Woke Tales: Prep School Indoctrination, Racialized Poetry Translation, and Culinary 'Appropriation'

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Posted: Mar 12, 2021 10:25 AM
Woke Tales: Prep School Indoctrination, Racialized Poetry Translation, and Culinary 'Appropriation'

If you don't think hardcore wokery is a dangerous and metastasizing ideological cult, you probably (a) are part of said cult, (b) haven't yet been forced to tremble before their machinations in your own personal life, or (c) have been in a coma for a number of years.  There's also another option, (d): You secretly agree that it's excessive and more than a bit authoritarian, but you don't want to risk raising its fanatical adherents' ire by crossing them, so you keep your head down. Many destructive cults are subcultures; this one, however, is taking over mainstream culture.  Read Bari Weiss' latest piece, in which she explains how radical, identity-driven wokeness is sweeping elite private prep schools in places like New York City and Los Angeles, which feed the next generation of American elites into top universities.  Parents who object to the indoctrination feel obligated to chat in private groups, for fear of retaliation against their children, or ruthless ostracizing from social circles. A few vignettes:

"I am in a cult. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s that the cult is all around me and I am trying to save kids from becoming members.” He sounds like a Scientology defector, but he is a math teacher at one of the most elite high schools in New York City. He is not politically conservative. “I studied critical theory; I saw Derrida speak when I was in college,” he says, “so when this ideology arrived at our school over the past few years, I recognized the language and I knew what it was. But it was in a mutated form.” This teacher is talking with me because he is alarmed by the toll this ideology is taking on his students. “I started seeing what was happening to the kids. And that’s what I couldn’t take. They are being educated in resentment and fear. It’s extremely dangerous.” Three thousand miles away, in Los Angeles, another prep-school teacher says something similar. “It teaches people who have so much to see themselves as victims. They think they are suffering oppression at one of the poshest schools in the country.” ...Physics looks different these days. “We don’t call them Newton’s laws anymore,” an upperclassman at the school informs me. “We call them the three fundamental laws of physics. They say we need to ‘decenter whiteness,’ and we need to acknowledge that there’s more than just Newton in physics.” 

One of her classmates says that he tries to take “the fact classes, not the identity classes.” But it’s gotten harder to distinguish between the two. “I took U.S. history and I figured when you learn about U.S. history maybe you structure it by time period or what happened under each presidency. We traced different marginalized groups. That was how it was structured. I only heard a handful of the presidents’ names in class.”... To question any of the curricular changes, parents say, is to make yourself suspect: “Every group chat I’m on with school parents, with the exception of my concerned parents’ group, they have a pattern of shaming anyone who shares anything remotely political or dissents from the group narrative,” one Brentwood mother wrote to me. “Once someone shames one person, many chime in agreement. The times I speak up to defend those they shame, they attempt to shame me.” ... One teacher told me that he was asked to teach an antiracist curriculum that included a “pyramid” of white supremacy. At the top was genocide. At the bottom was “two sides to every story.” “‘Two sides to every story,’” he said. “That was on the racist pyramid.”

Please take the time to read the whole thing. It matter because, as Weiss points out, "these are America’s elites—the families, [on] the glide path to becoming masters—sorry, masterx—of the universe. The ideas and values instilled in them influence the rest of us," she writes. "That is not the only reason this story matters. These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy. Nothing happens at a top prep school that is not a mirror of what happens at an elite college." And what is happening on elite college campuses is being exported, rapidly, into many facets of American culture. "Real life" is not remaking radical graduates. Radical graduates are remaking real life.  Which brings us to several new flare-ups, wherein wokesters are flexing their muscles:


This is the latest front in the "cultural appropriation" food wars, wherein chefs or other culinary figures are attacked for 'stealing' other cultures' food or flavors without appropriate attribution, or something.  This Twitter thread pushing back on the kerfuffle is amusing and helps puncture the absurdity of it all -- yet "appropriation" is now a real, insane concern for chefs trying to earn a living while staying in the good graces of the merciless culture police:


They are intent on forcing identity politics into everything, including food.  Also: Poetry.  Beyond this deeply psychotic purge at the Poetry Foundation, we now have poetry translators getting fired from projects for being the wrong race:

The Catalan translator for the poem that American writer Amanda Gorman read at US president Joe Biden’s inauguration has said he has been removed from the job because he had the wrong “profile”. It was the second such case in Europe after Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld resigned from the job of translating Gorman’s work following criticism that a black writer was not chosen.  “They told me that I am not suitable to translate it,” Catalan translator Victor Obiols told AFP on Wednesday. “They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably black.” Gorman, a 23-year-old African American, was widely lauded for her reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s 20 January inauguration..."If I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.

The kicker? The Dutch writer who was removed from the task of translating Gorman's poem because of her skin color was specifically selected to do so by Gorman herself, but that wasn't good enough.  She was deemed too white to accurately translate words.  So Gorman's wishes had to be overruled.  For equity, or whatever.  This stuff may seem laughable and ridiculous, and it is.  But it's also quite serious because this mentality is sweeping elite circles across the Western world, and is becoming the price of admission for powerful taste-making institutions.  Our collective culture will be, and actively is being, impacted by it.