The Alt-Right Goes to School

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This Atlantic article on teaching about the Alt-Right in schools is packed full of things that need addressing. It’s a long article, but I think it’s worth responding to. I’m just going to pull out the most interesting parts and give short comments on them. The bolded emphasis within quotes is my own.

The article’s main theme is about how teachers should address politics in the classroom, and if and how they may start teaching students about the Alt-right. The article starts out talking about two teachers in a Brooklyn New York high school, that is only half “census box” White (i.e. actually significantly less White than that). One is Black, the other White, and they are teaching a class on racial identity.

I can’t see how this could possibly go wrong. . .

Spencer’s and the alt-right (short for alternative right) movement’s stances conflict with common mores in American society, the Brookline teachers said.

“When it feels more partisan, we walk more of a tightrope. For the ‘alt-right,’ I didn’t feel we had to walk a tightrope,” said Leslie, who viewed teaching about the alt-right as akin to teaching about the KKK. Racism ought to be a non-partisan subject, she said.

What they call “racism” is just a positive White self-concept, a lack of White guilt or shame, and White racial loyalty.

They are correct that it has been largely “non-partisan” for decades now, but only because people like them shamed, blamed, and mistreated White people so badly, that White solidarity or defense of White interests became a source of life trauma for White people. White people lived in fear, not to mention shame and guilt. This gaslighting of a whole race is a sin without parallel in history.

But things are changing.

Trump has changed a lot of things for the better. Including giving many White people the courage to stand up for themselves.

The common civic norm of disavowing overt and explicit expressions of racism has not changed, said Meira Levinson, a professor of education at Harvard University.

“But the question is, how quickly and to what extent will there be a shift?”

She offers not a shred of evidence to support her claim that nothing has changed as far as “overt expressions” of what the left calls “racism.” Frankly, she’s wrong: it has changed.

The article, in a sense, is all about how it has already changed. Further down, the article talks to other teachers who disagree with the assessment that the Alt-right is still a non-partisan subject:

“We’re hearing from teachers that they’re afraid to talk in favorable terms about diversity, that they really are afraid of being accused of partisanship now and the line about what is partisan has moved since the election,” said Maureen Costello, the author of the Trump Effect report and director of the Teaching Tolerance project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

The line has moved? Yea, you bet it has. And for White people that is a good thing. For those who hate White people? Not so much. But what is not good for them is good for justice.

. . .[Levinson herself admits that] “It is the case already, thanks to Trump’s tweets, statements, and rallies, that he has been redefining certain civic norms and values that had been seen as common and unproblematic.”

. . . “What she used to think was non-controversial to teach has changed, said Meghan O’Keefe, who has taught English for a dozen years in Chicago Public Schools.

“A lot of people have confused the rhetoric the president used to get elected with making it okay to express racist ideas again,” O’Keefe said. “A lot of people believe they have the right to be racist and that we have to honor that as a legitimate point of view.”

Gasp! Imagine that! Some people actually believe that the idea that White people have rights, can stand up for their racial interest, and have pride in their racial identity instead of shame, is a legitimate point of view.

White people being able to be happy? Safe? Enjoy each other’s company? Perish the thought that should be a legitimate point of view! Oh the horror! White people who actually feel good about themselves.

Additionally, who would of thought that in the “land of the free” you might have the right to be “racist”? I mean, really, it’s not like the US has a Constitution or something, right?

Spencer, Segal added, presents an alt-right follower as someone different from a Neo-Nazi skinhead, but that’s a façade. “All it is, make no mistake, is a repackaging of white supremacy,” he said.

Of course, conflating White Nationalism with White supremacy. Again. These people just can’t read or understand.

But not all of them take that view—at least when it comes to teaching. With regard to how the Alt-right is to be taught, it is not all as bad as it used to be:

Teachers may be censoring themselves more than necessary when deciding what to teach, said Diana Hess, the dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Educators should use current events to help students learn about authentic political controversy, said Hess, who co-authored The Political Classroom with Paula McAvoy.

Learning about the alt-right, for example, is a lesson in political literacy. Teachers should not ask students to decide whether the alt-right is a good thing, but they can teach how it came about and how it has affected the political system, Hess said.

Things certainly are changing. It is clear from statements like this that, whether the left likes it or not, we really are succeeding in re-normalizing White identity, White pride, and White solidarity.

What this woman is ultimately advocating for here, is that teachers teach about White Nationalism and the Alt-right as if it is a legitimate view, to be considered from a place of neutrality while you decide whether you agree with it or not. Not a view to be taught only with prejudice, as something about which the only acceptable opinion is negative.

Slowly but surely, we are steadily winning back our rightful legitimacy within public discourse.

Of course, it’s not all good news:

Rather, Martell continued, they ought to approach the alt-right like they would a lesson about apartheid in South Africa or the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s.

Alas, these types are still around. I reckon they’re still a dime a dozen and we will be dealing with them for a long time to come. Moving on:

Here is where we learn that numerous people on the anti-White left have taken note that pro-White forces are rising, and are attempting to make sure every student will be exposed to slander about White Nationalists at school:

Teaching Tolerance hopes to create resources on the alt-right for teachers for use next school year. Students, she said, need to learn about extremism of all kinds and how it works for various reasons, including avoiding getting swept up into it themselves.

Aha. So they are scared to death of us. Those children whose young minds they thought they had no resistance in warping to their hateful and false worldview now have options: us. And the left doesn’t like competition, because they are losers and they know it.

But it is worth noting as White Nationalists, that these people are trying to reach these kids and destroy us to them, before they can get a chance to see who we are for themselves. What strategies we have to counter that, or if we even think we need to, is something we might want to talk about. It couldn’t hurt.

Now we’re back to our Black and White anti-racist teachers:

Cawthorne and Leslie developed a class period devoted to the alt-right as part of a larger unit on white identity. Before tackling the alt-right, they talked to students about the concept of white identity and white fragility, the idea that whites can get so overwhelmed with guilt about the state of racism in American society that they simply cannot and will not talk about race.

They can’t ever mention White identity without making it something shameful. Racism is bad (can’t prove it to save their lives). Racism is White people’s fault = Whites are bad. Whites get overwhelmed by the shame of this unfair accusation, and don’t do anything = Whites are bad.  Whites don’t talk about race because when we do we’re told we’re bad, but. . .that makes us bad too. All of this means that White identity is “fragile” to boot. This is nothing short of psychological abuse.

But the response of many of the students is interesting, and some of it is encouraging:

Discussions about the alt-right fit into lessons on the complexities surrounding just what it means to be white in America, the teachers said. To prompt nuanced discussion backed up by facts, they first gave students a news-article explainer about the alt-right, then pushed the students to describe what they thought followers of the alt-right believed. The students saw the movement as leaving out people of color and focusing on America as a country for whites. They viewed the alt-right as a way for white people to take pride in themselves when they feel they have been pushed aside. 

That fact that they viewed White pride as connected to White feelings of being pushed aside, is, although not entirely accurate, a showing of one thing: empathy with a White perspective. Something you haven’t seen much in the old, anti-White order, and perhaps a vague understanding of the White perspective—or at least a willingness to engage in it—is growing.

Another one:

Satchel Tsai, who is half white and half Asian, saw Letson’s handling of the interview as a model for other Americans. “It was very civil. It’s important to be civil when you talk about race,” said Tsai.

Even if people don’t agree, an increase in this attitude will lead to us getting the truth out better.

Even those who don’t like us may be compelled to treat our ideals with respect if we insist on being respectable people (a lot of praise needs to go Richard Spencer’s way for this):

Raitt normally would have seen someone like Spencer as ignorant and uneducated but he was educated. Listening to Spencer made her want to go out and educate peers that this kind of thinking existed.

But then:

Asked to react to the podcast, nearly every student raised a hand to offer an opinion. While many could understand how white nationalism might increase as a reaction to the country’s changing demographics, some were shocked to hear that Spencer would want whites to live in a separate country.

Granted we are talking here about a school that is doubtless more than half non-White, still though, is the idea of a White’s only land so hard for them to fathom? Apparently non-White only spaces are not very hard for non-Whites to fathom lately.

And this:

The phrase “my people” particularly grated on white students. Many see themselves as more than simply white. Their religion and family backgrounds play a role. One is part Syrian. Many are Jewish, given Brookline’s large Jewish community; Brookline is home to 14 synagogues and Jewish worship groups; combined with neighboring Newton and Brighton, it makes up nearly 30 percent of the Boston area’s Jewish population, according to a Brandeis University study.

If White identity is something they feel they must or can be “more than”, than they obviously don’t value their racial identity in terms of Whiteness. Most likely this is because they don’t really consider themselves White at all. For good reason likely: most of them probably aren’t.

We’ll end with this gem though. The anti-racism teachers are not even very careful to hide their lies (or they’re just not very smart, which is certainly an equally likely proposition).

About a third way through the article they say this:

 “It’s not our job ethically to push kids to go against Trump. It’s not our job to indoctrinate,” said Cawthorne.

But the article ends with them telling students this:

“Yes, it should be creepy,” Leslie said. “If you weren’t freaked out right now, we wouldn’t be doing our job.”

You don’t believe in indoctrinating students? Yea, right.

If you have high-school age kids, make sure they know to be on the lookout for these characters. They’re pretty creepy.

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