Thursday: Hili dialogue

February 2, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Thursday, February 2, 2023: National Tater Tot Day. This comestible was invented in 1953, and Wikipedia says this:

Tater tots are grated potatoes formed into small cylinders and deep-fried, often served as a side dish. The name “tater tot” is a registered trademark of the American frozen food company Ore-Ida, but is often used as a generic term. “Tater” is short for potato.

They’re actually not bad if you treat them like French fries and dip them in ketchup. Some people even make them into casseroles! See below, but be sure to serve it with a stent!


Finally, it’s California Kiwifruit Day (a friend calls them “gorilla balls”), Crêpe Day, Heavenly Hash Day, Hedgehog Day, Marmot Day, World Ukulele Day, National Sweater Day (in Canada), Sled Dog Day, World Wetlands Day, and, in Russia, Victory of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the February 2 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blocked the applications of both Finland and Sweden to join NATO. He can do that because Turkey is already a NATO member, and to get in an applicant nation needs unanimous assent of other members. Although Erdogan has shown signs of bending, he’s now putting religious restrictions on Sweden’s application:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed Wednesday that Turkey won’t allow Sweden to join the NATO military alliance as long as the Scandinavian country permits protests desecrating Islam’s holy book to take place.

Turkey, which had already been holding off approving Sweden and Finland’s membership in the Western military alliance, has been infuriated by a series of separate demonstrations in Stockholm. In one case a solitary anti-Islam activist burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy, while in an unconnected protest an effigy of Erdogan was hanged. Even before that, Ankara had been pressing Sweden and Finland to crack down on exiled members of Kurdish and other groups it sees as terrorists, and to allow arms sales to Turkey.

Turkey has indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed the two Nordic countries’ NATO entry.

“Sweden, don’t even bother! As long as you allow my holy book, the Quran, to be burned and torn, and you do so together with your security forces, we will not say ‘yes’ to your entry into NATO,” Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling party’s legislators.

For crying out loud! Sweden protects Quran burnings, just as America does, because both countries have freedom of speech. And Erdogan wants to keep a nation that should be in NATO on the sidelines because it has freedom of speech? What is Sweden supposed to do: modify its speech laws so that there’s still freedom of speech except when it comes to burning the Qur’an?

*I was not aware that the College Board actually designed curricula rather that just made standardized tests, but it turns out they do. And one they designed: an AP (“advanced placement”) curriculum in African-American Studies, has been controversial, especially (of course) in Florida. In fact, when Governor DeSantis banned that curriculum in Florida, the College Board caved completely and redesigned the course for the whole country, leaving out the bits that DeSantis et al. didn’t like. The link to the new curriculum plan (234 pages long) is at the first link below:

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.

And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

When it announced the A.P. course in August, the College Board clearly believed it was providing a class whose time had come, and it was celebrated by eminent scholars like Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard as an affirmation of the importance of African American studies. But the course, which is meant to be for all students of diverse backgrounds, quickly ran into a political buzz saw after an early draft leaked to conservative publications like The Florida Standard and National Review.

In January, Governor DeSantis of Florida, a Republican who is expected to run for president, announced he would ban the curriculum, citing the draft version. State education officials said it was not historically accurate and violated state law that regulates how race-related issues are taught in public schools.

The attack on the A.P. course turned out to be the prelude to a much larger agenda. On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis unveiled a proposal to overhaul higher education that would eliminate what he called “ideological conformity” by, among other things, mandating courses in Western civilization.

In another red flag, the College Board faced the possibility of other opposition: more than two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against critical race theory, according to a tracking project by the University of California, Los Angeles, law school.

David Coleman, the head of the College Board, said in an interview that the changes were all made for pedagogical reasons, not to bow to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes, he said, came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

Well, Coleman sounds disingenuous to me. As for the curriculum, unless they have said exactly how they construe CRT and what aspects of it are to be banned from the classrooms, I can’t sign onto that. I could, I expect, look at the two curricula side by side, but can’t be arsed to do that. Perhaps a reader could, or has done. The one thing I’m wondering is whether the 1619 Project, the NYT’s own curriculum meant to be used in schools, and which is infused with CRT principles that are dubious, will conflict with the College Board AP curriculum, and whether there will be Curriculum Wars.

UPDATE: Reader Bat sent me a list of what’s changed in the new curriculum, taken from an article at The Hill. The main changes:

What is gone:

Topics that were originally required material, but got taken off of the coursework completely include:

  • Black queer studies
  • Intersectionality and activism
  • The reparations movement
  • Black scholars associated with critical race theory, or CRT

What is new:

Among others additions, an optional project called “Black conservatism: development and ideology” was added to the curriculum, drawing attention after the previous GOP criticism of the course.

*I was also not aware that the odious Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga: two abbreviations that spell trouble) had attacked Joe Biden for being a Nazi.  She did, and House Democrats are trying to censure her for it.

House Democrats are again seeking to censure Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) over Joe Biden is Hitler” social media posts. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution on Thursday.

The move comes after Greene posted on Twitter that “Joe Biden is Hitler” and subsequently tweeted a doctored video of the president with a small mustache standing at a lectern with swastikas in the background dubbed with audio of the Nazi leader.

Schneider first drafted a censure resolution last summer after Greene repeatedly compared the coronavirus vaccine and mask mandates to the Holocaust. But Schneider dropped the resolution after Greene visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and issued an apology for what she called her “offensive” remarks.

In a statement provided to The Washington Post, Schneider said Greene’s latest comments “demonstrate that clearly, she has not learned, or worse perhaps, she doesn’t care.”

“Rep. Greene demonstrated that her apology in June 2021 was insincere and that she remains devoted to sullying the reputation of the House of Representatives,” Schneider added.

There’s no doubt she’s an anti-Semite: remember when she said that the wildfires in California could have been set by a Jewish conspiracy equipped with space lasers?  I personally find her lunacy amusing, but if it sparks hatred of Jewish people it isn’t so funny.

I tried to find the Biden/Hitler tweet, and came up with this. I was disappointed because there’s no audio and no mustache on Biden.

*From Ken: “Welcome to Literacy Week in the Sunshine State.” They took all the books out of the library! This is part of a statewide initiative, and the video comes from WJAX channel 4. The YouTube notes say this (Duval County is in extreme NE Florida):

Districts across the state — including Duval County Public Schools — are performing a mass review of all classroom libraries and media centers after the Florida Department of Education handed down directives intended to comply with state law.


And the WaPo has more skinny on Florida’s ongoing classroom library saga, which we’ve discussed before. The censorship is spreading.

School officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers this month to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries, according to records obtained by The Washington Post. The removals come in response to fresh guidance issued by the Florida Department of Education in mid-January, after the State Board of Education ruled that a law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to schoolwide libraries but to teachers’ classroom collections, too.

House Bill 1467, which took effect as law in July, mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography and “suited to student needs.” Books must be approved by a qualified school media specialist, who must undergo a state retraining on book collection. The Education Department did not publish that training until January, leaving school librarians across Florida unable to order books for more than a year.

The new law comes atop an older one that makes distributing “harmful materials” to minors, including obscene and pornographic materials, a third-degree felony — meaning that a teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, a spokeswoman from the Florida Department of Education said Tuesday.She suggested violating House Bill 1467 might yield “penalties against” an educator’s teaching certificate. Still, because of uncertainties around enforcement and around what titles might become outlawed, school officials have warned teachers that their classroom libraries may expose them to the stiffest punishments.

Even if you think there should be this kind of censorship, and one person who carries it out, surely harboring a “non age-appropriate book” in your classroom should NOT be a felony!  Some teachers have thousands of books in their classroom collection. And here’s a heartbreaker:

. . . Marie Masferrer, a board member of the Florida Association for Media in Education and a school librarian who used to work in the Manatee County system and remains in close touch with former colleagues in that district, said they have told her that students are struggling.

At one school, “the kids began crying and writing letters to the principal, saying, ‘Please don’t take my books, please don’t do this,’” Masferrer said.

*I’m not sure what to think of this, but the BBC reports that a member of the Labour Party, known for its anti-Semitism in the recent past, has been forced to apologize for leveling a slur at Israel (h/t Jez):

Labour MP Kim Johnson has apologised for describing Israel’s recently-formed coalition government as “fascist”.

The Liverpool Riverside MP made the comment in Parliament, as she asked Rishi Sunak about “human rights violations” against Palestinians.

She apologised shortly afterwards, after being ordered to do so by party bosses.

The MP said she acknowledged using the term ‘fascist’ was “particularly insensitive” given Israel’s history.

“While there are far-right elements in the government, I recognise that the use of the term in this context was wrong,” she added.

The BBC has been told she was told to apologise by party whips for the remarks, described as “unacceptable” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesman.

Yes, she was insensitive with that word, but she has freedom of speech. I would disagree with her, and I think that Christopher Hitchens would have a few things to say about bandying about the word fascist. Regardless of what you think of the right-wing government with Netanyahu back at its head, it is not “fascistic”. It is not autocratic, the most important characteristic of fascism. Hitler was a fascist, and that’s why applying the term to Israel was in poor taste.

But this is inexcusable to me (again, it’s still free speech):

Ms Johnson also apologised for saying, during her intervention during Prime Minister’s Questions, that rights group Amnesty International had described Israel as an “apartheid state”.

“Whilst I was quoting accurately Amnesty’s description, I recognise this is insensitive and I’d like to withdraw it,” she added.

If there’s an apartheid state in the Middle East, it’s Palestine, which allows no Jews to live in the country and oppresses women, apostates, and gays. In fact, I’m curious why the term “apartheid state” is never applied to the Palestinian Territories.

I suppose Labour made Johnson apologize because it makes the party look bad again, not because they have any love for Israel. You can see Johnson’s 37-second apology at the head of the BBC article.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sees a glass half full (nice photo of her, too!)

Hili: Do you think that rationalism has a chance?
A: Here and there, probably.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy sądzisz, że racjonalizm ma szansę?
Ja: Tu i ówdzie chyba tak.


From Nancie, a John Atkinson cartoon:

From Barry: an explanation of how dogs were domesticated:

From Malcolm, a honking huge organ playing Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King”

A peevish God who’s flounced off Twitter makes a statement that, I think, is wrong:

Masih dedicates a standing ovation to Iran’s martyrs for democracy and women’s rights (there are subtitles). I’m not sure where she’s speaking here.

Dawkins is touring Australia and New Zealand soon; if you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, you can get tickets at the site given in the tweet:

I found this on Twitter. I wish I had a mom in India who would send me care packages like this!

From Susan, a militant squirrel:

From the Auschwitz Memorial: a 20 year old who lived just 6 days after arriving at Auschwitz:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a high-rise friendship:

I think this duck will drink water only if it’s ice water from McDonald’s. Sound up to hear its plaintive quack!

The “FT” is the Financial Times, and I spurn their advice. “Data” is plural, “datum” is singular:

27 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1653 – New Amsterdam (later renamed The City of New York) is incorporated.

    1709 – Alexander Selkirk is rescued after being shipwrecked on a desert island, inspiring Daniel Defoe’s adventure book Robinson Crusoe.

    1814 – The last of the River Thames frost fairs comes to an end.

    1887 – In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the first Groundhog Day is observed.

    1901 – Funeral of Queen Victoria.

    1913 – Grand Central Terminal opens in New York City.

    1922 – Ulysses by James Joyce is published.

    1925 – Serum run to Nome: Dog sleds reach Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.

    1943 – World War II: The Battle of Stalingrad comes to an end when Soviet troops accept the surrender of the last organized German troops in the city.

    1959 – Nine experienced ski hikers in the northern Ural Mountains in the Soviet Union die under mysterious circumstances.

    450 – Justin I, Byzantine emperor (d. 527).

    1650 – Nell Gwyn, English actress, mistress of King Charles II of England (d. 1687).

    1786 – Jacques Philippe Marie Binet, French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer (d. 1856).

    1882 – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet (d. 1941). [If I ever knew that Ulysses was published on his birthday I’ve forgotten it…]

    1927 – Stan Getz, American saxophonist (d. 1991).

    1931 – Les Dawson, English comedian and author (d. 1993).

    1940 – David Jason, English actor, director, and producer.

    1942 – Graham Nash, English-American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1947 – Farrah Fawcett, American actress and producer (d. 2009).

    1963 – Eva Cassidy, American singer and guitarist (d. 1996).

    Crossed the River Styx:
    1969 – Boris Karloff, English actor (b. 1887).

    1970 – Bertrand Russell, English mathematician and philosopher, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1872).

    1974 – Imre Lakatos, Hungarian-English mathematician and philosopher (b. 1922).

    1979 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (b. 1957).

    1995 – Fred Perry, English tennis player (b. 1909).

    1995 – Donald Pleasence, English-French actor (b. 1919).

    1996 – Gene Kelly, American actor, singer, dancer, and director (b. 1912).

    2014 – Philip Seymour Hoffman, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1967).

    2021 – Captain Sir Tom Moore, British Army officer and charity campaigner (b. 1920). [Famous for walking round his garden. But then he did raise almost £39 million for the National Health Service in the process!]

  2. Fairly quickly we seem to have gone from: “CRT is, of course, not being taught in schools, CRT is only taught in graduate-level law seminars”, to cries of “DeSantis won’t let us teach CRT in schools!”.

    DeSantis is right on this, the course he objected to is pure CRT ideology, and teaching of school kids should be non-ideological (that is, teaching them how to think, not what to think).

    1. No, Coel, this ap course is not pure crt, but rather an african american studies course that has (had) crt as an element, much as ap calculus has numerical integration as an element. These courses are generally put together by a reasonable group of subject matter experts (SME) drawn from universities and some high school teachers. They must cover the range and depth of material that is covered in a similar freshman college course. This was fairly straight-forward in the early days of ap courses (1960’s) when such freshman courses as calculus and physics were standard at universities and they were among the first ap courses created. Some current ap courses such as calculus ab is geared to one semester of college calculus while its cousin, calculus bc cover a full year of freshman calculus. The Ap physics course offerings are set up to recognize algebra-based freshman physics (often called “football physics” at my college), but also a calculus-based freshman course for the more advanced students (and available high school faculty).

      Courses are created over a year or so by the SME committee, then piloted in a number of volunteer high schools for appropriateness of material and whether it fits the logistical and day to day constraints of the high school year. After the pilot year, adjustments are agreed upon and the new course is then opened up to the general population. It appears that the african american history course in question is at this phase of fine tuning where one would expect the feedback from the pilot schools and others to impact course content. I am happy to see the creation of such a course and, in particular, because a few strong individuals on the SME team can have strong influence on the proto-course, the full peer review it is receiving.

      I taught ap calculus bc in high school in the early 70’s and created a number of lessons in my physics course for my physics students who were also taking calculus, that mirrored the ap calculus-based physics course.

      1. And i do not mind the teaching of the philosophy of crt, just as i do not mind the teaching of religions in k12. I do object to proselytizing any single religion or philosophy. It is good for high school kids to understand contemporary issues that are being discussed in the media and public fora. I would rather they get the full story in a high school course than from snippets of highly charged copy from politicians and talking heads.

    2. You understand that what’s at issue is an advanced placement course — viz., a course taken to obtain university credit — not a course taught to elementary or even ordinary secondary “school kids”?

      Is your determination that the AP African-American studies class is “pure CRT ideology” based solely on the list of topics covered, or have you undertaken a close examination of the course materials themselves?

      In the US, government interference in college-level coursework infringes the right to academic freedom encompassed by the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause.

      Ron DeSantis thinks he can culture-warrior his way into the White House, academic freedom and free speech be damned.

      1. I’ll rephrase my “pure CRT” to parts of it (the original course that is) are pure CRT (that assessment being based on summaries of course materials).

        I consider that legislatures and indeed citizens in general do have a proper interest in what is being taught to under-18s using taxpayers money. For that matter, they have a proper interest in what is being taught to over-18s using taxpayers money.

        1. Jeez, I first read Marx & Engels The Communist Manifesto at a public university in the ’70s as part of the required background reading for a political science course, “Comparative Government: USSR.” Did this constitute a misuse of taxpayer money in your view?

          If not, then why should the subjects listed for the African-American Studies course be off limits? The topic of “reparations” has been part of Black history since the manumitted slaves were granted 40 acres and a mule. “Black queer studies” has its roots in the writing of James Baldwin and Audre Lorde. You may disagree with Angela Davis and bell hooks, with Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates — I do! — but there is no denying that their thinking and writing is part of 20th and 21st African-American history. (Pace what seems to be your underlying supposition, addressing these subjects in an African-American Studies course does not require proselytizing for them.)

          Despite his two Ivy League degrees, Ron DeSantis has given no indication in his public pronouncements that his understanding of African-American history extends beyond one-half of one sentence in one of Dr. King’s speeches and the opening credits for The Cosby Show.

          1. Assigning the Communist Manifesto and similar tracts is fine as part of a balanced and neutral course.

            Assigning only pro-communist readings, ignoring any drawbacks of communism, and then marking students down unless they submit pro-communist coursework, would not be fine.

            Similarly, no topic or subject matter related to black history should be off limits. It is the ideological approach to that subject matter that is the problem.

            In short, assigning readings from both Nikole Hannah-Jones and Thomas Sowell would be fine, but assigning only Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ibram X. Kendi and nothing that disagrees with them is not fine.

            1. True enough, but that seems a matter that, at least in the first instance, ought to be committed to the sound judgment of instructors and their department chairs, rather than micromanaged by the blunt instruments of governor and state legislature.

              That is the essence of what “academic freedom” is all about.

        1. … why the woke religion must be resisted from the left.

          And indeed it has been. This website — hosted by what I’d guesstimate to be a 90%+ Americans for Democratic Action liberal — as well as any number of Substack sites, columnists, and authors of books and articles the likes of John McWhorter’s serves as testament that there is a solid center-left in this nation willing to push back against the excesses of the so-called “progressive left” (which I find to be neither “progressive” nor of the “Left” in the traditional sense).

  3. About that “age-appropriate” book thing: I had worked my way through the children’s section of our public library by the time I had finished second grade. When I got into third grade and went to the library, I was looking for something to read in the adults’ section.

    A helpful librarian introduced me to books that she thought might interest me. The first one was Inherit the Wind, and I subsequently read everything else that Clarence Darrow had written. I was eight years old.

    Were those books “age-appropriate”? Why should I be denied the chance to read them?


    1. I’ve wondered if they are going after books that criticize religion but I haven’t seen that reported. I’m assuming that books like Jerry Coyne’s “Faith vs Fact” will be deemed age inappropriate for all ages.

    2. I think the concern over “age-appropriate” books mainly involves material which teaches about sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or sexual practices to children who haven’t yet reached puberty — or material which includes pornography if they have. A 7 year old reading Dickens isn’t the target.

      As with most of these wide-reaching prohibitions, there are a few reasonable reservations and a few unreasonable objections inside a gray area which might mean anything.

    3. This is not the main driving issue at all.
      I would bet neither your school nor public librarian ever recommended a book to you that depicted and promoted sex between kids and adults.
      The same people who are trying to decolonize science and our museums have some very peculiar ideas about children and sex. Often, it appears that they want to teach them in ways that disrupt heteronormity, and believe that the best way to do that is to push their views on them before they get a chance to develop their own sexuality.

      Linking these protests with efforts to ban “Mockingbird” or the NSDAP is a political tactic. So is clearing the shelves of all the books, lest the teacher be imprisoned for allowing children to access “The Lorax”.

      But back to your childhood, and mine. If our kindly librarians had discovered that a book in the children’s section had graphic images of sex, they would, at a minimum, have moved it elsewhere.

      In a world where some decent percentage of teachers and school librarians feel very strongly that it is their duty to expose very young children to sexual material, there are no easy solutions.
      Our kindly childhood librarians did not need to be told that some material is really inappropriate for kids in certain age groups. They certainly would not hold secret meetings with like minded colleagues on the best way to get such material to kids without their parents finding out.

      We are not talking about literature, or even books written to educate kids in the normal sense of the word. Rather, it is about propaganda. Books designed to indoctrinate kids with a harmful ideology.
      The only thing I can think of to compare it to is “Der Giftpilz”. That is the one book I can think of that I made sure to keep my kids from reading until they knew enough to see it in context for what it was.
      There was a time and place where lots of people believed that it was a good idea to read or present such books to little kids.

  4. The “FT” is the Financial Times, and I spurn their advice. “Data” is plural, “datum” is singular

    I really hate this phenomena. The mangling of the English language by august publications in order to placate the plebs is the one criteria for setting my teeth on edge.

    Anyway, the tweet led me down a rabbit hole in that I had never thought about agenda being plural before. We should really say “what are your agenda?”

    Also, datum being the plural of datum is interesting. There are two meanings for “datum”. One is a single item in a collection of data. The other is a fixed point from which to measure on a scale. For example, altitude in the UK is measured as height above mean sea level measured at Newlyn between 1915 and 1921. Another is the Greenwich meridian which is (or used to be) the datum from which longitude was measured. The current datum under WGS84 runs about 100 metres to the East of Greenwich, but since the UK is moving North East due to continental drift, the error gets smaller every day.

    Anyway, it seems wrong to describe the collection of the three things I mentioned above as “data”. They are surely datums.

    1. ”Anyway, it seems wrong to describe the collection of the three things I mentioned above as “data”. They are surely datums.”

      The Oxford English Dictionary would agree with you:
      ”datum, n…Inflections: Plural data…(in sense 3) datums.”
      where sense 3 is
      ”3. A line, point, etc., forming a basis for measurement; a baseline, benchmark, or reference point”.

      Also in the OED I am pleased to see this quote:
      ”1949 Nature 19 Nov. 890/1 ‘Data’ was a plural noun; for literate English writers it still is, and I contend that it always should be”.

    2. I would tend to say “there are a lot of references in this paper,” but also to say “there is a lot of data in this paper.” Swapping the “is” with the “are” doesn’t work for me.

      “Data” is a mass noun, like “information.” The singular is far more often “data point” than “datum.” (We are not bound in English to retain the properties of the Latin root.) We would say “the data is downloaded,” not “are downloaded.” One reason is that data is often multi-dimensional, such as temperatures by date, where it is not clear if “42 on Jan 31” is one or two “datums,” but we know it is one “data point.”

  5. I’m just going to assume that The Washington Post is a dishonest news source from now on whenever it talks about . . . well, anything. Seriously, they have lost all credibility. If you want to talk about misinformation, you can start there.

  6. Michael Huemer has an interesting essay that bears on both the AP African American Studies issue as well as the 1619 project.

    Hence, my question: Is there a way in which it could be racist or otherwise objectionable to teach actual historical facts?

    And it seems to me the answer is obviously yes.

    It’s a simple point. Suppose you learned that there was a school staffed mainly by right-leaning teachers and administrators. And at this school, an oddly large number of lessons touch upon, or perhaps center on, bad things that have been done by Jews throughout history. None of the lessons are factually false – all the incidents related are things that genuinely happened and all were actually done by Jewish people. For example, murders that Jews committed, times when Jews started wars, times when Jews robbed or exploited people. (I assume that you know that it’s possible to fill up quite a lot of lessons with bad things done by members of whatever ethnic group you pick.) The lessons for some reason omit or downplay good things done by Jews, and omit bad things done by other (non-Jewish) people. What would you think about this school?

    I hope you agree with me that this is a story of a blatantly racist and shitty school. It would be fair to describe the school as promoting hatred toward Jewish people, even if none of the lessons explicitly stated that one should hate Jews. I hope you also agree that no parent or voter should tolerate a public school that operated like this.

    Now, what if the school’s right-wing defenders explained that there was actually nothing the slightest bit racist or otherwise objectionable about the school, because it was only teaching facts of history? All these things happened. You don’t want to lie or cover up the history, do you?

    I hope you agree with me that this would be a pathetic defense.

    1. In the article you link to the author’s main argument is against cherry-picking facts for the purpose of presenting a distorted interpretation of the past. One cannot argue against that and such an interpretation should be rightly open to severe criticism. However, it is the nature of what historians do that that they take the “bucket” of available objective facts and draw from it the facts they believe best explain an historical event. These are subjective decisions. That is, it is intellectually responsible for one historian to emphasize in a history of the United States that race and racism played a major and continuing role in the unfolding of the history while recognizing other factors were important. Another historian writing the same history may conclude that racism and racism while important is overshadowed by other factors such as the slow and uneven, but nevertheless demonstrable spread of democracy. There are very few eras or events in American history that are not subject to debate and controversy among historians (the coming of the Civil is perhaps the closest). This is why there is no objective history. The facts do not speak for themselves. Because of this understanding of what historians do, historical understanding of past events will always be a matter of controversy. There is no way to get around it.

    2. A “pathetic defence” of what? Criminal charges of hate speech? Calls to defund the school or de-accredit its degrees? Calls for parents not to send their children there? “Racism”? (a charge that I don’t give uptake to, for it is a charge that amounts to a conviction, there being no defence that will lead to acquittal in the mind of the accuser.)

      So, no I wouldn’t pay to send my kid there and I would like to see it fail on the grounds of non-credible scholarship even if all facts are true. But since the author is raising the “hate” spectre, truth of what someone says (or even reasonable grounds to believe that the statements are true) is an absolute defence against a charge of hate speech in Canada, which actually has a hate-speech law. This even if it can be shown objectively that the statements did cause someone to hate the targeted group more than they did before. This is what protects academics and substackers in Canada from being charged with hate speech when they express fact-based skepticism toward the more extreme genocidal claims made by activists about residential schools and mass graves, for example. They are not required by the law to give “equal time” in their articles or speeches to all five rambling story-telling volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, nor to consider how their statements will be received. A credible academic course about Indian residential schools would have to use the TRC Report as one of its critically reviewed sources, of course.)

      The only exception to “truth is a defence” is if the speech is intended to incite hate-based disturbance of the peace against the target group. (Note that mere “incitement to riot” is not a crime. The disturbance has to be motivated against an identifiable group of the sort defined in Human/Civil Rights laws.)

      When you read the rest of the article, though, it’s clear that his argument is something of a counterfactual and he is not actually making it as your snip implies.

  7. I think technically the Palestinian state cannot be called apartheid precisely because they don’t allow Jews to live there. I think apartheid states have two nationalities treated differently within the state. The Palestinian state could be referred to as anti-semitic, anti-gay, anti-feminist, but not apartheid-like, I think.

  8. An interesting piece of information for you- I work at a suburban high school (here in Illinois) that has been selected to pilot the new AP course. Our superintendent has decided that the components the College Board has deemed as optional are going to be required components of the course we offer here.
    I am curious as to what (if any) kind of quality control data TCB plans to accumulate.

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