The Failure of Active Anti-Racism

Tom Mountain, Newton TAB (Mass.), Mar. 2

School officials never tire of reminding us how committed they are to stamping out racism which, they believe, permeates our school system. Naïve parents that we are, we may not always notice the various forms of racism, but rest assured, these educational experts have developed a unique radar for all things racist. They used to call themselves anti-racists, but they’ve since been upgraded to active anti-racists. Whenever I inquire how one achieves the “active” label, I’m usually confronted with a bewildered stare or a deafening silence. Perhaps they assume that as a layman, I cannot fully understand the concept of anti-racism, or maybe they feel that since their motives are so pure and wonderful, I am merely a heretic to even inquire.

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The teaching-tolerance-anti-racist theory is simple: From the earliest grades on, stress human differences, focus on an individual’s race, ethnicity, religion and gender. Emphasize skin color. And above all, reeducate the white students to realize that white males are ultimately responsible for most societal ills. Drill into the students that since white people have the power, only white people can be racists. Reiterate the horrible injustices that whites inflicted on blacks throughout American history. Stress that this racism still exists in many forms. Make sure the black students internalize this as well.

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But what to do when after years of anti-racist education from some of the most committed zealots in public education, blatant acts of racism in our schools are dramatically splashed across the newspapers? When swastikas are written on black students’ cars and the n-word is scrawled across the elementary school with a black principal?

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These zealous anti-racist buffoons never consider that perhaps their overemphasis on human differences has created an inevitable gulf among students; that their constant rhetoric on the diversity theme has reinforced a balkanization among the youth; that their relentless hammering on the white oppressor-black victim theme has led to an alienation of the races. That their constant dwelling on black scientists, black poets, black astronauts, Malcolm X, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement and slavery, slavery and more slavery, might have caused some annoyance, some pent-up frustration and resentment among some white students turned off by this relentless anti-racist in-your-face agenda?

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