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You aren’t too innocent to know white supremacy is all around you

A woman is dead. Be silent. Be still. Let that sink in.

Like me, I pray you are sick of the delusive naivete and counterfeit innocence that wallpapers our national discussions when white supremacy undresses itself as it did last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Heather Heyer. That’s her name. Racism killed her.

She lost her life while protesting the influx of sweaty knuckle-draggers who came with torches, “Jew won’t replace us” chants, and Hitler salutes.

They were angry about the the city’s removal of confederate monuments. That America preserves its symbols of historic white aggression against humanity is that important to them.

Heyer’s death, accompanied by the death of two police officers and many injured people, and centuries of deaths and injuries to people with forgotten names, should inspire the president of the United States to get right with his own personal Jesus and to speak decisively with all the testosterone he usually injects (needlessly) into debates.

He didn’t do it. He resisted. Apparently his sharp tongue and little Twitter fingers are reserved for Rosie O’Donnell, women at-large, Black Lives Matter, Mexicanstransgender people, the media, Republicans who fail to advance his agenda, and so on.

He goes hard. On everybody. Except, for some reason that’s mysterious to many (not me), club wielding, spitting mad domestic terrorists.

Yes, on Saturday Trump denounced the “hatred” on display in Charlottesville, but he tempered his words by denouncing it on “many sides.”

Under intense pressure he gave a scripted statement that pointedly said “racism is evil,” and he called the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists “thugs” on Monday.

Then, Tuesday, he got stuck on stupid again and went back to his “many sides” argument.

That’s a problem. 

Within that insulating false comparison lives a wellspring of plausible deniability. It’s a clever gosh-golly-give-us-the-benefit-of-the-doubt brand of white racism that gaslights it’s victims and excuses their oppression.

The smartest Republicans jump off the Trump Titantic. Several of them saying the things Trump would say if he weren’t concerned with maintaining his bigoted base.

Paul Ryan, Republican and Speaker of the House, spoke out against “vile bigotry” and tweeted this:

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Marco Rubio spoke straight with no chaser:

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Senator Orrin Hatch really brought it home, saying…

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Kudos to them. History will not pee on their legacies when students of the future study this implosion of America’s already fragile moral core.

Trump won’t be so fortunate.

For now we know his awkward wink and nod to white anger, social displacement, economic stress, and fear of the future, coupled with his bizarre inability to be firm against white nationalism, is old. It’s known. You know it. I know it. The Blind Boys of Alabama can see it.

The racist underground can see it too. The day after Trump’s non-condemnation of white supremacy Soledad O’Brien tweeted an excerpt of a statement from the Daily Stormer gloating about the fact that Trump had not forsaken them.

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If you’re reading my blog you probably don’t read The Daily Stormer. It’s a neo-Nazi online community and hate site that is to racism what snuff films are to cinema.

That site’s post about the death of Heyer is an example of how low they go. They derided her as “fat,” a “slut,” and “a child murderer” among other things (I won’t link to it and you shouldn’t read it or drive traffic to it).

They also have also issued an alter call for their readers, asking them to protest at Heyer’s funeral. Nothing on the left equals that. No person with moral clarity should fail to blunt this hate.

Let me pause. I see what you’re about to do. You’re going to roll your eyes, fall into partisan baby talk (what about the 30,000 “emails”), and attempt to find demarcation between mainstream voices like the president’s and those on the margins of legitimacy like The Daily Stormer and it’s readers.

Let’s not do that today.

Don’t say folks who read, write, and circulate the toxic and violent misanthropy in right-wing Internet sewers like the Daily Stormer are impotent trolls, fully unrepresentative of conservatism or Republicans. Don’t play it off like they are a small band of fanatics on the fringes of civilized society.

There is no demarcation. Racism lives on a spectrum. It thrives like cancer because it isn’t contained to one portion of the public body. It exists within the bones and guts of American structures, history, law, and education. It is an intrinsic feature of American prosperity, not an abnormality.

The Daily Stormer is only a hop away from Drudge and Brietbart, which are a hop away from The Daily Caller, which is a step away from Fox News. From underground to mainstream, these platforms launder white supremacy and bring a highly refined version of it to market.

Together they manufacture and exploit white fatigue with black grievance, with the brown invasion, and with the militant feminism of women who won’t stop demanding to have the same rights as [white] men.

Consider this passage taken directly from The Daily Stormer:

“As a sign of appreciation for enormous economic support provided to non-white population by middle class whites, non-white immigrants, primarily Mexicans, have unleashed a wave of violent crime on their unsuspecting white neighbors. Entire communities are taken over by brutal Central American gangs who terrorize whites until they are forced to leave their hometowns. While Hispanic children are typically not very good at reading and multiplying, they receive preferential treatment in college admissions, while their more able, white counterparts are rejected by state colleges funded by their own parents!”

How is that different from Trump’s build-a-wall rhetoric about Mexicans, or the use of “anchor baby” on Fox News, or the gnashing of teeth about how affirmative action work against white applicants to universities in all the aforementioned venues?

A post on the Daily Stormer’s site says “you cannot have a first-world nation and a first-world economy with a third-world population.”

Now, match that with the words of Republican Rep. Steve King’s who said “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

King also questioned what other “sub-groups” had made contributions to civilization equal to what whites did, and was called out for proudly displaying the Confederate flag in his office even though he represents Iowa – a state that fought the Confederate

He also introduced a bill that would prevent the government from replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

Come on people. 

Many of us live without the luxury of innocence. That vice can be deadly. While others pretend the tiki torch brigade is a line of social losers who should be minimized, our own Federal Bureau of Investigations has reported for over a decade about white supremacist groups infiltrating law enforcement.

And we’ve watched the most outrageously racist interactions between police and communities of color, too many that ended in death.

Certainly there are faithful Republicans who aren’t racist, who don’t support racism, and who are offended when anyone suggests otherwise. Many voted against Hillary Clinton, not for Donald Trump. They believe in small government, low taxes, and some approximation of “liberty.”  They believe conservatism preserves the best of American values and produces that prosperity we enjoy.

You are not innocent. You are not blind. You are not acting in accord with any reasonable definition of virtue.

To you I say, even if you’re that rationale republican voter you’ll have to step over a lot of dead bodies to pull that lever and stubbornly pursue your political theories.

Shame on you.

Pursuing the power of self-sovereignty and personalized learning to create secure citizens and abundant communities. #TheOppositeOfSchool #AllPowerToThePupil

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1 Comment

  1. Nathan Hyatt

    August 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Well said. I am a schizophrenic who is starting a civil rights campaign for the mentally ill. It will be most interesting to see what the white supremacists have to say and do about the mentally ill wanting the same rights which should be afforded blacks, Latinos, gays, Jews, etc.

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If your presidential debate isn’t fit for kids, you’re not fit to be president

The sad presidential debate

In a time when concerns about public health are stealing precious learning time from America’s children, it’s sad that this week’s presidential debate was another dispiriting lesson in failed leadership.

As citizens, we should expect the contest for the American presidency a top civics learning opportunity, but instead, we got schoolyard rock-throwing on Tuesday that wasn’t worthy of our children’s eyes, ears, or seat time.

That’s a shameful sign of three-plus errant years of declining decorum and lost integrity at the top of the American leadership pile – mostly because a lout has led us into moral anarchy.

If a president is the nation’s exemplar of our values and virtues, a presidential debate is a test, then Donald J. Trump spells trouble. The president I saw on Tuesday was a peevish and sweating example of everything I teach my kids not to be. He was rude, accusatory, irresponsible, blame-shifting, dishonest, and, worst of all, a nasty bully.

Let’s be honest here, if Trump were a Black 6th-grader behaving this way in a Houston classroom, he might be suspended and not allowed to return until his parents met with school staff about his self-regulation challenges.

Now, this is where I’m supposed to dazzle you with my broadmindedness by pointing out ways in which Biden fell short too.

Hard pass.

That form of mindless bothsiderism is a shortcut to thinking and judgment. It’s not good for a responsible citizen and fails as an appropriate example for children.

Unlike the president, I don’t see value in teaching our children to equate white supremacists with the convenient ghost of Antifa or the political cartoon of Black Lives Matter. To overstate something moral and obvious: There are no “very fine people” who are so spitting mad about the existence of non-whites that they descend on communities with tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

If I fault Biden for anything, it’s not being assertive enough about centering these mass-media opportunities on the nation’s children. In my view, his education plan is expensively inconsequential concerning the things that matter most, but are talked about least: quality teaching, learning to standards, evidence-based educational interventions, and academic outcomes that close gaps between the haves and have-nots.

I waited for his promise to move hell and Earth, unions and bureaucrats, publics and privates, lefties and right-wingers, to ensure every American child gets a practical education that prepares her for life in the economic mainstream (a promise that every president since Lyndon Johnson has made), but instead, the former Vice President mostly shadow-boxed the patently erratic orangish gentleman to his right.

My friends, please expect more. When these two private school parents who want to lead the free world take the stage next time to present competing visions for where we should go as a people, let’s hold them to two demands.

Trump v. Biden: who will stand for children in the next presidential debate?

First, they commit to being appropriate examples for our children of how great Americans behave, think, and debate. Or, let them disqualify themselves for failing on that point.

Second, they explicitly detail how their policies will prepare the next generation to be productive members of a free country. They must articulate a plan for systems and policies that allow children to learn in ways that best suit them.

We are so far from that now. Poor academic outcomes for racial minorities, students in poverty, and students with special needs are all too enduring. For example, in most states, less than a quarter of Black students read or perform math proficiently. Non-white students get the worst prepared teachers who – as research tells us – hold implicit biases against them. Further, students of color are more often identified for negative discipline consequences than for gifted programs (even when they don’t qualify for the former and do qualify for the latter).

At the same, education bureaucracies stifle the creativity of teachers through endless standardization. Their lobbying groups fight the emergence of innovative schools and programs that come from chartering laws. Their programs too often limit the most advanced students by gearing the system to a catch-all, mediocre middle.

On top of all that, legacy debts that were born of poor financial decisions compound over time and rob our students of their full per-pupil income by paying for yesterday’s obligations at the expense of tomorrow’s promise.

All the while, we lament the mythical cuts to education funding as the bill for public miseducation and its systemic failures escalates annually.

Hopefully, when they meet again, both candidates seeking our votes in the upcoming election will have something profound to say about how we change the game for students and families. 

The candidates need to can speak to raising the expectations for results in education. We need to know how colleges can prepare better teachers for the classroom and how schools can better support them once they are there. Above all, we need to hear how these candidates can provide more resources directly to families so they can determine how, when, where, and what their children learn. We need a moonshot for things like getting all cities, towns, and rural areas wired with broadband and how we expand the educational opportunities diverse families need.

I’ll be watching the next presidential debate for all that and hoping against hope that two candidates worthy of the nation they want to lead show up with all their best faculties on display. Above all else, I hope they remember the children.

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Crisis parenting isn’t easy, and carry on

We can't help our children by living in our powerlessness

Who will ever tally the toll of mass school closings that have put many families into crisis parenting mode? I’m not sure, but the media messages we get need to be more informative.

There are too many stories about how the sky is falling, and too few about what we can do about it.

Let me use a scenario and to two people.

The scenario: you’re in an elevator in a tall Chicago building with two other people. There is a big bump that jolts the elevator, the lights flicker, and you can tell something bad could be happening.

Person numero uno in the elevator with you starts screaming “we’re going to die!

This is the end!

Person numero dos is calm. She appears to be assessing the situation and considering possibilities for escape.

Person numero uno is the media. He uses words like “disaster” to describe challenges parents face with remote learning. It’s godawful he says. Too hard. Kids hate the new normal. The technology glitches out constantly or bores or confuses them. Teachers cry online. Parents suck at teaching. It’s nearly impossible to stay on top of kids and their studies while also working (for those privileged enough to work from home).

Along those lines, columnist Peg Tyre wrote in Forbes last spring “[r]eality is dawning that parents of school-aged children can’t work and educate their children at the same time.”

I take issue with that. Parents can and must educate their children, even while balancing other demands of life. Even during a global pandemic. There is no other option. Period.

Damnit, that’s what being a parent means. You signed up for it. Now do it.

I suggest you consult with Person numero dos. She won’t tell you what you want to hear (that you’re a martyr and woe is you), but she’ll say what you need to hear (toughen up buttercup).

No, life isn’t always convenient.

Yes, you’re in possibly the toughest situation ever.

Yet, worshipping the problem won’t make it less tough. These are your kids and you were always responsible for moving mountains to get them the education they deserve. Schooling has made it easy for you to idle on autopilot, but no more.

I’m not saying Person number uno is wrong to be alarmed. Reality is on his side. There will be negative consequences of closed schools and the curtailing of daily classroom instruction. It will almost certainly stunt the academic growth of children under-resourced families.

We weren’t prepared to turn our homes into makeshift schools without warning. We quickly feel inadequate about assisting our kids. They keep asking us about concepts we haven’t studied in years. We also worry about the looming social emotional and mental health consequences of the isolation of quarantine.

Some will say I’m glossing over the wildly different financial and social situations families live in. Obviously the single parent with a job in hospitality faces far greater challenges than telecommuting professionals currently forming learning pods for their kids. And yet, no matter where you live on the economic totem wallowing won’t help you or your children. Only character will.

I see story after story about the inequities that will be widened because wealthier parents are hiring tutors or teachers and setting up their own micro-schools. Recognizing that as true doesn’t absolve anyone from having to answer the most powerful question: “what am I going to do?

Who has the information that will help us do our best for our kids wherever they are? What is our inventory of resources, connections, and skillsets?

What power do we have that we aren’t using?

Panic and pity will always be inferior to extreme ownership and stress management in my mind. The best thing we can teach children right now is how to confront adversity with a clear head and fortitude.

To that end, it’s time for Person number dos to tell Person numero uno to sit down, zip it, and speak only when spoken to. This is crisis parenting and we should aim to win.

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Children and families are hurting while you take selfies

Families are having a tough time and that’s especially hard on children. So, you’d think that would generate empathy and generosity. Instead, it looks like selfish gene has taken over.

Let me not overstate the problem. But a New York Times story about the ugly and petty clashes pitting Silicon Valley workers with children vs. the those without children is sad commentary on where we are.

Consider this:

When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, hosted a companywide videoconference on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more Facebook could do to support nonparents, since its other policies had benefited parents.

The question struck a nerve. An employee wrote in comments accompanying the video feed that it was “unfair” that nonparents could not take advantage of the same leave policy afforded parents. Another wrote that while the procedure for taking leave was usually difficult, it was “easy breezy” for parents.

This problem repeated at Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. Inter-office chats raged with childless employees expressing frustration with their co-workers who have children, and working parents firing back.

 

A key to understanding the conflict, at least in my mind, is this snippet from the story: “[the problem is] where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.”

This is an indictment of the always-on self-loving generation who demand to compensated greatly for losing themselves into work (something that is killing them). 

It’s also a mark against the previous generation that parented them during the self-esteem movement which produced little more than entitlement and isolation.

We should fear repeating those detachment issues with today’s kids who are out-of-school and living through Chromebooks, iPads, and iPhones.

Isn’t it telling the Times’ story is set at tech companies? They are basically narcissism factories providing clout chasing ME-llennials digital tools to live that selfie life, why wouldn’t they attract workers who put their wants ahead of the needs of others.?

Can we really expect the generation that swipes left or right for love to demonstrate genuine empathy? Can we get them to look up from their app long enough to see 9 million of their fellow Americans have dropped out of work to care for children or an elder relative? 

These families don’t have employer-paid wading pools, bike repair shops, free meals, and doggie cafes – but, who cares?

But, they should. We all should. I’m as libertarian as the next guy, but your issues will often become “our” issues. 

Nearly one in five working adults reports not working because the pandemic shuttered childcare options. That’s crazy.

According to the federal government “Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to childcare demands.”

I don’t know when we stopped believing that children and their parents should be a policy priority? And, no, it isn’t one generation of us suffering from an empathy deficit. America is afflicted with that as a whole.

I don’t have an answer for what workplaces do to make their childless workers feel they have benefits equal to working parents, but I know more than ever we need everyone to put kids first.

If not, we’ll all face death by selfie.

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