Council Rock Elementary School, “Jingle Bells,”And When Something Trivial Demands A Strong Response (Part Two)

Part I described the cowardly and pandering rationale for a New York elementary school to banish “Jingle Bells” from its curriculum, and why the cultural and political issue underlying the move is more important than the song itself.

Here is the response of the Brighton Central School District Superintendent, Kevin McGowan, in response to media inquiries about the decision. In the interests of efficiency, I will interweave my commentary with his statement, in bold.

“Several weeks ago, a resident of the community asked for more information regarding an item that he had noticed on the District’s website regarding work being done to review curriculum with a diversity/equity lens. Specifically, he was curious about the District’s decision to use different songs in the elementary music curriculum based on work being done to be more culturally responsive.”

So we begin with jargon and evasion. What is a “diversity/equity” lens, exactly? What values and standards does it embody? Whose position does such a “lens” embody? What’s the objective? Similarly, what is “culturally responsive”? Responsive to who, or what?

“Several staff members provided feedback, explaining various reasons why the song “Jingle Bells” was no longer being used.”

Yes, we’ve seen these “reasons.” They are specious at best and make no sense. The fact that there are what someone thinks are “reasons” for a obnoxious decision doesn’t justify the decisions. Essentially, the superintendent is saying, “We had our reasons.” Is that on the Rationalizations List? It should be.

“This resident decided to write a piece on the subject and it was published last week by the Rochester Beacon. This article has been distributed by the author and picked up by a variety of media outlets. First, we couldn’t be more proud of our staff and the work they continue to do to reflect on what they teach and how they teach in an ongoing effort to be more culturally responsive, thoughtful, and inclusive”

This is pure logical fallacy, an appeal to emotion and popularity. It doesn’t matter how “proud” the school is of the people making bad decisions. And again, McGowan is just resorting to buzzwords, because they are too vague to rebut specifically. I think “culturally responsive” means respecting history, national tradition and American culture. If it means something else at the school, then prove to me why its approach is better. “Thoughtful” is meaningless: so they think about bad decisions; it doesn’t make them better. What does “inclusive” mean?

“Let me be very clear, their work has been and continues to be smart, thoughtful, and well intentioned in every way. We stand behind their work without hesitation or question. They are doing work that they have been asked to do and they are doing it exceptionally well K-12 in every discipline.”

If you say so. Banning “Jingle Bells” because “some people” think bells on a horse-pulling sleigh suggests bells on a slave’s collar doesn’t seem very “smart.” There’s “thoughtful” again: getting desperate already, Kevin? Finally, we get “well intentioned.” See Rationalization 13A, The Road To Hell, which “attempts to justify unethical conduct even when it does undeniable harm, just because it was undertaken with admirable intent.”

You stand behind your work “without question”? That’s just incompetent as well as arrogant. Everyone should question their work, their conduct and the validity of their decisions routinely. The superintendent is making a circular argument: “We do a great job, and this decision was great because we made it.”

“Second, it may seem silly to some, but the fact that “Jingle Bells” was first performed in minstrel shows where white actors performed in blackface does actually matter when it comes to questions of what we use as material in school.”

Why does it matter? The song has no racial content at all. It was written in Medford, Mass. when slavery was banned in Massachusetts, about “dashing through the snow,” hardly an activity associated with African Americans. Since when is the first performance of a song determinative of its cultural status? The melody of the National Anthem was first performed in pubs: does that make the “Star-Spangled Banner” a hymn to drunkenness? Like most of his statement, Kevin isn’t explaining anything when he says “it matters.” It matters because…it matters. How can a school system run by people like this teach critical thinking to children?

“I’m glad that our staff paused when learning of this, reflected, and decided to use different material to accomplish the same objective in class.”

Oh! He’s glad! Well that settles the matter then! This is another rationalization, #59, The Golden Rule Mutation: “Do unto others as if the others felt like I do, even though they may not.”

“It is also important to note that a song so closely related to a religious holiday that is not celebrated by everyone in our community was not likely a song that we would have wanted as part of the school curriculum in the first place.”

Huh? “Jingle Bells’ is not a religious song, nor is Christmas only a religious holiday. Is he admitting that eliminating “Jingle Bells” was an anti-Christmas move that was justified by dragging in a bogus connection to minstrel shows? This guy is obsessed with guilt-by-association. “My Favorite Things” is associated with Christmas: does that mean no songs from “The Sound of Music” can be part of the curriculum? Does that bounce all of Rodgers and Hammerstein?

“Our staff found that their simple objective could be accomplished by singing any one of many songs in class and therefore they chose to simply choose other songs.”

This is naked equivocation and deflection, as well as contradicting what he already said. If “Jingle Bells was one of the songs that could accomplish the “simple objective”—which he still hasn’t explained—then why was it cut?

“Third, choosing songs other than “Jingle Bells” wasn’t a major policy initiative, a “banning” of the song or some significant change to a concert repertoire done in response to a complaint. This wasn’t “liberalism gone amok” or “cancel culture at its finest” as some have suggested.”

See Part I. Here is the “What’s the big deal? It’s only a song!” trap again. Then McGowan returns to his cogent “it isn’t what it is, because I say so” argument. If declaring “Jingle Bells ” to be racist isn’t “cancel culture at its finest,” what is?

“Nobody has said you shouldn’t sing “Jingle Bells” or ever in any way suggested that to your children.”

Wait, he just said that the song’s racist origins “matter.” If they matter enough for the school to remove the song, why doesn’t that imply that one shouldn’t sing “Jingle Bells”? And of course that is exactly what was suggested to the children when the song was declared taboo. Removing something that was once approved sends the message that it is disapproved.

“I can assure you that this situation is not an attempt to push an agenda.”

There it is, the rationalization of the decade, #64, Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”! Kevin just said what the agenda was; the woke mantra of “diversity and inclusion,” so vague that it can justify almost anything.

“We were not and are not even discussing the song and its origins, whatever they may be.”

Right…except that the supposed origin of the song is the reason, and is the only possible reason, that it was targeted at all. Now he’s saying that the origins aren’t certain—but they were certain enough for his “thoughtful” staff to declare “Jingle Bells” too racist to sing.

One is compelled to muse: is this guy that stupid, or does he think everyone  else is stupid?

“This was very simply a thoughtful shift made by thoughtful staff members who thought they could accomplish their instructional objective using different material.”

Thoughtful! Thoughtful! As long as a decision is “thoughtful,” no matter what the quality of the thought—in this case, primitive and abysmal—the decision is a good one.

“The change in material is also not something being forced on children or propaganda being spread. The teachers have never taught about the song in any way when it was being used then or in the midst of deciding not to use it. In other words, suggestions that this situation is somehow being used as a way to indoctrinate children just doesn’t make sense either. It is as simple as this, we are using different songs, and we are not teaching about their history at this level. Nobody is discussing politics about the song or anything regarding its history with students. This is not a political situation, it was a simple, thoughtful curricular decision.”

...based entirely on politics, presumptions of systemic racism, critical race theory propaganda and fear of the race-baiting mob.

“Finally, if there is ever a question as to whether or not something might be experienced differently by someone else, shouldn’t we be respectful of that?”

NO! See the First Niggardly Principle. Unless there is valid and justifiable basis for that “different experience,” which is a euphemism for “contrived offense,” no respect is due at all. Only certain groups find their perspective respected and acted upon in Progressive World.  It is a zero sum game. One constituency claims that “Jingle Bells” is a vestige of racist American contrary to all tradition and common sense; another is offended at cultural airbrushing and censorship based on political correctness intimidation.  Whose sensibilities are respected? I know whose sensibilities are worthy of respect.

“Is singing the song “Jingle Bells” so important that it outweighs the question about its past or its potential to not be inclusive in a variety of ways?”

Again! The slippery slope maneuver! Oh, come on…is this worth fighting about? My answer: if it’s so trivial, then leave “Jingle Bells” alone.

“If many, many songs are available to accomplish the same objective, then why wouldn’t we use those songs?”

Why won’t you use “Jingle Bells”?

“I think our teachers answered that question very thoughtfully and I’m proud of their work.”

Thoughtful! Proud!

The man is a shallow, weak-minded, babbling idiot. This is the quality of leader that school system has, and this episode is just a fractal of what we are seeing throughout the public school landscape. “Jingle Bells” may be trivial, but children being taught across the country by groveling patsies to the fanatic left like Kevin McGowan isn’t trivial. It is a crisis.

14 thoughts on “Council Rock Elementary School, “Jingle Bells,”And When Something Trivial Demands A Strong Response (Part Two)

  1. That guy may be dumb but his statement should scare the hell out of everyone. His statement is cynical, dishonest, and devoid of reason for all the reasons Jack points out, but is truly disturbing and terrifying: “Nah, local government encouraging the use of other songs in place of ‘disfavored’ songs, is not censorship.”

    jvb

  2. I would suggest “I have my reasons” be listed as Rationalization 46A, as an offshoot of “It’s complicated”.
    And I just thought of “You wouldn’t understand” for 46B.

  3. “…the fact that “Jingle Bells” was first performed…blah blah blah…does actually matter…”
    I hope neither McGowan nor any of his supporters have ever owned a Volkswagen.

    Tangentially, while at a Costco a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised, but pleased, to realize that the music playing over the store’s system was actual Christmas carols, words and all.

    • “I hope neither McGowan nor any of his supporters have ever owned a Volkswagen.”

      This is brilliant. If the origin matters, the VW should be smashed into bits and every trace of the company wiped from from everyone’s brain.

      • I once asked our now former investment advisor how it was Jews (such as himself) were comfortable driving Mercedes. Amazingly, he said, “Of all the countries in Europe, Germany has been the most consistently and generously supportive of Israel.” Whew! Mind-boggling. I wanted to ask him about the Munich Olympics, among other things Germanic.

  4. “Is he admitting that eliminating “Jingle Bells” was an anti-Christmas move that was justified by dragging in a bogus connection to minstrel shows?”

    He won’t admit it, but it is. The war on Christmas is real, it just went dormant for a few years when the first big assault on American culture fell short in 2017. That assault is now turbocharged because the death of a lifelong petty criminal at the hands of a bullying cop caused the left to become emboldened while causing everyone else’s spine to turn to jello. “We’ll do whatever you say, please just don’t call us racist anymore.”

    This whole statement is emblematic of the thinking of over-powered, out of touch bureaucrats and petty arrogant people whose pride way outstrips their talent. It’s gotten way too easy to just pretend to listen, then do what you were going to do anyway, or to ignore opposition, then drag your feet until there is a fait accompli, or just dismiss disagreement with a supercilious smile and a “that’s nice, but we’re doing it my way.” To this way of thinking, there is an underlying current of how-dare-youism. The officials have thought it through and made their decision, no one gets to question their thinking or their decision, because they already have all the answers. They’ve got the credentials, they’ve got the position, so they must be right. Meantime let’s throw in a hefty amount of “yay for our side.”

    Anyway, Christmas is over. It’s time your kids start rehearsing for Martin Luther King Day, when they can all acknowledge their white privilege and resolve to be more anti-racist in the coming year. After that we’ll start getting ready for Earth Day, when we can discuss making better choices than you parents with your huge, gas-guzzling SUVs, and then we can talk Pride, before we round out the year with Juneteenth and another acknowledgement of what a rotten, racist nation this is, but we’re doing better. What’s that you ask? Easter? Oh, that’s for you to celebrate in your own way over spring break. Not everyone celebrates that, and we don’t want to highlight our differences. Memorial Day? Isn’t that kind of passe now that Joe got us out of Afghanistan? Besides, all that flag-waving may not be taken the right way by some in the community that feel like this nation has failed them. Let’s just keep it low-key. Now, if you don’t mind, Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary, I think I’ve told you our decision, I’ve told you the reasons, and I’ve extended you more courtesy than I have to. I’ll have to ask you to show yourselves out while I get to work on thoughtfully planning the fall 2022 calendar, including indigenous peoples day and a refocusing of Thanksgiving to acknowledge we are all on stolen land. It will be emailed out around April, right after our executive closed meeting. Have a nice day. Ah ah, I said we were finished here, so there’s the door. Walk out it now without another word.

    These parents, they just don’t get it. They need to check their watches, I think they are all running two decades slow, or maybe just two years slow. Ick, it makes me sick just thinking about two years ago. Well, we’ll have that out of the next generation soon enough. Their kids will be celebrating diversity and equity long after those nationalistic rubes are six feet under tombstones no one will read.

    • And it’s telling that “Jingle Bells”, to my knowledge, does not refer to Christmas at all. The word doesn’t appear in the song anywhere, much less any reference to Santa, reindeer, presents, decorated trees. The fact that people are now associating these pop culture manifestations as being connected to Christianity is how far they are willing to go to banish any religious references from our daily lives.

      In fact, “Jingle Bells” is just a Snow Carol. Like “Winter Wonderland”, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” and even “Frosty the Snowman”, there’s no place in any of these songs that involves Christmas in any way. You can sing them in January!

      With no car radios in the 19th century, travelers came up with their own live mix tapes to sing while on long cold drives.

  5. This guy’s screed, boiled down to it’s essence and rewritten much shorter, is this:

    “We banned it because we could, and we wanted to. We are proud of banning it, will continue to ban it no matter what you think or say. I say it was well-reasoned and thoughtful no matter what counter-arguments may appear because it works toward our [insert buzzwords here] initiative. Finally, because I say so.”

    In an arguably better world, this man would be run out of town on a rail.

  6. Based on the writings of the Brighton Central School District Superintendent, Kevin McGowan, it’s my opinion that McGowan, like so many others, has slid so far down the slippery slope of social justice virtue signaling that he will rationalize any social justice garbage that’s placed in front of him, the man is a brainwashed imbecile and a damn fool.

    CULTURE
    The term culture refers to a system of beliefs, customs, knowledge, behavior, religion, practices, etc., which is commonly shared by a group of people. It is described as the people’s way to live such as their learned behavior, values, morals, art, law, symbols, lifestyle which they accept completely without any second thought in mind.

    SOCIETY
    We define the term ‘society’ as a group of people who share a common lifestyle, territory, behavior pattern and organization. It refers to an ordered community, engaged in a continuous social interaction with the members.

    In a nutshell;

    A society is the interacting people of a culture, where culture is a unified shared solid foundation of human commonalities that makes people who they are and defines how they interact; therefore, society is bonded together by a unified shared culture.

    Our culture is literally under attack by brainwashed imbeciles, like McGowan, that have completely lost touch with reality. These fools will attack seemingly small things like “Jingle Bells” and tell you that you are the problem by opposing such a small insignificant “progressive” change and then they’ll turn around and continue their onslaught and chisel away at other small insignificant things piece-by-piece until our entire cultural foundation crumbles into absolute chaos. It’s death by a thousand cuts. Once their culture war has hammered society into utter chaos, the damn fools will blame the chaos they created on the ones that have opposed their ignorant social justice culture war from the start. Social justice warriors, like McGowan, have been completely brainwashed by social justice propaganda, they’re full members of the anti-cultural cult and they’re irretrievably broken with reality.

    Steps Involved in Brainwashing
    1. Assault on identity
    2. Guilt
    3. Self-betrayal
    4. Breaking point
    5. Leniency
    6. Compulsion to confess
    7. Channeling of guilt
    8. Releasing of guilt
    9. Progress and harmony
    10. Final confession and rebirth.

    Our society is being, and has been, brainwashed by propaganda and direct & indirect intimidation and the collapse of our culture is becoming imminent.

    Deny it if you must, but as far as I’m concerned, the progressive* social justice warriors, like McGowan and his anti-Jingle Bells teachers, have been winning the cultural war that they started. Those that haven’t been consumed by the irrational propaganda don’t have any idea how to combat the social justice lunacy they’re confronted with and seem to think that if they just ignore it, it will fade away like a fad. I’m here to tell you that this is not a fad, propaganda and intimidation has dramatically morphed our culture in the 21st century, more specifically since 2008, and it’s here to stay unless rational people face down the horde of irrational social justice warriors and it must be done en masse, with unrelenting solidarity, and it must be face-to-face. Remember, the media is in lock-step with the irrational progressive anti-cultural movement so the rational majority cannot depend on them to support anything that opposes the irrational minority horde, so this must be done as a grass-roots movement on a local scale and we must be persistent.

    The extreme political left is leading the United States straight into political totalitarianism and their method of destroying liberty and the United States is the destruction of the solid cultural foundations that have supported the United States for hundreds of years. Leaders are needed to inspire a nationwide grass roots movements to support the Constitution and confront totalitarianism and it has to start in your own back yards. A grass roots movement is exactly how the totalitarian movement got its power; remember when presidential candidate Barack Obama called the army of social justice warriors to action back in 2008 when he said, “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, we are the change that we seek”, the already smoldering social justice warriors were empowered to come out of the weeds and set ablaze by those words and what we are seeing today is the result of that call to action. Barack Obama’s words and actions was a boulder in the big pond! You may not be able to be the boulder in the big pond and change the world from your keyboard but you can be a pebble in your local pond. If you want changes in your life or the world around you, the changes must begin in you. Choose to be a grass roots leader in your community, a pebble in the pond, and do what you can to move the pendulum in your back yard away from the irrational totalitarianism that’s encompassing our nation and drag it back towards Liberty and the solid foundations that made the United States the world-wide beacon of liberty and freedom.

    LEADERSHIP

    1. Perform your “Magic”.
    a. Identify your area of excellence, your distinctive competency.
    b. Utilize it in the service of others.

    2. Demand the Extraordinary.
    a. Leaders do ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
    b. Attend to the little things.

    3. Have the courage to create.
    a. Take 100% personal responsibility.
    b. Be proactive. Perceive yourself as being at cause.
    c. Circumstance does not make the person, it reveals the person(s) to themself.
    d. We reap what we sow. This principle is true in physics, philosophy, and business. It is a law of nature.

    4. Stretch your mind: Think big.
    a. Leaders think and act beyond boundaries. They operate from a universal perspective.
    b. Leaders know how to multiply their energy, creativity, intelligence, information base, and experience manifold.
    c. Leaders see what can be – NOT only what is.
    d. Leaders envision what they really want – NOT only what they “think” they can get.

    5. Be strategically Intent.
    a. Leaders are programmers of the computer/mind.
    b. A law of nature is that everything is created twice, once mentally and once physically.
    c. Leaders create a(n)…
    * Individualized strategic intent…
    * Leader mission statement…
    * Personal constitution…
    …to reprogram their thinking. This is crystallization and capturing of the leader’s vision and value system.

    6. Use values as leverage.
    a. Values serve as standards for those who follow you.
    b. Values are our personal bottom line. Values are our beliefs about what is most important in our lives. They give us vitality.
    c. Our values determine what we think is right or wrong, good or bad, and what we do or do not do.
    d. Values are like the executive level of a computer system.
    e. Values are the leverage point that structures a powerful internal impulse that enables the leader to think and act beyond limitation.

    7. Prepare to be bold.
    a. “Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
    b. Leaders are bold. They move ahead in spite of doubts.
    c. Leaders believe fully and can have no doubts.
    d. The impulse of boldness precedes the act of risk taking.
    e. Learning to take risks does not require learning new skills.
    f. A rested physiology is the basis for a robust, energetic approach to the challenges and opportunities facing the leader. There are several levels of rest: recreation (leisure time), relaxation techniques, sound sleep, and science based meditation.
    h. Coherence of brain wave activity is directly related to intelligence and creativity.
    i. Bold action inspires others to be self-leaders and share the risk of leadership.

    8. Speak, as a leader should speak.
    a. Use empowering language.
    Empowering examples:
    1. Let’s look at the possibilities.
    2. Let’s look at some alternatives.
    3. I’ll have the report by Monday.
    4. I am in control of my life.
    5. I can choose a different approach.
    6. I control my own feelings.
    7. I choose to…
    Disempowering language examples:
    1. I can’t do that.
    2. There’s nothing I can do.
    3. I’ll try to have the report by Monday.
    4. Why does this always happen to me?
    5. That’s just the way I am.
    6. He/She makes me so mad.
    7. I have to…

    b. Use enabling language.
    Enabling examples:
    1. What kind of support do you need to assure success?
    2. What action should we take now?
    3. What are the benefits of achieving that objective?
    4. What will it take to have it work?
    Disabling examples:
    1. What’s your problem?
    2. Who did that?
    3. Why did you do that?
    4. Don’t you know better than that?

    Right now in every corner of our society it appears that the unifying shared culture of the United States of America, our beliefs, customs, knowledge, behavior, religion, practices, etc. is under direct assault from hordes of irrational anti-cultural people trying to destroy the foundation of our culture. This is the underlying culture that’s bound us together for hundreds of years and fringe elements of our society are successfully brainwashing the masses into believing that our previous beliefs, customs, knowledge, behavior, religion, practices, etc are evil must be destroyed.

    We may be sick and tired of being sick and tired but we continue to hope for hope; however, hope without action is futile.

    Again, if you want changes in your life or the world around you, the changes must begin in you.

    Choose to be the pebble…

    *Progressive: The 21st century’s progressives are anything but “progressive”. Using the word “progressive” to describe these 21st century Democratic Party extremists is an oxymoron; the ideology, policies and actions of “progressives” are actually regressive to the point of being culturally and socially destructive. These ignorant 21st century “progressives” and their army of intimidating social justice warrior “brown shirts” have literally become the totalitarian evil they have professed to be against for years.

    • Steve,
      You had me at: grass-roots movement, just like the parents vehemently protesting at the Loudoun County Virginia school board meetings.

      “and it’s here to stay unless rational people face down the horde of irrational social justice warriors”
      “so this must be done as a grass-roots movement on a local scale and we must be persistent.”

      Much of the radical Left proglibot leverage relies on people shriveling and cowering when accused of being a racist, white supremacist, etc., despite those epithets being hurled about much like cow crap from a farmer’s manure spreader.

      I miss Winston, (06/04/1940)

      “I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

      At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

      The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

      Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

      We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
      we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
      we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
      we shall fight on the beaches,
      we shall fight on the landing grounds,
      we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
      we shall fight in the hills;
      we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

      • I have watched a clip of that scene from ‘Darkest Hour’ I cannot tell you how many times. I’ve also listened to the actual broadcast from 1940.

        It is an amazing speech. The one thing where the You Tube clip cuts off perhaps 15 seconds too soon — someone asks Lord Halifax “What just happened?” and he replies :He has mobilized the English language and sent it to war”

        He did indeed.

  7. I wonder if the “Batman Smells” parody version of the song would be acceptable to this school? After all, it ends with one of the modern Left’s favorite outcomes: a criminal escaping the consequences for his crimes.

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