A couple good articles from The New Republic
There is a better way of “balancing” Iran: a regime in Baghdad endowed with the legitimacy of democratic norms. Of all that has been said about Iraq since the time that country became an American burden, nothing equals the stark formulation once offered by a diplomat not given to grandstanding and rhetorical flourishes. Said former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker: “In the end, what we leave behind and how we leave will be more important than how we came.”
We can already see the outline of what our labor has created: a representative government, a binational state of Arabs and Kurds, and a country that does not bend to the will of one man or one ruling clan.
The Root has an interesting list of people they say black history could do without. It got me thinking about who I would include on a top-ten list of that kind.
I find that a list like this, if it’s really about impact on black people, cannot even be limited to black people. Here goes.
- Malcolm X – “the way he comes down to us in shorthand is as the one who taught black people to channel their inner Angry Motherfucker. Articulately so—the speeches still work. But the problem is what that does for us now.”
- Frances Fox Piven- “Piven and Cloward were white social work professors at Columbia who, in the late ’60s, openly encouraged as many people as possible to take welfare payments open-endedly, hoping that this would bankrupt the government and force a complete overhaul of our distribution of income. (…) For three decades, welfare was an open-ended program, unconcerned with whether people got jobs or whether children’s fathers were present or able to work. The government never fell, and meanwhile black neighborhoods started falling to pieces.”
- Richard Cloward – same as 2
- Price Cobbs – “Cobb pioneered “encounter groups” designed to teach white people about their inner racism. How? By having blacks vent at them, the idea being that this was “therapeutic.” (…) The idea got “into the air” that whites are always racist in ways they are not aware of, must be informed of this, and that it’s okay if the black people bearing the news are less than civil because it’s just desserts (and “therapeutic” for all concerned).”
- Al Jolson – The black-face fetish
- Paulo Freire – his 1970 Pedagogy of the Oppressed has distracted quite a few from teaching poor kids facts or, often, much of anything. (…) It’s one thing to think of leftism as a component of an education—although even that is open to question. The problem with Freire’s influence is that it has conditioned a sense that leftism should be the central pillar of education, with facts themselves distrusted as “dry” and “colonial” (a point Freire himself made), at best something to get to later or in passing. The uninitiated would be shocked at how deeply this notion pervades the way many teachers are “trained”—check with someone you know who’s getting an ed degree to get a sense of this. Example: an acquaintance has reported that two years of training at Columbia’s Teachers College included not a thing about actual classroom teaching technique and everything about shielding your students from a world of oppressors.”
- William Ryan – “The mere title of Ryan’s book, Blaming the Victim, imprinted a way of thinking about race which, like other catchy phrases such as “By Any Means Necessary” and “Black By Popular Demand,” is longer on heat than light. (…) the title alone inculcated the idea that societal factors are the only justifiable ones to explore (except in parentheses) when it comes to black problems, and that to refer to anything else is (drum roll, please) ‘Blaming The Victim.'”
- Ron Karenga – “Karenga created Kwanzaa—okay. But Kwanzaa, in line with the day’s fashion that Swahili was a “pan-African” language, is cast with Swahili terminology. This has been central to establishing and keeping alive the idea that black Americans get in touch with “their” heritage by learning Swahili. (…) If black Americans have a heritage language in Africa it’s Mende of Sierra Leone—that’s the one that black Gullah speakers in South Carolina used to be able to recite some fragments of song in. Mende is even kind of easy as languages go. Clearly, though, Swahili is here to stay.”
- Jonathon Kozol – “Kozol’s Savage Inequalities has taught legions of people that the reason poor (usually brown-skinned) students don’t do well in school is because ghetto schools don’t get as much funding as others. (…) Examples continue—of schools that didn’t change with big influxes of money, of poor schools where better teachers on modest salaries make for better learning, of simple reading programs teaching poor kids to read. (…) He clearly cares about children, but not specifically about what really helps poor children learn, even in poor schools.”
- OJ Simpson – “Frankly, the fashion for treating him as a victim made black America look dumb. I loved Howard University students cheering at the exoneration of a murderer (despite his avowed position on his dating preferences reportedly being, “I don’t shovel coal”). No cute rhymes about fitting and acquitting would have held any sway over black juries if Joe Namath had been married to a black woman and killed her.”
Personally I find this list a lot more useful in understanding Black History than the list posted in “The Root”
-Add- The Other McCain has more on The National Review’s declaration of victory in Iraq.