Sunday, April 13, 2008

Observations from our school's Cultural Festival

I spent almost an entire workday at my school Saturday as I helped with our annual cultural festival where all the cultures of the students at our school are showcased. Hey, I don't have a problem with that. There was fascinating information and artifacts on display, wonderful dancing and singing performances, and delicious food from around the world. As long as we acknowledge that we are Americans first, there is nothing wrong with celebrating our ethnic and cultural heritage.

However, you cannot have an activity like this one without the tyranny of multiculturalism rearing its ugly head. Here are some examples of some of the absurdities I saw and heard throughout the day:
  • A student was walking around wearing a t-shirt that said the following: Indians are not mascots! End racist stereotypes in public schools. Support AB 13 - California Racial Mascots Act. California Assembly Bill (AB) 13 is the brainchild of Assemblycritter Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles. I have never been able to decide if this woman is evil or just crazier than a bedbug. In either case, she is just the pride of our state government... can you sense the sarcasm? Ya know, the mascot for my high school was the Indians. Much of the student body was of Indian descent, and they loved the mascot just fine. They would be war-whooping it up with the rest of us during football and basketball games.
  • In a fit of feel-goodism, one of my fellow social studies teacher - the one who has a Che Guevara poster hanging on his classroom wall - expressed to me how great it was that all these cultures were coexisting in the same building, in the same school, in the same country. He acknowledged that this doesn't happen in most other places in the world. Then he floored me by saying, "I know I talk a lot of smack about this country, but I realize what could happen to me in other countries if I criticized them the way I criticize the U.S." That is when I wanted to scream at him about his Che poster. Does he realize what Che would have done to him in, say, 1962 if he had lived in Cuba and criticized the Castro regime?
  • A professor from one of our local institutions of higher learning played some Mexican songs on his guitar. He apparently teaches bilingual/multicultural studies or something along those lines. Before he got started, he gave a spiel about the bravery of the common folk and speaking truth to power - the standard leftist bilge. And then he yelled "Viva Cesar Chavez!" And the Hispanics in the vicinity yelled, "Viva!" Then he yelled "Viva Dolores Huerta*!" And again, the peanut gallery yelled, "Viva!" Then he yelled, "Viva May-hee-co!" And once again, the sycophants yelled, "Viva!" For a "multicultural" event, I didn't feel too welcome at that moment.
*Dolores Huerta is a radical activist who started the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Cesar Chavez. She has been a sitting board member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and is a Marxist through and through. She is also a big-time supporter of illegal immigration; of course, she doesn't see it as being illegal. During a commencement speech a couple years back at a high school in Tucson, Arizona, she railed against immigration laws, and told the students that, "Republicans hate Latinos."
  • As we were cleaning up after the conclusion of the day's festivities, another one of our teachers who is a radical Chicano activist and MEChA member was showing some other teachers a poster board display that her students had made. She had requested that they do a poster board about the United States. The display had been decorated with hand-drawn images like a flag, a simple map of our country, and famous landmarks like the St. Louis Arch. There was also a drawing of a soldier and an Air Force jet with missiles on the wings. This teacher was expressing her displeasure about the images of the soldier and the jet because - and I am quoting her - "I hate the military." As my wife pointed out when I told her about this: isn't the military a culture? Shouldn't we be tolerant to them too? I wanted to walk up to this teacher and tell her that it's a good thing we have a military that protects her right to say in public that she hates the military.
I often kick myself when I think of the things I would like to say to these people - like the kid with the mascot t-shirt, and the teacher who hates the military - but in the interest of keeping the atmosphere civil, I hold my tongue. But on the other hand, these people surely are not holding their tongues; they are laying it all out there and essentially daring people like me to call them on it. Again, I pose a question to my readers: If they are willing to put their position out there in public like that, is it proper for me to rain on their self-congratulatory parade?

What do you think? How do you handle situations like that? As always, any input is appreciated.

Good Day to You, Sir

8 comments:

Law and Order Teacher said...

Again, I admire your restraint. One of my many failings is a sometimes sarcastic and disrespectful attitude. (taken from a personnel evaluation of long ago). I would surely have been in the middle of it with these people. I'm not into name calling, but I think more than a few well-aimed insults would be appropriate. I assiduously do not trumpet my politics to my colleagues, however, I am not adverse to a good discussion every now and then. It is funny watching some of these lefties try to discuss their views in an academic way. They are a product of a school system, universities included, in which political diversity is intolerable. They have lived most of their lives in an echo chamber, listening to their own thoughts come back at them. That leads to a certain tone deafness, as exhibited by your Che groupie friend's statement. As for hatred of the military, I as well as you, know the price paid by many so that the commie with the guitar could pander to a bunch of Hispanic wannabes. I think you would enjoy discussing the lay of the land with some of these colleagues of yours. It would be like dueling with an unarmed man.

nunoftheabove said...

Multi-culturalism is a misnomer because, as you observed, only radicalized cultures are allowed to be represented. I liken these "expressions" to Jerry Springer episodes, and there is something extremely fascinating about watching people behave stupidly in the most public of venues.

And like a Springer episode, these shows are carefully scripted to make sure that rationality and truth are strictly avoided.

I suspect that I would have taken the same tact as you. I don't mind a civilized, rational exchange of ideas, but I don't think that is possible with those who believe their rights and opinions and "more equal" than others.

I often find myself remembering the end of the book Animal Farm. I feel much in common with the animals as they stood with sad disbelief outside the farmhouse window, watching the pigs and neighboring farmers fighting over a crooked card game.

Darren said...

You create a false dichotomy about Jackie Goldberg. She's both.

And, as for your idiot colleague who hates the military--well, you *know* what I'd do, and being silent isn't it.

But if you want to watch her twist, just ask, "but without the military, who will help after tsunamis, and in Darfur?" Then break out the popcorn and enjoy the theatrics.

Charity said...

Chanman,

I used to be in those situations a lot here in the People's Republic of Burlington, when my kids were in public school. You would not believe the things I listened to. Well, I take that back; you would.

I always held my tongue. I think it was the right thing to do. I think it only makes us look bad to stoop to their level.

Other than perhaps politely pointing out that not everyone shares their POV, I would continue to say nothing for the sake of the atmosphere at work.

Anonymous said...

I am 63 years old and the senior member of my faculty. I am too old and too disgusted to tolerate any longer the liberal and socialist drivel of uneducated teachers with half my years and one third my experience. I voice my opinion in a nice but firm manner and let it be known that I disagree with them and why. There are often others who are interested in another point of view and want more information. Even if I do not convert anyone, at least it shuts them up for awhile and my hearing space is no longer contaminated.

Don, American said...

When they yelled, "Viva Mexico," did you point them the way to the bus station?

Chanman said...

That didn't occur to me, but I did want to yell, "God Bless these United States of America!"

nebraska girl said...

I think that you have to gauge the crowd when making comments. If there are malleable minds within hearing distance, then I think politely and respectfully stating why they are wrong is a good thing. I know too many people who jumped on the bandwagon because that's the only tune they were hearing and after being enlightened to the other side of the issue were converted or at least respected the opposition as more than loonies.