Whatever else we can say about the state of American politics, it is almost certainly safe to say it's never been dumber. We've weathered wars that threatened our union, depressions that destroyed much of our economy, and even pandemics that make today's seem puny by comparison, but we've never had to do so with so much dumb spread so far and wide and piled up so high.
About which, some recent examples:
• The English Department (why always there?) of Rutgers University has announced that its graduate writing program will discard traditional standards of grammar in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement and eliminate "systemic inequities," apparently on the assumption that such inequities stem from the inability of Black students to meet such standards.
How failing to teach students to write in grammatically correct fashion will contribute to Black progress or help achieve that amorphous thing called "social justice" was left unexplained as the phrase "the racism of low expectations" re-entered the mind.
• The woke progressives running Seattle's public schools have taken Rutgers one step further by proposing to abandon what they call "Western Math" because of the manner in which it allegedly disenfranchises "people and communities of color" and "dictates economic oppression."
Put differently, Pythagoras and Euclid were part of the white supremacist project all along, even without knowing it, and 2 plus 2 is now racist too.
• In London, fake anti-fascists fighting imaginary fascists vandalized a statue of a real anti-fascist who fought real fascists by the name of Winston Churchill.
As an incredulous Rex Murphy noted in Canada's National Post, "We'd all be wearing black with lightning bolts on our sleeves if Winston Churchill--old, white, and male--had not possessed the stamina, the courage, the determination and the oratory to take on Hitler when the whole world looked ready to crouch to the tyrant's will. Churchill took no knee."
Or as another wag more succinctly put it, "wait till they hear about the guys he fought against."
• In displays of idiocy which rival the defacing of Churchill statues, statues of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant have also been targeted, conveying the rather peculiar idea that the struggle against racism requires attacks on the two men who did more than any others to abolish that extreme extrapolation of racism known as slavery.
If only the woke dimwits committing the destruction even knew the century in which the Civil War was fought, what the Emancipation Proclamation was about, or who surrendered to whom at Appomattox.
• A prominent curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gary Garrels, was forced to resign his position amid accusations of white supremacy for saying he wouldn't exclude the art of white males, which is apparently becoming the expectation in such places.
A new artistic standard is thus being established that assesses artistic worthiness purely on the basis of the race and gender of the artist, with echoes of the Stalinist "socialist realism" that ended up politicizing and destroying Russian art (and of which the woke staff at SFMOMA who demanded Garrels' resignation probably never heard).
Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Picasso, Rembrandt and Van Gogh got to go.
• Juan Vidal has recommended in a piece for NPR that we "decolonize [our] bookshelves" by doing away with all the dead white males and replacing them with works by people of color.
The admonishment left us unclear as to precisely where to start. Perhaps as far back as Plato and Aristotle, the least enlightened and longest dead of the dead white males? Or maybe Shakespeare and Dante, whose views on racial matters, to the extent they can be discerned, are unlikely to meet contemporary woke standards?
Presumably such advice, by its very logic, might even require dumping our volumes of Marx and his post-modernist, old dead white male followers like Marcuse, Habermas, Adorno, and Gramsci who inspired the contemporary movement to get rid of the works of old dead white males, as suggested by NPR's scribe (who almost certainly has no idea where his own ideas come from).
Some other difficulties came to mind when realizing that this would essentially mean discarding much of the collective wisdom and knowledge of a Western civilization from which feminism, environmentalism, and the struggle for racial equality arose. And that the collected works of Malcolm X, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ta-Nehisi Coates probably would be insufficient in numerical and other ways to fill the resulting void on our bookshelves.
So if we're already terribly dumb, how much dumber will we become when we stop teaching grammar and algebra and drop Churchill and Lincoln (and presumably Washington, Jefferson and Madison as well) down the memory hole? And when we remove Plato, Aristotle and Shakespeare from our bookshelves and our college curricula and city libraries, and Gaugin and Matisse from our museums?
As in Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution and Pol Pot's "Year Zero," basic logic and the idea of rationality become the enemies of progress and must be abandoned.
Because no price is too high to pay when it comes to cleansing the world of the evil of "whiteness."
Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.