Another Great Argument For School Vouchers

CQ reader Mr. Michael, a Seattle resident, noticed that the city’s school district has expanded its curriculum to include a particular seminar for the first time. Knute Berger reports at Crosscut Seattle that the district will send students to a “White Privilege” conference at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs next week, first noted by our old friend Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics. What would a conference on “white privilege” teach those Seattle students fortunate enough to attend? Let’s see:

The annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression. WPC provides a forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression. WPC is recognized as a challenging, empowering and educational experience. The workshops, keynotes and institutes not only inform participants, but engage and challenge them, while providing practical tips and strategies for combating inequality.

I’m not ignorant of this nation’s history and its impact on society today. Culturally and in general, whites have held a privileged position in the US for almost all of its history; that is undeniable. White culture enslaved Africans for generations and oppressed them for a century after the Civil War freed them. White culture also conquered the native peoples of the continent and oppressed them for generations afterwards. Those dynamics deserve serious study and the ill effects require rational efforts to reverse.
This, however, hardly looks to fit the bill. First, take a look at the laundry list of the topics. I understand the inclusion of diversity and racism, which fits the topic of white privilege. But what about religion? Does a public school system that probably doesn’t allow Christmas celebrations or Easter decorations now want to start teaching about the oppression of religious groups on Americans? Is sexual orientation an issue only among whites? This isn’t a workshop about the specific effects of white privilege in American history and current events; it’s a conference on political correctness.
It also appears to have serious competence issues. For an educational program given by a university for the eighth year in a row, the material is poorly edited:

Q. Is this about proving how bad white folks are?
A. Our attempts to dismantle dominance and oppression must follow a path other than that of either vilifying or obliterating Whiteness… Whites need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of ‘Whiteness’ and create for ourselves a transformed identity as White people committed to equality and social change. Our goal is neither to defy or denigrate Whiteness, but to difuse [sic] its destructive power.
To teach my white students and my own children that they are ‘not White’ is to do them a disservice. To teach them that there a [sic] different ways of being White, and that they have a choice as White people to become champions fo [sic] justice and social healing, is to provide them a positive direction for growth and to grant them the dignity of their own being.
Gary Howard
We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools

Gary Howard apparently can’t teach spelling and proofreading, and neither can the University of Colorado. Perhaps spending more time on English would produce students better able to challenge white privilege in American society. Besides, how can one “difuse” the destructive power of Whiteness but not denigrate it? Does one normally oppose something that isn’t subject to vilification or obliteration?
And while I agree that white privilege exists, racism and all the other ills described and decried in this program do not spring from the color of one’s skin, but the nature of the heart and soul. Other cultures in other nations have problems with racism, sexism, religious oppression, and the entire panoply of human afflictions. We see this playing out across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa today. Darfur has managed to become a killing field of racism and hatred without the assistance of white people to make it so. Focusing on the pale seems a bit beyond the pale for those who want to truly learn about racism, sexism, sexual orientation, and diversity.
As Mr. Michael says, this seems like a great argument for school vouchers. Seattle parents may want to closely monitor the curricula offered by their school district even outside of the White Privilege Conference next week.

14 thoughts on “Another Great Argument For School Vouchers”

  1. Some whites are intolerant bigots; many whites believe in freedom for all people. Arabs refer to black people as “slaves”. Some black Africans still enslave black Africans. Some folks in China do not care for Russians.
    Will the conference talk about how whites have contributed to law and order, responsible government, free markets, freedom to generate one’s own wealth, privacy, personal expression– this is part of the white experience that seems to be missing when talking about the white experience. No. we are supposed to be ashamed, nothing more. I cannot help but feel that whites simple make a handy ethnic group to hate. It becomes the default of public service advertisement on topics of racial intolerance– the “Ms. Johnson” who is a racist landlord, as an example.
    One last thought: if whites are so privileged what is to be said about lower middle class, and poor whites. Are they failures then? Or less white?

  2. It’s just racism. Supposedly you can’t be racist unless you’re white, but that statement alone is racist. Isn’t it funny, all the blacks are crying racism and mistreatment, yet it is THEY who won’t work, attend school, or get good grades. Why? Because that’s “being white”, and they’d rather fail and be black.
    They need a class to find out why blacks are so self-destructive, why they exemplify the lobster principle so bad. They need to find a way to make all these race-hustlers pay for their crimes of extortion and fraud, to pay for the lies they’ve told their youth. Sharpton, Jackson, et al, along with the libs like Clinton and Edwards and Kennedy have made these people victims, told them for years that the world owes them a decent wage without working for it, food and shelter for free, and respect enforced by law. Funny, the blacks used to complain that it was wrong when whites would call the laws because a Black Man dared insult them.
    This is just proof of the principle that here, in America, whites ruled, and because of that, everyone else wants to just come here and use our courts to take away what WE’VE built.
    White people have never enslaved a single black person. When they tried, they were killed. They weren’t allowed to come ashore because then they were a threat to all sides. Buying slaves that were rowed out to your ship was safer for the disease factor, too, though the whites thought it safer for THEM, it was actually safer for the Africans. But in all the history of slavery, white people have actually captured and enslaved no blacks to my knowledge, and if it is so, it will be extremely rare. In the meantime, the continent of Africa built it’s entire economy on slavery, even using slaves as the currency for everything else. White traders didn’t even hit Africa until the fifteen hundreds, yet there’s evidence of slavery in Africa as far back as they have records, well into three thousand B.C.
    When are we going to stop the self-loathing? When do we get to stop the lying about how wonderful Islam is (never invented a thing, everything they contributed was done from before Islam took over, or from a country that contributed it before they were overrun), and how horrible being white is (law and order, free enterprise, capitalism, the world’s savior time and time again, and, most of all, this bright shiny jewel called America.
    The slaves no more built this country than the Irish built buildings just because they worked on the construction crew. To say you built it is a lie, you just contributed labor. Something like a building, a country, an ideal, those things have a builder, but it’s the guy with the idea and the money to make it happen. In my country’s history, those men have almost always been white. Yet, we’re supposed to act like it’s our fault that blacks haven’t done just as much inventing/discovering/improving. What crock of hogwash.
    I will never apologize for being white, and will be proud of my ancestory my whole life. Anyone who thinks that’s wrong has to explain to me why it’s okay for blacks to be proud of being black, why it’s okay for people who supposedly want to be Americans to run around being proud of being MEXICAN, yet I’m supposed to be ashamed of being white? Kiss my rosy read arse.

  3. Captain, this conference has deeper dysfunction that just spelling, and you’ve bought into it: there is no such thing as “white culture”. Race does not equal culture, unless one wishes to argue that one’s skin color determines one’s values, morals, beliefs, and actions. Culture is significantly more complicated than that. Skin color is not a strong predictor of culture, period.
    In the United States, race and culture tend to be coincident, if one restricts study to only white and black. When other self-reported races are added, the coincidence breaks down. The equating of race and culture is lazy social science, stemming from that fact that race is easy to measure.
    Race is salient in social science when examining race-based social factors, such as those fueled by bigotry and discrimination. The social construction of culture is affected by those factors, to a limited degree; but there are other non-racial factors that are far more salient to culture, such as geographic location, religion, educational attainment of parents, income, etc.
    In short, white people don’t all think and act alike.

  4. It is absurd to assume the color of skin defines the content of character.
    White slave owners were no different than black slave sellers. and black abolutionists were no different than white abolutionists.
    A friend 51 years old who was born and raise here in NYC likes to believe himself as part of the ‘black’ community (He’s proud of his ideal that he and three other white guys are the only white guys in their ‘hood’ but should any other white people move in well it’s considered an abomination). He was starled when I mentioned that I don’t believe that just because he is a white man that ipso facto indicated he is a racist, sexist, homophobe. I also told him about the absurd “Tunnel of Oppression” created by our indoctrinating Ivory Tower and asked why only women, any skin color not-white, gay/lesbians and athesists where portrayed as the oppressed and the white man is the oppressor. His answer was that he was not a racist yet all he knew was that white people were changing the landscape of his ‘hood’
    I don’t blame him for his ignorance since his provencial life growing up in NYC had never challenged his perspective. Group-think has created this identity politics and is one of the main reason why there is such hatred towards America, she is the villian who represents ‘white male oppression’ .
    Enlightenment requires a great deal of patience to engage in disrupting the group-think identity politics but at least my friend has been exposed to something outside his bubble.

  5. Why are we even at the point where this stuff even exists? Because taxpayers are forced to fund public schools, the people in charge of them are free to fund trendy, sociobabble dreck like this.
    I support public funding for children to attend schools, but not the public school/teacher’s union monopoly.
    If parents want to send their kids to places where the teachers push nonsense like this, they should be free to, but they should not be financially penalized if they want to send their children elsewhere.

  6. “Whites need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of ‘Whiteness’ and create for ourselves a transformed identity as White people committed to equality and social change”
    More socialist claptrap. I feel sorry for the kids forced to go to this re-education camp.
    How about schools focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic; that’s the real problem, turning schools into centers for social concerns and not education institutions.

  7. Captain said: Culturally and in general, whites have held a privileged position in the US for almost all of its history; that is undeniable
    That is true, but I would also remind you that Whites have also done a lot of the heavy lifting in this country.

  8. If those putting on this conference have ‘issues’, then I’d suggest they move to a country where they will be in the minority and can be free to work off their “guilt”.

  9. “How about schools focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic”
    That’s the problem with all levels of government – the emphasis on doing what’s trendy and sexy, while they can’t even get the basics right.
    Because teaching kids to read is boring. That’s been done for centuries.
    Socially indoctrinating children into a far left frame of mind, that’s “making a difference”.
    Meanwhile, we have bureaucrats running around in NYC, trying to enforce a no-smoking ban in bars, meanwhile, rats are filmed running through restaurants.
    Government at every level has more than enough money to accomplish what they should be doing. It’s these worthless frills that are exploding our budgets.

  10. If not engaging in reckless self-sabotage, like making out-of-wedlock birth commonplace, or dropping out of high school, or joining urban crime gangs is some kind of “privilege,” then it’s a privilege open to everyone. Not just middle-class whites.

  11. Group politics is total political poison.
    Thomas Sowell did a great empirical study on affirmative action programs in various countries (US, India, Malaysia, and another place) and showed pretty convincingly that when government focuses on the group, intergroup tension rises. Not surprising really.
    And if what matters is your group membership, where does that leave you, the individual? Nowhere. You don’t count. If you are doing well, it’s because of the group you belong to. If you are not, it’s because of the group you belong to. You get neither credit nor blame.

  12. What can be said about this kind of dangerous foolishness? Yes, it is “dangerous” as it perpetuates racism and division between Americans that we should have started to really get rid of about thirty years ago. You know, that whole “content of their character” thing?
    Unfortunately, too many people, mostly on the left, have a vested interest in perpetuating this kind of thing. “We vs. they” is a political slogan of long and odious pedigree.
    It’s one thing to point out the many injustices that have been done in the history of our country (and continue to be done; ask the Indians), but another to try to inflict a guilt complex on kids in an attempt to make their teachers feel self-righteous. Further, by perpetuating the “blame whitey” meme, it simply lets minorities off the hook for doing what they can to improve their own lot in life. For that matter, what do we say to minorities who have done well? Denigrate them as exceptions… or sell-outs?

  13. Did he say ‘denigrating whiteness’. Is denigrating a bad thing? Isn’t that racist?

  14. I’d like to sign up for one of these courses. I need to know how to take advantage of this “white privilege” that everyone’s talking about.

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