Thursday, February 4, 2010

accuse those who point out white privilege of being anti-american

The following segment of "The O'Reilly Factor" has been around for awhile (since December, that is), but it's been sticking in my craw ever since then. I don't normally pay any attention to Fixed News, but this segment is such a good example of several ways that many white Americans think about racial issues these days.

And it's also kind of funny, to watch these two big, strong men act so cowardly in the presence of big, confusing words.

As I see it, the willful, (literally) appalling ignorance on display here articulates the following common white beliefs:
  • attempting to discuss racism and other forms of oppression with any degree of seriousness is "anti-American"
  • only the "far left" thinks racism is much of a problem anymore (along with, presumably, race-card-carrying members of racial minority groups who "refuse to stop sucking on the public teat")
  • the idea of discussing "white privilege" is so bizarre and repellent that when you use the term, it should fall out of your mouth like pieces of rotten apple 
  • public schools in the U.S. are hotbeds of radical left-wing indoctrination (instead of the opposite)
  • incorporating discussion of privilege and oppression into school curricula can only result in a long, depressing, unrealistic sob-fest of negativity, all over things that (again) are just not a big deal anymore
  • what you should do with unfamiliar multisyllabic words is hold them up for suspicion and ridicule (instead of finding out what they actually mean) 
  • using big, confusing words in an educational setting to describe and analyze complex and ongoing modes of oppression is a radical plot to violently shove indoctrination "down the throats" of our nation's prostrate, defenseless youth
  • even though I freely admit that I don't know all that much about these things, you should still listen to me as I loudly and confidently tell you what you should think about them
  • everyone should be white, heterosexual, aggressive, pugnacious and rich like me, and if they're not then that's their own damn fault, so when in the hell are they ever going to stop whining like that?!

Did I miss anything?

And, if you know people who think like this -- about attempts in educational settings to address oppression, or otherwise -- how do you deal with them?

Finally, if you've been in courses that included material of the sort that Stossel and O'Reilly are so hot and bothered about here, did it work for you?


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Stossel Matters" segment tonight: an unbelievable situation at the University of Minnesota. Apparently the school's Twin Cities campus has put together a Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Force that would require education students to accept theories like "white privilege," "institutional racism," and "the myth of meritocracy" in the United States. Here now from New York, Fox News and Business anchor John Stossel, who has been looking into the situation.

Now this isn't in place yet. 2011, they want to put it in place. But this is about as far left as it gets, and education schools are known for this. But this is really over the top. How do you see it?

JOHN STOSSEL, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: Yes. Ed schools are known for this. Some of it's ridiculous. This is just a discussion at this point, fortunately. I talked to the dean, one of the faculty members even suggested a course in "heteronormativity," or at least a class in that.

O'REILLY: What is that?

STOSSEL: That means that you discriminate against people who aren't straight. So, you can't do that.

O'REILLY: Heteronormativity?

STOSSEL: Heteronormativity. But look --

O'REILLY: Oh. So if I'm a heteronormative, uh, I'm, uh, homophobic?

STOSSEL: You just assume everybody else is straight, and this might make you a bad teacher if you had a lot of gay kids in your class. I don't know. I don't presume to know. But this isn't as bad as it could be. Some of these ed schools are awful. This is one of the good ones. U.S. News rates it in the top 10 percent. Are you telling me you --

O'REILLY: Then why -- if it's one of the good ones, why do they want to get out into the radical left branch? I mean, look, they want to incorporate into this curriculum "white privilege," "hegemonic masculinity." I guess that means that men have all the power.


O'REILLY: You know, "internalized oppression." What is internalized oppression? What is that?

STOSSEL: Are you telling me you don't think there is white privilege in America? I mean, Obama notwithstanding?

O'REILLY: I think there is white privilege in America, and I think it should be discussed. I don't think it should be accepted as the way it was, say 50 years ago. You know, look, if you're going to push "America's a terrible place," which is what this is all about, and you tell your students America is a terrible place, I'm going to oppose you on every front.

STOSSEL: Well, I would, too. But I don't know that they're doing this. It's one of the best ed schools in the country. Are you telling me when you were a teacher, that you or some of your colleagues might not have been helped by a cultural sensitivity course? In some Asian cultures, it's impolite to look an adult in the eye. So if the kid is looking down, the teacher may think he's not paying attention when he's just being polite. That stuff's good to know.

O'REILLY: But what this is, is a continuation -- and this is the extreme -- a continuation of the theory on college campuses that America's a bad place. Look, we got problems in America. You know, the white majority has oppressed minorities, not just African-Americans, but others. Yes. But America is the best country in the world because it affords the most amount of people the biggest opportunity to pursue happiness under the freedom and capitalistic banner. This is a bunch of garbage because it emphasizes the negative. You know, it emphasizes everything bad about America. And that's what I object to. And that's what's being taught on all, you know, all these college campuses in the ed schools. That's what they're getting rammed down their throat.

STOSSEL: They often are. And I agree with you. But what really outrages me is that prospective teachers have to go to these ed schools in the first place, that the government monopoly on K through 12 education demands these degrees, many of which are lousy. Let the schools hire anybody they want. You or I or President Obama would not be allowed to teach in a public school, because of these --

O'REILLY: Well, if you pass this certification and you get in the union, you can teach. It doesn't matter if you have an ed degree or a history degree or an English degree.

STOSSEL: But in many places, you have to take the four to six years of college, spend $100,000 at a private school, $40,000 at a public school. Shouldn't have to.

O'REILLY: Well, I think you have to have a degree to teach, and you have to pass a certification course. But the fact remains is, that there's indoctrination taking place now all across the United States, and it's left-wing indoctrination. And surely as a libertarian, you can't support a left-wing indoctrination taking place. And that's what's going on in America's public schools by and large.

STOSSEL: But 87 percent of the teachers are white. Almost half the kids are not white anymore. Some training wouldn't hurt.

O'REILLY: Training about what?

STOSSEL: Training about how races may be different, how kids from other cultures may learn differently.

O'REILLY: OK, I'll cede you that there can be that kind of a presentation. But that's not what this Minnesota thing's about. This is about America's bad, ram it down your students' throat. And you and I know it, Stossel.

STOSSEL: If that's the case, I'm with you.

O'REILLY: All right. You ought to be. You ought to be with me all the time. John Stossel, everybody.


  1. I... hardly know where to begin.
    How about: I'm confused. Are these courses for teachers? If so, wouldn't you assume they're pedagogical? That is, this proposal would affect how teachers teach K-12 kids, not what they teach them. Right?

    And yeah: talk about willful ignorance. The tortured logical maneuverings of a man desperate not to understand.

  2. I would just like to point out how shocked I was to hear Bill O'Reilly admit that there is white privilege. However, "I don't think [white privilege] should be accepted as the way it was, say 50 years ago" makes no fucking sense. Also, if he admits that white privilege exists and it should be discussed, then how can he say that having classes in which to discuss it is the same thing as saying that America is a terrible place?


  3. I think that accepting the fact that white priviledge as a reality is difficult for those who have profited from it.

    As far as education being a hot bed of liberalism-I am not seeing this. What I am seeing is a move towards inclusion of all people in this society. Which is how it should be.

  4. Heteronormativity seemed to really throw them for a loop. And the argument that seeing and calling out oppression = being anti-American is patently ridiculous.

  5. Gawd. That is kinda funny. Such pompous pinheads!

    Yes, I had several courses that included analysis of white privilege. They opened my eyes to it, and started me on a route toward racial self-awareness (a route I'm still traveling on). Peggy McIntosh's article came up in two different classes, in two different ways. Both were revealing, to many of the students, including it seemed POC.

  6. I wish they were offering those classes right now, not 2011 when I'll have graduated and be standing in front of a class. I plan on taking it anyway, as soon as it's offered. The only class I ever had to take that was remotely related was a "Diversity 101" type class which was the most ridiculous waste of time. It's sad because a few of the Bill O'Reillys and John Stossels who were in the class really needed something more in-depth. The lack of that sort of education is what led me to this blog.

    O'REILLY: Yeah I know there's white privilege (because of my 1 Latino and 1 black friends' decades of reiteration to me that there is - backed up with some form of proof so I could affirm it). But since it doesn't affect *me* adversely (and secretly, I think my friends' examples aren't strong enough to suggest something systemic) - it must not be as bad as people say it is. So why should we (the privileged) waste our time teaching people to recognize it and stop practicing it?

  7. It should be noted that Bill O'Reilly is a widely ridiculed figure even within white culture.

  8. O'REILLY: "...this is about as far left as it gets, and education schools are known for this."

    I wonder what the difference is between "education schools" and regular, old fashioned schools.


    Getting White people to acknowledge White Privilege is right up there with getting them (I should say "us") to acknowledge that reparations are still owed -- it's often a minefield of ignorance (much of it willful) and indignation. Discussing either topic, in my experience, is often difficult if all participants don't have at least a basic understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies (racism, white privilege/supremacy, etc).

    Since students are have been and continue to be generally ill-educated or miseducated on the subject of slavery and its impact on their country's history (e.g. in US, students still erroneously taught that States rights, not slavery, was cause for South to secede from Union, causing US Civil War), if they're even educated on the subject at all (in Canada, our 200+ years of institutionalized slavery is almost completely absent from our history books, school classrooms), that basic understanding is missing.

    FYI, this is actually the subject of a documentary film I am currently producing:

  9. Ok. That was funny. Thanks for the laugh. I needed it this a.m.

    To quote my dad, some people don't know what they don't know.

  10. O'Reilly doesn't realise that heteronormativity, hegemonic masculinity and white privilege are common phenomenona world-wide. Thus mentioning them is not an attack on America... unless of course you want your America to be the embodiment of those things.

    O'Reilly seems to be comforting himself with his own propaganda. He hears about something that might challenge his worldview, and immediately retreats into his mantra of "America is the best country in the world."

    At least Stossel was kinda trying to be open-minded.

  11. Im:

    He's also a best-selling author and host of one of the highest-rated cable shows on TV. And THAT'S a problem. A ridiculous amount of people are buying into his bullshit.

  12. It seems fairly obvious that the dude knows NOTHING about what hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and white privilege actually is. If you're going to criticize something, do it after actually doing some research into that exact thing you're criticizing.
    Tho obviously that's asking way too much of Faux News.

    Also, even my conservative dad realizes that the "America is the best country in the whole world, therefore we are superior"-way of thinking is creepily nationalist and extremely ignorant. It's possible for you to have national pride without looking down on others.

  13. Since the United States was founded on White Supremacist ideals and is still essentially operated on those ideals, isn't it logical for an anti-racist to be considered "Un-American" ?

  14. If I had a nickel for every time someone called me anti-American.

    The sentiment gets even worse when you bring up mistreatment of Arabs and Muslims in the US.

  15. I think it bears mentioning that in many White Americans minds; American=White. So in a strange sort of way, saying Anti-American means Anti-White and why would anyone want to be so when it's the "Americans" whom have made America so great.

    Hope that makes some form of sense.

    I honestly CANNOT deal with people who think this way and believe me I have tried valiantly. I've cut off friends and lovers once they've divulged to me the fact that, deep down inside, they are clutching to their privilege with tight fists and feel threatened by any attempts to dismantle it or even discuss it. They won't tell me this overtly, but it will be subtle clues and overt derailment should I bring it up that ultimately leads me to believe that they are a lost cause.

    I even had one bloke say flat out; "We won, they (minorities) lost, it's evolution, get over it." I quickly severed ties with him. A lot of them don't want to learn, it's scary, and they honestly believe they are being "attacked" when that's certainly not the case. In my International Relations course it was not uncommon for white students to attempt to correct and define the experiences of other students, never mind that they were there to learn how to communicate and listen, not take charge and derail. I feel as if this course failed miserably in addressing a key issue in regards to international discussion from an "American" stand point- the fact that a predominance of Americans are white and thoroughly believe that their voice is the only rational, logical, unbiased one.

    I think I just rambled as there are so many thoughts, feelings, and memories this topic brings up.

    I hope I've weighed in somewhat worthily in comparison with other PoC commentators I've nodded along with on this blog.

  16. THis is why I cannot watch any tv news programs at all except for the BBC news and the News Hour b/c of stupid mindless crap like this. I also like my tv too much and don't want to go all Elvis on it, or hurl it out the window or throw things at it that might break it. This is also why it is a good thing that my office blocks most videos b/c I'm pretty sure I'd be branded as a nut case for breaking my monitor b/c I was watching a video on company time and it made me mad. Thank you for doing a transcript, Macon. I will also refrain from actually watching it at home either b/c much like my tv, I like my Macbook too much.

  17. It was almost as if John Stossel was trying to be subversive or subtlety resistant by introducing the idea that the teachers should not have to take any education classes at all. Sort of reminded me of the Bird Cage when Nathan Lane's character said "the mother should go down with the ship" when referring to abortion.

  18. re: O'Reilly's mantra, "America is the best country in the world."

    What could make the US a better country, in my opinion, is considering the possibility that it's not the best. When the background assumption is "best," then, as O'Reilly demonstrates, any attempt at improvement is seen as superfluous: If it's already the best, what can social critics be doing but trying to tear it down? Giving up the notion that there is some kind of ranking of countries would be a big step in actually making things better for most Americans, whether in the US, Canada, Mexico or any other country in this hemisphere. People who never doubt themselves are neurotic, and a society that never doubts itself is a danger to the whole world.

    One problem I have had in teaching one of these courses about white privilege is that it's hard to get a working definition of white privilege when it's understood to mean different things depending on one's point of view. O'Reilly and his ilk appear to think either that white privilege is synonymous with white racism or that it's a "new" and completely different thing that relates to their economic status. Of course it's neither. What I have to repeat constantly in my class is that white privilege, as understood by social critics who coined the term, is a by-product of racism, the flip side, if you will (dated metaphor, I know). It is the advantage that gives meaning to disadvantage. It is different from white entitlement, which a white person can wield and assert to lord it over non-white people. White privilege is only given, cannot be given away, cannot be taken, cannot be used for good or ill. (Using white privilege to combat racism sounds to me like using a gun to treat a bullet wound.) White privilege exists only because racism exists, so it is threatened only insofar as racism is threatened. As such, white people have no stake in white privilege, no reason to defend it or to feel attacked by efforts to name, analyze and eliminate it. Please forgive me for going overboard, but this is a constant issue for me. I would like to know whether these definitions resonate or not with PoC and other WP here.

  19. I keep watching that video again and again; I'm just fascinated. The thing that strikes me is how close O'Reilly kept coming to understanding, before just running away again. It was like watching a kid play tag with the tide at the beach: ohohoh aaalmost got me RUN AWAY! Like at the end, where Stossel says "some training wouldn't hurt," and O'Reilly's response is, "(pause) training about what?!" Sigh. Also, gotta love how he firmly associates the current kyriarchy with "everything bad about America"... but he doesn't seem to want to do anything about that? The solution is to ignore it? Classic white.

    And there's Stossel... also fascinating. He's being surprisingly rational, yet practically apologizing— for his stance? for the reality? for ruffling Bill? He seemed so bummed. And color me shocked that he seemed to kinda know what he was talking about (although notice he was not about to touch "internalized oppression;" also, his "Asian kids look down" example made me cringe).

    Last thing... notice the title the uploader gave the video: "white guilt 101." Heh!

  20. There is just so much wrong with this that I don't know where to start. It's very head-explodey to watch. Does O'Reilly realize he's parodying himself with the "Hate America" crap he's spewing? I wish I could say no one takes him seriously, but PEOPLE TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY.

    Also, I'm heteronormative, so is Michael Eric Dyson, and Debra Messing(who support gay rights). Most straight people who support gay rights are heteronormative. Meaning: I dress like a man is expected to dress, talk like a man is expected to talk, I'm attracted to women, and by and large behave like a man is expected to behave in this society. That's being heteronormative. Having a world-view that is restricted to heteronormativity is a different thing. Never mind the fact that training a teacher to deal with homophobia as a social phenomenon is hardly impractical- not that this stopped them from objecting to such a thing.


  21. bloglogger said...
    "One problem I have had in teaching one of these courses about white privilege is that it's hard to get a working definition of white privilege when it's understood to mean different things depending on one's point of view. O'Reilly and his ilk appear to think either that white privilege is synonymous with white racism or that it's a "new" and completely different thing that relates to their economic status."

    "There are none so blind as those who will not see." O'Reilly is just one influential white man in a sea of many, able to reach millions with his denial. This is especially troubling when you tie white advantage/privilege to the flag and patriotism. Your O'Reilly's and your Becks and your Tea Partiers aren't even going to acknowledge such a thing as white privilege. "That's Commie-talk, and that's whats wrong with this whole damn country!" they'll say.

  22. I may add more later, but in the interim, I think EVERY TIME John Stossel's name appears, it should be in accompaniment with this vid.

  23. @Boxcutter Bombshell

    "I think it bears mentioning that in many White Americans minds; American=White."

    exactly this. i've been thinking about this for a while, especially since 9/11 when so many more mainstream, nationalist zealots have come out of the woodwork. (i actually hoped SO hard before they found out about Bin Laden that the 9/11 attacks were done by a Timothy McVeigh-type, or i knew there was going to be a brand new resurgence of some serious racism.) there is a real grasping from people (especially some WP) to define what exactly makes someone a "Real American".

    i don't really have anyone left in my life that subscribes to these types of ideals, but i grew up surrounded by them. i don't know if it's sad, or just a way to protect myself from having an aneurism, but because i used to be faced all of the time with the "you're-trying-to-ram-your-pc-bullshit-down-our-throats" argument, i've usually just chosen to walk away.

    i had the opportunity to do a lot of critical race and gender theory in college, and it was fantastic--intellectually and personally. i finally had the words to describe all of the things i had experienced out in the world, and new allies to discuss it with. it was, of course, a much safer space to discuss things than a public school might be, since it was in a college-level seminar, and was filled with people who were really open to what was being discussed--even when it was hard to talk about.

    i've always liked this Al Franken quote:

    "If you listen to a lot of conservatives, they'll tell you that the difference between them and [liberals] is that conservatives love America and liberals hate America.... They don't get it. We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a 4-year-old loves her Mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups.

    To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world."

  24. @bloglogger,
    I totally agree on the "America is the greatest country in the world thing." Because you know what? Even if it is, I'm not satisfied! It could be even better. I never understand why the O'Reilly's of the world think it's not possible for America to be improved. Even if you feel it's the "best country in the world," that doesn't mean it's the best country it's possible to be. But at some level they clearly think it is, because they assume that any change would necessarily be a change for the worse. Enough with the laurel-resting! Those laurels are too damn old n' tattered to still be waving them around like that.

    As for defining white privilege, I generally describe it as "the benefit of the doubt on steroids."
    It's simply a different set of rules for judging white people/behavior— eg: "the stanky leg" is inappropriate and disgusting, but "the hokey pokey" is innocent fun. Tarantino is a subversive pop cultural genius, but Jibbs is not.* Black nightclubs are super dangerous; white clubs are perfectly safe— no matter what happens inside them. "Why do white people commit so many crimes?" is not a common refrain— they don't, and how dare you suggest that they do! Brown people are highly prone to clannish criminal activity; white people are most certainly not. [Sidebar: seems like a few well-known white gangs are missing from that list, no? Ah, privilege!]. And so on.

    Clearly, it's not a synonym for "white racism," because white privilege exists independent of whether one accepts/utilizes it. One blogger likend white privilege to a reserved seat on a train**— whiteness doesn't guarantee that you'll get to the station (ie: it doesn't eliminate the possibility that you may suffer from the lack of some other privilege), but if you do, a seat is waiting. Being white means that if and when you ride, you don't ever have to ride standing. And I'd add that it does in fact make the trip to the station easier— as another blogger put it, privilege is driving a smooth road and not even knowing it: "of course, everyone [...] will hit occasional bumps on the road. And everyone, white men included, has put out some sort of effort to get where they got. But when the folks on the smoother road go faster and further, let’s not pretend it’s because they’re better drivers."

    *"Do Your Chain Hang Low" is possibly one of the most subversive songs I have EVER heard. It's sooo not my kind of music, and I don't know what else he's done, but I'm in awe. I nearly fell out of my chair the first time I heard it (on some ad for a ringtone, no less!). Why? Because it's set to the tune of the playground chant "Do Your Ears Hang Low"... aka the popular, well-known folk song "Turkey in the Straw"... aka that heartwarming comic favorite, "Zip Coon."
    YEAAAH! Oh shit is right.
    Did Jibbs did that on purpose? I choose to assume he did. (I'm certainly not going to assume he doesn't have the brains and the insight, just because he makes "that music.")

    **This is a mirror of the original post; I'm using this link because I just love the photo on the page!

  25. My understanding of what O'Reilly is talking about is that a task force at Univ. of Minnesota came up with a report making recommendations about how students at the school of education (i.e. a school to teach future teachers) should be taught. From what I've read it's not clear whether the task force is advocating that students take a certain class dealing with the topics that O'Reilly's talking about or trying to work these topics into the overall curriculum.

    Either way, I'm not sure whether I agree with O'Reilly, but I don't think teachers should be required to learn highly politically charged theory like this. In a public school training future public school teachers there's a gross indoctrination feel to the whole thing.

  26. Woody,

    Thanks for the video link. Yours is a bit "malformed," though, so here it is again.

  27. @RedGuards re: "Either way, I'm not sure whether I agree with O'Reilly, but I don't think teachers should be required to learn highly politically charged theory like this. In a public school training future public school teachers there's a gross indoctrination feel to the whole thing."

    The most frequent comment that I get from white students who take my white privilege class is that they wish something like it had been taught to them in K-12. I think that's what the U of Minnesota has in mind, and I support it on behalf of my students. When will it be OK to teach this? When will it not be a politically charged theory? I don't pretend that it's a perfect analogy, but did the constant political controversy around evolution keep schools from teaching it to future teachers? Evolution remains embattled politically, but it remains a part of public school curricula.

  28. did anyone notice that right when o'reilly was puzzling over what Heteronormativity might mean-they put up a picture of the school's...erm....possibly non-'heteronormative'-appearing Dean?

    i dug a bit and determined that she is indeed gay/lesbian. or rather, ALMOST CERTAINLY is.

    my take was that showing her picture RIGHT THEN(it's at 1:01) is the producers way of saying in a subtle way; 'do you want someone like THIS educating our youth?'

  29. @MissC:
    I love your analogy about neocons=bratty little children and liberals=grown-ups. My fear is that it appears that a segment of our brainwashed citizens are going right along with the neocon philosophy. I feel that I cannot have rational conversations with neocons because I'm told to go live in N. Korea, China or go back to Africa.

  30. "the stanky leg" is inappropriate and disgusting, but "the hokey pokey" is innocent fun. Tarantino is a subversive pop cultural genius, but Jibbs is not.* Black nightclubs are super dangerous; white clubs are perfectly safe— no matter what happens inside them. "Why do white people commit so many crimes?" is not a common refrain— they don't, and how dare you suggest that they do! Brown people are highly prone to clannish criminal activity; white people are most certainly not."

    this is supposed to be what I believe? i don't think so.

  31. @bloglogger

    I happen to see a huge difference between teaching evolutionary theory and anti-racist theory. You probably don't.

    Public school curricula are inherently political. There will always be a struggle over who gets to interject their political views, and there will always be in-groups and out-groups. Back in the 1950s kids used to be taught about the evils of communism and crazy stuff like how to survive an A-bomb attack. Then things slowly shifted to the left to the point where now teachers are compelled to learn and expound a new ideology. The politics are always there, serving some groups' interests.

    It's repulsive (to me, at least). And yet I admit it's probably impossible to keep out of the schools. Personally, I'd rather that somehow politics be kept out of the public schools altogether, and critical thinking skills taught in their place. Give the kids the tools to make up their own minds when they're older rather than having state-sanctioned political instruction.

  32. Hi everyone, never commented here before.
    @bloglogger - I am a WP and it does resonate with me. I am also British and this debate is making me think of when privately educated, wealthy middle class men deny outright that class and gender is an issue in the UK that they made it to 'the top' because they worked so hard or whatever.
    Obviously it is holding on to privilege but another major part of it is they do not want to have to admit to themselves that maybe they did not get to be such big important men on TV purely because they are brilliant. Maybe others who are equally or even more brilliant have been held back while they have been elevated.
    Inside whenever they allow for that thought it fills them with doubt and anger.

  33. @RedGuards,
    How is it a "politically charged theory"? Is American slavery a politically charged subject? The internment of the Japanese? McCarthyism? How about Vietnam? Patriarchal social systems?
    Please explain.

    I don't understand this notion (from you and O'Reilly) that it's "indoctrination" to talk about these things. You can compare the tenets of the theory to what you observe around you and accept it or reject it. For that matter, you could do the same with the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. You're not required t "believe" it, you're just required to understand it.

  34. @jas0nburns
    It's not always about you.

  35. I think Bill O'Reilly is a way a lot of "liberal" white people avoid thinking about their own privilege. "I'm not racist - I'm not like Bill O'Reilly! THAT's what racism is and I'm not like that!" And thusly reassured, they continue blithely on with their lives.

    So even if his message isn't taken by them the way he intended, it comforts those who "couldn't possibly" be racist.

  36. @ karinova
    your right.

    a better way to say it would be...does it matter that hardly anyone actually thinks any of that stuff is true?

    or are you saying just the fact that some people think that way is enough to make it real for everyone.

  37. @karinova

    You can have many different political points of view when it comes to teaching the historical events you're talking about i.e. anti-racist, feminist, queer, socialist, conservative, reactionary, fascist, etc.

    Unless you're teaching a history of science class, or something like that, there's really only one point of view when it comes to teaching evolutionary theory or calculus. At least I'm not aware of a "socialist" way to teach calculus or a "paleoconservative" way to teach chemistry.

    That's one of the differences between the hard sciences and the humanities.

    The indoctrination that I object to is the idea that people training to become teachers are required to be exposed to politically motivated instruction that may not have much to do with being succesful teachers, but which furthers some political agenda or another. I would have a problem no matter what agenda it is. In other words, I think you can be an excellent science teacher without knowing anything about "white privilege" or "heteronormativity."

    (I also want to add that I've only had time to read a couple of short articles about what is going on up there - I may have it wrong.)

  38. RedGuards wrote,

    The indoctrination that I object to is the idea that people training to become teachers are required to be exposed to politically motivated instruction that may not have much to do with being succesful teachers, but which furthers some political agenda or another. I would have a problem no matter what agenda it is. In other words, I think you can be an excellent science teacher without knowing anything about "white privilege" or "heteronormativity."

    Do you think those who are pushing for teachers of such subjects as History, English, or Sociology to address such things in their classes as white privilege and heteronormativity are inappropriately pushing a "political agenda"?

  39. Gotta say that I really wish that jas0nburns would stop dragging these threads down below 101 level. It's mighty tiresome.

  40. I'm sure that teachers that are ignorant of their priviliges will be just fantastic teachers to those who share those privileges. Of course, my concern lies with those students who are most at risk for being oppressed by their own teachers.

  41. @ RedGuards

    Teaching isn't just about the subject material.

    Think of things like word problems on tests--if every test has a question that starts something like "Beth and Jim are on a date..." and you never see "Beth and Allie are on a date...", that's heteronormativity.

    Or dropping a little comment like, "Gentlemen, if your girlfriend wants [etc]," or not knowing that a certain phrase is derogatory slang for homosexual and using it from time to's little stuff like that.

    As far as white privilege goes, think of things like calling on white males more often than MOC or women of any race; or, in a science lab, if the teacher assigns partners and lab stations, and the two Black kids get the station with the leaky natural gas line and the Bunsen burner that doesn't quite work.

    Or there's prejudice in grading, when it comes to partial credit. Obviously the white and Asian kids know what they're talking about, so surely they deserve at least half credit, but that Native American kid, well, she just messed up so quarter credit.

    Gender-wise, there have been some recent studies suggesting that the whole "boys are better than girls at math and science" meme is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, if no one tells girls they aren't supposed to be as good at math as the boys...they're just as good. And if teachers are operating with the mindset that boys are naturally better at it, it WILL show through in some way.

    But it's not like the teacher is (necessarily) thinking any of that consciously--it's the background filter that shades the way we do things. Becoming aware of that filter helps us know how to avoid looking through it. That's why it's so helpful for future (and current!) teachers to take diversity ed classes.

  42. @jas0nburns:
    "does it matter that hardly anyone actually thinks any of that stuff is true?"

    Okay, WTF? Where are you getting that?
    Support that statement.
    Because I most certainly disagree, and I can back up my stance all day [I'm referring to the United States, btw].
    1) am I confused about Quentin Tarantino’s reputation? Mmm... no. No, I don’t think I am. Call me when Jibbs wins a Grammy. (Not likely! Lord knows he can't even hold a candle to... Eminem?! Wait... what??

    2) you might want to click the links I included. Question: why do you suppose that first list of gangs doesn't include a) a "white" category, or b) the second list? Hmmm.

    3) watch the two videos in this SWPD post. (Don't read the post until you've watched both.) Compare your reactions. Compare the YouTube comments on the two videos.

    4) this is what you get when you ask Google why white people commit so much crime. Now replace "white" with "black" and compare. FYI, I am very, very, VERY good at using Google, and I couldn't get one hit relating to the first question. Not ONE!

  43. @macon

    Do you think those who are pushing for teachers of such subjects as History, English, or Sociology to address such things in their classes as white privilege and heteronormativity are inappropriately pushing a "political agenda"?

    I think an anti-racist point of view could be taught alongside other povs. I remember in my 11th grade-level social studies class we had an assignment to look at a historical event from many different povs, I think there was a Marxist, a conservative and some other povs - it was a great assignment. So no, I don't think exposing kids to anti-racist theory is bad. I also don't think it needs to be mandatory. Like I said before, I'd rather kids learn how to think rather than what to think.

    As far as those who are lobbying to get anti-racist theory or whatever taught in public schools - do I think it's inappropriate? Not sure. I think it's quite natural for any political group to lobby for their interests in every possible arena. I wish they wouldn't make the public schools into a political battlefield, but it does seem rather inevitable. Also, the idea of a politically-neutral public educational setting that does not reflect the ideology of those in power is probably naive.

    Perhaps that's why many turn to home schooling and private schools? They're sick of the public schools being used as pet projects for whoever the in-group is?

  44. @RedGuards

    It sure would be nice if you stopped referring to anti-racism - you know, the kind of work that needs to be done if my children are ever going to be accepted as fully human - as a fucking political agenda or "pet project." Your unabashed displays of privilege are rather gross, actually.

  45. @ RedGuards
    I'm not at all satisfied by your reply. I'm not sure it addresses what I was asking. Again: taking a course and understanding the material does not require or compel you to uncritically "believe" the theory. (I took Bible classes twice a week for 8 years, and I don't believe any of it! But bet your ass, I know my Bible.) For example, the fact that women were and are systematically discriminated against is not "merely" some political idea; it's, well, a fact. Would you call a course on suffrage or the ERA "politically motivated indoctrination"?

    I look around me, and I see certain phenomena— redlining, profiling, double standards, microaggressions, etc. The theory of white privilege explains the phenomena very, very well. Furthermore, there is no other theory. So the choices, as I see them, are: address the theory of white privilege or (continue to) pretend the unexplained phenomena are not happening. This is just like hard science. You are totally free to believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth, but if you want to pass physics, you need to comprehend the Copernican system. (And if you stick with Ptolemy, it's up to you to try to figure out why your calculations don't come out right... or, ignore that they're not coming out right.)

    Y'know what I think? I think you're calling it "political," but you really mean "potentially uncomfortable/contentious." I think you, like whoever uploaded this video, see a direct and immediate connection to "white guilt." Does the risk of triggering white guilt obviate the need to teach about, say, the Atlantic slave trade, or Jim Crow? It does not. So what's the difference?

  46. @RedGuards,
    Oh, and as for "instruction that may not have much to do with being succesful teachers," I'd like you to go to this comment thread, and do a Ctrl-F for the word "school." Please make sure to click RVCBard's "shit like this" linke.

  47. @ RedGuards: "I think you can be an excellent science teacher without knowing anything about "white privilege" or "heteronormativity."

    This is a very misguided way to look at science and at science education in general. Take it from me, a Latina scientist who had to fight her way through throngs of white males to earn a degree, if you think that white privilege and heteronormativity are not alive and thriving in science classrooms and putting talented non-white students at a disadvantage, you are seriously deluding yourself.

    The NIH disagrees with you, by the way. They fund a program designed to increase minority participation in research science. They paid for my education, by the way, hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time the dust settled.

    And yet, the NIH itself is often referred to as "The Plantation" because all the top P.I.s are white males and all the lab scientists are brown folks like me.

    So yeah, science teachers need to be aware of how white privilege shapes science and scientists from day one.

  48. Bill admitted white privilege? That really surprised me. He's still a moron and a bigot, but he surpassed my expectations just a little bit.

  49. Ha! Only now am I noticing that "White Guilt 101" is actually the title of the segment. That is, they [the show] called it that.

    Oh, I am tickled! I don't know why, but I find that so funny!

  50. I don't know why, but I find that so funny!

    I do too, and I also don't know why I find that funny. I've actually been wondering about it lately, this "white guilt" meme, which gets thrown around so much by the same folks who accuse those who consider racism an ongoing problem of "blaming whitey." Just today, I read a comment somewhere else that called spwd "just another white-guilt blog." What do people really mean when they say that?

    I'm still trying to put my finger on it. I think it is, of course, a way of dismissing any serious discussion of racism . . . but, it does so in such a weird way. It's like they're claiming that "the only reason you're trying to bring up racism is to make me feel guilty!" And on top of that, "There's not even any good reason for me to feel guilty -- I never owned slaves!" Both of which fail, of course, to address at all what those who claim that racism is still a serious problem are even talking about.

    And that's only part of it, I think. It's also a way of saying, sometimes at least, "There wouldn't even be racial problems if YOU wouldn't keep bringing them up, trying to make me feel guilty, just because I'm white." ("Amen," Kid Rock would say.)

    And still another part of it is, I think people who use the phrase "white guilt" actually do feel kind of guilty about being white. Somehow, some way, in a way they can't put a finger on, and in a way they'd rather just try to forget, if only those damn liberals would let them.

  51. >> "I don't know why, but I find that so funny!"

    Because they've taken diversity training, the one thing that is very specifically NOT supposed to be about white heterosexual men...and made it all about white heterosexual men.

  52. @karinova

    the point on gangs is well taken. as is the youtube and yahoo answers stuff. although people who post on youtube and yahoo answers are the lowest common denominator.

    jibbs didn't take credit for knowing the origins of the song, if you don't take credit for your work you don't get credit. if he had taken credit he would likely be way more famous and as fame is the goal of most artists i would argue he probably didn't know or he would have said so. do you have any other examples of unrecognized pop culture subversive geniuses with a more extensive body of work to make a comparison?

  53. [Manju, to compare what happens in college classrooms to the slave trade and Nazi death camps is trivializing, insulting, and ultimately racist. Take your wide-eyed fear-mongering elsewhere. ~macon]

  54. @jas0nburns,
    I shouldn't be answering you as it's waaay OT (really, Google's your buddy!), but the subject is kind of a sore one for me. So:
    1) Who wrote the first rock n' roll song? It's really, really hard to say. But while there's obvious and straightforward case to be made as to what the “first rock n’ roll record” was, surprise! there's no “official” consensus. ...Eeexcept that 9 out of 10 people will tell you that it was “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley. He straight up called it rock n’ roll. And the fact that it was the first to hit #1 seals the deal. Case closed! ...Eeexcept that “Rocket 88” hit #1 on the national R&B chart in 1951. (Which is separate, and not equal to, the “regular” singles chart. To this day.) [Fun fact: A few months after "Rocket 88" came out, a cover version was recorded by... none other than Bill Haley. It was a local hit, “and started Haley along the musical road which led to his own impact on popular music with (wait for it... wait for it...) ‘Rock Around the Clock’.” How 'bout that.]

    2) Click that Eminem link and be appalled. He has ELEVEN Grammys. Dr. Dre has FOUR— and 2 were for producing Eminem. [Subversive sidebar: Dre won a Grammy in 2001 (the same year "The Marshall Mathers LP" swept the awards) for “Forgot About Dre,” which featured Eminem. There he his, having to sing his own damn praises, and then— like a master!— he pulls out Eminem talking about “motherfuckers act like they forgot about Dre” and wins a Grammy for it. You have to love that.]

  55. @macon,
    I think your last paragraph gets at what I find so weirdly humorous about the "white guilt" response. These people are telling me something about themselves that they don't mean to be telling me. (Eurasian Sensation got at it too: an attack on racism is not an attack on America unless your idea of America is primarily defined by racism.) They're going, "all you want is for me to feel guilty!" like that's some devastating accusation. Clearly, they do feel guilty. But I have never EVER heard an anti-racist of any kind calling for, or trying to induce, guilt on the part of oppressors. Guilt is generally not helpful. Their guilt is coming from within. And I only know about it because they're CONSTANTLY denying it. They're just... such bad liars!

  56. Thanks karinova, that helps to clarify it.

    And, in addition to their own guilt, they're also talking about mine, and other white people who care about oppression. Even though they do feel white guilt at some level, they're accusing me of feeling it, and telling me that I shouldn't be feeling that way, "cuz there's nothing to feel guilty about, it's all in the past, playing field's level now," and on and on.

  57. PS--Hey everyone, fwiw, my hit counter at the bottom of the page just flipped over a million today.


    Thanks for all the page-views!

  58. We all know that O'Reilly is a complete dumb fuck but you can't say that what he says represents white beliefs. This is coming from the same guy who agreed with Pat Robertson that the earthquake in Haiti was because of the slave revolt and making a deal with the devil to gain freedom from the white French (who interestingly, O'Reilly also hates). So just because this lunatic is white does not mean that he represents white beliefs. That's bullshit.

  59. Craig,

    You really should read more carefully. Did you just read the name of the blog, see Billo's name in the post, and then dash off your comment?

    First of all, no one on this blog claims that any beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or actions are simply "white" ones that all white people hold. Look at this blog's subtitle -- there ARE "common" white beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and actions, and this blog is mainly about identifying and understanding them.

    So, you should take another look at the bulleted list in this post, and then the comments here -- if you do so, you'll see, and maybe come to better understand, a LOT of common white feelings and beliefs.

  60. Speaking as someone who is actually in one of these classes, I find my self in the odd position of being in agreement with O'reilly on some of these topics. It's not a comfortable place, and I'd like to move out of it.

    Unfortunately, I have to be honest and say "I believe in what he says about 'Ultra Liberal Indoctrination'. I'm going to claim all, or even most, classes are like this. But the two I've had that really do focus on Race in an American Context, really are all about why America sucks. I wouldn't have a problem with this, if said classes weren't a literature class on graphic novels and an introduction to American Studies class.

    Talking about race has it's place, but endlessly harping about how all whites are racist, or at least the vast majority are, and how we all believe in racist stereotypes because of how flawed our culture is, is no less racist than saying all black people love watermelon. You can't talk about race while painting an entire race with the same brush. It's offensive, it's wrong, and it comes across as attempted indoctrination. Especially, since, rather than guilt, we get most of these lectures from immigrant Asians who are mortally when students, even those of asian decent, as why it's racist when America does this, but fine when China or Japan have historical done the same activities. (Hint: Because It's America/Britain/Rome's fault that China/Japan did those activities). Apparently Hegemony is a product of the west only, and until we exported it, no one other population ever exercised it or imperialism/colonialism on it's neighbors.


Please see the "commenting guidelines" before submitting a comment.

hit counter code