Harvard Plans Divisive Anti-America Conference

The Harvard Graduate School of Education 14th Annual Alumni of Color Conference will be held from Thursday, March 3 to Saturday, March 5, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The conference will be organized around three anti-American themes: Designing a New Blueprint for Democracy; Embracing the Mosaic as Muse; and Building Capacity for Sustainable Engagement. These three themes are defined in almost wholly negative ways. The conference organizers reject the melting pot concept, refuse to explicitly identify with non-violence (Gandhian satyagraha), and do not hesitate to depict the black minority as oppressed and dehumanized (presumably even that elite group that are Harvard alumni of color). The conference’s “search for new strategies” is thus being erected on negative premises, without any expressed love of country or one’s fellow man.

Designing a New Blueprint For Democracy. Guidelines for submissions states the following: “Our steering committee acknowledges that the foundation for democracy in this nation carries a legacy of intentional exclusion, oppression, disenfranchisement, and dehumanization that has disproportionately affected communities of color. The successful future of American democracy requires understanding and analyzing the origins and development of social and political systems designed to prevent persons of color from fully participating in the democratic process.” 

Did it not occur to the organizers of this conference that the very existence of the conference with its attack on American democracy as “exclusionary” is a testimony to freedom of speech and inclusionary values? The bitter spirit in the conference’s call for a “new blueprint” sounds like an intense replay of the venom heard in the 1960s from the likes of H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael. In the light of advances in civil rights since the 1950s, it seems to this writer that the black community should be capable of a more balanced view of history. The steering committee should remember that over 300,000 mostly white soldiers died in the Civil War to end slavery. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were passed to assure the right of participation in the political process to African-Americans. All kinds of black run groups have formed since 1865 to promote the advancement of people of color in various venues. Some of those “activists” have been extremely intemperate in their rhetoric, and educated persons of all ethnicities should be wise enough and kind enough to eschew their methods. The Armed Forces was finally desegregated after WWII. Schools throughout the South were desegregated, and the SATs were established to discover minority talent that might otherwise be hidden from view. Affirmative Action laws which increased black educational and employment opportunities came into effect, and are still in effect. 

Building Capacity for Sustainable Engagement. “We understand that our collective focus on expanded impact and engagement must extend beyond 2016. Educators, scholars, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and students need tools and strategies to propel their work forward and ensure that future Americans inherit a country where the principles of democracy are fully realized”

Here there is no mention upon finding venues for minority expression other than rioting, looting, taking over campus facilities, marching with violent, incendiary placards, cursing and threatening fellow students, or interrupting political events (like Bernie Sanders’ speeches). At the very least, there is no mention of the Gandhi/King non-violent approach to civil disobedience or civil protest. The absence of reference to nonviolent strategies suggests to the sophisticated reader that other options will not automatically be eliminated from consideration.

Embracing The Mosaic As Muse. “The United States has been celebrated for being a melting pot, where diverse identities come together and blend to create America’s character and culture. However, the melting pot is antithetical to the concept of democracy given its focus on stripping away diverse identities in service of adopting a singular American culture.”

Everyone should be proud of their heritage or “roots” (thank you Alex Haley!).  However, the melting pot concept became a norm for settlement and resettlement of immigrants to soften the hard edges of adjusting to a new society, and to give hope for future generations that they would be more assimilated. Opportunities would grow as language skills improved, understanding of the political process based on Federalism, checks and balances, and an amazing Bill of Rights began to be better understood, and improved livelihoods would dispel the fear of starvation that shadowed the lives of poverty-stricken people. Jane Addams' Settlement House movement also was welcoming and integrationist in its vision. The melting pot cannot be separated from the call to all people to participate in the land of opportunity. The reason the melting pot as a concept has not worked as well for African-Americans is that most of them did not come to these shores of their own free will. They were forced into a dependency mentality against their will. That is why it may be that entrepreneurship programs provide a key as they have proven themselves when applied by such philosopher activists as Booker T. Washington.

From the above summary, we can see that in March 2016, there will be yet another splenetic conference where the participants can express their self-righteous indignation at the so-called oppressive status quo. Amidst the torrent of bitterness, many ideas about how to “right the wrongs” will come forth.  Some quality ideas may emerge.  However, most of the views expressed will fit Macbeth’s sad comment on fallen humanity, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

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