Monday, 25 March 2019

White and Out of Sight: CU Removes All White Men From “American Political Thought” Course

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Did you hear about the Peking University course on Chinese thought that excluded the work of all Asian men, from Confucius to Lao Tzu to Sun Tzu? No, and such a curricular oddity wouldn’t appear in America, either — if it were a course on Chinese thought. An “American Political Thought” course that avoids study of all white men is a different matter, though, and this is exactly what’s being offered at the University of Colorado, Denver.

The offending, offensive, and apparently offended professor teaching it is one Chad Shomura. A student writing of his experiences with the course a few semesters back, Ahnaf Kalam, relates at the College Fix that Shomura “explained to the students in the room that most traditional ‘American Political Thought’ courses are too focused on the achievements of white men.”

Uh, well, yes, it’s “American Political Thought,” not “African Political Thought,” and, like it or not, the contributors to that thought, particularly during the founding era, were predominately white males. History’s not politically correct — it’s funny like that. Which is why teaching "politically correct" history skews history.

“As a consequence,” Salam continues, Shomura “told us he had removed every single white male and their theoretical perspectives from the entire course curriculum.”

Salam then points out that this is reflected in the syllabus:

This course aims to develop an understanding of American political life from the margins. Rather than surveying traditional figures of American political thought, it attends to historically marginalized voices at the crossings of race, gender, sexuality, and nation. It explores issues such as intersectionality, antiblack racism and the American Dream, ordinary life, borderlands and migration, public feelings, mental health, and settler colonialism. The materials we examine also exceed the usual genres of American Political Thought. They include, among other things, poems, an ethnography, academic articles, a novel, and a hacked tarot card set.

Of course, this is false advertising. The course would be better named “Fringe American Thought” — if what’s peddled therein could correctly be called thought.

Salam points out that in the syllabus there is “zero mention of the Founding Fathers (or any other U.S. president or political leader, for that matter) or any of the Western Enlightenment thinkers. Nothing on Washington. Or Jefferson. Or Madison. Or Hamilton. Not a mention of Locke or Rousseau. None of that.”

Instead, students must study Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who birthed the term “intersectionality”; “Filipino empowerment in Hawaii”; the racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, and other isms that supposedly typify the United States; and “Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me,” which “disgustingly and shamelessly smears the 9/11 first-responders” (all preceding quotations were Salam’s).

Unfortunately, most students are victimized by this malpractice, too. Salam explains that not only is the course still being taught, but graduation requirements ensure that a majority of students take it.

The course is not only a good example of why you should “never let your schooling interfere with your education”; it also illustrates why Americans today know little of their history, civics, or much else that really matters, as a late-2018 poll showing that most citizens don’t know the Bill of Rights evidences.

Such miseducation’s destructiveness cannot be overemphasized. Western civilization has literally transformed the family of man, ending slavery, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and other brutality; birthing modern human rights; and spreading prosperity and modernity the world over. Any program for civilizational glory must be rebooted every generation, however, and this won’t happen if the data are forgotten.

Speaking of which, if you wanted to eliminate Western culture — if you wanted its data forgotten so it could be replaced with your own — how would you do it? Whom would you censor from history? Maybe, perhaps, the ones who generated that data and in whose works they’re related?

That would be, from Aristotle and Plato to Burke to Pascal to the Founders and beyond, white men.

Putting aside any Machiavellian motivations and delving a bit deeper, however, Shomura also just reflects our age’s philosophical/moral confusion. Moral relativism (the rejection of Truth’s existence) and its corollaries cultural, religious, and philosophical relativism have taken hold today. Their central message, that all “values” are “equal,” renders it logically impossible to make qualitative judgments about ideas; it makes it impossible to say that one philosophy, religion, ideology — or, to the point here, one curriculum — is better than another. How then do you decide what to teach?

There are only two ways of governing these matters: by principle or by preference. Absent using Truth as a yardstick, emotion becomes the arbiter. Then you start assigning spots in history books based on quota and a balancing-the-scales philosophy, assuming this egalitarian approach appeals to you emotionally. It’s when you start customizing a curriculum — or at least courses — for each group based on what appeals to it emotionally. Ergo, Afrocentrism for blacks, women’s studies for girls, Latino-oriented teaching for Hispanics, LGBTQ+ for the alphabet crew, etc. The only exception will be groups the powers that be are prejudiced toward. An example, today, would be white men.

For Shomura’s part, he reflects this and may be more useful idiot than Machiavellian. He told the College Fix that he named his course “American Political Thought” because he wants to “challenge the traditional notions of what — and who — gets to dictate what actually constitutes the subject,” Salam further informs.

But if the goal is the nation’s improvement, what constitutes the subject is supposed to be that which reflects Truth, no matter who expressed it, except insofar as showcasing error may serve as a good example of a bad example.

As for embracing the quota mentality, it’s a sign of pseudo-intellectualism, as “proportionality” is not a thing of this world. Jews are less than two percent of the world’s population, for instance, but have won 22.5 percent of the Nobel prizes. Likewise, American political thought is largely the fruit of white male endeavor. To be sure, the curriculum for a course on "American Political Thought" should be based on who contributed what to that thought, not based on the contributors' skin color or sex. But to teach such a course while pretending that white males contributed zilch is to engage in academic malpractice.

History and reality aren’t politically correct — they just are.

Photo: Lindsey Martin Webb/iStock/Getty Images Plus

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