Following up on my previous post, I’m going to share a fantastic blog post from Michael Kaechele:
I have grown weary of the call to avoid controversial topics and stay neutral. Silence is compliance. There are many things in history that do not have two equal opposing sides: slavery, genocide, imperialism, colonialism, segregation, etc. There is only one side to these events that is fair, just, and equitable. Educators should help students understand how oppressors justified their actions in history without giving credit to their arguments. Done properly it would be a warning against similar tactics used today.
Educators don’t take stock in conspiracy theories. We stand up for truth, justice, and decency. Please do not let students defend positions based on speculation and hearsay. It is our job to present truth to students even if they and their parents don’t want to hear it. We can not necessarily change their hearts and minds, but we can force them to confront the truth. Teachers should interrupt and challenge any student who presents conspiracy theories and false information with questions of its source and legitimacy. We can not allow bigotry, racism, sexism, or any other discrimination in our classroom.
I would add administrators and students to this list. We shouldn’t let them defend those positions either, and we surely shouldn’t pretend neutrality in the face of injustice. Nicely said, Michael.
How are the conversations going in your school system?
This all sounds nice and good, but I have seen these things used to silence a conservative point of view, under the guise of preventing bigotry, racism, sexism, etc.
I have seen the charge of systemic racism because cops are going around killing blacks just because they are black, even though the data do not seem to support it and killing unarmed blacks is very low from the police. This is not often discussed, it is just assumed to be true (a la the BLM riots that would often accompany the protests that started peacefully.)
I have seen the racism of saying all whites are racist just because they are white. I have seen the charge that it is racist to suggest the 2 parent family is important for our young people or simply defending one’s positions with reason as fragility. This ‘neutral’ teaching goes unchallenged and the Kafka trap works well because to accept it, whites are racist and to deny it, well, whites are racist.
It is not neutral to only go one direction. Many people are unchallenged when they suggest that the mere fact people might vote for Trump that they are ‘racist, bigoted, etc “and have or had no good reason to vote for him. So, I am a little concerned that these things are often thrown out in this way.
It is far easier to label someone racist, even if they aren’t, then simply say, well there is no way we can even listen to this racist bunch of people, whether or not the claim is legitimate.
It sounds nice, but the end result often is very slanted. If we’re honest and letting them know we are not trying to be fair, then okay. But we must be careful to think our own view is unbiased and the ‘other’ is not. No matter what side one may be on.
Thank you for the conversation. I have seen those charges too. Some things I wonder related to the events of January 6 (which is what sparked the blog post):
1. Isn’t it factual to say that Republican supporters of Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol building because of on-site incitement and ongoing lies and conspiracy theories about election fraud, endangered Congress, replaced the American flag with a Trump flag, and caused a great deal of harm to both facilities and people, including beating and killing police officers, all while chanting ‘USA! USA!’?
2. Isn’t it factual to say that, while all Republicans are not racist, they don’t seem to be actively trying to marginalize and expel the Confederate and Nazi symbols and language that permeates Trump’s base?
3. If you agree, then it seems like these are starting points for understanding what happened on January 6? Can we just state what’s happening and then let students start talking from there?
4. I also wonder if we can agree with Mike Kaechele’s points here?