Unpacking Our Cultural Knapsack: Taking A Closer Look at the Attack on Western Culture

If you have ever taken a college course in recent years, or even have been through the public school system, you may have come across terms like “political correctness”, “social justice”, “diversity”, “systematic racism”, “decolonization”, “white privilege” and others like it. These terms while describing different things, all have an interconnecting thread: The argument that US society, politics and culture, and more broadly Western culture in general are deeply flawed and immoral at the core. In this worldview, we live in a society surrounded by systematic racism, white supremacy, colonialism, and every other negative word in the book! It’s a society where “black and brown people” are oppressed, subjugated, dehumanized and cannot succeed in a system stacked against them at every turn, and where some lives don’t seem to matter. Indigenous peoples were subjugated through colonialist forces, and the country was built on the backs of those we enslaved. In this cultural dystopia, the only winners are (gasp!) white people, and more specifically white males. For the privileged class, our stolen privilege permeates every fiber of our being and while the underclass feels its sting everyday, the lucky few go about completely unaware of how simply being born into this country makes them complicit in this horrendous affair. Or so we are told to think. 

But to use a metaphor from the Left, let’s “unpack” some of these assertions. For those unfamiliar with the metaphor, it comes from an article written by Peggy McIntosh called “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” where she compares one’s unearned privileges with handy items in a knapsack to help you get through life easier such as money, maps, extra snacks etc… She argues that white people have more items in their knapsacks than others, and made an extensive list of so called privileges only whites enjoy. That metaphor has now been extended to mean closely analyzing and critiquing what is seen to be taken for granted or is problematic. The Left says we need to unpack our cultural biases, but has anyone unpacked their assertions about our society? I want to help unpack a few major criticisms of our society and the West, (as in Western Culture) at large.

A common one heard echoed throughout the halls of academia and even at protests, is that we need to “dismantle” and “decolonize” the country and the Western World. They argue that the US was founded on stolen land, taken away by genocide from Native American peoples. In other places, they evoke the imperialism of many European countries. Because we conquered various peoples around the globe, and often treated them harshly, those who argue for decolonizing say we’re still oppressing them to this day and need to back off big time! Now, on its face it seems right, and many Western powers have let got of the vast majority of these formerly colonized territories. However, this decolonization movement has gone far beyond simply giving back certain places their independence.

Using the US as a case study, they talk about decolonizing school curriculum to tell a narrative of how evil and oppressive we were, assert that all white people are guilty of oppressing Native Americans to this day, that all of our country’s innovations are fruits of a poison tree, and academia being impartial or daring to undergo the anthropological and archaeological study of indigenous peoples, is forcing colonialism among other charges. Also, our founding fathers, the pioneers who settled the West, and pretty much every non-native American are actually immoral oppressors. Now to unpack this, no one denies we did some pretty brutal stuff in our history. The slavery of the past was wrong, and many even at the time thought so. The physical and cultural subjugation of Native peoples is also not our shining moment either.

No one is arguing we glorify these blights on our history. However, for as much as we were wrong in doing these things, have people honestly forgotten literally every human group partook in conquest and the subsequent domination over the conquered? From the great Roman Empire, to the Comanches taking over part of the Great Plains, humans can be tribal and territorial with a thirst for better resources, and power. Also, many human societies including many Native American tribes had some form of slavery. Why are these more easily overlooked? Hard to talk of “stolen land” when your group stole it from someone else. Also, calls to decolonize and reaffirm indigenous groups sound nice, but what substantive things would we do to dismantle our society for them yet still have room for us? Must we go so far as to have a self imposed exile over the lands we too now, have been on for generations? If not that far, then how far exactly must we go to atone? How much moral culpability do we have for the sins of our forefathers? Why does the West get double condemnation for what should be considered equally immoral for all who partake in it?

Changing gears a bit, one assertion a little closer to home for many is the argument that society is systematically stacked against people of color, and in favor of white people. Which means that people of color cannot achieve as much due to societal constraints while conversely, white people benefit from society’s inherent power structures so they cannot claim they “worked hard” to earn what they achieved.  I’ve touched on this one more in depth before, but I’ll summarize what I argued. Many of these claims of systematic disadvantage are rooted in historical oppression, much of which has been overturned legally and socially. For example in the past, black people were discriminated against in the job market and housing. However, there are laws now explicitly prohibiting such discrimination and programs like affirmative action and immense social pressure to hire a more “diverse” workforce and have more integrated neighborhoods. Getting denied a loan might be because you have credit card debt like the majority of America, not simply because they looked and saw you were a person of color, or someone was hired instead of you despite your stellar credentials because they were the manager’s cousin and you just didn’t know that and you concluded it was because they were white. You can’t blame every setback on “the system”.

To bring up a newer insight, many argue that white people are systematically privileged and do not deserve full credit for what they do achieve and that hard work as a way to success is a myth. The social system is the true controller of our destiny no matter what our race they argue. However, what happens when people of color do find success? They often say it was their determination and double hard work despite the oppressive forces, but wait! Isn’t that also the myth of meritocracy? That they achieved because of their individual effort, not that society allowed them to achieve success?

To highlight the absurdity and contradictory nature of this, I recently read an article written by a former minimum wage black security guard who was able to become a doctor at the hospital he worked for. Med school is super competitive, and there are countless white people for whom medical school is only a pipe dream. Yet, this lowly security guard had what it takes to climb that social ladder to a place of privilege and prestige in this country. What other countries could he have done so outside the West? And yet, the focus of his article was not on how he achieved his dream, his determination, or one iota of gratitude for the society that enabled this success, but on how he is still the victim in a society who thinks his life doesn’t matter. If social systems determine where we will end up more than our own free will, then couldn’t one argue it had to have enabled his climb up the social ladder?

On a related note, the last but definitely not the last thing to unpack is the assertion that Western Culture is built on white supremacy. The Left says that the White race built Western Civilization, and even invented the concept of race solely to oppress others, so they could twist my whole article saying I’m blowing some “white supremacist dog whistle” or something. Defending the West to them becomes about defending white supremacy. However, in that assertion, it is they who hold the racist assumptions. Ever heard phrases like the “Great American Melting Pot”? Or that historically, the vast Roman Empire was very cosmopolitan stretching from Britain to North Africa to the Middle East and of course contained people who looked vastly different from one another. My point in bringing up these examples is can you think of another non-Western culture that has such immense ethnic and racial diversity? Since the West has been so influential around the globe, people of all races and many ethnicities have been touched by it in some way, and many live in the cosmopolitan countries of today that make up Western civilization. Their stories too have helped influence and shape the West. Western does not equal White necessarily.

I’ll conclude by saying that in focusing so much on what makes our culture bad, we ignore what makes it good. Such as advanced technology and medicine. Scientific innovations. Lower mortality rates. Higher standards of living. A utopia compared to where some live and many risk everything to get here. Somewhere where hard work and determination get you further in life. Somewhere where everyone can belong regardless of class, race or any other label. No culture is all good, a perfect utopia where zero inequalities and disparities exist, but certainly no culture is 100% bad. Certainly not ours.

So why can’t some of us see it that way? Let’s unpack that… 

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“Get to Class!”: It’s Time to Return to School This Fall….

I usually wait for a back to school themed post until September, but I thought in light of this current school reopening controversy now is the best time. This COVID-19 nuttiness has led to many unprecedented things from closing businesses, cancelling events, even forbidding freedom of movement and association and now, excuses not to return to school! I’ve covered before the utter hypocrisy of those who claim it’s all for public health, yet banish a multitude of non threatening and easily socially distanced activities while sanctioning events like thousands close together rioting in the streets. Businesses, schools, churches can’t open but protests can. Abortion clinics and liquor stores are open yet the mom and pop shop has to file for bankruptcy. The most vulnerable such as the immunocompromised and elderly are wielded as a catch all excuse for these draconian measures yet COVID-19 positive patients were mandated to be given spots in nursing homes where the vast majority of deaths from covid occur. Hospitals were said to be flooded and overwhelmed, yet cases dwindled lower and lower in ICU’s day by day and places like New York sent back aid such as the USS Comfort. We are told to wait for a vaccine but ignore other treatments that have been shown to work. We can wait in socially distanced lines in stores now, but not to vote? See what I’m getting at here?

Now as to these teachers who are protesting going back to school, I’d argue it resembles the whining of petulant children than educated professionals! You argue that you can’t go back to teach as it’s too risky for you, but unless you are medically fragile and immunocompromised, or you’re about old enough to retire already then most likely you won’t get covid or just have mild symptoms. Young healthy adults are not the target group for the deadly effects. These young kids out of college going to their first teaching jobs are not at the most risk, nor are older teachers who are under 60. If you’re a healthy adult this is not as big an issue anymore than your risk of getting every nasty bug that goes around. You didn’t stop showing up to work every year there was a bad flu season. You didn’t stop showing up to work when that nasty norovirus made its ways through the halls. So why now? We’re not talking about the Spanish Flu, or Ebola here!

As for those who are older and/or medically fragile, you are at risk for any disease to be more severe for you than others. The elderly can die of the common cold or a mild flu whereas a younger person may not be affected much at all. But guess what? Those bugs were circulating around school all the decades you taught. Any illness spreads rapidly in a school environment, not just covid, so overall, you are equally put at risk by any number of germs. So why panic over covid when you could be sent to the hospital for the flu just as much? And yet they don’t close school each fall and winter despite many teachers with subpar health. Immuno-compromised teachers and medically fragile teachers are also more at risk, but they are more at risk for every other disease out there as well. Not to mention, you chose to teach in an environment were there would be illnesses spreading around yet you took that risk by taking the position in a school. If you are genuinely more at risk, then why did you decide to take the risk of working in a school with many pathogens lurking around daily when you know you have a condition that puts you more at risk for dangerous effects? If you knew getting the flu or a stomach virus could land you in the hospital for weeks, and that schools often circulate these quite frequently and they are easily transmissible, then why go into teaching unless you accepted that risk to your health? Those who work with young children know all too well how “sanitary” they are, yet you chose to teach those age groups. Why is this new disease so special when you were just as at risk from plenty of others more than the average person?

Also, if you do need accommodations such as a leave of absence or some type of remote teaching, then why not pursue those avenues for yourself rather than demand every other healthy student and teacher leave with you? I’m not opposed to some compromises, such as what many colleges are doing like hybrid models or some remote classes and others in person for instance. It would be easy to have students have a remote class while in class on chrome books with you teaching from your house then simply go to their in person classes next door afterwards. Why not simply make everyone at school take a covid test and exclude anyone who tested positive until they are cleared so no known positives will be allowed on school grounds? Many colleges are doing such. There are many ways to accommodate the most vulnerable teachers if only we thought outside the box and bureaucratic tape. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation.

Maybe if none are possible, you need to make a hard decision and consider leaving for the year. Many will argue they don’t have the savings to do such a thing, but what would you have done if you were out under normal circumstances due to an illness or medical condition that you are more at risk of having due to your condition or diagnosis? Those with special health concerns need to plan for these events. If you’re prone to getting various cancers and need chemo for months, if you’re diabetic and injure yourself with a chronic injury that won’t heal, if you have osteoporosis and fall and need months of physical therapy, if you have a heart condition and need major open heart surgery in the middle of the school year, if every time you get sick it lands you in the hospital etc… you need a financial plan to get you through a possible health crisis. Of course everyone should have savings for a long term health issue, but especially those more at risk for them than the average person! Why is covid special when you already needed to prepare for a myriad of other health threatening scenarios like other common illnesses or injuries just in case they should happen? This isn’t victim-blaming or “speaking from privilege”, but thinking like a responsible adult.

Speaking of thinking like an adult, much of the whining to cancel in person school sounds like whiny children and teenagers saying “But I don’t want to get up!” I mean really? Do you have to act like martyrs and drama queens, people? For every healthy teacher out there, what’s your excuse to not go back when we know covid doesn’t target healthy adults with the most deadly effects? Honestly, much of it could be construed as somewhat offensive to other people in various other jobs. How? Well think about your store clerk, the supermarket cashier and baggers, those who stock the shelves, those in processing plants, those in every essential business who remained open during the lock downs. One could argue first responders and medical professionals “signed up” for any risk including life threatening ones, but did your grocers? Your cashier? Restaurant workers? The humble janitors who clean all the allegedly infected surfaces? Your mail carriers? The garbage men and women? Did any of these people sign up for catching covid any more than you? And yet we never heard them complaining or mass strikes despite having to work so we could stay home. How are you as teachers any more special than millions of others who didn’t sign up for a global pandemic yet went to their jobs anyways without complaint or even recognition? They had just as much right to say it’s not worth our lives yet bravely did their jobs and supported themselves and their families. What’s so scary about teaching in a socially distanced classroom, or even hybrid courses? Is it any more scary really, than being a store clerk or a janitor? You’re in a building with other people for 6-8 hours? So are they. You’re breathing in potentially contaminated air? So are they. Did they think that would be part of their job any more than you did? Nope. So really, what is your excuse to say you’re more deserving than they are of taking less risk?

And what about your students? What about what you owe to them when you become an educator of young minds? Many argue that this push to get teachers back to their full capacities is rooted in sexism because teaching as associated with women and thus demand they risk their lives for “the sake of the children” whereas other careers aren’t seen as free childcare. Oh, come on!!!! Really? The gender card? What about all the male teachers? Before you cry sexism think of all your male colleagues too, ladies. I fully agree teachers should not be taken for granted, and that they deserve to feel safe at work as much as anyone else. However how safe does “everyone else” really feel in this climate of hysteria? Yet they report for their shifts as argued in the previous paragraph. Not all work can be done remotely and be efficient, and school’s one of them.

I’d strongly argue school IS an “essential” business! A proper education opens doors and breaks cycles of poverty and crime for many communities. School is a safe haven for those who are abused and neglected. Not all families have the option to home school or stay home from work all year either to watch young children at home, nor the same resources a school can give an underprivileged child. What about disparities in learning materials, internet connection etc…? Yes, teaching is a job and teachers deserve fair working conditions. But it also goes beyond just collecting a pay check, if you’re a decent teacher and person at least. It’s about inspiring your students, and going above and beyond for them, even in small ways. And doing the kind of mentorship that makes a great teacher can’t just happen behind a screen. As for fair working conditions, that apparently included being exposed to every other nasty germ out there before this. Ever caught something nasty that made you feel terrible from your students or coworkers that was going around? Probably everyone at some point, yet that wasn’t grounds for resignation or teaching remotely until that nasty stomach flu made its rounds…. If you’re a normal healthy adult, then that’s probably all it will be. What about the school shootings? That is FAR from a safe workplace and no one EVER signs up for being murdered in cold blood. Yet no cries for remote learning happened then… 😦

As for medically fragile students, another argument against reopening schools, similar arguments apply as with medically vulnerable teachers. Their vulnerability is to everything, covid is not special. An immunocompromised student undergoing chemo for one example, is just as in danger with the flu going around, that nasty norovirus, pneumonia, the common cold etc… Which are of an equal risk if not more of contracting in school as COVID-19. A student who can’t get vaccinated is in danger if unvaccinated students go to school too. A student with respiratory issues is at risk by any respiratory ailment. These issues were present before this pandemic. Covid is just one more risk in a sea of hundreds for vulnerable students. If a student is so medically vulnerable that covid is life threatening, then so is catching the flu, the common cold, a fever, a stomach virus, pneumonia, and every other pathogen that circulates in school. In that case, it’s not safe for them to attend in person school around others, which was true before this pandemic hit and will be after it’s passed. So why then, does the vast majority, like almost 99% of students not at risk of death or serious harm from covid have to miss in person school too?

Overall, there’s really no excuses not to reopen school this fall. With some reasonable precautions, like every other business that reopened has done there’s little reason why some compromise can’t be made.

Colleges and universities are reopening under modified circumstances so why can’t schools?

Thousands of protesters were allowed to be in the streets packed tightly by our leaders so why can’t schools hold classrooms of 20-30 kids?

Millions of essential employees worked in person under risks they never “signed up for” either without complaint so why can’t teachers?

Most states are allowing reopening and have been through several phases of their plans to reopen even more so why can’t schools?

If you can keep in person schools open despite numerous tragedies of cold blooded murder by gunmen that NO ONE EVER signed up to have as a risk then why not now?

Last but not least, what example does it send to our kids when teachers try every excuse in the book to get out of returning to school? What does it teach every teen who whines to sleep in and skip class that day? How can we tell our youth school is a priority when the very people who will educate them don’t want to come in themselves? Leaders lead from the front, and never ask those below them to do what they will not. So maybe the real question is, do we have any right to ask kids to prioritize attending school when the adults around them make excuse after excuse not to? What happens when the kids come up with an excuse of their own not to go back after the dust settles again now they’ve witnessed such behavior?

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I Don’t Need “Black Lives Matter” to Tell Me That Black Lives Matter….

The month long unrest that BLM has stirred up over the death of George Floyd and others has made the Left’s true agenda stand out crystal clear: It’s never really about what the Left tells us it is, from the BLM movement to the recent COVID-19 hysteria for instance. Conservatives condemned Floyd’s death just as liberals have, but don’t cover up and pretend that he was a saint when he had a lengthy criminal record including assaulting a pregnant woman. We can acknowlege the misconduct and abuse of power that officer who knelt on him had and condemn it without making him into a martyr with a state funeral. We can support black lives without twisting facts to suit a narrative rather than focusing on real instances of police misconduct and brutality or any number of substantive issues facing the black community. We can stand against racial bias and injustice without demonizing all white people, which in itself is a racist act. We can say the names of victims of black on black crime, and fallen black police officers such as David Dorn whose name was barely even mentioned when he died during the BLM riots, bleeding to death on a sidewalk as people filmed that too. We can stand with black conservatives and listen to their voices. We can learn from the wisdom of black intellectual leaders such as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.

The Left argues that they’re saying “black lives matter”, but actions speak louder than words, and what exactly are they doing? Burning down black communities. Looting businesses that keep the economies going in poorer neighborhoods including black owned businesses. Dismantling and demonizing the police force that keeps communities safe from criminals who tear down their prosperity. Silencing anyone who dares to ask for dialogue and debate, even to the point of violence. Shutting down major cities and terrorizing those living in them. Creating more racial tension and division by pitting whites vs. people of color rather than promoting mutual understanding and respect. Censoring anyone who dares contradict their “facts” and with it, actual ways to help the black community prosper. Calling people of color race traitors for daring to go against the Left’s ideology. Looking the other way at issues that hurt far more people of color than so called “white privilege”. Worst of all, cherry picking which black lives did matter. Are all these actions really saying “black lives matter to us”?

The Left is flat out lying to say conservatives don’t care about black lives, when many stand with people of color who want to better themselves and avail themselves of the opportunities America has to offer. Not to mention many black conservatives such as Candace Owens out there who are saying the exact same quote on quote “racist” things like personal accountability, the importance of education, the intact family etc… as non-black and brown conservatives. While the Left has been rioting and looting all in the name of BLM, black conservatives like CJ Pearson have raised thousands of dollars to rebuild and support black businesses.

You want to be a real ally to black communities? Why not volunteer to mentor an underprivileged youth? Why not support black businesses regardless of how “woke” they may be or not? Why not give hand ups rather than supporting handouts? Why not hold students of color to the exact same standards as everyone else so they can learn they can succeed despite the obstacles they may face? Or hire a person of color for their skill set and not just to fill a diversity quota? Why not teach the message to the next generation that you are more than just a victim, helplessly battered by a society working against you? Why not see the people of color in your life as more than just some underprivileged victim you need to be “woke” enough to help? As they say, the soft bigotry of low expectations is often the most damaging.

I don’t need to loot a store to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to burn down my community to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to demonize another race to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to idolize someone with a violent past to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to condemn the police (including the many police officers of color the Left has overlooked) to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to support white guilt to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to disrespect the flag and those who served to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to hate the country to realize black lives matter.

I don’t need to choose between blue lives and black lives especially when many are one and the same.

And I certainly don’t need the Left dictating to me what I’ve always been raised to believe: ALL lives matter. Including black lives.

One other major point in all this: Whatever happened to COVID-19??? You know? The no large gatherings? Social distancing? Curfews? etc… Businesses can’t reopen or even defend themselves from looters using COVID-19 as an excuse, but “protesters” can come together in the thousands? President Trump can’t have a rally as he might spread the disease, but woke SJW’s are magically immune? Medical professionals who were stressing the importance of social distancing now say covid is no excuse to stay home from protesting? Is it just me, or does it reek of hypocrisy to you too?

Don’t believe me? Educate yourself with these resources I compiled in my previous post

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