Further Reflections On “Juneteenth”

Guest Post by Michael West

My summary observations of something that is more complex than most people make it out to be:

The Fourth of July must always be the preeminent holiday in the American “liturgy”. Even for the slaves whose lives were spent in a state of legalized kidnapping, it was their Independence Day also even while they didn’t enjoy the reality of it. Yet I understand some arguments, such as those who perpetuate Frederick Douglass’s observations on Independence Day. But frankly, anyone espousing that attitude *still* are anti-American.

BUT, it should surely be acknowledged that even while Independence Day was for ALL Americans (even those who in reality didn’t enjoy its blessings), there were those who in reality didn’t enjoy its blessings. And an end to their legalized kidnapping, finally realizing the values of the Declaration, SHOULD be celebrated.

Now, whether that celebration ought to be “Juneteenth”, or the ratification of the 13th Amendment (January 31, 1865), or the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the defeat of the Confederacy, I don’t know. Still, it is appropriate for the U.S. to honor such a momentous event that all Americans should be grateful for.

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Reflections On “Juneteenth”

Juneteenth

Guest Post by A.M. Golden

[Well THAT was fast! This morning’s Open Forum generated not one but two guest post-worthy comments regarding the newly created “Juneteenth” national holiday. I had intended to post on it yesterday; for once I’m pleased that life got in the way. This is the first; the second will appear shortly, and who knows? There may be more!–JM]

So let’s talk about Juneteenth, shall we?

A blatant attempt to pander to the African-American community. A federal holiday that only a small group of people actually celebrate. I’m still trying to figure out if I can go to the post office tomorrow.

I’ve also read one article already by a person of color who admits to feeling uncomfortable with the thought of white people celebrating this holiday.

So, no, this won’t be divisive, will it?

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A Deeper Dive Into The Western Washington University “No Exit” Protest

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Guest Post by Rick Jones

[Before I turn the floor over to Rick, also known here as “Curmie,” a couple of comments are in order. I had hoped that the post yesterday about the Western Washington University student protest over the decision to produce “No Exit,” the 1944 existential drama by Jean-Paul Sartre, would generate commentary from Rick, for several reasons. First, he is one of my favorite bloggers on his own, the proprietor of Curmudgeon Central, which has a new post up right now regarding the George Floyd incident one year mark. More relevant to our topic right here and now, Rick is a distinguished college professor, drama teacher and stage director, who has special insight into university students and live theater. As he reveals in the article to come, he also is better qualified to discuss “No Exit” than I; indeed, he has now convinced me to give the work another chance, since it has been decades since I read or saw it.

I also was thrilled to receive this submission from Rick because I feel very strongly that live theater is imperiled in the U.S. I know most readers here do not share my dedication to theater; few Americans do, and fewer all the time. But I have lived a double life (as a character in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” adds “At least!”), spending  as much of my passions and energies on theater as any other pursuit from high school until to five years ago, when I ended the 20-year run of my small, maverick, professional theater company. My timing was excellent, because the panic-driven lockdown has killed many of The American Century Theater’s competitors here in the D.C. area, maybe most of them, and a year of using Zoom and streaming services has undoubtedly convinced many one time audience members that live theater isn’t worth the time, inconvenience or expense. In the same period, toxic political correctness, political obsession and woke fanaticism has grown exponentially, and these were existential threats to theater already.

The “No Exit” controversy is a symptom of a very serious threat to live performance art, which has been a force for uniting societies and enlightening the public for centuries. We need it more than ever now. A lot is at stake. JM]

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My department has produced “No Exit”(which, by the way, I like a lot more than you do, Jack) twice in the last decade.  The first of these was directed by a talented and intelligent female student (an ardent feminist, by the way) who went on to earn a Master’s from a prestigious university overseas.  And we also did an online-only production last fall, directed by a colleague who’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, with a PhD in Theatre from arguably the best doctoral program in the country.  Oh, did I mention that she’s a lesbian? 

And, of course, the sense of isolation in the play was a major reason the play was chosen: because we all have a greater understanding of that phenomenon now than even the most creative thinkers could have managed a year earlier.  Moreover, please forgive me if I think that perhaps my colleague, who has published and taught courses on Queer Theatre, might have a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts at play in that particular theoretical framework than would a gaggle of pretentiously woke undergrads.

I am apparently lucky not to be at WWU.  When I announced my show for this spring as Jean Genet’s “The Maids”and described the two central characters as “would-be murderers who engage in sado-masochistic lesbian incest,” it generated interest on the part of most of our best actresses; if there was any dissent—from either very liberal students or a very conservative larger community—I never heard about it.  (Side note: although it wasn’t produced until later, “The Maids” was chosen and announced prior to”No Exit” which was a late substitution for a play we were unable to do.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do two existential French dramas from the 1940s in the same season, but that’s what we ended up with.)

But revenons à nos moutons.  When I started this response, I intended to go point by point through the students’ commentary, but that got really long, as virtually everything they say is nonsense.  So: a few general points:

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A Critical Race Theory Primer

Guest post by JP

(From an Ethics Alarms Open Forum)

A while ago I told you all about my opportunity to run for the school board. I didn’t win (not even close). The incumbent and a teacher at the local university were the winners. I (and another conservative candidate) decided that we were going to do our civic duty and attend the meetings anyway (they are open to the public). We learned that the next one was going to have someone there proposing CRT for our school system. This worried me and the other woman a lot, so we decided to prepare a rebuttal.

CRT (Critical Race Theory) is a ideology that asserts that at its core the United States is a fundamentally racist country. This means that all aspects and institutions such as our system of government, our laws, our economy, and equal protection are built upon protecting white supremacy and keeping down black people and minorities. However, CRT does not limit itself to only white supremacy; it also seeks to protect people from so called white institutions such as capitalism and patriarchy, and the nuclear family.

The idea of CRT is not new, going back at least 40 years. It is typically attributed to two CRT scholars, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Theirwork is built upon a twisted definition of racism that isn’t what the average person would understand. Most people understand racism to be prejudice against a particular person or group of individuals based on skin color (or perhaps even culture). Going back to their book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” Stefancic and Delgado argue there is no objective way to define racism, essentially arguing that it is whatever the everyday experience is for a person of color in this country. This leads us to our first two big problems with CRT: Interest convergence and  lived experience. Continue reading

Attempting To Understand An Anti-White Bigot

Guest Post by Null Pointer

[The University of Washington featured this head-exploding essay by an anti-white bigot named Andre Lawes Menchavez. Do remember his name, and if he presents his credentials to you for employment, do make sure he explains why you shouldn’t toss him right out the door. Among the offensive quotes: “Whites will continue to do what whites have always done in our history –– create carnage at the expense of minority communities in order to obtain their own selfish desires.” That’s per se racism. That’s what the University of Washington is indoctrinating its students to believe. Any guess where this, multiplied all over the nation in thousands of colleges and universities, inevitably leads? In truth, you shouldn’t have to guess.

It’s ironic that this post, in response to Michael Ejercito’s request for comments on the piece in the last Open Forum, is Guest Post worthy: my flip response to Michael’s question was that it wasn’t worth the time or energy to rebut. Then Null Pointer proved me wrongJM]

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I don’t get the sense that any of the words came from the author. It is all pure Critical Race Theory, almost verbatim. He sounds like a deeply unhappy person who has consumed large quantities of propaganda. I don’t really know where to start analyzing this, so I’m just going to ramble and hope something smart comes out.

All of the articles I read in this vein seem to be written by people with a completely external locus of control. The individuals seem to think they ought to be able to dictate to everyone else what they can think, say and do, and because they cannot, the world is a horrible place with everyone out to get them. Nothing that happens to them is the result of their own actions, but they want to be made some sort of god who can control everyone who doesn’t think and feel exactly as they do about everything.

If you go through life thinking that the only way you will ever have control over your own life is if you can control everyone else’s life as well, then I would guess you would always feel pretty powerless and unimportant. I pity these people for their misery, and resent them for trying to blame their problems on everyone else.

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