: The fact that Eloise is a spoiled brat is the point of the whole story.

And Pierre is about a kid who doesn’t care.

For some books, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

Black Lives Matter gets teachers transferred

Black Lives Matter St. Paul has forced out two white teachers at Como Park High, reports Susan Du on City Pages. Theo Olson, a special ed teacher for 16 years, and Kathy Farm, a home ec teacher for 19 years, were told a transfer was “in the best interests” of the district.

Theo Olson

Theo Olson

Olson was called a “white supremacist” after complaining on Facebook about drug use and weak discipline at Como Park High.

In a blog, written as thinly veiled fiction, he charged some administrators were incompetent.

Rashad Turner of St. Paul BLM threatened to “shut down” the school if Olson was not fired, reports Du. Superintendent Valeria Silva ended the protest by promising to investigate Olson. He was suspended without pay and ordered to complete racial equity training.

Rashad Turner, with bullhorn, demanded that Olson be fired. Photo: Susan Du

Rashad Turner, with bullhorn, led the charge to get Olson removed from Como Park High. Photo: Susan Du

Farm also was transferred without a finding of misconduct.

In January, she bought a “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” shirt for a fundraiser for the girls basketball team. She learned the girl whose name was on the sleeve had been injured by Mall of America security, not as a result of domestic violence.

When Farm explained that an altercation with mall security is not domestic abuse, the rumor spread that she “believed the girl deserved to be beaten,” writes Du. “Members of BLM St. Paul repeated that claim to superintendent Silva and in various Facebook threads, where Farm was also criticized for supporting Olson throughout his investigation.”

Read Coates, believe Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Alexander Hamilton in the hit show he also wrote and composed.

Hamilton, a hip-hop musical about the founding fathers and a huge hit on Broadway, draws “a straight line from America’s revolutionary moment to the contemporary music and idioms of youthful rebellion,” writes Robert Pondiscio, who teaches citizenship at Democracy Prep charters, on The 74. Its creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is a genius.

So is Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me, a “powerful jeremiad” with a “hopeless, even nihilistic” message about the future of young blacks in America.

I Want My Students to Read Ta-Nehisi Coates But Believe Lin-Manuel Miranda, writes Pondiscio.

It is impossible to think of our founders merely as dead white males once you have seen them embodied by young black and brown ones. On stage nightly, “Hamilton” transfers ownership of America’s narrative and ideals to those whose grip on them has been fraught for more than 200 years.

Miranda, a New Yorker of Puerto Rican ethnicity, portrays Hamilton as an ambitious immigrant. The cast is mostly brown or black — except for King George III. The lyrics invoke the “call to build a more perfect union,” writes Pondiscio.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates’ book preaches that “America is structurally and irredeemably racist,” writes Pondiscio. His “message to young people of color is you have had the great misfortune to be born in a country that is determined only to break your black body.”

Schools and educators are tools of oppression, Coates writes. He sneers at teachers’ good “intentions” and condemns those who speak of “personal responsibility” in “a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility.”

Yet, high school teachers and college professors are assigning Between the World and Me. Pondiscio wants kids to read the book — but to choose Miranda’s hope over Coates’ despair.

I gave my daughter tickets to Hamilton as a Christmas/birthday present. (They are wildly expensive.) She said it’s fantastic.

Yik Yakkers kicked out of college

In response to a Yik Yak post that read “#blackwomenmatter,” a Colorado College student wrote, “They matter, they’re just not hot.” Thaddeus Pryor, a junior, was “suspended for two years” for “abusive behavior” and “disruption of college activities,” reports The Catalyst. 

His house mate, Lou Henriques was expelled for posting a screenshot from a South Park episode showing a character on Wheel of Fortune  incorrectly answering a “People Who Annoy You” question with the letters N_GGERS displayed. (The correct answer was NAGGERS.) Another Henriques’ post referred to a South Park character running down the hall yelling “RACE WAR.”

Yik Yak is anonymous, but someone tipped off the administration that Pryor and Henriques were responsible.  Within 24 hours, they were kicked out of school. Two deans made the decision.

Both students have appealed.

“I apologized” for the six-word comment, Pryor told the Colorado Gazette.  However, the deans accused him of writing earlier Yik Yak posts that he agreed were “racist and hateful.” Pryor said he didn’t write the earlier posts or know who did.

“There have been shorter suspensions and lesser punishments for things related to sexual assault and physical violence,” he said.

In a campuswide assembly to discuss the Yik Yak posts, some students said they were offended. OK, maybe they were.

If making a lame joke and quoting South Park are grounds for suspension and expulsion . . . How can any college educate children so frail?

FIRE reminds Colorado College about free speech in this letter.

Erika Christakis, who set off a flap over racism by suggesting that Yale students could pick their own Halloween costumes, will no longer teach child development at Yale.

“I have great respect and affection for my students, but I worry that the current climate at Yale is not, in my view, conducive to the civil dialogue and open inquiry required to solve our urgent societal problems,” she said in an email to The Washington Post.

You’re insensitive, you racist!

Three contributors to the Claremont Independent, a conservative campus newspaper and website, posted photos of themselves in tank tops that said “Claremont Independent: Always Right.”

Called “racist, sexist, classist” “ignorant,” “white supremacists,” etc. on social media, they also were attacked for “insensitivity” and making students “emotionally ill,” reports The College Fix, which captured screenshots.

The Independent is a monthly student publication at Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five private undergraduate liberal arts colleges in Southern California.

“Honestly I wish I could shut them down but they would be so quick to spit their ‘constitutional rights,’ rights that only work for some,” one student stated.

Claremont Independent editor Hannah Oh asked critics to “engage with us and offer constructive criticism.” Contributors include moderates, libertarians and classical liberals, she wrote.

What if she’d said being called a racist, sexist, white supremacist had made her emotionally ill? Surely, the insults qualified as a “micro” — or perhaps even a “macro” — aggression.

“I think that it is ridiculous to have a shirt that says ‘Always Right’ when many people don’t agree with the views published in your publication,” a student responded.

In another exchange, editor Steven Glick posted a picture of himself wearing the tank top with the caption “150 years ago, the Republican Party abolished sleevery. We continue to support the right to bare arms. Pick up your Claremont Independent tank top and exercise your freedom today!”

“The play on words prompted one student to suggest the post was ‘extremely offensive and violent’ and ‘trivialized slavery’,” reports The College Fix.

Purity and stupidity

California schools and roads named for Confederate leaders will have to be renamed if Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 539. Two elementary schools in the state are named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee. That seems to be it.

Two California public schools are named for Robert E. Lee.

Two California public schools are named for Robert E. Lee.

“The small coastal city of Fort Bragg, a former military outpost named for an officer who later defected to the Confederacy, was exempted,” reports the Sacramento Bee.

Why stop with Robert E. Lee? asks Darren in Stupidity From Sacramento. If the goal is ideological purity, then a lot more renaming will be necessary.

Berkeley was named after “a slave-holding Anglican priest,” he writes. George Berkeley’s sermons explained to the colonists why Christianity supported slavery,” according to the New World Encyclopedia. Rename it!

And how about all those Catholics — you know, those people who don’t like abortion like good Californians do — we can’t have cities named after them!  Say good-bye to San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Santa Barbara, etc.  And Sacramento–the capital of the state! — is named after a religious activity, a sacrament!  Who were the natives around here, the Maidu?  Let’s find a good Maidu name for Sacramento.

California’s major cities are named after missions founded by Father (soon to be saint) Junipero Serra, who enslaved and tortured the Indians.

Should California honor Junipero Serra?

Should California honor Junipero Serra?

My friend Elias Castillo’s book, Cross of Thorns, describes how even Serra’s contemporaries were shocked by treatment of the Indians, many of whom died of disease and despair.

If Confederate leaders are verboten, so should cities named after Serra’s missions and all the schools, colleges, roads, etc. named after Serra himself. (The Junipero Serra Freeway has a statue of Serria so ugly that it’s more of a disgrace than an honor.)