Multiculturalism is one of those concepts that’s supposed to give all of us a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. We’re all equal, we’re all wonderful. We’re no longer that icky old melting pot that forced minorities with exciting, dynamic cultures to subordinate themselves to a generic white America and become bland and meaningless. Instead, we’re an exciting salad bowl, with each disparate element lending color and punch to a healthy whole. It really does make for a wonderful vision, doesn’t it?
But what turns out to happen when you don’t encourage a dominate culture is that the separate ingredients in the salad bowl get testy and restive. The tomatoes start to disparage the lettuce, and no one will associate with the onions. Because they’re not forced to blend together, each thinks he or she is better than the others. The one thing those ingredients know for a certainty, though, because they’re taught so at our taxpayer funded schools, is that America is a bad place, and that traditional Americans — read: White Christians — are the problem.
The above is not just clever (I hope), opinionated writing. It is, in part, an amalgam of information I’ve been picking up over the years. It’s also a reflection of the type of workshops being taught this week at the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) convention in Baltimore:
School board members ought to be particularly interested, because they approve the doling out of taxpayers’ money for K-12 teachers from every state to attend the NAME convention.
They ought to be welcome to sit in on any of the workshops and determine what multicultural messages their teachers are absorbing for use in the classroom.
The co-sponsors of multiculturalism’s biggest gathering include several beneficiaries of tax money, including the Maryland affiliate of the National Education Association (a longtime NAME ally), George Mason University and even the Maryland State Department of Education.
School board members could start by attending one of the half- or full-day workshops on Halloween. Here are some of the choices from the NAME program:
• “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Dismantling White Privilege and Supporting Anti-Racist Education in Our Classrooms and Schools.” Taught by a professor from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, this session “is designed to help educators identify and deconstruct their own white privilege and in so doing more deeply commit themselves to anti-racist teaching and critical multicultural teaching.”
• “Talking About Religious Oppression and Unpacking Christian Privilege.” This session, taught by a team of professors, “will examine the dynamics of Christian privilege and oppression of minority religious groups and nonbelievers as constructed and maintained on three distinct levels: individual, institutional and societal. A historical and legal lecturette will be presented and participants will engage in interactive learning modules.”
• “Beyond Celebrating Diversity: Teaching Teachers How to be Critical Multicultural Educators.” Taught by NAME regional director Paul Gorski, founder of the activist group EdChange, this session will start from the premise that multiculturalism’s greatest danger “comes from educators who ostensibly support its goals, but whose work – cultural plunges, food fairs, etc. – reflects a compassionate conservative consciousness rather than social justice. This session focuses on preparing teachers, not for celebrating diversity, but for achieving justice in schools and society.”
Workshops at NAME annual conventions (six of which I have attended since 1993) repeatedly advocate the teaching of “social justice.” That term never seems to be defined, but its users simplify all American life as a saga of the oppressed vs. the oppressors. Skin color, national origin, gender, religion and sexual preference are among the qualities that put all individuals into one category or the other.
You can be assured that these ugly concepts don’t stay confined to weekend boondoggles in Baltimore. My daughter came home from school the other day and gave me a cheerful lecture about what wonderful environmentalists the Indians were, unlike the Americans, who trashed the environment. I, in turn, felt obliged to give her a little talk about the fact that the Indians were not an industrial people, which accounted for their low level footprint. We also talked about numbers of Indians versus space and resources.
More than that, I reminded her that Native Americans were and are people like any other people: some good, some bad, some strong, some weak, some thoughtful, some thoughtless, etc. I urged her to remember that, when the Native Americans are presented as nothing but good, that this is just how the schools like to teach things, and that an intelligent student remembers that the true picture is always richer and much more rounded — and, frankly, more interesting. The fact that saints can be boring explains why so many stories, from earliest history to the present, like to start out with the saint as a sinner who finds redemption.
Hat tip: Mike Devx