It is an embarrassment when educators, responsible for teaching our young people, embark upon a politically correct initiative that ultimately proves hypocritical. In the following cases, basic research could have spared them the embarrassment attributed to displacing knowledge in favor of political correctness.
Educators at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, apparently were so bothered by the school’s name, due to slave ownership of its namesake, they dropped the Confederate general’s name. In so doing, one would assume a replacement for Stuart’s name would have undergone careful scrutiny to avoid even the slightest historical linkage to the sin of slavery in the interests of political correctness.
But after selecting an alternative namesake, they failed to conduct research of the selectee’s family line. While the namesake himself was not a slave owner, his family tree benefited from such ownership. And, while it is rational not to condemn descendants for the sins committed by family members before them, if the objective of these educators was to remove any hint of slave ownership from their school’s name, they should have selected a namesake whose family line was “squeaky clean” of it.
The alternative name selected was that of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama. While the selection may well have made these educators feel good, providing them with a teaching moment for their students about J.E.B. Stuart, one might wonder whether they are “smarter than a fifth grader.” Fifth graders conducting research could easily have discovered an intriguing fact about the Obama family line.
While Obama is the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother, genealogical researcher William Reitwiesner found an interesting bit of history on his mother’s side of the family. Obama’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Washington Overall, was a slave owner. Overall had two slaves, a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man. Also, Obama’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Duvall, in 1850 owned two slaves – a 60-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman. Duvall descended from the very wealthy family of Maureen Duvall who, in the 17th century, owned at least 18 slaves.
Little did Michelle Obama know when she played the race card, claiming in a 2016 speech that the White House was primarily built by slave labor (it was not), she was casting aspersions upon her own husband’s family line.
But this raises the question, as the political correctness objective of these educators was to erase from history an ugly part of America’s past, cleansing the school of any connection to it, was that goal fully achieved by replacing Stuart’s name with Obama’s when his family line benefited from slave ownership as well?
An interesting side note for discussion involves the national debate over whether Congress should pay reparations to descendants of those enslaved. If descendants of slaves were to receive such reparations for America’s sin of slavery, would Obama then contribute to the payment pot or benefit from it? It would seem unfair to allow a descendant to benefit from reparations but not be tainted by a family’s history of slave ownership.
Meanwhile, in that great state of liberalism, California, another move by naïve educators to honor the gods of political correctness raises a sad irony. The San Francisco Board of Education almost unanimously voted to approve a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with an extremist, anti-Semitic, Islamic group to provide academic support and “workshops” to five high schools.
One wonders, however, if Board members made any effort to explore what their vote really achieves. Clearly, they have failed to read the Quran or attended mosque services to gain insights about what Islam teaches and, therefore, what Islamic workshops will also teach these high school students.
At a minimum, Board members should have listened to last year’s recorded sermon by Egyptian-born American preacher Ammar Shahin at an Islamic center in California. He called for Allah to annihilate all Jews. He also prayed for the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem to be liberated from “the filth of the Jews.”
Shahin does not represent the fringe of such Islamic teachings. At other mosques around the U.S. and the world, similar sermons are being preached. While the workshops the Board authorized will, undoubtedly, not immediately jump into teaching anti-Semitism, it will most assuredly lead students in that direction.
These Board members apparently were so eager to feel “warm and fuzzy” about inviting multi-culturalism into the teaching environment, they failed to do their homework to understand what it is they are allowing into the classroom.
Again, a little bit of leg work on their part to educate themselves on Islam also would have drawn attention to the sad irony of introducing such Islamic workshops into one high school in particular. The school bears the name of Raoul Wallenberg.
It would not be surprising to learn Board members have no idea who Wallenberg was. He was a real hero of the World War II Holocaust. Using his status as a Swedish diplomat, he sheltered thousands of Hungarian Jews in “protected houses” flying the Swedish flag, ushering many out of the country safely. Sadly, at war’s end, he was detained by the Soviets and never released, reportedly dying in their custody. He has since been made an honorary citizen of the U.S., Canada, Hungary and Israel.
It is dispiriting to think, while Wallenberg sacrificed his life to save Jews from the Nazi hatred, San Francisco Board of Education members will allow Islamic hatred of Jews to be brought into the classroom. By so doing, they dishonor the memory of a hero.
Unfortunately, we are turning our children over to educators not only unworthy of educating them but unwilling to educate themselves as well, choosing instead simply to bury their heads deep in the sands of misguided political correctness.