Ranting Rev's Education Theories Strike At Heart of Obama Campaign

Posted: Apr 30, 2008 12:01 AM
Ranting Rev's Education Theories Strike At Heart of Obama Campaign

The Ranting Rev is back, trailing malodorous clouds of sulfurous new controversy, imperiling the Obama campaign at its very core. The Obama promise of “a more perfect union” directly contradicts the Jeremiah Wright insistence on unbridgeable racial difference and distinction.

Nothing makes this pastor-protégé conflict more obvious or more significant than Wright’s crackpot theories on education and his fiery insistence that the different “brains” of black kids and white kids require totally different educational approaches.

In his Detroit NAACP speech on Sunday night, Dr. Wright cited (and somewhat distorted) the controversial work of a professor at Wayne State University named Janice Hale, suggesting that “in comparing African-American children and European-American children in the field of education, we were comparing apples and rocks.”

And which group of kids, according to Reverend Wright, count as “rocks” – not shiny, juicy fruit capable of providing nourishment, but inorganic pieces of dead matter notable mostly for their threat of smashing school windows? If he thinks of black kids as “rocks” (on which teachers might break their teeth) he’s recycling hateful white supremacist ideology. If it’s white kids who are only rocks, he’s a black racist. Either way, he’s an idiot.

But there’s more from this “mighty man of God,” as he hails Dr. Hale for research that “led her to stop comparing African-American children with European-American children and she started comparing the pedagogical methodologies of African-American children to African children and European-American children to European children. And bingo, she discovered the two different worlds have two different ways of learning.”

In other words, Wright suggests that race differences are so profound, so overwhelming that African-American kids whose ancestors left “the Motherland” more than 300 years ago have more in common with children in Senegal or Sierra Leone than they do with the white kids who grew up down the block and whose families have functioned in the same American society for generations. If this absurd notion that race trumps every other historical and psychological and cultural factor isn’t racism, then what, exactly, is racism?

Dr. Wright continued in his Detroit dementia: “European and European-American children have a left-brained cognitive object oriented learning style…Left brain is logical and analytical… African and African-American children have a different way of learning. They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive.”

In other words, Dr. Wright makes the same sick and silly claims about fundamental, genetically determined, unbridgeable difference between “left-brained” whites and “right-brained” blacks that white racists have advanced for years.

To him, it’s wrong to compare “African-American” and “European-American” kids with one another because they are virtually different species.

His claims raise a hugely uncomfortable question that Senator Obama must now confront.

If it’s in any sense true that black kids and white kids possess “from the cradle” a “different way of learning,” and if this difference is indeed based on inherited distinctions in brain structure, shouldn’t they then be placed in separate classrooms?

Let me make my own position clear: I believe that the idea of racial segregation in the classroom is evil, outrageous, un-American, un-Constitutional and in every way unacceptable. Of course, the epic Supreme Court Case of Brown-vs.-School Board was rightly decided --- declaring that separate-but-equal is not equal. The government cannot force kids into separate schools or separate classrooms based on race.

But if Wright is right (and like all fair-minded or decent people I know he is completely wrong) then isn’t separate-but-equal exactly what we need in our schools? If blacks and whites really do possess such vastly different styles of learning (according to Wright, “logical and analytical” vs. “creative and intuitive”) then wouldn’t they actually benefit from the segregation that the NAACP itself so conspicuously (and nobly) worked to end?

In other words, this great Civil Rights organization seems to have come full-circle—from supporting Thurgood Marshall and other lions of justice in demanding that black kids can- and must- learn and compete directly with white kids, to now cheering the lunatic Dr. Wright who says it’s wrong to even compare achievements of black children with the performance of white children because the two races are so completely different.

While Obama tries to rally his followers with the chant of “Yes We Can,” Dr. Wright shrieks at African-American children, “No You Can’t” --- you can’t compete with white or Asian kids because your lack of “logical and analytical” and “left-brained” wiring makes it impossible for you even to engage your white neighbors on the same playing field.

Wright says to black children that it’s better, more appropriate, to liken you to deprived youngsters in dusty, destitute townships in sub-Saharan Africa, where previous generations suffered from colonialism and starvation and, yes, dysfunctional, pre-literate tribal cultures, than it is to group you with American children from families that have lived for generations in the same city.

In other words, Jeremiah Wright’s appalling educational theories in no way comport with Senator Obama’s celebrated claim that we should have no “red states” or “blue states” but just “the United States of America.”

The questions for the Presidential candidate are urgent and overwhelmingly important:

--Do you agree with Dr. Wright that in shaping education for our African-American young people, we should look to African rather than American models?

--Do you share his belief that black children must remain so incurably different from their “European-American” counterparts that it’s wrong even to compare them to their white classmates?

--If these differences really are as huge, as fundamental (“comparing apples and rocks”) as Pastor Wright contends, would you support a new educational approach that separates our children at school?

-- Given the fact that Jeremiah Wright has been talking and writing about such offensive and inane educational theory for at least two decades, when did you first realize that your Pastor and “spiritual guide” was actually a raving racist with more in common with Dr. David Duke than Dr. Martin Luther King?

Of course, the mainstream media won’t pose such questions for Senator Obama.

But they should—because any continued effort to justify or excuse the appalling idiocy of Jeremiah Wright undermines the very essence of the Illinois Senator’s “more perfect union” campaign. It’s now blindingly obvious that it’s not just a few “out of context” statements by Dr. Wright that count as offensive and illogical, but his entire race-based world-view and philosophy.

Senator Obama should reject that “Afro-Centric” world-view and admit that he was wrong in ever treating it with honor and respect. If he continues in his refusal to do so, then he admits that his much-heralded role as a “unifier” is nothing more than a convenient political pose.