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Hate Crimes – edu|FOCUS
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Hate Crimes Tag

The Alt Right Has a Friend in Common Core

  Let’s say you’re a modern-day hipster Nazi. You’re bummed out. No one wants to hang out with you because of your bald head and your red suspenders and your commitment to the ideals of a defeated and disgraced totalitarian regime. What are you to do? REBRAND, son! It’s simple. No more National Socialist German Workers Party! That sounds too pinko! Now you’re simply a member of the Alt Right! It’s not racist! You’re just committed to traditional attitudes and values — if those traditional attitudes and values come from 1945 Berlin! Heck, you don’t even have to call yourself Alt Right. You can call yourself a White Identitarian. You aren’t over-concerned with any one side of the political spectrum or other. You just strongly identify with whiteness — and by extension increasing the political power of white people at the expense of all others. That’s all. It should be obvious that this isn’t merely rebranding. It’s propaganda. In today’s fast paced information age – where every fact is merely a Google away – that can be hard to get away with – UNLESS… Unless you already have a readymade tool to protect propaganda from the kind of informed critical thought that can pop it like a bubble. Something to insolate the ignorance and keep out the enlightened analysis. I am, of course, talking about Common Core. What!? How does Common Core have anything to do with white nationalism? Common Core is just a set of academic standards for what should be taught in public schools adopted by 42 of 50 states. Academic standards aren’t political. Are they? Actually, they are. Quite political. Just take a look at how the standards came to be adopted in the first place. The Obama administration bribed and coerced the states to adopt these standards before many of them were even done being written. Hold your horses. The Obama administration!? That doesn’t sound exactly like a friend of the Third Reich. And it wasn’t. It was a friend to big business. When first created, these standards weren’t the result of a real educational need, nor were they written by classroom educators and psychologists. They were written by the standardized testing industry as a ploy to get federal, state and local governments to recommit to standardized testing through buying new tests, new text books, new software and new remediation materials. It was a bipartisan effort supported by the likes of Obama, the Clintons and Bill Gates on the left and Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos and Bobby Jindal on the right. After Obama’s success pushing them down our collective throats, many Republicans vocally decried the standards – often while quietly supporting them. That’s why after all this time very few state legislatures have repealed them despite being controlled predominantly by Republicans. Okay, so what does this have to do with the Alt Right? People like Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are engaged in redefining the conservative movement. Instead of circulating ideas with a merely racist and...

How to Oppose White Supremacists Without Becoming a Monster, Yourself

  There is a danger in opposing white supremacists. In confronting such an odious set of beliefs, you can justify suspending your own strongest held moral convictions as a necessary end to defeating their prejudices. It’s easy to see how this might happen. When hearing an ignorant troll like Richard Spencer arrogantly spouting warmed over Nazi propaganda, it is quite natural to wish to issue a rebuttal in the form of your fist. You can follow the logic all the way from your heart to your knuckles. Your thought process might go something like this: This fool is so enamored with violence, let him suffer the consequences of it. But that is conceding the point. That is giving the white supremacist his due. It’s entering his world and playing by his rules. Oh, I’m sure it’s satisfying, but it’s the wrong way to respond. However, on the other hand one can’t simply smile and nod during Spencer’s tirade and then expect to reciprocate with an academic treatise. No cogent, logical, professorial come back is going to counter the purely emotional arguments made by white supremacists. They are stoking fear and hatred. Logic is useless here. So what are anti-racist anti-facists like ourselves supposed to do when confronted with people like this? We have to walk a razor’s edge between two poles. On the one hand, we can’t tolerate intolerance. I know that’s paradoxical. But it’s true. As Vienna-born philosopher Karl Popper put it in The Open Society and Its Enemies, unlimited tolerance leads to the destruction of tolerance. If we tolerate the intolerant, if we give them equal time to offer their point of view and don’t aggressively counter their views, they will inevitably resort to violence and wipe our side out. This doesn’t mean immediately punching them in the face or violently attacking them. For Popper, we should let rationality run its course, let them have their say and usually their ideas will be rejected and ignored. However, if this doesn’t happen and these ideas start to take root as they did in Nazi Germany (or perhaps even today in Trump’s America), then Popper says we must stop them by “fists or pistols.” In short, Popper writes: “We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.” Popper believed in the free expression of ideas, but when one of those ideas leads to violence, it is no longer to be tolerated. Then it is outside the law and must be destroyed. What then do we do with our commitment to nonviolence? Do we reluctantly agree to push this constraint to the side if push comes to shove? No. This is the other pole we must navigate...

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