1 The Big Stupid. There is a regular flow of ideas and theories from academia and politics that I categorize as “The Big Stupid”: irrational, ideologically-loaded, often dangerous assertions that are seductive to the weak-minded and easily-duped. The problem is that to keep these bad ideas from taking root, one has to actively engage in debunking them, which ironically gives their advocates staying power and credibility. One of the most popular of the current crop of Big Stupid positions is the attacks against “cultural appropriation,” which is a deceptive phrase designed to make something unequivocally good sound sinister. In this case, the completely positive and benign cultural process at the heart of the American experiment, the process of diverse people and cultures becoming one by sharing and adopting the best of what each has to offer, is being scorned as a tool of white supremacy, privilege, oppression and capitalism.
The latest screed in this particular Big Stupid is “Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation,” co-authored by Michigan State University professor Shreena Gandhi and“antiracist white Jewish organizer, facilitator, and healer” Lillie Wolff. Wolff got her degree from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the article is published in a Kalamazoo College publication. The river, Michigan city and College take their name from a Potawatomi Indian Tribe word, but that kind of “cultural appropriatiion” doesn’t matter to the authors, or something.
Don’t expect consistency in the Big Stupid.That would be stupid.
The article is full of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, Academic Division, of the sort that used to send me screaming out of late night bull sessions in college, like,
“Yoga, like so many other colonized systems of practice and knowledge, did not appear in the American spiritual landscape by coincidence; rather, its popularity was a direct consequence of a larger system of cultural appropriation that capitalism engenders and reifies. While the (mis)appropriation of yoga may not be a life-threatening racism, it is a part of systemic racism nonetheless, and it is important to ask, what are the impetuses for this cultural “grabbing”?”
“We would argue one of the goals of White Supremacy is to buffer white people from the pain that comes from the process of exchanging cultural grounding for the unearned power and privilege of whiteness. This looks like the hoarding of material resources and wealth into the hands, pockets, and bank accounts of white society. Meanwhile, in order to uphold the foundation and on-going functioning of white supremacist and racial capitalism, white people are taught to be ahistorical and emotionally repressed. In order to maintain the status quo, white people are taught to sublimate and anesthetize feeling.”
After all these years, I remain at a loss as to how to ethically handle such blather. My old method of simple saying, “You’re an idiot,” and leaving seems inadequate somehow, but you really can’t argue with “antiracists” who see nothing inconsistent about writing things like ” white people are taught to be ahistorical and emotionally repressed.” But if you let these kinds of people—you know…morons—distribute their Big Stupid from prestigious platforms—the public’s sanity is endangered.
2. Good. Gregory Salcido, a El Rancho (California) High School history and government teacher, attracted attention and indignation after a video of him berating a student for wearing a military sweatshirt with a Marine logo was posted on Facebook by the student’s indignant mother. Salcido called members of the military the “lowest of the low” and ridiculed their their intelligence along with other insults. The episode prompted angry comments from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and thousands demanded Salcido’s firing.
Today we learned that Salcido, who is also a Pico Rivera City Council member—I said it was California—has been fired. This isn’t a First Amendment issue, and don’t pay attention to any law professor who says it is. This is an inappropriate conduct on the job matter, and just firing for cause. The inappropriate conduct is called political indoctrination, as well as abuse of power and position.
Still, you can understand how he might have become confused, since, as MSNBC’s Joy Reid reminded us after the State of the Union, respect for the military is so 1950s.
3. Fictional unethical teachers never get fired, they just get cancelled…NBC launches a new sitcom tonight called “A.P Bio” From the New York Times review:
Glenn Howerton (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) stars as Jack, a Harvard philosophy professor who slinks back to Toledo, Ohio, in disgrace after being denied tenure. He takes a job teaching advanced placement biology at a high school, though he refuses to actually teach anything. He announces this on the first day, and declares that he and his charges will spend their class time developing potential revenge strategies against his nemesis. He wears scuzzy sweatpants. He is mean. He says if the students tell anyone about what he’s doing, he’ll give them an F….
“Who will Jack bang?” our hero writes on the board, looking for recommendations. At one point he asks his students to write suggestive messages to his rival in a plot to trick him. This results in a teenage girl reading out loud to her teacher and class “ … gonna lick you up and down; drip, slurp, yum; give me that sweet, wet sugar mess.” In a poetry unit, sure. Go wild. But here it’s just creepy.
Even creepier is that everyone else seems to share Jack’s misguided sexual mores. Another teacher demands a student come up to the front of the room and point out, on her body, where her perineum is. A teacher at “teacher jail” laments being labeled the “teacher tickler” on account of tickling his colleagues, and is met with sympathy. Yet another teacher poses in a bathing suit for her art class, and all objections to this are labeled “shaming” and garner a protest….”
Are people that historically ignorant? Do the FBI and the news media assume this? J. Edgar Hoover, who founded the Bureau, used secret files to blackmail politicians and elected officials for decades. He died, and the FBI’s # 2, angry that he didn’t get the top job, leaked information to the Washington Post to bring down a President and smear the new Chief. Then we have Comey’s unethical (and perhaps illegal) stunts, and texts between FBI illicit lovers talking about how a Republican Presidential candidate has to be stopped—and both are recruited to hunt for impeachment justifications!
Why in the world would anyone not trust the objectivity and professionalism of that historically independent and noble government law enforcement agency during the administration of a President whose IRS sabotaged a Republican Presidential campaign in 2012, and whose Justice Department acted as a political arm of the White House?
If the secret memo shows the FBI to be as corrupt as some claim, then any doubts it casts on the Mueller investigation are appropriate and necessary.
Pointer: Jonathan Turley