teaching without tearing down

What’s too far to go?

In San Francisco, a school board voted to rename multiple schools with possibly objectionable names — including schools named after Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and the current Senior Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein.

We keep cancelling people — meaning vocal masses attempt to negate one’s entire life contributions because of a singular aspect, sentence or deed… J.K.Rowling, John Muir, John Wayne, and now Dr. Seuss. Note the inanimate are equally nonexempt; see Eskimo Pie and Mr. Potato Head. Business institutions are also becoming questionable, with increasing calls to remove or at least rename entities such as Five Guys (burgers) or moving co., Two Men and a Truck.

The voluminous voices seem to expect people before to think like people now — concluding they were bad; we are better. There is little grace in awareness of evolution of thought. In fact, if cancelling continues to be an accepted barometer of historic morality, I wonder what we will be cancelled for decades from now.

Please hear; we want to respect all people. We want to teach the generations that come. But too often as of late it seems the abrupt impulse to tear down is insisted on in place of incisive, mindful teaching. We tear down moments and monuments. We tear down even people.

Oh, the places we’ll go… have we gone too far?

Let’s be sensitive to what’s outrageous. Let’s also be honest about what’s not. 

Allow me to quote the oft outrageous Bill Maher, not one typically quoted here due to perceived disrespect. What I uncannily appreciate about Maher, no less, is his intolerance of the intolerant, albeit with a typical, bitingly-sarcastic bent. Note his recent rant on HBO’s “Real Time” (with editorial attempts to remove any denigration):

“Cancel culture is real. It’s insane. And it’s growing exponentially. And it’s coming to a neighborhood near you. If you think it’s just for celebrities, no. In an era where everyone is online, everyone is a public figure… is this really who we want to become?…

Think about everything you’ve ever texted, emailed, searched for, tweeted, blogged or said in passing. Or now even just witnessed. Someone had a confederate flag in their dorm room in 1990 and you didn’t do anything? You laughed at a Woody Allen movie? Andy Warhol was wrong. In the future everyone will not experience 15 minutes of fame but 15 minutes of shame. 

62% of Americans say they have opinions they’re afraid to share. 80% of Americans — young, old, rich, poor, conservative, liberal, white, minority — all hate the current atmosphere of hypersensitivity. Yet everyone hates it, and no one stands up to it because it’s always the safe thing to swallow what you really think and just join the mob.

So if someone asks you if Justin Timberlake owes Britney Spears an apology for not being a perfect boyfriend when they were teenagers, just say ‘yes.’ Easy…

‘The Mandalorian’s’ Gina Carano is a person I’d never heard of… She made some Nazi analogy — who doesn’t these days?! ‘You’re like the Nazis’ is the new ‘I don’t like you.’ And it’s always ok when Trump’s the Nazi. That disqualifies her?… By the way, you can’t work in Hollywood if you don’t believe what we believe. Yeah, in the 50’s that’s exactly what the left complained they were being told.

And the week before it was Chris Harrison’s turn in the barrel; he’s the host of ‘The Bachelor’ and is ‘stepping away.’ Stepping away to ‘educate’ himself on ‘a more profound and productive level than ever before.’ Oh, good. Good… and if I thought I couldn’t count on ‘The Bachelor’ for moral guidance, I don’t know if I could go on. 

Of course, he’s not stepping away because he’s the host of a televised snake pit where 32 female contestants are trapped in the sorority house… it’s because he wouldn’t throw one of them under the bus when it came to light that in college she attended a ‘Dress Up Like We’re in the Old South’ party, which is not a type of party we should be throwing, in that it winks at a civilization built on slavery, yes. But apparently in 2018, millions of people were still doing it. And mature people understand humans are continually evolving — as opposed to ‘Wokeville’… 

What’s Chris Harrison supposed to do? Build a time machine, go back to 2018 and knock the mint juleps out of their hands? Maybe while he’s time traveling, he can have a word with that [bleep] Abraham Lincoln who’s now cancelled in San Francisco — and they’re thinking about it in Illinois. Yes, ‘The Land of Lincoln’ might cancel Lincoln…”

Friends, how do we deal with what is no doubt a growing, glaring problem? From my limited vantage point, the “mob” is active. They are loud. What I don’t believe they are, however, is the majority. “Vocal” and “majority” are not synonymous. One is known most for its volume.

  • So how do we be respectful without being hypersensitive?
  • How do we teach without tearing down?
  • How do we allow for the evolution of thought?
  • And how do we not negate the entire contributions of another because a past aspect, sentence or deed doesn’t fit with how we think now?

There must be a wiser way.

Oh, yes… the places we’ll go…