September 4, 2020

QUESTIONS NOBODY IS ASKING: Is your baby racist?

Kendi wrote Antiracist Baby because ‘you don’t want to assume children are “blank slates” — this leaves room for racist societal messages to shape their understanding of racism instead.’ I realize that Kendi must have spent the last few years in the library, but if he thinks that the messages transmitted to children in the current year are racist, then he is hopelessly mad. Tolerance, love, harmony, and acceptance are relentlessly beamed at the adults of tomorrow. They have been for decades. Antiracist Baby is merely a foothill in the ever-extending Hindu Kush of social justice books aimed at children. The sad persistence of racial conflict, racial grievances and social inequality more generally, suggests that they cannot be taught away by candy-colored didacticism.

The larger problem with Kendi, and with the movement he represents, is how plodding his intellectual scheme is. First he takes human society, the most complex mechanism in existence, and draws a line down the middle of every cog in it. Then he declares one side of the line Good (Antiracist), while the other is Bad (Racist). That’s about as crudely reductive as an idea can be. It’s like suggesting the Ninth Symphony can be adequately played with a couple of coconut shells.

Often, in conversation, or reading new novels, scanning tweets, or watching films, the enormous condescension we all sometimes have towards the past becomes apparent. Looking at some awful historical bloodbath, or well-chronicled catastrophe, we look back and say, ‘How could people be so stupid’, or, ‘How could they believe such idiotic things.’ Yet here we are with Kendi’s ideas, so celebrated, so stupid, and so eagerly believed.

So for the 21st century left, kids are blank slates when it comes to gender, but when it comes to racism, Ibram X. Kendi believes “you don’t want to assume children are ‘blank slates.’” Gotcha — that race hustle is some hustle.

QED: The Wages of Woke: How Robin DiAngelo got rich peddling ‘white fragility.’

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