Maine Voices: Influential ideology encourages inaccurate portrayal of Portland city government
It came as a shock to many Portlanders when, after her victory at the polls, new Charter Commissioner Nasreen Sheikh-Yousef called City Manager Jon Jennings a white supremacist. I’m not sure exactly what Mr. Jennings did to earn such opprobrium, but I’m not entirely surprised by the charge: Welcome to Critical Race Theory!
This ideology, which has had a powerful influence in academia over the past decades and now shapes culture at large, sets the bar for racism low. You don’t have to be a hater or a fanatic to be a racist. You just have to be part of a power structure that is steeped in racism or the passive beneficiary of systemic racism. Essentially, it makes white Americans racist just because they are white Americans, unless you can prove your good faith to the political correctors by actively engaging in anti-racist activity. Unsurprisingly, these align with far-left politics, such as funding the police, “verifying” your privileges, supporting reparations for slavery, and suppressing dissent.
All of this makes it a wonderfully effective political weapon: “Support our program or we will call you a racist.” All it takes for this weapon to work is for people to be intimidated by it. I congratulate Mayor Kate Snyder, Councilor Spencer Thibodeau and others for publicly defending Mr. Jennings and resisting this rhetoric of intimidation.
Coincidentally, the election that propelled Ms. Sheik-Yousef to power also approved the school’s budget. Councilors who initially resisted sending the increased budget to voters were persuaded to vote in favor because it included more money for equity and diversity education. It’s hard to vote against such great ideas, but if it means more money to promote the kind of thinking that labels people like Mr. Jennings as a white supremacist, then maybe it’s time to rethink what we teach. to our students.
As I finish my career as a high school history teacher, I am saddened for the young people of today, whose views on this country have been shaped by the deleterious political environment of recent years. On the right, they saw President Trump’s reckless tweets and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but on the left, they saw a summer of lawless riots and were brainwashed by many elements of culture within the meaning wide to consider their country as racist. in the heart.
The problem with Critical Race Theory is not so much that it is wrong, but because it is distorted and decontextualized, like seeing yourself in a funhouse mirror. Yes, it’s you in the mirror, but the image is wildly distorted. Yes, we have a history of racism in our country and live with the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, but as George Packer writes in the current issue of The Atlantic, “the more radical version of the tale mixes the oppression of all groups in an encompassing hell of white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, plutocracy, environmental destruction and drones – America as a uniting evil force. Is it really us?
Packer goes on to note that this tortuous understanding of our country does not allow us to address real issues such as the complex sources of poverty, the role of personal agency, and “the primary source of violence in black neighborhoods, which are young black men. , not the police. This narrative’s intrusion into American culture was motivated by the laudable and indisputable principle of inclusion, but it “smuggled in more threatening elements that came to characterize identity politics and social justice: group thinking monolithic, hostility to open debate and a taste for moral coercion.
I was born in 1954, the year Brown v. Board of Education ended racial segregation in public education. The more precise and contextualized picture of race relations – and human rights in general – in the United States is one of extraordinary progress in terms of opportunities for blacks, women, ethnic minorities, people. LGBTQ and immigrants. Ms. Sheikh-Yousef should appreciate that. If Portland was under the thumb of true white supremacists, it’s hard to see how she could be elected to the Charter Commission.
Maine Voices: Portland Adult Ed alumni take long-term learning journeys