You Know Things are Getting Deranged When

You read an article like this, and you look at the April 1 dateline, and for the life of you it is impossible to decide whether it’s an April Fools gag.

Alas! a quick Google search reveals that the recently-concluded White Privilege Conference, held in Madison, Wisconsin, was all too real.  The “Stories from the Front Line of Education” workshop actually happened; it’s listed as #17 on the current workshop #2 schedule for March 27, here (if you screwed up and missed it, maybe because you couldn’t tear yourself away from the pearls o’ wisdom on offer at “If Elephants Could Talk: Reducing the Stress of Whiteness in Face-to-Face Relationships,” you had another shot at Ms. Radersma’s confessions as Item #2 on March 29).  I dunno; maybe it’s just my “alcoholic-like” whiteness but I have a hard time seeing how requiring students to master ideas like the conservation of momentum, Newton’s laws of inertia, the periodic table, or subject-verb agreement is or can be racially-tinged.  Grammatical number existed as a concept for centuries before the first sub-Saharan African was oppressed by anyone from beyond that continent.  The notion that differential equations either (i) are oppressive, or (ii) have a peculiarly racial component savors more than just a tiny bit of Trofim Lysenko.  The Thirty Years War was objectively important for any of several reasons, not the least of which was the cultural scarring of Central Europe, scarring which was pregnant with implications for how German society evolved and responded to the experience of Napoleonic conquest.  Not a bit of that has anything to do with anyone’s skin color, and yet it’s impossible to get your hands around 20th Century world history without looking very closely at what happened in the area that became Germany, and why.  Unless the suggestion is that darker-skinned students ought to go through life ignorant of such matters, I don’t see how asking of them that they absorb at least the outlines of that information is “oppressive.”

Enough about Ms. Radersma.  While we’re looking at some of the other workshop topics (many held in “Halls of Ideas” <excuse me while I go wipe the snot off my face from that last heave of laughter>), let’s not overlook the presence of the old stand-by, viz. it’s all the Jooooossssss’ fault:  “Jews, Class, Race and Power: How it’s all connected”.  Oh dear.   As if the rest of the conference weren’t sufficiently drool-inducing, from the Get ‘Em While They’re Young Brigade, we offer this gem (#13 on the March 29 schedule): “Exploring Intersectional Identity in Early Childhood (birth-age 8)”.  You can’t make this stuff up.

What you also can’t make up, and what is truly alarming, is the list of sponsors and hosts whose logos are proudly displayed on the conference website.  It includes the Wisconsin Council of Churches, the Sinsinawa Dominicans, and the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church.  There are also a few outright tax-funded operations, from the U of W Eau Claire to the University of Northern Iowa, and a laundry list of taxpayer-subsidized — because “charitable” — enterprises, like the Sierra Club (huh? Since when do trees and wildlife have “race” or “class” implications?  I’m unaware that a grizzly bear has ever “privileged” any person of any description when it gets sufficiently hungry or angry.) and what appear to be several private colleges.

So if anyone out there gives to the organizations sponsoring this tripe, you need to bear in mind that your money is funding presentations on “Jews, Class, Race and Power: How it’s all connected”.  I’m going to suggest that you might want to reconsider where you direct your charitable inclinations.  Do you really want to support nonsense like this that’s a half-jump, if that, away from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

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