Do you remember the show Good Times, the one that made Jimmy “J.J.” Walker a star? It was a spin-off of Maude which, in turn, was a spin-off of All in the Family — all Norman Lear productions. The show revolved around a black family living in the Chicago housing projects. The mom and dad were hard workers, and their goal was to save their children from the pitfalls of housing project life. The three kids were the goofy J.J., a perpetual optimistic and clown; the pragmatic Thelma, who felt the burdens of poverty; and the militant activist, Michael, a middle schooler who reliably voiced core Leftist ideology.
I watched the show religiously when I was in middle school and high school, but remember very little of it. Actually, the only thing that stands out in my mind is an episode involving standardized testing. Michael argued that the tests were hopelessly racist, because they reflected a world of knowledge denied black children. The example he gave was a multiple choice question:
Cup and ____________
Michael contended that testing children on the phrase “cup and saucer” was inherently racist because poor kids — i.e., black kids — didn’t have saucers. They would pick “cup and table.” The fact that “cup and saucer” is a phrase — meaning that it’s not about logic and knowledge, but is about recognizing common English usage — was irrelevant. After all, generations of people used the phrase “hoist by his own petard” without having any idea what either “hoist” or “petard” meant. They just understand that the phrase referred to someone’s own behavior catching up with him. Neither the character Michael nor the show’s writers cared about English language or logic. They cared, instead, about explaining away low black test scores by pointing to inherent racial bias in the tests.
The thing about Progressives, as I’ve mentioned often enough, is that their arguments have remained unchanged over decades. They frame abortion as if we still live in a world where pregnancy out-of-wedlock is a social crime that leads women to back alleys and death; they view race relations as if the Civil Rights fight in the South happened yesterday, but took place all over the country; and they believe in Keynesian economics despite decades of evidence that it fails.
If yesterday’s news is anything to go by, they’re also still reciting tired old educational tropes, although they’ve now get the taxpayers funding their Leftist cant:
Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, a principal with Oregon’s Portland Public Schools, has become convinced that America’s “white culture” negatively influences educators’ world view and the manner in which they teach their students.
For instance, last year a teacher in the district presented a lesson that included a reference to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gutierrez says that by using sandwiches as an illustration, the teacher was engaged in a very subtle form of racism.
“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” asked Gutierrez, according to Portland Tribune. “Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”
It’s likely that Gutierrez didn’t arrive at this idea entirely by herself. Instead, she might have had it spoon fed by an organization called “The Pacific Education Group”:
The Pacific Educational Group is the brainchild of Glenn Singleton, whose mission is to enlighten educators about how public schools promote “white culture” and “white privilege.” He argues that those conditions are responsible for the black/white achievement gap that exists throughout America’s public education system.
Learning Leftism doesn’t come cheap. Last year, despite the fact that the Portland school district is hurting for money, it spent more than $500,000 on PEG seminars that teach this claptrap.
This type of attack on education isn’t just expensive and it doesn’t just demean non-whites. It is a very important part of the tactic of destroying America from the inside out by denying her a common culture. In order for a nation to function, something has to tie the individuals within that nation together so that they feel a common cause with each other. Multiculturalism, which insists that it’s racist to teach Americans a common culture, doesn’t turn us into a charming tossed salad, which was the metaphor the Left used to counter the old “melting pot” idea. Instead, it creates tribalism within America.
Tribalism is okay if America is a single “American tribe.” It’s a problem, though, when you have disparate groups within borders all viewing the others with fear and suspicion. Then you end up with the Balkans, Rwanda, or large swaths of the Arab Middle East, where tribal hatreds periodically explode into blood baths.
(One interesting piece of trivia: Jimmy Walker is a conservative. He’s not a doctrinaire conservative, but he’s definitely conservative and not shy about it, either.)