Monday, October 31, 2016

Re-Segregating America, One University After Another

People of color demanding segregation makes a mockery of MLK's vision

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” —Martin Luther King, Aug. 28, 1963

While Americans remain distracted by the election, college campuses across the nation are busy turning Martin Luther King’s vision on its head. Students are demanding to be segregated, and spineless administrators are accommodating them.

At California State University Los Angeles, the Black Student Union sent a letter to president William A. Covino asserting that black students “have been, and still are, consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration.” Fourteen “DEMANDs” were listed, including “the creation and financial support of a CSLA housing space delegated for Black students.”

Spokesman Robert Lopez offered up Orwellian rationale for Cal State’s surrender, insisting the arrangement “focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and non-discriminatory.”

At the University of Connecticut, there is a “living-learning” community reserved for black male students. That’s okay with administrators because it doesn’t take over the whole dormitory — it’s one of 20 learning groups “topically” categorized — and because, as UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz put it, at “many predominantly white institutions nationwide, elements of African-American culture are harder to find, which can make some students experience a sense of detachment from their universities.”

UC Davis boasts a similar living-learning center, and UC Berkeley established a “Person of Color Theme House” described as “the best way to meet the needs of students of color and low income students' needs.”

Students at NYU have demanded two separate spaces, one dedicated to “Students of Color” and the other for Queer Students as part of an initiative called the “NYU 2031 Plan.”

One website lists 79 colleges that have established a “Link to Demands” where students have ostensibly “risen up to demand an end to systemic and structural racism on campus.” It includes three national demands compiled by the Black Liberation Collective: black student and faculty representation on campus must be equal to or higher than black representation in the general population; free tuition must be provided for black and indigenous students; and divestment from prisons and investment in communities must be undertaken.

Northwestern University plans to quadruple the number of black student safe spaces on campus, based on a 149-page task force report titled “Black Student Experience.” It asserts black students feel “dissatisfied, exhausted and alienated on campus,” and recommends a “cultural audit” of the entire campus to ensure it is “representative of the diversity that exists within the University.”

In a Washington Post op-ed, Northwestern president Morton Schapiro revealed the intellectual bankruptcy that attends these segregationist impulses. Commenting on an incident where a group of black students in the cafeteria decided they didn’t want two white students joining them, he insisted the black students “had every right to enjoy their lunches in peace.” He elaborated, “There are plenty of times and places to engage in uncomfortable learning, but that wasn’t one of them. The white students, while well-meaning, didn’t have the right to unilaterally decide when uncomfortable learning would take place.”

One need only imagine a group of white students denying black students seats at a cafeteria lunch table to grasp the hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, at DePaul, the nation’s largest Catholic university, no imagination at all is necessary to see how deep the hypocritical rot goes. A group of pro-life students was told it could not display posters reading “Unborn Lives Matter” because doing so could upset the campus’s Black Lives Matter movement. “By our nature, we are committed to developing arguments and exploring important issues that can be steeped in controversy and, oftentimes, emotion,” explained University president Father Dennis Holtschneider in a letter to the College Republicans who had sponsored the effort. “Yet there will be times when some forms of speech challenge our grounding in Catholic and Vincentian values. When that happens, you will see us refuse to allow members of our community be subjected to bigotry that occurs under the cover of free speech.”

Apparently the BLM movement, whose entire existence is based on fomenting anti-police bigotry, remains a paragon of Catholic and Vincentian values, even as one of the central tenets of the Catholic faith is too provocative for First Amendment protection. Not to mention that abortion claims a hugely disproportionate number of black lives.

Harassment of white students is part of the mix as well. As part of a protest at Berkeley reiterating demands for spaces of color and transgender safe spaces, white students were prevented from crossing a campus bridge, while students of color were granted safe passage.

Until public scrutiny forced them to abandon their plans to provide two course sections exclusively for black students, Moraine Valley Community College’s assistant director of communications Jessica Crotty revealed the motivation behind such efforts, noting that students “feel comfortable and are more likely to open up because they’re with other students who are like them.”

Chicago Tribune reporter Ted Slowik adds a dollop of the victimist worldview to the mix, insisting that “our system of public education isn’t perfectly balanced,” meaning some students “simply aren’t as well prepared for college as others.” Thus “peer support” (read: segregation) is an acceptable tool for achieving academic success.

Maybe some students of color aren’t well prepared for college because in virtually every major city in America, public education has been controlled by Democrats for decades. Democrats completely aligned with unaccountable education unions promising “reform” for 50 years and failing to deliver. Unions so strong, the NAACP voted for a moratorium on charter schools, despite the reality they currently provide 700,000 black families with an escape route from the most disastrous public schools overwhelmingly located in minority neighborhoods.

Or maybe students are indoctrinated into the grievance culture long before they reach college. Like those “taught” by the thousands of Seattle teachers who wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts to an event organized to dramatize the inequality of public schools — run by those same teachers. Or like students at Middletown South and Toms River North who decided to honor police officers, EMTs, firemen and military at a football game — only to be sent a memo by the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union condemning the ceremony as a “frightening message” designed to “intimidate and ostracize people who express their views about systemic racism and social just [sic].”

“Americans need to understand that this otherwise fringe ideology and extremism is now thoroughly embedded throughout the education system, from pre-K through university,” asserts Alex Newman, co-author of “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.” Newman further points out this system has “harmed black Americans even more than others, although all Americans have suffered from it” even as he warns the cure is not more of the same “racialist, collectivist, leftist poison.”

It is racialist, collectivist, leftist poison that has engendered one of the great ironies of modern times: people of color demanding segregation, making an utter mockery of King’s work and his vision. It doesn’t get much more twisted than that.


Dumb American Youth

Walter E. Williams

Do you wonder why Sen. Bernie Sanders and his ideas are so popular among American college students? The answer is that they, like so many other young people who think they know it all, are really uninformed and ignorant. You say, “Williams, how dare you say that?! We’ve mortgaged our home to send our children to college.” Let’s start with the 2006 geographic literacy survey of youngsters between 18 and 24 years of age by National Geographic and Roper Public Affairs.

Less than half could identify New York and Ohio on a U.S. map. Sixty percent could not find Iraq or Saudi Arabia on a map of the Middle East, and three-quarters could not find Iran or Israel. In fact, 44 percent could not locate even one of those four countries. Youngsters who had taken a geography class didn’t fare much better. By the way, when I attended elementary school, during the 1940s, we were given blank U.S. maps, and our assignment was to write in the states. Today such an assignment might be deemed oppressive, if not racist.

According to a Philadelphia magazine article, the percentage of college grads who can read and interpret a food label has fallen from 40 to 30. They are six times likelier to know who won “American Idol” than they are to know the name of the speaker of the House. A high-school teacher in California handed out an assignment that required students to use a ruler. Not a single student knew how.

An article on News Forum for Lawyers titled “Study Finds College Students Remarkably Incompetent” cites a study done by the American Institutes for Research that revealed that over 75 percent of two-year college students and 50 percent of four-year college students were incapable of completing everyday tasks. About 20 percent of four-year college students demonstrated only basic mathematical ability, while a steeper 30 percent of two-year college students could not progress past elementary arithmetic. NBC News reported that Fortune 500 companies spend about $3 billion annually to train employees in “basic English.”

Reported by Just Facts, in 2009, the Pentagon estimated that 65 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. were unqualified for military service because of weak educational skills, poor physical fitness, illegal drug usage, medical conditions or criminal records. In January 2014, the commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command estimated this figure at 77.5 percent, and in June 2014, the Department of Defense estimated this figure at 71 percent.

A few weeks ago, my column discussed the dishonesty of college officials. Here’s more evidence: Among high-school students who graduated in 2014 and took the ACT college readiness exam, here’s how various racial/ethnic groups fared when it came to meeting the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks in at least three of the four subjects: Asians, 57 percent; whites, 49 percent; Hispanics, 23 percent; and blacks, 11 percent. However, the college rates of enrollment of these groups were: Asians, 80 percent; whites, 69 percent; Hispanics, 60 percent; and blacks, 57 percent. What I am labeling as dishonest, fraudulent or deceitful comes from the fact that many more students are admitted to college than are in fact college-ready. Admitting such students may satisfy the wants and financial interests of the higher education establishment, but whether it serves the interests of students, families, taxpayers and the nation is another question.

To accommodate less college-ready students, colleges must water down their curricula, lower standards and abandon traditional tools and topics. Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein writes in his book “The Dumbest Generation”: Tradition “serves a crucial moral and intellectual function. … People who read Thucydides and Caesar on war, and Seneca and Ovid on love, are less inclined to construe passing fads as durable outlooks, to fall into the maelstrom of celebrity culture, to presume that the circumstances of their own life are worth a Web page.”


The British state’s silent war on religion

The authorities’ attack on religious schools is an affront to a tolerant society

It is increasingly clear that the UK government’s failing attempt to promote British values has inadvertently turned into a sanctimonious and intolerant campaign against traditionalist religious institutions. Since most of the targets of the British-values campaign are culturally isolated – Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hasidic Jews, fundamentalist Christians, radical Islamists – many otherwise sensitive observers have not picked up on what is a silent war against religion.

This unrestrained and insidious turn taken by the disoriented British-values campaign was exposed last month when it emerged that young Muslim children in one primary school were given a test to assess their predilection for radicalisation. The stated purpose of this intrusive Big Brother-style initiative was to ‘identify the initial seeds of radicalisation’. Judging by the questions posed, it appears that the marker for the precrime of radicalisation was the strength of infants’ feelings about the way of life of their families. To discover how pupils felt about their beliefs, the test asked them to indicate whether they agreed, disagreed or were unsure about the following statement: ‘I believe my religion is the only correct one.’ Any child agreeing with this statement was deemed to be in danger of becoming radicalised into anti-British values.

The sentiments underpinning this infant-radicalisation test also inform the work of Ofsted school inspectors, assorted government programmes and the outlook of the political establishment. From this elite perspective, those who believe that their religion is the truth contradict the unstated official version of British values – namely, that all religions are correct. According to the jargon of the day, an inclusive, non-judgemental and respectful attitude towards other people’s beliefs is mandatory for school children. This demand for non-judgemental respect implicitly negates the freedom of conscience of millions of ardent believers for one simple reason: many religions assume that only they possess the truth. For Christians, Jews and Muslims, the idea that all religions are correct makes little sense. Indeed, if all religions are ‘correct’, then living in accordance solely with one particular faith is absurd.

According to today’s official guidelines, religions are acceptable as long as their adherents don’t take them too seriously. If they do, then such religions violate what appears to have become a fundamental but unspoken British value – automatic respect for beliefs other than your own. Over the past year, numerous faith schools have been downgraded by Oftsted inspectors and criticised because, allegedly, their pupils did not demonstrate sufficient awareness and respect for the cultures of other people. What’s interesting is that this criticism was based not on concerns about how pupils felt about Britain, but on concerns about how they felt about other cultures and religions.

Uncritical and non-judgemental multiculturalism has become the goal of British-values education. It focuses on people’s attitudes to others rather than on people’s values as such. In reality, non-judgemental multiculturalism avoids engaging with normative statements of value. In the absence of having any actual values of its own, the political establishment prefers to restrain and police those who live their lives according to their values.

The British-values campaign obscures its intolerance of strong religious faith through euphemism and jargon. For example, last year, Ofsted deemed several schools run with a strong Christian ethos to be ‘inadequate’. Ofsted justified its decision on the grounds that these schools were ‘failing to teach respect for other faiths or developing pupils’ awareness and knowledge of communities different from their own’. What’s remarkable is that Ofsted is assessing the quality of a school according to political and social-engineering criteria, rather than educational criteria. Inspectors seem far less interested in the academic quality of children’s classroom experience than in the cultural and social ethos imbibed by pupils. So, last month, it was reported that in two Christian schools in north-east England, inspectors were asking 10-year-olds questions about lesbian sex and transgender issues. And because these schools were not trying to socialise their pupils into the latest fashionable cause promoted by the PSHE industry, they were judged as failures. One of the schools involved, Durham Free School, is facing closure, while the other, Grindon Hall, was placed in ‘special measures’ on the grounds that the children lacked tolerance towards ‘people of other faiths and culture’.

Statements like ‘developing pupils’ awareness and knowledge of other communities’ serve as a code for forcing pupils to embrace a secular cosmopolitan ethos. Unsurprisingly, many religious educational institutions – rightly or wrongly – regard cosmopolitan values and practices as a corrosive influence on their faith. Indeed, one reason why many parents send their children to a religious school is to insulate them from some of the values and cultural practices prevalent in mainstream society.

During the past year, Hasidic Jewish schools have been condemned because they failed to deal with sex-education in an acceptable manner. That, for many Hasidic Jews, discussing the topics on the sex-education curriculum would be a deeply disturbing experience appears to be irrelevant to the authorities. It is worth noting that despite Ofsted’s reservations about the failure of Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School in Stamford Hill to address sex education, it still decided to give it a ‘good’ rating. Ofsted’s decision immediately roused the wrath of the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association. As far as they were concerned, the school’s ‘good’ rating was undeserved because it indicated it would continue to tell pupils to avoid certain stigmatised topics in exams, like homosexual relationships, evolution and social media.

Tolerance not respect

A tolerant, democratic society would recognise that schools run according to a religious ethos would find it difficult to discuss and teach many issues that secular teachers find unproblematic. A tolerant, democratic society would also recognise that religious schools are particularly sensitive about morality, given their aim is to instil in children their own values, rather than the values of the Department for Education. Forcing religious schools to educate children in values that are alien to their faith has little educational merit. The purpose of such a policy is not educational, but political. Demanding that teachers ignore what their conscience dictates sets a dangerous precedent for society. It also violates one of the unstated principles of a tolerant, democratic society; namely, that the state does not interfere in the internal affairs of a religion. Since the seventeenth century, advocates of tolerance have argued that religious beliefs, matters of people’s heads and hearts, are not appropriate objects of state control.

The right to religious freedom is the cornerstone on which the ideal of tolerance was founded. It is paradoxical that in the 21st century, when the right to be different is so widely celebrated, that the right to act on your religious beliefs is so readily pathologised. Take the recent case involving two schools run by the Belz sect, a Hasidic Jewish group in north London. As was widely reported, the two schools sent a letter to parents warning that any children driven to school by their mother would be refused entry to the school. The letter outlining the ban on women drivers was based on the recommendations of Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel.

The ban immediately provoked establishment outrage. The UK education secretary, Nicky Morgan, denounced the ban as ‘completely unacceptable in modern Britain’. Appealing to the core British value of respect, Morgan said that ‘if schools do not actively promote the principle of respect for other people, they are breaching the independent school standards’. She immediately launched an investigation into the affair. A few days later, the Equality and Human Rights Commission informed the Belz schools that the banning of mothers from driving children to school was illegal and discriminatory.

What was remarkable about the official and media reaction to this episode was the near universal reluctance to accept the right of a religious group to act and behave in accordance with its beliefs. The Belz sect did not demand that women who were not members of its faith should not drive children to school. Its rules applied only to members of its faith. No one else is affected by the practices of this sect, and in a tolerant society it is accepted that religious groups should be left alone to practice their faith.

Unlike the current fashion of non-judgementalism, the liberal ideal of tolerance does not demand that any of us should respect religions or cultural groups that we deem incorrect or abhorrent. Indeed, the verb ‘to tolerate’ conveys a judgement towards something we reject but nevertheless accept the existence of. I, for one, do not respect the practices of the Belz sect, but I tolerate its behaviour. Unlike the ideas of respect and non-judgementalism, which avoid the domain of morality, tolerance speaks the language of right and wrong.

The growing tendency to interfere in the internal affairs of religious schools is an indirect expression of the wider cultural conflict about lifestyles and values. Many of society’s questions regarding the moral order are played out through competing initiatives that target children.

But there is another important impulse behind the targeting of religious education. In recent years, officials and politicians have been taken aback by the spectre of Islamic radicalisation haunting many schools. Belatedly, they sought to regain the initiative through the ‘Trojan horse’ inquiry into the influence of radical Islamists in certain schools. The government is all too aware that it has not been able to contain or neutralise radical Islamists’ influence on young Muslims. It is also conscious that its attempt to impose British values on schools might appear as entirely focused on the Muslim community. That is why it has opted to target Christian and Jewish schools. There is little prospect that Hasidic Jews or Christian students are likely to get radicalised anytime soon. However, by targeting them, the government deludes itself into believing that it is actually doing something to rescue Britain from the scourge of religious extremism.


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