ON “Arizona: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
By STANLEY FISH”
Fish is reluctantly but definitely against the current pedagogy taught in AZ schools in regard to society, ethnicity, rights, “social justice”. He cites “the Mexican American Studies Department of the Tucson Unified School District, which, its Web site tells us, adheres to the Social Justice Education Project model. That model includes “a counter-hegemonic curriculum” and “a pedagogy based on the theories of Paulo Freire.” Freire, a Brazilian educator, is the author of the widely influential book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.””
Fish writes: “Freire argues that the structures of domination and oppression in a society are at their successful worst when the assumptions and ways of thinking that underwrite their tyranny have been internalized by their victims: “The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped.” If the ideas and values of the oppressor are all you ever hear, they will be yours — that is what hegemony means — and it will take a special and radical effort to liberate yourself from them.
That effort is education, properly reconceived not as the delivery of pre-packaged knowledge to passive students, but as the active dismantling, by teachers and students together, of the world view that sustains the powers that be and insulates them from deep challenge. Only when this is done, says Freire, will students cease to “adapt to the word as it is” and become “transformers of that world.”
He continues: “The concern is ethnic studies as a stalking horse or Trojan horse of a political agenda, even if the agenda bears the high-sounding name of social justice. (“Teaching for Social Justice” is a pervasive and powerful mantra in the world of educational theory.)”
This is as sick and as evil as it gets! Yet the NY Times thinker, Fish, believes that the cure might be worse than the disease! How can this be? Logically there can only one and/or two assumptions that would substantiate that belief, that the cure is worse than the disease. One is the thought that the disease is not as terrible or life threatening as believed. The second is that the cure is worse or has more malignant side effects than is believed. And of course, the combination of both assumptions to various degrees will result in the concurrence with the opinion that the cure is worse than the disease.
So what is the disease? Millions of Mexicans have been invading the United States in numbers of demographic significance. It has become impossible to deny that this represents a national migration, invading our border. In all of History I can think of but few equivalents. Their rarity suggests their seriousness.
The most obvious historical example and the one that leaps to mind is the situation on the borders of the Roman Empire, especially the western half in the fifth century. The very concept of what being Roman meant was becoming clouded. Most of the Peoples, who were conquered by Rome, were offered citizenship, contingent upon following Roman law. Roman customs and religions were recognizable and homogenous from Britain to Asia Minor. People were proud to be Roman citizens. But, the Huns started a domino effect. From their ancient homeland in eastern central Asia they pushed southeast into China and southwest toward Europe. They drove the Germanic and Slavic tribes before them. The Rhine and the Danube Rivers were the de facto border. Goths settled along the borders to escape the depredations of the Huns. “Archaic” notions of “honor” no longer motivated wealthy Roman elites. In the days of the Republic and into the early Empire military service and leadership were part of being a Man. In the fifth century, the idea of Rome’s fall was ridiculous! Emperors were afraid to leave their chosen capitals, which were more and more often located in cities other than Rome. Any prolonged absence might well result in a coup d’état. The slackness went from the head down the organizational command. It became more and more common to hire Germanic armies to patrol the borderlands. Initially Germans were enlisted as individuals into Roman units. But soon the Romans were hiring entire armies of Germans, lead by German generals. There soon developed a border culture. The Germans in Roman uniforms had family across the river, or over the wall. The border folk had more in common with each other on either side of the border than they did with their more remote kin. We speak of the Fall Of The Roman Empire as if it happened as a discreet event, and was witnessed by a certain generation. This is not so. All along the watchtowers of the border, a new culture was emerging. Italy became less and less relevant. Soon German generals were the powers behind the Emperors’ thrones. Coup followed coup. And civil war after civil war as well was par for the course. When finally a German ended the charade by making himself the Emperor in Rome, it didn’t mean much. Rome, the city had devolved into a backwater, an impoverished city whose heroic monuments were already being dismantled in order to use the bricks to build and repair slums. It had occurred over generations. Like the now current enthusiasm for the “fact” that a frog will allow itself to die of heat if put in a pot of cool water and slowly brought to boiling, but would leap out if thrown into the boiling pot. Whether or not that is so, it is a good metaphor.
The Biblical story of the invasive migration of Israelites into Canaan is another example. Supposedly the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain was a migratory one; though it is becoming more questionable whether it was truly a migration or a ruling class conquest. There is a big difference between migrations of nations and the conquest by comparatively few warriors who merely represented a change of overlord to the serfs and peasants. Thus Cortez. Thus Pizzarro. Perhaps the English migration to the eastern seaboard of North America would fit into the rare category of national migration. However, this was not so much a displacement and repopulation of a nation by a foreign nation, but the replacement of a Native Civilization that was devastated by disease. Without the plagues that preceded the Pilgrims, and followed the Virginians, Indian Nations would have hurled the English into the sea. There were great and powerful civilizations along the Mississippi and Ohio River systems. DeSoto’s march through the southeast of the future USA reported powerful city-states with complex civilizations. The next European to come through was LaSalle, who found emptiness, a wilderness. DeSoto’s pigs carried WMDs. The immunity to pathogens that humans and pigs and all the fauna of Eurasia had evolved over millennia was absent in the American heartland. It was if a nuclear holocaust destroyed Mississippian Civilization. So, again the English, followed by other immigrants from Europe largely migrated into a post-apocalyptic world.
The only real analogy for the current Mexican invasion is the Roman one. This was a fatal disease. But, it was not the virulence of the Germanic peoples that was responsible. There was also the decadence of Roman Civilization. From a robust culture based on honor, monogamy, moderation and sobriety which is what The Republic was like, it became complacent, indulgent and beguiled by the length of time since they were threatened in their heartland into the false belief that “it can’t happen here”.
Is the disease serious enough to contemplate serious cures? I’d say yes. But what is the so-called “dangerous” cure that alarms Mr. Fish?
Mr. Fish, can allow for a nice portion of education about ethnicities. “It is certainly possible to teach the literature and history (including the history of marginalization and discrimination) of ethnic traditions without turning students into culture warriors ready to man (and woman) the barriers.”
That is not as self-evident to me as it is to Fish. I do not understand how the inculcation of victimhood can result in anything but anger and resentment.
But in fact, Mr. Fish himself is not so certain either: “To be sure, the knowledge a student acquires in an ethnic studies course that stays clear of indoctrination may lead down the road to counter-hegemonic, even revolutionary, activity; you can’t control what students do with the ideas they are exposed to. But that is quite different from setting out deliberately to produce that activity as the goal of classroom instruction.”
That is a difference without a distinction! To just shrug off the possibility that knowledge acquired in an Ethnic Studies Corse (that avoids “indoctrination”) may still result in “counter-hegemonic” or even revolutionary activity, is amazing! Even in the New York Times it is amazing.
Mr. Fish is affirming the allegation that Mexican Studies in American schools has been based on an accurate truth! To describe that an “objective” but non-indoctrinating Mexican Studies Course may result in a “counter-hegemonic” view is to say that there is a hegemonic view! And what is that Hegemonic View that might reasonably be balanced by a “Counter-Hegemonic” view?
This is KEY. This key unlocks much of academic anti-Americanism. Here is the reason the cure is worse than the disease. Here is the reason that the cure for the disease that will prove fatal to America is worse than that outcome. The “putative” cure would be the linkage of the doctrine of Individual Rights with American Culture! Wow, no wonder that this cure is so very dangerous! No wonder that it must not be used to save the patient! It would necessarily dispel two generations of academic scribbling. “The declaration tendentiously, and without support either of argument or evidence, affirms a relationship between critically questioning the ideology of individual rights — and make no mistake, it is an ideology — and the production of racism and hatred.” )
(My emphasis is given above.)
And everybody knows (everybody in Academia, everyone who fancies themselves “Post-Modernist”, everyone with a college indoctrination) that Individualism is not good. Like “those communitarian theorists like Robert Bellah, Michael Sandel and Robert Putnam, generally as American as apple pie, who contend that an excessive focus on the individual results in an unhealthy atomization and tends to loosen and even undo the ties that bind society together.” Since when has “Communitarian Theory” become as “American as apple pie”?
Mr. Fish must get out of the bowl once in a while and meet the American people who somehow survive west of the Hudson River. He could even save the toll and swim.
Yet despite his acknowledgment that Communitarian thought is now the American way, he throws in at the end of the paragraph, just apparently to wither and die: “The idea of treating people as individuals is certainly central to the project of Enlightenment liberalism, and functions powerfully in much of the nation’s jurisprudence.”
But never mind that. That talk of “Enlightenment liberalism” is thrown in at the end of the paragraph in the same tone the announcer uses when listing the side effects of the drug being advertised. How does one just dismiss that which is “central” to the Enlightenment?
Easy, like every other stand that the new tyrants take, they lean on “Motive”. Recent reviews of Kagan’s writing (the supreme court nominee) have revealed that motive is now the much more important factor when determining speech and for assigning the “hate” in “Hate Crimes”.
“The authors of House Bill 2281 don’t want students to learn about the ethic of treating people equally;” opines Fish. Again, here is the tendency to claim clairvoyance in assessing the goal of legislation. No, the obviously “racist, xenophobic, white supremacists” who make up Arizona “want them to believe in it (as you might believe in the resurrection), and therefore to believe, as they do, that those who interrogate it and show how it has sometimes been invoked in the service of nefarious purposes must be banished from public education.”
But this density of prose makes me go back and see what it is that they are afraid the schools will teach. “…. to learn about the ethic of treating people equally.” Is Fish a-scared that those who question the ethic of treating people equally, will be banished from Arizona’s Public Schools? Is that the cure that is so dreadful that it is worse than the disease that is killing our Nation?
“The moral is simple: you don’t cure (what I consider) the virus of a politicized classroom by politicizing it in a different direction, even if that direction corresponds to the notions of civic virtue that animate much of our national rhetoric.” Let us be clear on what this demon is saying. He is claiming that the expectation of a space called Civil Society, in which individuals interact in Liberty, as free moral agents, is only one point of view! Am I crazy or is he demanding that Liberty necessarily must make equal access for tyranny? That five hundred years of movement toward a non-tribal, non-religiously binding, society of private individuals should admit that it is just one possibility among many? How much re-education does it take to honestly believe that? Or, how much social pressure does it take to make one pretend to believe that? As much as the elite culture of New York liberalism can muster, apparently.
Ha, it can’t get worse?
“The political scientist James Bernard Murphy has been arguing for years that teaching civic virtue is not an appropriate academic activity…”! WTF? It is so apparent that these people are our deadly foes. They are going to do or die. Now is their time and they know it is growing short. It is superfluous to list all the perversions and lies being taught to our vulnerable students, whose parents themselves have been carefully mis-educated. The only question is “why?”
Why” Because when the unwritten social code is shattered, and society cannot operate organically it must be controlled by the Government. This is the theme that unites “gay marriage”, “racial justice”, “eco-justice”, the inordinate fear of certain words that like frightened children we may only say the first letter of; and “transgender acceptance”, and of course “sanctuary cites”. All is aimed to undermine the social fabric and to increase the “need” for the Government.
The Fish concludes with this generous description of the people and legislators of Arizona: “Teach ethnic studies by all means, but lay off the recruiting and proselytizing; for if you don’t you merely put a weapon in the hands of ignorant and grandstanding state legislators who, as the example of Arizona shows, will always be eager to use it.”
Only a New York Times writer and fellow travelers would equate the attempt to make foreign students into Americans who are happy to be American, educated in the history of the nation they have chosen to come to, and fluent in its language and culture with “proselytizing”. If the ways of Mexico are so desired it is just a hop and a skip away! And don’t let the door swing back on you as you return to your country.
Only a NY Times writer would deride the decent citizens of Arizona as being “ignorant” and for electing “grandstanding state legislators”.