March 28, 2005

Social Ambush, Cowardice, and Stupidity: Some New Academic Standards

by Jerome du Bois

Two weeks ago some students, parents, teachers and administrators at West Seattle High School performed a social ambush on a Marine Corp Major, a veteran of Iraq. Both Sound Politics and Michelle Malkin have covered it well, and I was about to take the Major's eight questions and concerns and run down their present status. But rereading Principal Susan Dersé's juking and jiving, her clogged ambivalent verbiage, as well as the stale bureaucratese of the Seattle School Board, reminded me too much of the cowardly side-stepping we got in emails from Christine Schild of the Scottsdale Unified School District.

So here I'm going to quote the Major's letter in full, then point the reader to the relevant posts by Sound Politics and Michelle Malkin. When the reader returns, I'm going to briefly touch on three things: (1) social ambush as a widespread tactic of the empty-headed left, (2) some insights gleaned from a radio interview with the student organizer, who, though dumb as a bag of hammers, manages to show his cruelty, and (3) the abysmally low test scores of West Seattle High students as a partial explanation for their nasty, brutish behavior.

Before we continue, though, a couple of notes: These WSH students call themselves Students Take A Stand, yet only one has come forward. Not one other student, much less a parent, teacher, staff member, who took part in the ambush, or supports this group, has proudly stepped forward to defend their work. Why not? What's it going to be --Students Take A Dump? Students Take Off Running? Step up!

Finally, a local note: tonight the Scottsdale Unified School Board meets at Coronado High School. We've listed some questions elsewhere about Islam in Arizona schools (in our four-part series). We urge concerned parents to take this list to that meeting and ask these questions. (You might also want to check the size of the wedge of Intelligent Design.) Thanks.

[Update: Oops. I got my date wrong. The SUSD meeting is 7 PM tonight, Tuesday, March 29, 2005, at Coronado High School in Scottsdale.]

From Sound Politics:

This is a letter written by Major Thomas to the school board.

March 14, 2005
Seattle Public Schools
Attn: School Board & Superintendent
P.O. Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Dear Seattle School Board and Superintendent:

It is with extreme and heartfelt regret, anger and utter dismay that I find myself having to write this letter to your attention given my family’s deep personal ties to West Seattle High School.

This past Friday afternoon, March 11, 2005 I served as one of a panel of guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater after having been invited to West Seattle High School by a student, Mr. Ben Doty, via referral from Ms. Nadine Gulit of Operation Support Our Troops. I served as one of a panel of approximately seven guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater. The topic on which I was invited to speak was my experience as a combat veteran of the war in Iraq. I was informed that I would have an opportunity to speak to students, along with other veterans as part of an objective forum with both anti-war and pro-troops sentiments. It was my understanding the purpose of this event was to provide students of West Seattle High School with an opportunity to hear from people with varied opinions on the war. I am pleased that my remarks were welcomed by the student audience. The panel of guests, though varied in opinion, was most professional in all aspects of a disagreeable but respectful discourse.

Why, then, am I writing to you? Upon entering the theater at 12:30 PM, approximately 15 minutes prior to the event, I was taken aback by what I witnessed. As I stood there in my Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform, there before me stood numerous kids running around in sloppily dressed and ill-fitted helmets and military fatigues with utter disrespect for the symbols and uniforms of the U.S. military. The walls were covered in camouflaged netting and the stage was covered with approximately twenty white, life-sized cut-out patterns in the shape of dead women and children, all of which were splattered in red-paint to depict human blood. Onstage, children were kneeling and weeping while dressed in ill-fitted Arabic headdress with white-faced masks similarly covered in red paint to depict human blood. At a podium, children were reading a monologue of how U.S. troops were killing civilians and shooting at women and children. Moreover, several grown adults were standing on stage in bright orange jump-suits, with black bags on and off their heads, some bound and tied, and some banging symbols and gongs in a crude depiction of what I believe were their efforts to depict victims of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse episode.

Within the auditorium, numerous adults appeared to have been supervising this behavior and children were literally running amok. [1] What is going on in your classrooms and auditoriums? [2] Who supervised this program? [3] Who are these grown adults dressed as prisoners and performing such the attics on the stage of our public schools? [4] Since when has it become Seattle School Board policy to take an official anti-troops position and declare returning combat veterans from Iraq such as myself as killers of innocent women and children as if this war were some sick sport. As an Iraq war veteran I am outraged by what I witnessed going on at West Seattle High School!

My fellow veterans and I were immediately made to feel unwelcome by these organizers as if each of us were the devil himself; indiscriminate killers and enemies of our own community. To someone's credit, all of this nonsense was ceased less than one minute prior to the curtain going up. I can only assume someone realized how sickly embarrassing this would be for the school district. However, this last minute cover-up does not excuse what was going on and it appears to have been going on for quite sometime given the obviously lengthy art and script preparation developed for this event. I and the other veterans from Afghanistan, the Balkans and Ms. Gulit from Operation Support Our Troops were all witness to this ugly spectacle along with over 40 or so people that appeared to be willingly participating in this depravity.

I have served my country honorably for nearly 13 years all around this globe. I have fought on the battlefield in Iraq, lost good friends dead and wounded in this conflict and I will not sit back and allow our Seattle school district to shame or sully the name, reputation and good name of our military and our returning veterans. I will not tolerate an ill-administered school bureaucracy that seeks to sanction, condone, advocate or chaperon a vile position that Americas military men and women are somehow blood thirsty, indiscriminate murderers, executioners or war criminals.

[5] I am requesting a meeting with your board as soon as possible to explain and address this issue and [6] a letter should be written to the parents of West Seattle High School students making them aware of Fridays events explaining how and why it occurred. [7] A full accounting of those teachers, counselors, parents, groups and adults that were allowed preferential access on to the campus to advocate for this particular position, use school facilities and develop these abhorrent materials is expected immediately. [8] Lastly a public letter of apology is due the Seattle community with apologetic cordiality extended to the returning Iraq war veterans of this community for the shameful antics going on in our public schools with an assurance that this sort of sick nonsense will not be condoned or tolerated in Seattle public schools now or ever.

Sincerely,
Terry Thomas
Major, USMCR
Combat Veteran– Operation Iraqi Freedom
P.O. Box 31406
Seattle, WA 98103

Superintendent (206)252-0100 Raj Manhas
rsmanhas@seattleschools.org
Communications Director (206)252-0200 Peter Daniels
wpdaniels@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 1 (206)252-0052 Sally Soriano
sally.soriano@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 2 (206)252-0031 Darlene Flynn
darlene.flynn@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 3 (206)729-3202 Brita Butler-Wall
brita.butler-wall@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 4 (206)297-4533 Dick Lilly
dick.lilly@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 5 (206)720-3303 Mary Bass
mary.bass@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 6 (206)933-5338 Irene Stewart irene.stewart@seattleschools.org
School Board MemberDistrict 7 (206)760-4747 Jan Kumasaka jan.kumasaka@seattleschools.org
West Seattle High School Principal (206) 252-8800 Susan Derse scderse@seattleschools.org

[Please, reader, email them all!]

I have handily numbered the Major's questions, concerns and demands. He meets with the School Board up there today, so maybe we'll have more news in the next couple of days, but I doubt he'll get much satisfaction. These people are like greasy bbs or blobs of mercury. Sound Politics has posted about it here, here, and here (wherein the Principal "replies"). And Michelle Malkin here, here, and here.

Back to the ambush: these people knew exactly what, how, where, and why they were doing. No matter how it may be explained later, the act itself is the most important thing. Like pouring blood on Selective Service files, indelibly staining and ruining them, exposing the Major to this filth --to make him take it, to make him share their stink, as I've written elsewhere-- is crucial. So is deception, of course. The major would certainly have not shown up if he had known what he would face. They knew it, and they took advantage of the venue. That's the third crucial criterion for the new ambushers. When a teacher --4th Grade, 10th Grade, professor in a university-- uses a captive audience to promote a political agenda, that's an ambush.

When Ward Churchill and his crew blocked a Columbus Day Parade, they were entirely dependent on the existence of the Parade. Nobody would care if they marched or demonstrated elsewhere; there would be nothing to block. Nobody would be inconvenienced. Nobody would have to stand there and take it. The whole point is disruption of someone else's legally-organized energy. (Ward Churchill's deepest dream is to come galloping up over the rise in the moonlit night, leading his murderous crew, screaming like a banshee and shaking his lethal long lance at the peaceful circle of startled settlers.)

Here in Phoenix last December an America-hating pendejo professor named John Jota Leaños and his crew of sycophantic student zombies pasted up his Pat Tillman posters on private buildings downtown during the First Friday Artwalk. Again, he was entirely dependent on energy organized for other reasons. On his own, he couldn't bring that many people together in a million years. He loves ambush. He requires it. He teaches a class on it. It's "Interventionist art," don't you know. (Well, as I've let him know before, he comes on my private property, he'll have blood in his eyes.)

That's why a lot of these hard leftists loved 9/11 --it was the ultimate ambush.

Smearing, lying, slandering, and subverting civil behavior. These are some of the new academic standards I refer to in the title. As for the product of this system, the student "leader" of the ambush (Ben Doty? I'm not sure) was interviewed on Seattle radio. I don't have a transcript, but a couple of commenters on Sound Politics listened to it and relay some, to me, revealing information about the workings of this young man's "mind."

Chuck Miller posted this on March 16:

If you listened to the interview, as I did, then you would know TEACHERS WERE INVOLVED in the entire process. TEACHERS gave advice and input and that was followed and incorporated into the "skit". That's straight from the lead student organizer who was being interviewed.

This student "leader" was also about as eloquent as one might expect from a student body with the low test scores Matt posted. When asked what sources students drew on for their depictions of American soldiers killing women and children he drew a complete blank. Worse was what he said on his own, without prompting --that they wanted to set a mood for people coming in to think and be receptive, so they knew they had to be provocative. Well, which is it laddie? Do you want the audience contemplative or provoked? Do you know the difference? Plainly he does not.

Worse than being sponsored by the teachers union, this was sponsored, aided, abetted and guided, by teachers themselves.

Shame on these teachers --and shame on their ignorant defenders as well.

All of whom remain to be named later. So the kid's an idiot. But it's worse than that. Commenter Janet S. posted, on the same day:

I listened to an interview of the student who was heading this up. Every time he was caught in an inconsistancy, he changed his story. Then he resorted to saying that Major Thomas didn't object to the presentation while standing there. He seemed to think this meant it was all okay.

That's exactly what that young man thinks, and worse. That's what's scary. Again, he wants him to take it. He's like a animal or cyborg with extremely limited empathic abilities, but well-developed sadistic ones. The major is scarcely human for him, much less a striking, shining figure of human dignity and quiet pride, all brass and piping and polish, and displaying the best in civilized behavior.

But this punk wants his reaction shot. He wants his man to wince, or growl, or lose it. He wants degradation, he wants to pull the major down into the psychological shithole he lives in. And that applies to every other cowardly student and parent and teacher and staff member, because there hasn't been a single written public signed apology by anyone involved in this disgrace. Because they're proud of it, they'll do it again, and then go run and hide again.

Finally, I'm grateful that Matt Rosenberg over at Sound Politics did some digging into WSH test scores. His findings:

A post-forum writing assignment on the war would have been a good idea, as opposed to politicized theatrics beforehand. As the State Superintendent of Public Instruction reports, only one-third of the West Seattle High School 10th graders tested last school year could pass all three mandatory sections (reading, writing, math) of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL); which will be required for graduation as of 2008.

Then again, considering the move to broaden the use of "alternatives" to the WASL for students who can't pass, maybe guerilla theatre projects will become part of some "essential academic mastery" project portfolio for the many WSH students who can't hack the onerous "pen and paper" test due to the low "cultural competency" of the test designers.

Forty-one percent of WSH 10th graders failed the 03-04 WASL reading test; 51 percent failed writing; 60 percent failed math; 73 percent failed science.

But they can bang a gong with their daddy to make the soldier feel ashamed.

Posted by Jerome at 02:00 PM | TrackBack

March 27, 2005

GREEN BE-IN

GREENBEIN.JPG

Flower Arrangement and Photography by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 09:17 AM | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Poetic Darwinism: A Description Of Haeckel's Infinite Carpet

carpethand.jpg

He not busy being born is busy dying.
--Bob Dylan, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)"

We're climbing on the strangest ladder that was ever there to climb.
--Mike Scott and the Waterboys, "Strange Boat"

There is no future in a sacred myth. --Daniel Dennett

by Jerome du Bois, with a note by Catherine King

Richard Feynmann once wrote:

Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singers; you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age.
(What Do YOU Care What Other People Think? 1988, p.244.)

And the scene hasn't changed much, at least in the visual arts, in the ensuing seventeen years. (And Doc, I care more about how other people think, rather than what, since the former shapes the latter.)

I made the artwork in the title as a poetic palimsest, a meditation device on some elements of The AllGoRhythm, by which I mean evolution by natural selection: the Modern Synthesis of Darwin, Mendel, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Watson & Crick, and the other greats of the ensuing waves, William Hamilton and George Williams and Manfred Eigen and Graham Cairns-Smith and John Maynard Smith, and the list goes on. I'm posting a photograph, some details, and a detailed description of this artwork here (after the jump, which I'll get to eventually) as an oblique and poetic contribution to the current debate between The AllGoRhythm and the God-driven alternatives. Before the jump, though, let me be direct and blunt.

Intelligent Design and plain old Creationism --can you gimme Hallaloooolyah!?-- thrive here in Phoenix, as mysteriously persistent as Valley Fever. On February 17, The Tucson Weekly online published a summary of the scene by Diedre Pike. Here she briefly profiles Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson (R-Mesa):

To Johnson, a Christian fundamentalist, the teaching of evolution in the schools isn't simply unfair; it could be "faith-destroying," she says.

"It's hard for me to understand how evolution can get put into school science programs and get stuffed down the throats of those who don't want to hear it and who don't believe it anyway," Johnson says. "Children should choose what they want to believe. . . . Science is basically the search for truth. The opposite of truth is myth. In my opinion, evolution is a myth. Those who adhere to the evolutionary theory, it's like a religion for them."

When Johnson talks to constituents, she's often struck by how few accept evolution.

"I can only find a few who think (the) theory of evolution has any merit," she says, "like professors at universities."

You can almost hear her sniff as her nose goes up in the air. You know --those kind of people. I think a lot of university professors are worthless jerks, but mainly those in the humanities, not the hard sciences. But let's be honest, Ms. Johnson; let's "search for truth:" when you say,

Children should choose what they want to believe

you don't mean exactly that. You mean that children should choose Christian Creationism over evolution by natural selection. You don't mean that students should choose the creation stories of Hinduism or Zoroastrianism or Buddhism or Islam or The Great Turtle or anything else over evolution. I was a born-again Christian for over ten years; I know how your minds work; one reason among many I'm Christian no longer. (And, by the way, mind your metaphors, mom: one neither hears nor chooses nor believes with one's throat.)

[She is correct, depressingly, about the percentage of the American people who believe evolution is true. I've seen various figures that range from 13% to 25%. After over 150 years . . .]

Earlier, on January 30, the Arizona Republic quoted the head dude of the Arizona Board of Education:

"If a student says, 'Well, I think intelligent design is a better theory,' then the teacher is obligated to treat that in a respectful way," Arizona Superintendent of Education Tom Horne said. "Those kind of discussions can make the study of evolution itself more interesting if students know that there is a controversy going on."

I have no problem with mutual respect; so that when the teacher says, "Intelligent Design is forlorn --that means 'alone, and without a friend'-- and you'll be wasting your time building any work on it," and refers the student to one of the many websites contributing to the controversy, one hopes the student will listen and follow his or her mentor's expert, reasonable, and knowledgeable advice. Part of a teacher's job is to alert students to the chimeras within the controversies. The student thinks he or she has time to burn. The teacher knows better. Besides, what kind of mentor gives directions to a dead end?

Superintendent Horne would. He would waste the student's time to avoid hurting the student's feelings or, more likely, losing the student to a Christian school. (Like American Muslims, American Evangelical Christians are a politically canny, persistent, and powerful lobby. Just ask IMAX.) Horne is probably ignorant of the real controversies inside The AllGoRhythm, intricate, rigorous algorithmic and repeated consensually validated experiments which bring the broad arguments brought by people like Dembski (see Pike) and Michael Behe to a standstill.

When Behe posits "irreducible complexity," it's as though he has not examined with his own eyes or heard with his own ears the logical possibilities laid out before him prior to him publishing his already-refuted arguments.

Long before Behe came running in waving his hanky, falsely crying foul, people like Richard Dawkins were saying (in paraphrase), "Well, duh, we know that's what we need to explain: how did the macromolecules become the macromolecules? How did the stupid primordial soup create something --Life-- that strains at a leash --constantly and unstoppably-- toward the future?"

What were the basic lifeless building blocks of Life?

We still don't have a defintive answer to that question, but check this notion out, from Daniel Dennett's peerless book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, which, though now ten years old, is simply a basic text for the 21st Century. Honestly, before the year is over, reader, promise yourself to read this book.

A good Darwinian, faced yet again with the problem of finding a needle in a haystack of Design Space, would cast about for a still simpler form of replicator that could somehow serve as a temporary scaffolding to hold the protein parts or nucleotide bases in place until the whole protein or macro could get assembled. Wondrous to say, there is a candidate with just the right properties, and more wondrous still, it is just what the Bible ordered: clay! Cairns-Smith shows that in addition to the carbon-based self-replicating crystals of DNA and RNA, there are also much simpler (he calls them "low-tech") silicon-based self-replicating crystals, and these silicates, as they are called, could themselves be the product of an evolutionary process. They form the ultra-fine particles of clay, of the sort that builds up just outside the strong currents and turbulent eddies in streams, and the individuals crystals differ subtly at the level of molecular structure in ways that they pass on when they "seed" the processes of crystallization that achieve their self-replication.

[Aside: In The Book of J, Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg point out that "Adam" derives from adamah, the purest, smallest, most pulverized, persistent, enduring and refined red clay. This is the first verse of the book that forms the foundation of three major world religions, written circa 1000 BCE:

Before a plant of the field was in earth, before a grain of the field sprouted --Yahweh had not spilled rain on the earth, nor was there man to work the land-- yet from the day Yahweh made earth and sky, a mist from within would rise to moisten the surface. Yahweh shaped an earthling from clay of this earth, blew into its nostrils the wind of life. Now look: man becomes a creature of flesh. (P.61)]

Since I've introduced religion, here's a good place to bring in Jim Holt's recent incisive points in the NYT Magazine, February 20, 2005. "Unintelligent Design" (you have to pay) carried the headline "Nature is often sloppy and bizarre. Can critics of Darwinism explain why?"

First, Holt calls attention to the fact that the laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, as in most mammals,

extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

Then he reminds us that

perhaps 99 percent of the species that have existed have died out. Darwinism has no problem with this, since random variation will inevitably produce both fit and unfit individuals. But what sort of designer would have fashioned creatures so out of sync with their environments that they were doomed to extinction?

He continues with a point about pain:

. . . Our pain mechanism may have been designed to serve as a warning signal to protect our bodies from damage, but in the majority of diseases . . . the signal comes too late to do much good, and the horrible suffering that ensues is completely useless.

And finally, a point about abortion:

And why should the human reproductive system be so shoddily designed? Fewer than one-third of conceptions culminate in live births. The rest end prematurely, either in early gestation or by miscarriage. Nature appears to be an avid abortionist, which ought to trouble Christians who believe in both original sin and the doctrine tha a human being equipped with a soul comes into existence at conception.

His conclusion (though he makes other good points):

It is hard to avoid the inference that a designer responsible for such imperfections must have been lacking some divine trait --benevolence or omnipotence or omniscience, or perhaps all three.

I'm the first to recognize Nature raw in tooth and claw, and I can see the awe in awful, but let's remember that Nature has no mind, no purpose, no intention. Dennett writes, introducing a quote by Nietzsche: "Mother Nature is heartless --even vicious-- but boundlessly stupid. And as so often before, Nietzsche finds the point and gives it his special touch:

'According to nature' you want to live? O you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purposes and consideration, without mercy and justice, fertile and desolate and uncertain at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power --how could you live according to this indifference!"

Now, reader, imagine this indifference awakening into conscious consideration, reflection, and total self-awareness. Coupled with Holt's points above, does this not make God synonymous with Cruelty?

Another question: Which is colder and more harsh, a godless world or one presided over by Him?

Another question: Which is a better world, one in which Life created itself, slowly, earning every inch and using only what was around, or one in which Life is a gift rained down from above by a Capricious Mystery?

Let me say it another way. I believe it would be a better world if everybody realized what it has cost the world for us to be here --what it really means to be homo sapiens sapiens. Every bone, every nerve, every wrinkle in the brain was hard-earned, so hard-earned the scale of suffering and success --over both time and space-- is so Vast as to be literally mind-boggling.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but I think religious believers, especially Christians, have let the fear overwhelm the wonder: the fear of the importance of the insignificant, and the fear of the leering monkey. But the fear goes deeper, and I think Dennett has a handle on it, so I'm going to end these notes before the jump with an extended quotation from him (wherein he quotes Eigen) at the mindless busyness that grounds so much of Life:

[Dennett] . . . Through the microscope of molecular biology, we gt to witness the birth of agency, in the first macromolecules that have enough complexity to "do things." This is not florid agency --echt intentional action, with the representation of reasons, deliberation, reflection, and conscious decision-- but it is the only possible ground from which the seeds of intentional action could grow. There is something alien and vaguely repellent about the quasi-agency we discover at this level --all that purposive hustle and bustle, and yet there's nobody home. The molecular machines perform their amazing stunts, obviously exquisitely designed, and just as obviously none the wiser about what they are doing. Consider this account of the activity of an RNA phage, a replicating virus:

First of all, the virus needs a material in which to pack and protect its own genetic information. Secondly, it needs a means of introducing its information into the host cell. Thirdly, it requires a mechanism for the specific replication of its information in the presence of a vast excess of host cell RNA. Finally, it must arrange for the proliferation of its information, a process that usually leads to the destruction of the host cell . . . . The virus even gets the cell to carry out its replication; its only contribution is one protein factor, specially adapted for the viral RNA. This enzyme does not become active until a 'password' on the viral RNA is shown. When it sees this, it reproduces the viral RNA with great efficiency, while ignoring the very much greater number of RNA molecules of the host cell. Consequently the cell is soon flooded with viral RNA. This is packed into the virus' coat protein, which is also sythesized in large quantities, and finally the cell bursts and releases a multitude of progeny virus particles. All this is a programme that runs automatically and is rehearsed down to the smallest detail [Eigen].

[Dennett] Love it or hate it, phenomena like this exhibit the heart of the power of the Darwinian idea. An impersonal, unreflective, robotic, mindless little scrap of molecular machinery is the ultimate basis of all the agency, and hence meaning, and hence consciousness, in the universe. [End Dennett; my emphases]

Or, as I put it in my artwork: "Our Mother Is Absolute Ignorance." (Don't even ask about Dad.) And that scares some people.

We are the palimpsest of the history of this planet. It is writ small in us all. (Think of the frontispiece to Leviathan.) We owe it to both our ancestors and our descendants to shape the future with the truth. And The AllGoRhythm is the truth.

carpet.jpg
Haeckel's Infinite Carpet, 2002, 30 x 30 inches, acrylic, ink, pencil, tracing paper, and hot pink gel pen on two layers of Arches Paper, with cutouts.

Details here and here.

A Description of Haeckel's Infinite Carpet

In 2002, Catherine King wrote about this piece for our online gallery Art For Our Times, now closed:

Mysterious life forms peer from precise windows cut through Haeckel’s Infinite Carpet. The strange creatures swim in a yellow sea beneath the Carpet’s red plane. Hundreds of pink arrow snakes slither over its surface, restlessly pointing out connections.

Eight open doors lay near the sides and corners of the square-patterned Carpet. They open onto an intense blue space where pink constellations align with perfect wisdom.

A yellow hand reaches out from a deep pink portal through the center of the Carpet. A closed pentagram made of five finely drawn stars overlays the deep whorls of the palm print. This is the Sign of the Human -- with our five-fingered hands we make and mark the world.

Haeckel’s Infinite Carpet floats, human-made, over a teeming ocean of evolution. It seems to order the chaos below by alternately revealing, then hiding it. The Carpet is the platform on which we stand in order to construct our view of the universe. We can never see all that lies below the surface and the life we glimpse one moment has already drifted away the next. We can grasp no fixed truth in this bloody, blooming biology. Unanchored, we hang on with our five-fingered Navigator and trace maps through trials with tears. --CK

Thank you, beloved wife and muse. And here I would like to add my own notes.

I began with a simple picture of infinity provided by Rudy Rucker in his book Mind Tools. This layout of squares is the second stage of a regular fractal called a Sierpinski carpet. "It can be defined on its own as the limit of the process of removing the central one-ninth of squares."

So, first, I cut out the central (pink) square, which "created" eight others, the four adjacent and the four diagonals. So I cut out their central (blue) squares, which "created" sixty-four more (yellow) squares. That was enough to keep the process going mentally with the viewer, who can imagine finer and finer squares, until the edges around the larger squares begin to resemble a regular foam. You can hold infinity in the palm of your eye. Also, the process is an algorithm, which is the drumbeat of the free-floating rationales that inhabit the universe whether we do so or not. Finally, I like the idea that the original nine-square resembles one of those rationales --the cellular automata of John Horton Conway's Game of Life, a 2D dynamic whose complexity arises from one rule, as does the Sierpinski carpet itself. The power of simple recursion often leads to combinatorial explosions which foster novelty, a key element in natural selection. It also hints at the capacious and tensile strength of the modern mind. The ancient Greeks hated, feared, and denigrated infinity, calling it apeiron, which connotes a dirty rag crushed up and stuffed in a corner. But handling infinity has opened our minds, given us confidence to grip new rungs on the strange ladder.

The dot patterns behind the blue squares depict the lo-shu magic square. Let Rudy Rucker explain (p.52):

One of the earliest examples of people using dot patterns to represent numbers appears in the Chinese image known as the lo-shu. Here there are patterns representing the numbers 1 through 9, and these patterns are arranged into a "magic square." Supposedly, Emperor Yu saw the lo-shu pattern on the back of a tortoise on the banks of the Yellow River in 2200 BC. The pattern is called a magic square because the sum of the numbers along any horizontal, vertical, or diagonal is always the same: 15.

I chose the lo-shu first because it appeared on the back of a tortoise, of course! Beautiful patterns fall out of nature by accident, but their order and formal arrangement fascinate us --and point in helpful directions, as with the Fibonacci Series. Busy busy busy, we arrange and rearrange, combine and twist and add and subtract, sifting for sense, scratching at novelty, for the glint, the hint of the future.

Look at all those curvy pink snake arrows, pointing in both directions. These restless roaming curves are like ampersands, endless asking "How about this and this?" "Okay, what about this and this?" "Okay, maybe--" and so on.

Long ago Johannes Kepler stood out in the snow, night after night, holding a glowing coal in tongs in one hand, scribbling notes on star positions in a notebook (derived from Tycho Brahe's) with the other. Later he would scan these spreadsheets and ephemeri for hours on end, looking for pattern. It was crazy, but it worked.

The yellow squares show off-center pencilled depictions of microscopic creatures, on gauzy paper, all sixty-four drawn from Ernst Haeckel's book Art Forms in Nature. The little yellow squares become like windows on the bottom of a boat, revealing glimpses of the teeming --and imperfect-- life below. (Yes, I'm well aware of Haeckel's political odium. We note it, condemn it, learn from it, and move on.)

The eight blue squares contain some of the more important claims and positions of natural selection. I won't take them in order.

Cranes, Not Skyhooks. The genius Daniel Dennett, who I long ago nicknamed The Great Engineer, is the most practical philosopher I've ever read. You could bring him the sweetest little conceptual machine, sleek and shiny and sinuous as a Frank Gehry building, but if it didn't produce future --if it just solved some philosophical puzzle, some shoelace knot, or covered one's philosophical ass-- he'd thank you, put it on the mantle, and pick up his tools again.

Dennett uses skyhook --from OED, "an imaginary means of suspension in the sky"-- to refer to any statement or thing which can't be anchored to the Earth, whether it be about gods, or mysterians, or the so-called "naturalistic fallacy" (a chimera), or "irreducible complexity."

A crane is any statement or algorithm or object which begs no questions. It stands on firm ground, and every part of it, including its blueprints, can be accounted for. It works. It lifts. It can even lift other cranes. Cascading cranes produce the future.

Our River Flows Uphill is a tribute to William Calvin's river / biology chronicle, "The River That Flows Uphill: A Journey From The Big Bang To The Big Brain." It's a tribute to our energy, our hard work against entropy. The sun pours the energy down endlessly, burning up the Second Law and spawning the multitudinous glories of creation.

Our Mother Is Absolute Ignorance I've discussed briefly above. Steven Pinker puts it even more succinctly: "No peeking." No theory of the history of Life on this Earth can depend on anticipation or purpose or plan. It happened to happen, but it could have happened otherwise, or not at all, and that should thrill everyone. Dennett: "Evolution can be an algorithm, and evolution could have produced us, without its being true that evolution is an algorithm for producing us." (p.56) There is no Anthropic Daddy, not even in principle.

Hand Shapes Brain is a tribute to the Toolmaker, the Tinkerer -- homo habilis-- and also to Frank R. Wilson's contemporary classic (another must-read) The Hand: How Its Use Shaped The Brain, Language, and Human Culture. The language explains much of the content, but not its richness. We Know In Our Bones and Read Your Head both fit here, too. Just one example: the neurological-physiological algorithm or program which directs my arm reaching out through the branches for just the right apple to twist, pluck, and bring to my mouth --that program may be quite similar to language sentence structure, which the brain adapted for its use.

Our Tree Is Real. Most religions and traditions feature trees or tree-like structures, including sacred oaks, maypoles, the Trees in Eden, the crucifixion cross, and especially the American Liberty Tree. Each tries to grasp a part of us. But only the Tree of Life --"the graph that plots the time-line trajectories of all the things that have ever lived on this planet"-- grasps it all. Nobody puts it better than Dennett, at the end of his book (p.520), and I can think of no better way to end these notes:

Is this Tree of Life a God one could worship? Pray to? Fear? Probably not. But it did make the ivy twine and the sky so blue, so perhaps the song I love ["Tell Me Why"] tells a truth after all. The Tree of Life is neither perfect nor infinite in space or time, but it is actual, and if it is not Anselm's "Being greater than which nothing can be conceived," it is surely a being that is greater than anything any of us will ever conceive of in detail worthy of its detail. Is something sacred? Yes, I say with Nietzsche. I could not pray to it, but I can stand in affirmation of its magnificence. This world is sacred.

Amen.

CODA: Irrationaly, I neglected to mention the yellow hand in the middle of the piece. It is my left hand, though it could be read the other way. Of course it is meant to evoke Lascaux, but also something else --the irrational need for sacrifice. I lost the first joint on the third finger of my left hand in a childhood accident. But, as Walter Burkert notes in his excellent account Creation of the Sacred, finger sacrifice, an ancient practice of supplication and substitution, persists to this day, doesn't it? In fact, during this week, as many will remember, it was extended to the entire body of one man, wasn't it?

Posted by Jerome at 10:32 AM | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

A "Thinker" Of The Rebarb: Jason Gatliff

by Jerome du Bois

The sitemeter shows a lot of searches for Jason Gatliff, so I might as well set down some further notions prompted by that curiosity, as well as a comment I deleted but which still buzzes in my brain.

The comment --on the Gatliff piece, Rebarbarization In The Academy, Part Two: The Innocent Are Guilty-- came from an obscene email address, so I thought at first it was dirty spam. I trashed it after I read it, so I no longer have it verbatim. The first sentence, though, was

Have you at least read his essay?

The essay's title: "In Defense Of Terrorism: When Is It Permissible To Target Children?" The speech he gave in Boise on the same subject bore the title: "In Defense Of Terrorism: When Is It Okay To Kill Kids?" I don't know why Gatliff changed it.

Now, I'm a Darwinian. I reason, I'm smart, I trust my mind, and I'm busy. There is no conceivable defense of terrorism consistent with the sovereign individual's rights. End of argument.

But there's more with these people. They want to piss on your shoes, and they want you to stand there and take it until they're done. They have the emotional needs --and lack of boundaries-- of two-year-olds throwing tantrums. The culture, especially the contemporary arts and humanities, is overflowing with these needy hyenas who, knowing their stuff is crap and knowing it insults your intelligence to spend any time or attention on it, still demand that time and attention. That is their triumph, that is their purpose. The content is secondary; the main goal is to make you share their stink.

A couple of years ago Catherine and I went to a slide lecture featuring the artist Jon Haddock. We knew his work, hated it, but wanted to see and hear. But when he put up his cartoon of poor doomed cartoon animal figures in the burning windows of the WTC, we had to get up and leave. No commotion; we just booked in disgust.

In the ensuing email discussion between John Spiak and us, he suggested that we should have at least stayed for the whole thing, and then ask our questions and make our points.

But our point was the leavetaking. We walked out. We don't TAKE IT.

This little twit Gatliff knows damn well he's wrong, he's playing with friendly fire, but to get attention these days you have to be outrageous, so why not write a defense of terrorism? The academic culture practically begged for it, and --since Ward Churchill can't use two words when eleventy-two would do-- the moldy idea took hold in the loaf between Gatliff's ears.

But I don't need to read it. For my last piece I read and briefly analyzed an earlier essay of his. It was from hunger, and I couldn't see his "thinking" developing any further from the forlorn ideas --Kantianism and utilitarianism, and virtue ethics without the virtue-- presented in that earlier tract. (For the definitive demolition of those outdated ideas, please see Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Chapter Sixteen, "On the Origin of Morality," and Chapter Seventeen, "Redesigning Morality.")

The scariest aspect of the presentation of this whole arc is that Gatliff knew that in this culture, the essay was a sure bet. He knew damn well he couldn't lose.

But we do, as the rebarb gnaws, gnaws, gnaws away at every civilized thing.

Posted by Jerome at 05:17 AM | TrackBack

March 13, 2005

Rebarbarization In The Academy, Part Two: The Innocent Are Guilty

[Part One is here.]

Life is as meaningless as death. --Sociopath's axiom, from Depue.

Academics. Who would have thought that murder can sometimes smell like sheepskin?
--JdB, Ward "The Cleaver" Churchill Wants To Watch You Bleed

by Jerome du Bois

Sometimes the academic abyss gets deeper right when you're looking into it. I feel like James Stewart in Vertigo. The ivory tower inverts itself, plunging deeper into moral evil, revealing a nest of vipers. Look at the latest serpent Alma Mater has nursed at her bosom:

The Boise State University Philosophy Department presents a lecture by Jason Gatliff titled “In Defense of Terrorism: When is it Okay to Kill Children?” from 3:40-5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10. Held in the Special Events Center at the west end of the Student Union Building, the lecture is free and open to the public.

Gatliff is a Ph.D. candidate at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and is a Boise State philosophy graduate. His talk will focus on the conditions under which an innocent civilian can be reclassified as a dangerous combatant. “Activities such as paying taxes are sufficient to make one a combatant,” he argues, thus nullifying immunity. However, he goes on to argue, identifying a person as a combatant does not necessarily mean it is permissible to target that person for terrorism. (Hat tips to Luke Lindley at Sterile Thunder, and lgf.)

[What's that music? The way things are go-wing, they're gonna reclassify me.]

Ward Churchill's lawyer will probably be waving this paper around soon. Mr. "I'm Gonna Get You For This" Churchill couldn't have ordered a better defense of his infamous sadism, since he couldn't have written the thing on his most coherent day. Even so, Jason Gatliff is his direct spiritual child, along with blackhearts like Haunani Trask. Like Churchill, Gatliff wants to kill words and their meanings first, to clear the way to shed real innocent blood. They've seen the future, brother: it is murder.

Nobody is innocent, Gatliff says. By this "reasoning," of course, he should turn himself in to the proper authorities as soon as possible, because he is a dangerous man. And he really is, because dozens of so-called academic professionals have already signed off on him --at Texas A&M, at Boise State, and at BGSU. Twenty years ago I attended many graduate seminars in philosophy, at Arizona State and the University of Maryland. At either place this guy would have been laughed out of the room after a couple of sentences. Now the system is poisoned at its heart, sucking blood, worshipping death.

Since Luke Lindley did the heavy lifting on Gatliff's thesis, I'll be quoting him generously. The reader should go read his whole posting, "In Defense of Terrorism?" Then I want to briefly discuss a true case of applied ethics: Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin.

[Choosing Tillman isn't for easy, gratuitous comparison: Gatliff has a preoccupation with (eroding) the morality of the professional soldier. If you can stay awake through it, he wrote about it in 2000, in "Gertian Morality and Moral Considerations in Military Decision Making."]

Luke Lindley writes:

To be a "combatant," Gatliff claimed, means to be "dangerous"; to be "innocent," in contrast, signifies a state of "noninvolvement in the war effort, not [a state of] moral non-culpability." Modern warfare, according to Gatliff, "is an enterprise which does not leave its civilians behind." The reek of Churchillian moral equivalance here is suffocating; one can almost hear, as a subliminal soundtrack to his speech, the nonexistent cries of those who were not killed at Jenin, a cruel counterpoint to the wails of those thousand "little Eichmans" who, by this absurd logic, somehow deserved to die. Gatliff further "refined" his definition of "dangerous" by stating that: "a person's behavior is dangerous if that person contributes to a causal chain that may cause harm, injury, or loss." And since, per Gatliff, it does not matter whether or not said contribution is voluntary, involuntary, or nonvoluntary, any of the following classes individuals could rightfully be considered "dangerous" in the "martial sense"; taxpayers; farmers; and children. Taxpayers, of course, contribute fiscally and socially to martial activities; farmers produce food not merely to meet the bare nutritional requirements of military personnel but also to promote and maintain such individuals' peak fighting capabilities; and children represent not only a tangible investment in future martial and economic activities but also may contribute to such activities through a variety of present means, such as, Gatliff argued, purchasing war bonds, conserving energy and raw materials, working in factories, etc . . .

Thus Gatliff extended the chain of casaulity to a ridiculous and meaningless infinity, crafting a definition of "dangerousness" so expansive that, in its explosive outward rush, it obliterates the necessary semantic distinctions that underlie our language, our society, even our morality. Words have, and must have, meanings; to define dangerousness down, as it were, is to render irrelevant any distinction between soldier and civilian, killer and victim, murderer and savior. For where does one draw the line? Surely children may contribute to the war effort, both in a contemporary and future capacity - it is a matter of simple finance, after all, to calculate the present monetary value of an investment expected to return, on average, X amount of funds to society each year for a given number of years. And if financial contribution can render one "dangerous," what are we to make of those foreign citizens who invest in American companies, who purchase American products, who contribute, through a variety of direct and indirect means, to the overall operation of the American economy and, as a consequence, to the dread "military-industrial complex," the paralyzing fear of which so obviously constitutes the subtext of Gatliff's fevered philosophizing. Gatliff, it seems, has crafted a perfectly recursive causality, in which all are to blame, in which all are at fault, and, most importantly, in which none can be judged.

The sociopath's creed, the nihilist's dream, eternal repetitive Hell, the dark meat of their Thanklessgiving meal. And Lindley makes clear at the beginning of his piece that Bowling Green State University's philosophy department is not only admired, but "revered." It's one of the best-esteemed in the entire world, with an admirable placement percentage.

You see what I mean by inversion? That's one deeep abyss. This heartless coward should be teaching at Hezbollah University, but he's probably going to get a pretty good gig right here in the cradle of liberty and freedom. I'm guessing at his age, but I'll bet he's not older than 27, and he's got thirty years of cushyville to look forward to.

Which brings me to Pat Tillman, the very definition of the phrase "110%," also known as "the full-tilt boogie," dead at 27 --may he rest in peace and victory-- and his brother Kevin --may he stay safe and live long-- and Gatliff's vapid attempt to undermine virtue ethics and military creeds, beating some dead horses --act-utilitarianism! Jeebus!-- along the way. He wrote the following as if it was a revelation, whoa-daddy:

One of things that I think makes Gert’s system so useful for the military is that it includes in its list of general moral rules: Obey the law, and Do your duty. After all, it is the ultimate goal of every service’s Core Value program, I believe, to get their members to follow these two rules: obey the law, and do their duty. More importantly, though, the duty of the professional soldier to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is finally recognized for what it is—a moral obligation.

Finally? This lightweight thinks he's finally --along with his buddy Gert-- identified why a soldier does what a soldier does. Or a sailor, or marine, or Army Ranger. He doesn't see how basic it is to the citizenry itself, to ordinary American consciousness, much less the military. Clueless in the academic fantasyland, he traispes by the hard-won victories for freedom in the real world, and sees only the boneyards of history.

Not long after September 11, 2001, Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin made the decision to defend their country. They did and they have honorably. Here's a beautiful short profile of him by Tim Layden, first published in Sports Illustrated on June 3, 2002:

Last week Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, 25, told the team that he was leaving football to enlist in the Army, with plans to attend Ranger School after boot camp. It's a remarkable story: Star athlete walks away from the game in his prime, leaving millions in cash on the table, to put his life at risk in service of his country during wartime. It is one, however, that you won't hear from Tillman. Given the chance to self-promote and wrap himself in the American flag --on Memorial Day weekend, no less-- Tillman instead quietly declined to speak publicly about his career change.

No surprise. His decisions to leave pro football and to decline interviews are pure Tillman. The guy is a fearless nonconformist who has long refused to measure his life against ordinary standards. I met Tillman late in 1997, when he was a senior at Arizona State. He would soon be graduating after just 3 1/2 years with a 3.82 GPA, and he had been named Pac-10 defensive player of the year as an undersized (5'10", 202 pounds) linebacker. "It doesn't do me any good to be proud," Tillman said that year, "because I'll start being happy with myself and then I'll stand still and then I'm old news."

At the end of one interview with Tillman, I asked him if he had ever been arrested for anything, a question that unfortunately has to be asked with athletes today. Tillman didn't hesitate to admit that he had been charged with felony assault after beating up a kid while defending a friend during his senior year in high school. He spent 30 days in a juvenile detention facility, and his conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor upon his release. Here's the point: Since Tillman was underage at the time, his arrest record was sealed, and he didn't have to tell me anything. But he did, because he's honest. And smart. He learned from his mistake and never repeated it.

There were doubts about whether Tillman was big enough or fast enough to play college football, but he played superbly. There were much deeper doubts about whether he could play in the NFL, but he has been a four-year starter and in 2000 set a franchise record with 200 tackles. You cannot keep him off the football. Last spring he turned down a $9 million, five-year offer sheet from the Rams and accepted a one-year deal with the Cards for a little more than $500,000 out of loyalty.

Tillman says he'll resume his NFL career in three years, and Tillman does what he says. In 1994 when then Arizona State coach Bruce Snyder was recruiting Tillman, Snyder suggested redshirting him in his freshman year. "I'm not redshirting," Tillman told Snyder. "You can do what you want with me, but in four years, I'm gone. I've got things to do with my life."

Now we know what things Tillman was talking about. Big things. Wouldn't you want him in your foxhole?

I imagine Pat and Kevin and their loved ones, huddled as most of us were around the TV that horrible day, and the days following, going back and forth with reasoning out their responses, which includes screaming and crying, too, but weighing the many options these two talented men had arrayed before them. Everyone with them helped, drawing on experience and reflection and reading and religion and the very concourse of discourse immanent but perpetually evolving in the culture, the ongoing conversation of right conduct after the Fall, after the knowledge that there is no valid Argument from Authority. We have to work out our own salvation --and we can, because we can reason. We are Americans. We're problem-solvers. We can do this.

So there they were, ordinary educated Americans with good souls. Everybody pointing out upsides, downsides, mortal stakes. Pat and Kevin listening to everything, including their own broken hearts.

But I very much doubt anyone there consulted Gert's unhelpful list--

(1) Do not kill,
(2) Do not cause pain,
(3) Do not disable,
(4) Do not deprive of freedom,
(5) Do not deprive pleasure,
(6) Do not deceive,
(7) Keep your promises,
(8) Do not cheat,
(9) Obey the law,
(10) Do your duty.

[Tell it to M. Atta, Gertie boy.]

--or Gatliff's article, with its simple foci, ranging from whether to

"pencil whip” training records in order to promote a deserving Airman, to deciding whether or not military sites in heavily populated areas should be targeted for bombing.

This is what applied ethics is bringing to the table these days, la-dee-dah, so-called "moral puzzles" that Pat Tillman and most ordinary citizens eat for breakfast all the time. We know how to handle these cases; these are the easy ones; and we knew what we needed to do, what hardships we needed to face, what changes we needed to make, when those murderous Muslims burned the core of our hearts and made our fellow citizens jump to their deaths.

Pat Tillman and Kevin Tillman didn't need to consult any tome, any article, any expert, to know what was right. Everything they needed to know was all around them, the beauty of it read right off the surface of the culture: the land of freedom and opportunity; the incredible cooperative infrastructure which sustained them; the peaceful resolution of internal conflict; the engine of imagination and commerce and life-extending technology. In fact, the sheer incredible exuberance of the country is mirrored by Pat Tillman, who, by all accounts, often had to be told to wind it down a little, to not always hit them at full speed. (To which he probably answered with a puzzled "Why?" That's what I mean by "the full-tilt boogie.") All Kevin, Pat, and their families had to do was point anywhere in the United States, almost, and say, "This is what I'm fighting for:this future: the arrow only points forward."

But Jason Gatliff, and Ward Churchill, will earn cushy incomes building giant termite mounds out of the manure of their minds. Welcome to the University of Death. You'll find the dungbeetles of Hell here. First you must find rat's alley, where the dead men lost their bones; then descend the stairs there, crackling over the rats' teeth, to room 101, and walk right in. They're waiting for you and your credulous sons, one with the dagger, one with the sponge.

Posted by Jerome at 05:00 PM | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

History Alive! Is Dead! But . . . QUESTIONS REMAIN [UPDATED]

by Jerome du Bois

Was all my huffin and puffin for nuffin? I don't think so.

Yesterday I posted a long collage about Islam in schools in the West, including Arizona, with a specific question for John Baracy and the Scottsdale Unified School District's Governing Board. I emailed them, of course, and what follows after the jump is my colloquy with Mrs. Christine Schild, the President of the Governing Board. I have sent the last email simultaneously with this posting.

I suggest the reader study the phrasing in the few words Mrs. Schild employs, to see how much is left unsaid, how much is avoided. This is a crucial subject --Islamic indoctrination-- and she sails right by it.

[Irresistible aside: By the way, the Board meeting Mrs. Schild refers to in her last email, where she got the informal word from her boss, was about expanding classroom space for "extremely gifted" students. This is what they're concerned about over there. Rings like ka-ching, folds like green. ("It's extremely gifted, not just gifted, you stupid, stupid . . .")]

This story isn't over.

My first email

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerome du Bois [mailto:kinganddubois@cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 8:30 AM
To: superintendent@susd.org
Cc: govboard@susd.org
Subject: history alive!

Sir:

This is for the record; I do not expect a reply, and would be
surprised to receive one.

I've asked you a question on my blog, The Tears of Things, in an
article I just published with the title "Turning Arizona Schools Into
Muslim Madrassas --It's Already Begun." You can find it at:

http://www.thetearsofthings.net/archives/000317.html

The question is:

Why won't you allow a seventh-grade social studies textbook, History
Alive!, to go home with the student?

I've emailed the Governing Board with the same question. Thanks for
your attention.

Sincerely,

Jerome du Bois

Her first reply

From: "Christine Schild"
To: "'Jerome du Bois'"
Subject: RE: history alive!
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 11:05:29 -0700

Dear Mr. du Bois,

Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Governing Board.

Yesterday, our Superintendent indicated that TCI's materials, including
History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond have been removed from
consideration.

He also indicated that these materials would be removed from our
schools.

Best wishes,

Christine Schild
Scottsdale USD Governing Board President
Scottsdale Neighborhood Enhancement Commission member

My second email

-----Original Message-----
From: Jerome du Bois [mailto:kinganddubois@cox.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 09, 2005 12:23 PM
To: cmschild@cox.net
Cc: superintendent@susd.org
Subject: history alive

Dear Ms. Schild,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I would like some clarification, though. You used the word
"indicated." That's vague. What does that mean? Did Dr. Baracy make
a formal, written decision? If so, what did it say? Is it publicly
available? And when will the materials be removed?

Sincerely,

Jerome du Bois

Her second reply

From: "Christine Schild"
To: "'Jerome du Bois'"
Subject: RE: history alive
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2005 17:58:42 -0700

Dear Mr. du Bois,

The district was piloting the book as part of an adoption process.

The books in question will not be considered for adoption.

It is my understanding that Dr. Baracy has communicated to the
curriculum review committee that the materials should be removed.

Since the materials were never actually adopted by the District, there
was no need to take any formal, written action.

He communicated this information to me informally at last night's Board
meeting and I haven't had a chance to follow up on time lines.

Best wishes,

Christine Schild
Scottsdale USD Governing Board President
Scottsdale Neighborhood Enhancement Commission member

My third and latest email

Mrs. Schild:

No offense, but you obviously haven't done your homework on us. In fact, I doubt you read the article I referred to in my first email. After all that digging, you think I'm going to go away after you wave generalities like "communicated . . . informally" at me? That just sounds like the high jingo to me; nothing to see here, move along, the expensive people have the situation well in hand. Uh-huh.

My first email --with its core question still unanswered today-- was addressed to Dr. Baracy primarily, then the Governing Board. I did not have your personal email at that time. Well, Dr. Baracy has yet to show up --even after I taunted him, and asked him to surprise me!-- but out you came within two hours. And just you, nobody else. (And you haven't answered the question either.)

Is it because you're the President of the Board, or because you're a lawyer, or both? If you represent the District officially, or not, I should know that, I think.

In the meantime, all this goes on the blog, right now, simultaneously with this email --you should have been specific before-- along with the following questions:

1. During the "piloting process," was the seventh-grade social-studies book History Alive! allowed to go home with the student?

2. What is the exact title of the seventh-grade social-studies book that will replace the now-orphaned HA! ?

3. Are you concerned about Muslims distorting the information your students are exposed to?

4. Where's Dr. Baracy, polishing his verbal magazine?

Sincerely,

Jerome du Bois

[Update: Okay, around ten this morning we received a reply from Mrs. Schild, and Catherine answered]

From: "Christine Schild"
To: "'Jerome du Bois'"
Subject: RE: more questions than ever
Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2005 10:07:10 -0700

Dear Mr. du Bois,

I understand your frustration. However, there are a number of issues on my plate & I have to pay attention to all of them.

The Superintendent gave me his word and I believe him.

However, I will follow up with the Superintendent. I expect him to call me today on an unrelated matter.

Best wishes,

Christine Schild

Catherine's answer

Mrs. Schild:

"I understand your frustration."

Comment from Catherine King: "Drop the fuzzy fake empathy."

"However, there are a number of issues on my plate & I have to pay attention to all of them."

Comment from Catherine King: "Boo hoo. That's why you get paid the big bucks. Besides, getting back to one of Jerome's original questions, Who is paying you for this? And exactly what is 'this'?"

"The Superintendent gave me his word and I believe him."

Comment from Catherine King: "How does it follow that we should believe him, unless we were born last night? Also, suspiciously, why would you think other people are so stupid as to be so effortlessly dismissed? About questions concerning the Islamic indoctrination of our youth?"

"However, I will follow up with the Superintendent. I expect him to call me today on an unrelated matter."

Comment from Catherine King: "We are talking about a whole generation of minds in an unprecedentedly crucial time, not about your cozy, 'informal,' 'unrelated matter,' 'I believe him' relationship with Dr. Baracy. Your stance is suspect, and we'll be examining your background, and your affliations."

Signed,

Catherine King, with Jerome du Bois

Posted by Jerome at 09:50 AM | TrackBack

March 09, 2005

Turning Arizona Public Schools Into Muslim Madrassas --IT'S ALREADY BEGUN

[Another long post, but more bloggy, with great chunks of other peoples' words. This may be blessing or curse, depending on the reader's taste for my prose. At any rate, read it and weep. Then get angry. Then do something. And remember the goal: No dhimmis here. Ever.]

by Jerome du Bois

Before we begin this very long post, a quick question for Arizona parents of middle-school students: if someone placed a pretty mat on the floor, told you to face in a certain direction, kneel, bow down, and repeat strange words five times a day for a month, would you do it? Your children will, before the end of the year. You can count on it, their grades will depend on it, and right now there's nothing you can do about it.

. . . it is hard to understand why, in an American textbook in which the birth and expansion of Islam gets 55 pages, the Middle Ages in Europe get merely seven, and the Byzantine Empire six. By way of contrast, the story of the Umayyad Muslims is told in seven pages, and even more peculiarly for students in a Western culture, a chapter about "Village Society in West Africa" takes up eight pages. --Rod Dreher, NRO, February 12, 2002, commenting on Across The Centuries, a seventh-grade social-studies textbook.

Michael H. Hart's top 100 list of the most influential people in the history of the world was presented to teach that Muhammad was #1, Sir Isaac Newton was #2 and Jesus was #3. --from an email to Daniel Pipes by FISH, February 27, 2005, about History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, a newer seventh-grade social-studies textbook.

Schools and campuses are no exceptions as places where Islam can be victorious. . . . We should use every opportunity to sensitize non-Muslim peers and school staff to Islam and to establish an environment in which everywhere a non-Muslim turns, he notices Islam portrayed in a positive way, is influenced by it and eventually accepts Islam.--from DawaNet, "How To Make America An Islamic Nation." (See Pipes here.)

Coming soon to an elementary school near you: mandatory indoctrination in Islamic customs and practices. According to The Kansas City Star, third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Herndon, Virginia, are to be given lessons in the three Rs: Reading, ‘Riting, and Ramadan. During this instruction, public school children will play act being Muslims, and, perhaps unwittingly, convert to Islam. -- Alexis Amory, FrontPage, October 20, 2004.

On February 23, 2005, the Arizona Republic ran a story about Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent John M. Baracy, a Ph.D who makes over $200,000 per year. [Email is: superintendent@susd.org.] The subject: he changed six job titles. It was cute. From Anne Ryman's article:

She used to be known as the receptionist.

Now she's the Director of First Impressions.

Barbara Levine is one of several employees in the Scottsdale Unified School District whose job titles have changed in a sharp departure from the traditional titles that parents grew up using.

National workplace experts say they are unaware of another school district in the United States that has changed its titles so dramatically, and they disagree over whether the new titles, which are designed to reflect the district's commitment to learning, are good. Parents, they say, could become confused over whom to contact if they have a complaint.

Was the school bus late? Blame the "transporter of learners," formerly the bus driver.

Got a problem with your school principal? Take it up with the 10-word "executive director for elementary schools and excelling teaching and learning," formerly known as the assistant superintendent of elementary schools.

Sound confusing or like hyperbole?

Scottsdale Superintendent John Baracy, who created the new titles for about a half-dozen employees, doesn't think so.

"This is to make a statement about what we value in the district. We value learning," said Baracy, who pledges to back up the new titles with better customer service.

Better customer service? I'm impressed --at first-- but I have a question for Dr. "Excelling" Baracy on a lot less whimsical subject than job titles. In fact, I address my question to everyone on the Governing Board. [Email is: govboard@susd.org.] This means you--

Mrs. Christine Schild, President, appointed 2002, three sons in Scottsdale schools;
Mrs. Jennifer Petersen, appointed 2004, three children in Scottsdale schools;
Ms. Karen Beckvar, appointed 2002;
Mrs. Molly Holzer, appointed 2004, two children in Scottsdale schools; and
Dr. Eric Meyer, appointed 2004, two children in Scottsdale schools--

--and the first one to answer gets a Muslim-approved forehead-activated prayer-rug buzzer. Here's my question:

With all this valuing of learning going on, why won't you allow a seventh-grade social studies textbook to go home with the student? You know, one of your "customers"?

Could it be because it champions, foregrounds, and whitewashes Islam?

At least one Scottsdale father wants to know. Read his recent comment (links added by me) on Daniel Pipes's website, responding to Pipes's November 24, 2004 article, Teaching Islam in American Schools:

Submitted by FISH (fish123abc@cox.net), February 27, 2005 at 10:45

Excellent article, Dr. Pipes, and thank you for taking the time to write it!

My child is in the 7th grade in Scottsdale, Arizona. The school's officially adopted social studies textbook is titled Across the Centuries and is published by Houghton Mifflin. However, Across the Centuries has been shelved and the school is piloting a brand new book from Teacher's Curriculum Institute, aka TCI, titled History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond (this book is not permitted to go home). In my opinion, this book is highly biased towards Islam, historically incorrect and also includes fake history along with Islamic religious proselytizing and indoctrination techniques.

The school has spent approximately 5 weeks of the third quarter grading period teaching Islam to 12 and 13 year olds. The children had to write a full biography on the life of Muhammad, using the information from the textbook --an extremely indoctrinating exercise. This biography will be a large portion of their grade for the 8 week period. Michael H. Hart's top 100 list of the most influential people in the history of the world was presented to teach that Muhammad was #1, Sir Isaac Newton was #2 and Jesus was #3. The school hosted two professional Muslim speakers, from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, to speak to all 7th grade social studies classes. This took one whole day. The Muslim speakers brought prayer rugs and taught the children to pray the Muslim way. I also believe that there were recitations from the Koran and possibly an Islamic "fashion show".

To the best of my knowledge, in this Islamic program, there are none of the negative aspects of Islam touched upon. It is my opinion that in the book, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, Christians are trounced and portrayed as murderers of the Muslim and Jewish people. The Jewish people are only mentioned, and very briefly, in order to be victimized, persecuted and murdered by the Christians. All the while, Islam builds great and grand new empires, has many great and wonderful achievements in architecture, education, science, geography, mathematics, medicine, literature, art and music, and ultimately rules benevolently over the Jewish and Christian people.

Islamic indoctrination in American education is a highly successful insidious industry that is extremely well organized, well connected, legally savvy, brazenly influential, and without successful opposition. When individuals complain to the schools, we often find ourselves engaged in a seriously daunting uphill battle. There should be an opposing and equally aggressive and well connected organization of people who are willing to stop the Islamization of our school children and of our public schools. This is a big job. Sharing information, increasing awareness and being connected are half the battle.

There is a large amount of information available about the Islamization of public school textbooks. Of course, Daniel Pipes' website is a good place to start. Check The Textbook League and William Bennetta, The American Textbook Council and Gilbert Sewall for starters. Search the internet using terms like Islamic indoctrination in public schools, textbooks promote Islam, Islamic dawa in public schools, Across the Centuries criticism, Serge Trifkovic Across the Centuries, Textbooks for Jihad by Lee Kaplan, Look who's teaching Johnny about Islam by Paul Sperry, etc. . . You will find many articles and one will lead to the next and so on . . .

I feel strongly that religious studies should not be taught in public elementary, middle or high schools. Religious studies can be offered in public colleges to adults who are able to make their own choices about what they want to be "fed." I wish that the people in charge of our children's public education felt the same way!

I've never heard of a school textbook that the student was forbidden to take home, and neither has my wife, a former teacher. While we're waiting for Dr. Baracy and the SUSD Governing Board's answer to this anomaly, we will explore further this Islamic insinuiation campaign, which did not burst onto the Scottsdale scene two weeks ago like a saddle sore. It goes back years. For example, the "shelved" book Across The Centuries is just as egregious and misleading at the book that replaced it, is used in many school districts nationwide, was read by John Walker Lindh, for example --and was first published in 1991.

I'll be taking us back about ten years, in reverse order, to see what American Muslims have in store for you and me. (I can give you the short version in two words, though: The Borg.) But before we jump, I'd like to point to who has paid attention to this educational scandal, and who has ignored it. Nationally, Charles Johnson and his commenters covered a lot in one posting. Instapundit had a one-sentence link after a story about Al Qaeda in Tucson. Solomania has a mention. Rantburg had a fat quote and some good comments. As for local political blogs, I confess I barely glance at them. But I checked in with Blog for Arizona, a Dean hangover site. No mention. Then I used the blogroll there to check out over three dozen Arizona sites. Nada. (Oh, azcentral.com had a cute little follow-up on the job title thing.) Finally, what about Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser a Phoenix physician, organizer of the only "Moderate Muslim March" yet, and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy? Who even has access to azcentral.com's blog, pluggedin? Anything from him . . . ? No. Silence from the Doctor.

We're on our own here. Get on the bus, dear learner, while I transport us back --in-- time.

Less than a year ago, on April 25, 2004, there was a rally in downtown Phoenix organized by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. Several sources describe it in several ways, but the pitch was "Muslims for moderation, and against terrorism." I mention it here to provide some local context, because it was so recent, and because the turnout, from a Muslim community of 50,000-plus, was so pitifully small.

Since our children are grown and gone, we don't monitor local educational policies and programs. But we sure have the antennae out for Islam. In fact, to make our position about Islam clear, here I'll republish the main part of Seven Statements For Muslims, which I first posted on November 2, 2004 --Re-Election Day (joy), and the day Theo van Gogh was ritualistically murdered (sorrow) by a Muslim, in a Muslim way, for Muslim reasons (anger):

1. The Jews are not a question mark. (Thought experiment: Imagine a history of the world without any contributions by Muslims. Now imagine the same without Jews.)

2. Women are equal to men. They are not property or chattel or anything less than any man, and indeed superior to any man who thinks women should be anything less than any man.

3. The Qu'ran was not orally or mentally channelled inerrantly to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel. It is a palimpsest, edited, abridged, and extended over many years. This is just historical fact, attested to by the Hijazi Ultraviolets.

4. Allah isn't alone. He shares the world with all the gods in Mecca's cave, and Yahweh, Shiva, Chango, The Everywhere Spirit, Ein Sof, and many more.

5. I don't trust your words. You have a practice called Taqiyya: "Muslims hold that the Islamic version of dissimulation is applied only externally with the tongue and not internally (on the heart, spirit, and soul). In other words, a Muslim is allowed to say untruths to a non-Muslim if in their heart they still respect the truths that they externally deny." (Definition from fact-index.com.) And you want us to trust Muslims? No. Because of taqiyya, I cannot believe a single thing any Muslim says.

6. There is nothing spiritual or mystical about the Arabic language. It may not even be of Arabian origin; evidence suggests it originated in the Levant. So chanting anything in Arabic, or writing it down, is no different than chanting or writing in English or German or Urdu or Spanish or Esperanto.

7. There will be no more one-way tolerance. One man, one vote, once don't go 'round here. Submission is not in our law, our tradition, our Constitution, or our blood, habibi.

Opposition, stubborness: now, that's another matter.

With that settled . . . As soon as I saw FISH's emailed comment over at Daniel Pipes --Scottsdale? That's in my Valley!-- I started Googling and digging.

History Alive! is part of an entire K-12 curriculum. The new middle-school text with its Islamic emphasis may be a pilot program here, but some California parents know well an earlier high-school version, with its bias against Israel. On October 3, 2003, the online magazine j., the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, published an article by Alexandra J. Wall:

A Middle East curriculum used in some local high schools is strongly biased against Israel, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council is charging.

The offending curriculum, the “History Alive!” series distributed by the Rancho Cordova-based Teachers’ Curriculum Institute, was discovered by a Santa Rosa parent who not only brought it to the attention of the JCRC but filed a complaint against Maria Carrillo High School.

The parent, an attorney, did not want to be named in j. but he is angry.

First, he found a textbook he found factually incorrect. But what he saw in some supplemental materials was even worse.

The supplementary materials provided by TCI have so many inaccuracies that the section on the Arab-Israeli conflict shouldn’t be used, according to the JCRC’s report.

One especially offensive activity, the JCRC said, divides the students into two groups. There are the “Pads,” whose ancestors have lived in the Land of Pad for thousands of years, and the “Jeds,” who are told: “Your ancestors used to live in the Land of Z, which you believe was given them by God. Your ancestors were forced to leave the Land of Z 2,000 years ago, and your people have been scattered throughout the world ever since.”

The exercise has the teacher, acting as “the Great Power,” favoring the Jeds over the Pads in trying to reach a small, overcrowded plot of land bordered by desks in the classroom. The Pads and Jeds debate whom it belongs to, and the teacher is to act unimpressed by whatever the Pads have to say, while agreeing with the Jeds.

Jackie Berman, the JCRC’s education specialist co-authored the JCRC study with Yitzhak Santis, the JCRC’s Middle East director.

That exercise is perhaps the most egregious example, the JCRC maintains, but there are many such problems in the curriculum, causing Berman to conclude: “That’s why it can’t really be fixed, by saying, ‘Change this around or that.’ It’s just permeated with this kind of bias.”

Neither Berman nor a TCI spokeswoman knew how widely the TCI curriculum is used in this area, but Berman said she had been in touch with the JCRC in Chicago, where schools were also using it. According to the company’s Web site, www.historyalive.com, TCI programs are used by more than 1,000 school districts across the nation, and there are testimonials from California officials from Fremont Union High and Cupertino Unified school districts.

On Monday, Berman and Jonathan Bernstein, director of the Central Pacific region of the Anti-Defamation League, met with the assistant superintendent of the Santa Rosa City School District, Steve Butler. The ADL has dealt with the TCI curriculum on a national level.

Butler said the district tried to solve the complaint filed by the parent informally, as is district procedure. When they were unable to, they convened a committee of four educators not connected to the school to review the offending materials.

The committee found that with supplementary information, including some provided by the parent, as well as the JCRC’s report, multiple points of view were represented, Butler said.

The conclusion the panel came to was that the materials “are not perfect, but they weren’t at a point where they needed to be censored or banned,” he said. “This is making a mountain out of a molehill for us.”

That response does not please those at the JCRC. A copy of the report is set to be sent off to TCI shortly. And Santis said this will be an ongoing story.

“We’re not satisfied,” said Santis. “If the Santa Rosa school district acknowledges it’s flawed, why are they using it? We urge that the school district drop this curriculum completely.”

The district’s response certainly was not enough for the offended parent either. He said he is not only filing a complaint against the teacher, but plans to continue the appeal to the state department of education and is willing to file a lawsuit, if necessary.

This effort paid off. On February 14, 2004, Ms. Wall followed up with another story:

A textbook company has agreed to rewrite its unit on the Middle East after the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council issued a report claiming it was biased against Israel.

The JCRC report concluded that the supplemental materials that go along with the Teachers Curriculum Institute’s “History Alive!” textbooks were too filled with inaccuracies and so biased that they should not be used.

Jim Lobdell, senior director of TCI in Rancho Cordova, estimated that it could take a year to update the Middle East curriculum, but in the best-case scenario, it will be done sooner. In the meantime, a notice appears on TCI’s Web site that warns teachers to use discretion with the existing unit.

All current TCI customers will receive the new materials at no charge.

Last fall, the parent of a student at Santa Rosa’s Maria Carrillo High School complained to school officials not only about the textbook his son was using — which he said was biased against Israel — but about the supplemental materials. When the school district refused to stop using the materials, he took the matter to the JCRC, which, upon reading the chapter in question, became alarmed.

This prompted Jackie Berman, the JCRC’s education specialist, and Yitzhak Santis, JCRC Middle East director, to write a report analyzing point by point how the curriculum was flawed. A back and forth ensued with TCI, which sent the report to scholars of its choosing to offer their opinions.

A JCRC board member sent the report to attorney Alan Dershowitz. The board member called Dershowitz’s assistant to see if he would be willing to look at the materials as well as the report, and he did.

“I agree completely that the historical distortions and factual mistakes that appear throughout the curriculum make it unacceptable for classroom use and I hope that the proper authorities will seriously consider your criticisms,” Dershowitz wrote.

Lobdell said that the JCRC’s report prompted TCI leadership to seek the opinions of additional scholars and teachers on the unit in question.

“The feedback we got from them and the context of the events since 9/11 and the heightened sensitivities around the issues in the Middle East prompted us to update the lessons that we have,” said Lobdell.

Which is cause for cautious celebration at the JCRC. “Of course we’ll be watching,” said Berman, “but we’re hoping it turns out right now.”

Since TCI’s decision, the Santa Rosa school district has stopped using its materials.

What concerns me here is that it apparently doesn't matter if Scottsdale is using the "new materials" or the old materials: either is unacceptable as a portrayal of truth. More importantly, the earlier text, Across The Centuries, was flawed as well.

On February 11, 2002, Daniel Pipes posted Think Like A Muslim [,Urges "Across The Centuries"]. The heart of the piece:

. . . But the really serious problem concerns the covert propagation of Islam, which takes four forms:

* Apologetics: Everything Islamic is praised; every problem is swept under the rug.

Students learn about Islam's "great cultural flowering," but nothing about the later centuries of statis and decline. They read repeatedly about the Muslims' broadmindedness (they "were extremely tolerant of those they conquered") but not a word about their violence (such as the massacres carried out by Muhammad's troops against the Jews of Banu Qurayza).

* Distortion: Jihad, which means "sacred war," turns into a struggle mainly "to do one's best to resist temptation and overcome evil." Islam gives women "clear rights" not available in some other societies, such as the right to an education? This ignores the self-evident fact that Muslim women enjoy fewer rights than perhaps any other in the world. ("Across the Centuries" implicitly acknowledges this reality by blaming "oppressive local traditions" for their circumstances.)

* Identification as Muslims: Homework assignments repeatedly involve mock-Muslim exercises. "Form small groups of students to build a miniature mosque." Or: "You leave your home in Alexandria for the pilgrimage to Mecca. . . . write a letter describing your route, the landscapes and peoples you see as you travel and any incidents that happen along the way. Describe what you see in Mecca."

And then there is this shocker: "Assume you are a Muslim soldier on your way to conquer Syria in the year A.D. 635. Write three journal entries that reveal your thoughts about Islam, fighting in battle, or life in the desert."

* Piety: The textbook endorses key articles of Islamic faith. It informs students as a historical fact that Ramadan is holy "because in this month Muhammad received his first message from Allah." It asserts that "the very first word the angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammad was 'Recite.' " It explains that Arabic lettering "was used to write down God's words as they had been given to Muhammad." And it declares that the architecture of a mosque in Spain allows Muslims "to feel Allah's invisible presence."

By 2002, this book had been in use 11 years. This fact made me think about John Walker Lindh. Did he use this book? The answer is yes.

During 2002, the American Textbook Council formally studied and researched seven major history and social studies textbooks. They published a report in February 2003, and a reply to critics the following December. (Both available in pdf on their website. You may also peruse eye-opening excerpts on jihad and sharia.) Earlier this year, their website published an update, part of which I excerpt below, with my emphases:

During the last two years, beginning with the American Textbook Council report, "Islam in the Classroom," published in February 2003, several reviews, articles and books have documented bias and evasions in world history textbooks on the subjects of militant Islam and Islamic terrorism. Textbooks misrepresent the scope and aims of militant Islam, critics agree. They contain fallacies and untruths about jihad, sharia, slavery, status of Muslim women, terrorism, and tolerance.

These reviews independently reach the same conclusions. Most conspicuously, history textbooks distort the meaning of jihad. Houghton Mifflin's seventh-grade text, Across the Centuries, has come in for singular criticism. Houghton Mifflin's books dominate the nation's largest state, but they are in no way worse on this score than competing textbooks. Textbooks make no distinction between sharia and Western law, and they pretend that women are making great strides in the Islamic world, when all evidence indicates otherwise. Social studies textbooks ignore the global ambitions of militant Islam. They fail to explain that Muslim terrorists seek to destroy the United States and Israel. They omit geopolitical goals that include theocracy and world domination by religion.

Islamic organizations act as domestic textbook "censors." Strictly speaking, since only governments censor books, the Islamists are merely agents of suppression, using educational publishers to do their bidding. But for years, publishers have ignored -- "stonewalled" -- those who have pressed them about motives, funding, legal status, and strong-arm tactics on the part of their Muslim "consultants."

Now comes a test. Are new textbooks that publishers plan to introduce in California in the next few months going to correct Islam-related errors and tell the truth about terrorism? Or will California succumb to the potent Islamist lobby and its attendant multiculturalists in the state? We'll have a better idea next spring, when publishers, including Houghton Mifflin, submit their new and revised textbooks in Sacramento.

Anyone who is interested in world history or how Islam is covered in social studies classes should pay attention to a new seventh grade history textbook, History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. The textbook and its instructional materials are now being piloted in Scottsdale, Arizona. The program is almost certainly to be submitted in the important California adoption this spring.

What's the Muslim educational lobby like in Arizona? I have no idea, but I'll be checking it out for sure. I hope these chunks of quotations have been carving out the story for the reader as well. But there's more.

In 1994, Valerie Moore took her daughter to school one day.

Valerie Moore says her daughter "was indoctrinated in the Islamic religion for over four months while in the seventh grade" in 1994. Moore expressed shock in arriving at Joseph Kerr Junior High School in Elk Grove, Calif., one day and being greeted by a "huge banner on the front grounds of the school that read 'There is one God, Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.'" Moore also recounts witnessing "children dressed in Muslim attire, chanting from the Koran and praying while marching around the cabala. [sic]" Moore recalls the banner being up all day.

"What if we put up a sign that says 'Jesus is Lord' for 30 minutes? Oh, no. You can't do that – separation of church and state," Moore laments. "They aren't just teaching them about Islam; they have them practicing it. They have them kneeling down and praying to Allah. I have a problem with that. That's more like inculcation." Moore says when she complained to the school officials she was ridiculed and yelled at.

This was in 1994. This excerpt is from the fanatical Christian website blessedcause.org, which I won't link to. That doesn't change the facts, though. This kind of thing is proliferating in schools across the land: invasion of the mind-snatchers. (Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they don't want to turn your kids into Muslims.) When I'm done here, please follow FISH's advice and Google those links I've made available in his comment.

In the meantime, we may ask, as Lowell Ponte did in FrontPage on December 3, 2003,

How did such a textbook get written and approved? It was launched in accord with California policy in 1991, which wanted such a book to advance the state’s multi-culturalist, inclusive agenda.

(America by some accounts is now home to more Muslims than Presbyterians and is adjusting its culture and politics accordingly. But it’s worth noting that of the world population of 1.2 billion Muslims –-one in five human beings-– the majority is non-Arab. The five nations with the largest Muslim populations, according to the CIA World Factbook, are Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), and Turkey –-with a combined Muslim population above 650 million. The next five with the most Muslims include Nigeria, Ethiopia and Persian Iran, with only Egypt and Morocco as nominally “Arabic” nations in the top ten. And yet the pro-Muslim multiculturalist agenda would lead people to believe that Islam is a predominately Arab faith, perhaps because of its origin in Saudi Arabia.)

In 1990 a new man was named its Chairman and Chief Executive Office at this textbook’s publisher Houghton Mifflin, and in 1991 he was also given the title President at the company. He was Nader F. Darehshori, who before coming to the United States in “the early 1960s,” as his short biography tells, was for a year a teacher “in a one-room elementary school in his native Iran.”

Iran, of course, is an overwhelmingly-Islamic country.

The textbook was published with approval by the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), formed in 1988 to promote a better treatment of the subject of Islam in such texts. But, reportedly, according to one Houghton Mifflin executive CIE not only reviewed the book for errors and insensitivities after it was written, but also supplied information about the crusades that was incorporated into the textbook itself. [Dhimmi Watch has the skinny on the unscrupulous CIE.]

But how did the Scottsdale pilot program for the new book originate? Why Scottsdale? Because it's unified, K-12, we'll get 'em young and keep 'em? Because Across the Centuries was building up too much negative baggage, bogged down and barnacled with controversy?

But exactly how did this book get into the classroom --and once there, must never leave? Who decided that?

Who knows? I've emailed FISH to ask him why he does not have a copy of that book in his hand. He hasn't replied yet. I'm not questioning his behavior; I really want clarification of school district policy. Did he demand a copy of the book, and they refused? I'm emailing everyone I can think of as soon as I finish this post.

Will Arizona follow California, smoothing the path for Islamification? Despite the huffing about pilot program, California is way ahead of Arizona in educational dhimmitude. I checked out the guidelines for studying Islam recommended by the History–Social Science Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee of the California Board of Education in their report for the California Department of Education, October 11, 2001 (which reaffirms the 1998 guidelines):

In this unit students examine the rise of Islam as a religion and as a civilization. Attention should be given to the historic events of A.D. 636–651 when Arab armies reunited the ancient Middle East. Students should analyze the geographic and economic significance of the trade routes between Asia and Europe that were used by Arab merchants. They should consider the importance of a common literary language (Arabic) and religion (Islamic) in unifying the many ethnic groups of this region. The religious ideas of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, should be discussed both for their ethical teachings and as a way of life. Mohammed should be seen as a major historical figure who helped establish the Islamic way of life, its code of ethics and justice, and its rule of law. Students should examine the position of Christians and Jews in the Islamic world who, as “People of the Book,” were allowed to practice their religious beliefs. Contributions of Islamic scholars, including mathematicians, scientists, geographers, astronomers, and physicians from many ethnic groups, should be emphasized and their relationship to Greek thought acknowledged. Scholars at Baghdad and Córdoba, the two great centers of Muslim learning, helped to preserve much of the learning of the ancient world; and, by the end of the ninth century, they added important new discoveries of their own in mathematics, medicine, geography, history, and science. Attention should be paid to the flowering of Jewish civilization in Córdoba, where poets, philosophers, and scholars established a vibrant culture.

Anything about those guidelines seem unusually greasy to you?

These guidelines were reaffirmed two days ago at the conclusion of the 2005 California Council for the Social Studies Conference at the Airport Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. (Pdf available from Google here.) According to the pdf of the Conference Schedule, there were dozens of workshops on dozens of subjects. None of them covered specific aspects of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism. But the following workshops were offered:

--Standards Based Unit Projects for 7th Grade World History MS
Greg Clifton, Teacher , JL Stanford MS, Palo Alto; Jason Dickinson

Three standards based unit projects will be shared from the topics of Islam, Medieval Japan and Medieval/Renaissance Europe. Project descriptions and rubrics will be provided. Student examples will be shown.

--Making Sense of Differing Interpretations of Islam MS SH G
Munir Shaikh, Council on Islamic Education, Shabbir Mansuri

What are Islam’s true teachings, and who decides? Find out how to make sense of Muslim’s diversity. Learn how religion, culture, politics and other factors affect our perceptions of Islam.

--What Do State Standards Say Regarding Teaching About Religion? MS SH G
Munir Shaik, Council on Islamic Education, Shabbir Mansuri

This session will provide participants with an overview of how the standards of California and other states address teaching about religion. Is there consensus on how to cover religion?

--Creative Ways to Teach About the Middle East in our Schools, Grades 6-10 MS SH
Ron Pahl, Professor, CSU Fullerton; Connie DeCapita

Lots of exciting lessons on how to teach about the Middle East in the classroom. Traditional peoples, their cultures, map work, Israel/Palestine, the US Iraqi invasion & other modern critical issues.

Daniel Pipes put it succinctly: why is Islam priveleged in our public schools over every other religion? My answer is: because they're pushy and motivated, and American non-Muslims are complacent and lazy.

What are you going to do, Scottsdalians, Arizonans? Let the Arizona Muslims turn your children into little dhimmis, banging their foreheads on the floor five times a day for Allah? Don't let it happen. In the name of the future of America, don't let it happen!

Posted by Jerome at 01:20 AM | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

Rebarbarization In The Academy

[This post contains disturbing sentences that will leave strong, unwelcome images in the reader's mind. Be warned. Burn sage while reading --a lot of sage; it's a long post.]

If they try to deep-six my ass, I'm going to butcher them in court. --Ward "The Cleaver" Churchill, U. of Hawai'i, Feb. 22, 2005.

You've got to be carefully taught. --Rogers & Hammerstein.

by Jerome du Bois

When a high-school student turns in a detailed written description of murdering a classmate, he (sometimes, not always) goes to counseling. But when University of Hawai'i Professor Haunani Trask wrote a book of poetry called "Racist White Woman" --which detailed "her fantasy of punching, knifing, mutilating and ultimately murdering a white colleague she despised"-- it was published.

Since the beginning of this blog, we recently realized, we have repeatedly encountered the sticky tar of a disturbing heartlessless now becoming obvious in the faculties and student bodies of many American universities. (Professor Trask, on Sept. 12, 2001, quoted Malcolm X on President Kennedy's murder: "Chickens have come home to roost." Okay: ditto, X; right back at ya, Malcolm.)

We wrote about artists, but most of them are attached to, or emerged from, academia --Jon Haddock, for example, championed by Arizona State Curator John Spiak; the entire museum curatorial staff --Marilyn Zeitlin, Heather Lineberry, Spiak, et al-- who created the despicable and falsely-titled "Democracy in America" exhibition; also Heidi Hesse, Beverly McIver, Michael Ray Charles, Neal Lester, John Jota Leaños-- every one of them parroting with a twisted smirk the notion that whatever America gets, she deserves.

But now they're getting really personal, and visceral, and up-close. Here's Cigar-Store Indian Ward Churchill answering questions in public at The Left Bank Book Store in Seattle, August 10, 2003 (hat tip to Michelle Malkin):

Question from audience: You mentioned a little bit ago, ‘Why did it take a bunch of Arabs to do what you all should have done a long time ago,’ that’s my question. . . .[snip]

Churchill: I’m gonna repeat that, tell me if I got that right: Why shouldn’t we do something and how do you move so they don’t see you coming.

As to the first part, not a reason in the world that I could see. I can’t find a single reason that you shouldn’t in a principled way—there may be some practical considerations, such as do you know how (laughter from audience)—you know, often these things are processes. It’s not just an impulse. And certainly it’s not just an event. And the simple answer, although it probably should be more complicated, but I’m not being flip and giving the simple answer, is: You carry the weapon. That’s how they don’t see it coming.

Is it becoming clearer to anyone out there why I carry the weapon? 24/7? We've been threatened with physical harm by people who have graduated, or emanated, from Arizona State University. We two live with eyes in the back of our heads, in a local culture shot through with twisted strands of cruelty, sadomasochism, and rebarbarization --the ragged end of decadence, before the rebirth of decency-- and the universities nurture it.

By coincidence or synchronicity, I have just finished reading Roger L. Depue's vivid, wise, and quotable memoir Between Good and Evil, subtitled "A Master Profiler's Hunt for Society's Most Violent Predators." (Written with Susan Schindehette.)

This is the man who, though he didn't create it, grew the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit to its current excellence. In what follows, I will use some of what he has learned to draw disturbing parallels in the psychological profiles of contemporary human predators and contemporary academic liberals.

And no, this is not parody. Not a word of it is funny. . . . Okay; some of my Ward nicknames, maybe.

From Depue, Chapter One, page six:

My job has been to try to stop human predators before they kill again, and after studying them so closely over so many years, to me their traits seem clearly recognizable.

They are rational, sadistic, often intelligent, and almost invariably narcissistic. They see themselves living in a realm somewhere above the rest of us, in a place where the rules of normal society do not apply. Over the years, I've drawn up a list of their common operating principles, something that I call the Anti-Commandments:

[1] "That which you love is what I most seek to destroy."

[2] "Life is as meaningless as death."

[3] "There are few things more pleasurable than hurting someone who is trying to help me."

[4] "People die too easily. It should be more painful, and take longer."

Almost exactly two years ago, when we were talking with Tucson artist and high-school teacher Mark Rubin-Toles, a Yale alumnus, we were stunned and horrified when, over lunch, he told us that he was fascinated by the images of the WTC jumpers, telling us that Mexican cable TV would show those images over and over and over . . . "It's kinda funny," he actually said, especially of the pair falling holding hands.

He was also surprised that we didn't just jump into his hate-Bush anti-war frame. He insisted that we were going to war because Americans can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. I yelled that no, we were going over there because Saddam was cutting their tongues out! And we left him there.

From Depue's book, page 291: "[A 9/11 eyewitness] recalls onlookers standing, stunned, in the minutes after the second plane hit the World Trade Center. They looked to the sky, and saw dark blots that began hitting the sidewalk, and realized, in horror, that they were people. She remembers a group of kids, standing in baseball caps and baggy jeans, who were watching these things unfold. But as the bodies hit the pavement, those teenagers shouted and cheered."

Now, reader, can you imagine yourself standing beside those teenagers, either silently or loudly encouraging them? How about Mark Rubin-Toles? How about Haunani Trask? How about Non-Indian Giver Ward Churchill? How about the 200 CU Boulder professors who just publicly stood behind him? How about the U of Wisconsin Whitewater faculty sponsors? I can see it easily; these people have hearts like fossilized raisins, and there are tens of thousands of them, their eyes like iron marbles, their mouths frowned down into humorless horseshoes. (Ward Churchill didn't even raise his leis to inhale their fragrances.)

They are rational, sadistic, often intelligent, and almost invariably narcissistic. They see themselves living in a realm somewhere above the rest of us, in a place where the rules of normal society do not apply.

Among the statements in their unqualified endorsement of Ward Churchill, the American Association of University Professors writes that what was “reprehensible are inflammatory statements by public officials that interfere in the decisions of the academic community."

In other words: the learned monks are convening, ignorant peasants hush up. Those loonies don't yet see their bad moon waning.

As to narcissism, one good example comes from one of the racists of color we have called out in the past, Neal Lester. Catherine King asked him, on the blog and in emails, to explain an anti-American statement in an art exhibition catalog with which he appeared to agree. He finally deigned to slip an email from under the door of his little kingdom. But he had only two things to say: he asked if we were under psychiatric care, and he corrected us about the length of his hair.

Catherine King had written about racism, moral values, human dignity, twisted history, the nature of beauty, bad education, questionable curating --and this pitiful squib was, and remains, his only reply.

Neal Lester doesn't have to care about truth, honesty, or the future. He doesn't have to care about us, out here in the blogosphere. He's got tenure --and dreads. He is sittin' pretty up there.

[1] "That which you love is what I most seek to destroy."

Inalienable Individual Rights. The United States. Private Property. Mutual Respect. Capitalism. The Military. Political & Economic Equality for Women. Secure Borders. The US Constitution. The Declaration of Independence. Freedom of Religion. The Rule of Law. Education. Academic Freedom. Technology. Freedom. Liberty. Happiness. Life.

Haunani Trask: "We need to think very, very clearly about who the enemy is. The enemy is the United States of America and everyone who supports it." . . .Professor Trask has even promoted her classes by claiming in speeches that if students believe “the United States is good, [take my class] and think again.”. . . In essays published by Professor Trask, she repeatedly rejects “the concept of academic freedom as a bourgeoisie white intellectual construct. . ." [Ryan O'Donnell, Frontpage magazine, June 25, 2003.]

Another one of Churchill's promoters in Hawai'i is Robert Perkinson, an assistant professor of American Studies there. Here's what Laura Brown at Hawaii Reporter reports about this guy:

[Faculty like] American Studies Assistant Professor Robert Perkinson, who organized Churchill’s visit, promote anti-American, anti-capitalism propaganda while collecting their upper-middle class paychecks made possible by their students’ capitalist parents, student labor, corporate sponsorship and taxpayer dollars.

Perkinson, who teaches courses such as American Empire, World War II in America and Hawaii and Slavery and Unfree Labor, published an op-ed against America in the Jordan Times last year entitled Practices that Demand Scrutiny, which was carried by Al-Jazeerah.

Both Perkinson and Churchill are signatories of a Dec. 2, 1999, statement advocating violence against the World Trade Organization in 1999, identifying themselves as “We - the broad Left, anti-corporate, pro-livable world community.”

These unequivocal statements follow, “Adherents to ‘non-violent’ protest methods preach against targeting corporate property. We feel that this is an uncritical acceptance of the dominant value system of American consumer society: private property has a higher value than life. At this time, we feel that we, as activists, need to debate these issues further among ourselves.”

One more example of contempt for simple human dignity: After the 1993 incident in which Churchill, surrounded by his crew, spat on the injured Carole Standing Elk, Patti Jo King of California AIM and several others formally complained to his employer, the University of Colorado at Boulder:

During the protest that followed this shocking and reprehensible incident, the University of Colorado was contacted and complaints about Churchill’s inappropriate behavior were filed. Nevertheless, the concerns of the Indian community fell on deaf ears. One department head at the University of Colorado told the complainants, “What Mr. Churchill does off campus on his own time is his own business.” [my emphasis]

Such warmth and compassion from these people!

After he retired from the FBI, Roger Depue consulted with corporations about workplace safety and employees who go beserk. From Depue's book, page 268:

Whenever I was hired by a corporation to advise them on reducing the likelihood of workplace violence, I made a point of pulling out of my briefcase a well-worn copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. You can tell a lot about a country, or an organization, from its basic documents, I said, and these are ours. I told them I'd interviewed a number of workplace killers in prison, and almost every one mentioned how in some way, real or imagined, they'd felt shortchanged, denigrated, or demeaned by their employer.

The very first step in creating an environment where violence isn't likely to thrive, I said, isn't metal detectors, security cameras, and armed guards at the door. It's making sure the basic rights in our most revered documents are provided. The first step is to make sure you treat every employee with dignity.

Just substitute "student" or "colleague" or "citizen" for "employee" in the above passage, and remember how Ward Churchill flunked a student for not agreeing with him. Remember how he said that his Ninth Amendment rights trumped a questioner's First Amendment rights. (He went on at length about public stupidity of Constitutional law, ignoring that he really meant the Tenth Amendment, even after being corrected by an audience member. Idiota.) Remember how an astronomy professor spent 45 minutes trashing the President before a captive audience. That is fascism. (This abuse has become so common that some students now chant "OT,OT" [Off-Topic] in objection. They are there to learn, not be indoctrinated.)

To risk going off-topic myself, the following pellucid passage by Rabbi Hillel Goldberg of Denver seems appropriate here:

The pertinent pedagogical criticism of Ward Churchill is not for his opinons, but for espousing them in the classroom. If one defends Churchill, the teacher, on grounds of free speech, one perverts the purpose of the university classroom, which is not professor-focused, but student-focused. It is not a professor's free speech, but the student's rigorous, unbiased training, that is the university's purpose. If a professor must fall back on free speech or academic freedom to defend himself, it's usually because he violated his mission: focus on the student.

If only professors respected their students. It sounds like dreamland. Here is Haunani Trask concentrating her focus on a student (from Ryan O'Donnell, frontpage):

In essays published by Professor Trask, she repeatedly rejects “the concept of academic freedom as a bourgeoisie white intellectual construct,” some sort of racist notion she is apparently by no means bound to, despite being a member of a major department at a taxpayer-funded state university.

For example, in 1990, a white undergraduate student named Joey Carter penned an editorial in the University of Hawaii student newspaper expressing dismay over the continued use of the word “haole” in Hawaiian society. Mr. Carter’s concerns centered around the fact that the word was becoming increasingly depreciatory, and “when spoken with bitter sarcasm and prolonged intonation” seemed to carry “some of the burning hostility of the modern use of the word ‘nigger.’”

In response to the student’s letter, Professor Trask unleashed a racist, ad hominem attack on Mr. Carter. Dismissing Mr. Carter’s concerns as “uninformed, childish moaning” (how scholarly of her), Professor Trask both acknowledges the hostility inherent to the word “haole” while refusing to stop using it, declaring that Mr. Carter’s discomfort was “too bad,” because, as she informed Mr. Carter, “you are a haole and you always will be.” Trask then suggested that if Mr. Carter did not like enduring racial slurs he should “return to Louisiana.”

[Personal aside to Prof. Trask, hapa-haole: I am a poi-dog haole --French Huguenot and Scots-Irish-- born in Lanikai and raised there fifteen years. My father, who was golfing at the Oahu Country Club on December 7, 1941, went to war and earned five Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and two Silver Stars helping to save the families that gave birth to your sorry ass.

What did your daddies and granddaddies do during the War, Prof? Were any of them hiding out hanging out on Ni'ihau, maybe? While my mom dodged the blackouts, heart thudding, going outside to do laundry for her and her infant daughter? While my dad shed blood, and scarred his soul, on Guadalcanal and Okinawa? For freedom, for the future, for all peoples? You feckless, heartless fool!]

[2] "Life is as meaningless as death."

This statement presents no problem to those who have been eating the French cheese all these years: Saussare, Barthes, Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Cixous. The key word here is neither life nor death, for them, but "meaningless," the hollow heart of their program. The destruction of meaning, then language, then life's juice itself, is their goal.

The prime recent example has to be Joe Deutsch, the sociopathic student artist who nearly blew his brains out in Chris Burden and Nancy Rubin's performance art class. Both teachers promptly resigned (twenty years late in my opinion). If you want to peek into the resinous heart of our culture, go read the comments in this posting from art.blogging.la. Main tone there: La-de-la, what's the big deal? I have been trying to find the transcript of an interview by John Kasich on Fox with one of the students, who wanted to insist that whether the bullet was real or not was not the real issue. The real issue was, was it art?

Kasich said something about him feeling different if the poor fool's brains had been splattered all over his face. (I think Kasich is wrong about that, sadly. This young man was a zombie.)

For my second example, let's revisit John Jota Leaños's callous claim to fame: the Pat Tillman poster. From his speech about it at ASU, we begin with the words JJL forced into Tillman's mouth:

Remember me? I was killed by my own Army Ranger Platoon in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004

I am a hero to many of you

my death was tragic my glory was short-lived

flawed perceptions of myself my country and the War on Terror resulted in the disastrous end to my life

[JJL:] To me, this to me is a quiet piece. It is an emotional argument. It brings issues into question. It does not violently scream at you. It uses first person as an artistic strategy. It's a declaration from the dead.

There are many explanations and points of entry to this piece, but I would like to say that this piece, for me, is a work for the Days of the Dead. As you know, the Days of the Dead/Días de los Muertos is a Mexican, Xican@ and indigenous tradition that ritualizes the CELEBRATION of the dead. We honor our dead during these falls weeks by creating altars and artwork with our dead's favorite objects, foods and drinks and by inviting the spirits back to our homes. We talk to our dead. This may seem strange to some of you, but it is an ancient tradition passed on to us. We create caricatures of the dead making fun of the living and caricatures of the living poking fun at the dead. We also use caricatures of the dead to comment on political and social contradictions. This tradition goes way back before the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada.

So the question put forth with this piece was, "What if Pat Tillman's image/spirit came back to ASU speaking to us about the tragedy of his death and the mistakes and errors of war? What would happen?"

Pat Tillman was a complicated fellow, no doubt. If we examine Tillman, the man, it's evident that he was complex, not seeking heroic status, constantly questioning, searching, and a self-declared atheist. But this work deals more with the use of his image rather than Tillman the man; it's a memorial about the manufacturing of heroes by the military and the quasi-religious and dogmatic adherence to Tillman's mythological heroic image by mainly conservative male Americans.

Before we focus on the Pat Tillman desecration, notice first the priveleging of the indigenous with all the huffing and puffing about Day of the Dead. Big deal. Humans all over the world for over fifty thousand years have done all the things he describes, and even more, over and over. There is nothing particularly special about the Xi%&n@ (whatever) Day of the Dead.

But JJL uses it as a colonialist would: as a prop, a puppet, a cultural overlay to justify his attack on Tillman and America. One is not supposed to criticize other cultures for fear of being called racist. To hell with that: he's using a cultural tradition as a bludgeon, disrespecting both the modest tradition and his dead, now defenseless victim, a man he couldn't hold a candle to on his best day on this Earth. [I've written about JJL twice before, here and here.]

flawed perceptions of myself my country and the War on Terror resulted in the disastrous end to my life

Notice, first, the passive voice. Typical wimpy wanky academic limp noodle yakking. Army Rangers don't talk like that. They say: We. Go. Now. They say, "Rangers don't leave Rangers behind."

But no: JJL has read Pat Tillman's mind and brings us the news that Tillman wasn't seeing himself, his country, or the War on Terror at all clearly. He was deluded. JJL offers no evidence of the provenance of this new information. A seance, maybe? A vision quest and a sweat? Consulting a bruja? I don't think so. It's loony left boilerplate, and it's about as credible as Rangers using toy guns.

It uses first person as an artistic strategy . . . But this work deals more with the use of his image rather than Tillman the man . . .

JJL justifies spitting on a man's grave as an artistic strategy. For the sake of JJL's "artwork," every strong moment of Pat Tillman's life has its legs cut out from under it. Once again, aesthetics trumps simple mutual human respect, and honoring the dead. Here JJL also cops to [3] above:

"There are few things more pleasurable than hurting someone who is trying to help me."

Let's put some words in JJL's mouth and see how he likes it:

"I hate this country and its success. I resented Pat Tillman's strength, his determination, his athletic talents, his clarity, his integrity, his modesty, his patriotism, and even his beauty. I got so juiced when I found out he had died by friendly fire. That made my idea perfect. Now, when people think of Pat Tillman, I'm right there too in their minds. That's what I wanted. Plus I can use him as a whipping boy for my new bogeyman, the New American University." (More on that last below.)

JJL also makes the false claim that he was dealing with the use of Tillman's image, not Tillman himself. As if they can be separated, peeled apart in deconstructed decalcomania. No; can't be done. The man himself is looking out at you.

There's no doubt a lot people wanted a piece of Pat Tillman, both before and after his tragic death. JJL claims that ASU took the hero thing and ran with it to promote its own agenda, which JJL has the skinny on, too, because he's empoying exactly the same strategy. He needs to, to save his job, and he'll desecrate Pat Tillman's memory the livelong day toward that end.

What do I mean about saving his job? The clue comes further down in the speech:

The "New American University," of course, is a philosophy and vision steeped in corporate influence and metaphor, aspiring to the MIT and Carnegie Mellon University model that stresses techno-science for the principal benefit of government, military and corporate profit. It is a model that furthers entrenches the paramilitary and corporate function of the university into the larger global economic structure. The humanities and arts in the New American University model are said to be necessary, but are ultimately devalued as these disciplines just don't bring in as much capital.

And why is that? Because they are increasingly irrelevant, the public is getting wise to it, and now these clowns must circle the wagons and whine about how special they are because they're one-sixteenth Pawnee.

So what? How does this minor historical accident help us get handles on the future? Long ago the Catholics slaughtered and burned alive most of my family on that infamous St. Bartholemew's Day, along with tens of thousands of others. Long ago the English drove my other family, by the edge of their broadswords, down to the blasted lowland heaths of Scotland to grub out a living, or not. Where's my repatriation, James Riding In?

Screw that. I don't whine; I pick it up where it is, and make improvements. It's called progress, bootstrapping, the forward look, the upward glance, the Western Way.

JJL, James Riding In, Haunani Trask, Ward Churchill, all you zombies --nothing is meaningless! Life is meaning! Wake up! --or rather-- be born --finally.

My third and final example of the willful destruction of meaning and language is Ward "My Brush Is My Weapon" Churchill's Winter Attack. No, I don't mean his physical attack on Raj Chohan and his cameraperson, I mean the artwork Raj wanted to talk about. The best example of the plagarism is here, courtesy of LGF reader DaZoid. (LGF readers are an internet treasure.)

When the Flummoxed Lummox re-emerged after the encounter, he offered a truly convoluted "explanation," the important aspects of which I list now:

It's original even if it isn't.

Stealing is no big deal, an outdated bourgeouis concept; think of my piece as appropriation.

It's your fault that you didn't know I stole from Thomas Mails.

My deepest fantasy is to be a Mystic Warrior of the Plains.

Okay, that last one I put in his mouth. But the rest are designed to destroy property rights, originality, authorship, copyright, trademark, legal responsibility, legal definitions of theft, and a lot more. (Now he says Thomas Mails knew all about it. Untrue. He should take Mark Twain's advice: "When you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.") He wants to corrode all meaning to make the social fabric more malleable for he and his fascistic tribalism.

[3] "There are few things more pleasurable than hurting someone who is trying to help me."

The closest analogue I have to this in ethnic studies would be bayoneting the wounded. Let me explain by using a summary of the subjects of a dozen years of articles from Wicazo Sa, a Native American Review. (This analysis is restricted to the tables of contents online, though the review goes back to 1985.) Here is their mission statement, copied from the website at their new home, Arizona State University:

During the past two decades, Native American Studies has emerged as a central arena in which Native American populations in the United States define the cultural, religious, legal, and historical parameters of scholarship and creativity essential for survival in the modern world. Founded in 1985 Wicazo Sa Review is a journal in support of this particular type of scholarship, providing inquiries into the Indian past and its relationship to the vital present. Its aim is to become an interdisciplinary instrument to assist indigenous peoples of the Americas in taking possession of their own intellectual and creative pursuits.

Each issue contains articles, essays, interviews, reviews, literary criticism, and scholarly research pertinent to Native American Studies and related fields.

In twelve years, from 1992 to Fall 2004, Wicazo Sa published nineteen issues, once to twice a year. By my count, including editors' commentaries, the review published 185 articles and 78 book and film reviews, for a total of 263 written pieces. In this group we find:

--two articles about "drinking." Not "alcoholism." That word never appears.
--one article about AIDS.
--one article about child sexual abuse and AIDS.
--one article about diabetes (which blames the whites via displacement).
--one article about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Vietnam Vets).
--two articles about welfare reform.
--and three articles about gaming, all positive (which I will return to below).

That's 11 out of 263. Less than five percent. Let's list what Native American issues the editors decided were unworthy of their attention, scholarship and creativity essential for survival in the modern world:

--welfare dependency
--alcoholism
--glue sniffing
--domestic violence
--dating violence
--teen pregnancy & STDs
--infant mortality
--highest suicide rate of any US ethnic group; why?
--recidivism
--xenophobia
--the corrosiveness of gaming
--neglect and destruction of the natural environment
--gang activity
--crystal meth plague

What do they concentrate on, then? Can't you guess? Repatriation and Sovereignity issues dominate. They ran a special issue on Health. Suicide went unmentioned. They had a Film & Video issue as well. There was an article about toys, and one about the consciousness of rocks. The reader is welcome to peruse their tables of contents. Any example I cite will sound unfair. Go look for yourselves.

[Update: Oh, about the gaming. The first article was a survey, as far as I can tell. The second article was titled "The Apex of A Long Struggle." The third was titled "Lady Luck or Mother Earth? Gaming As A Trope In Plains Indians Cultural Traditions," by Kathryn Shanley. Nothing about appealing to the stupidity in human beings, and making money off of it. How noble.]

I don't know what "wicazo sa" stands for, but I translate it as "Turn back the clock for the priveleged Indian whiners." I mean these people, for starters:

Editor

* James Riding In

Associate Editor

* Susan Miller

Founding Editors

* Roger Buffalohead
* Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
* Beatrice Medicine
* William Willard

Contributing Editors

* Gloria Bird, Institute for American Indian Arts
* Duane Champagne, University of California, Los Angeles
* Steven J. Crum, University of California, Davis
* Vine Deloria, Jr., University of Colorado (emeritus)
* Donald Fixico, University of Kansas
* Jack D. Forbes, University of California, Davis
* Joy Harjo, poet and musician, University of California, Los Angeles
* Suzan Shown Harjo, The Morning Star Insitute
* Inés Hernández-Ávila, University of California, Davis
* Geary Hobson, University of Oklahoma
* Tom Holm, University of Arizona
* Craig Howe, Oglala Lakota College
* Ted Jojola, University of New Mexico
* Glenabah Martinez, University of New Mexico
* LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne, University of Nevada, Reno
* Robert M. Peregoy, Salish Kootenai College
* Kathryn Shanley, University of Montana
* A. Blair Stonechild, Saskatchewan Federated Indian College
* Luci Tapahonso, University of Arizona
* Laura Tohe, Arizona State University
* Robert Hill, University of Wisconsin
* Charles F. Wilkinson, University of Colorado
* Michael Yellow Bird, University of Kansas

Editor Assistant

* Chris Pexa

Message to all of you: you're betraying the future of your peoples while you publish irrelevancies. You know damn well the Hawai'ians are never going to get Hawai'i back. It's just a guilt grift with you operators. Look at you! waving your eagle feathers and tattered treatises on your little island in the backwaters of the university, while the unstoppable now and the incredible future sweep by you! While your peoples ruin themselves in a dozen ways! And you, hauling in all that green that folds. Shame on you all!

[4] "People die too easily. It should be more painful, and take longer."

And now we're back at the top, with Ward The Cleaver and Haunani "Bloody Knife" Trask, carefully teaching their students how to slowly and pleasurably carve the heart out of the American soul, the better to eat it raw.

POSTCRIPT: Several years ago my wife, Catherine King, was teaching sixth grade English in an affluent public school district in Cave Creek. One of her students was a punk who had come up through that school district, a Holocaust denier, Jew-hater and all-around twisted twit named Jaime Anderson. ("No, it's not Hymie, it's Jay-me, you stupid, stupid . . .") His parents appeared to be white supremacists. Anyway, after she rebuked him in class once for his antisemitism, he said the following:

"Do you ever think about commiting suicide, Ms. King? Because if you do, I've got a lot of money, and I could pay for your funeral."

She went to the principal, lodged a complaint, and went home.

The next day, at Columbine in Colorado, Klebold and Harris unleashed hell.

The following Monday Catherine returned to the principal's office, and ran into a brick wall. Even in the light of Columbine, they would not support her. Not long after, she quit, joining the ranks of so many ex-teachers who will no longer live among the Rebarbarians.

See also:

The Indian Giver
Another Note About Ward Churchill Of The Hyena-Vulture Tribe
Flying With Ward Churchill On The Astral Plane
To Ward Churchill And John Jota Leaños: You Gotta Face Your Face When The Race Fad Fades
Ward "The Cleaver" Churchill Wants To Watch You Bleed


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March 03, 2005

ENDLESS EMBRACE

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Flower Arrangement and Photograph by Catherine King.

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