Flat White

What’s woke this weekend?

22 November 2020

10:59 AM

22 November 2020

10:59 AM

Hallelujah brothers, sisters and — of course — the gender non-conforming! Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies because Brother Woke’s Travelling Salvation Show is in town. Its hoodwinking hucksters have been out in force recently peddling its particular brand of snake oil salesmanship with firebrand evangelizing fervour. Sit back and prepare to be saved, whether you want to, or not. “Everyone goes, everyone knows, it’s Brother Woke’s show” (apologies to Neil Diamond). 

Classical gaslighting

Classical music has come in for a hammering this year as the woke attempt to show up one of Western civilization’s greatest legacies as a juggernaut of white patriarchal oppression. First it was the New York Times trio of poignant pieces about its alleged racist shortcomings: Opera Can No Longer Ignore its Race Problem highlighted long simmering issues of representation; To Make Orchestras More Diverse, End Blind Auditions argued that merit should be foresworn in favour of factors like race and gender; and  Black Artists on How to Change Classical Music focussed on transforming this distressingly “white dominated field 

And useful idiots from the media and academia have been applying their Critical Race Theory lens to classical music ever since because, well, dead white guys. 

The woke’s adherence to the fork school of problem solving (three prongs: invent a problem, invent a word and then invent a solution to the invented problem) was on display again recently courtesy of Christopher White, a professor of music theory at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In an op-ed for Slate White’s first prong  lamented that great and instantly-recognisable composers like Beethoven and Mozart are referred to by mononyms ( their last names) but “women and composers of color” (less famous and, let me just put this out there, maybe, not as great) are given their full names: 

These canonized demigods became so ensconced in elite musical society’s collective consciousness that only one word was needed to evoke their awesome specter.  

White’s second prong is classic wokespeak: “fullname”.  See how he just magically created a new verb? 

And the third prong – the invented solution? 

Musicians, academics, and teachers have a lot of work ahead to confront the racist and sexist history of classical music. Fullnaming composers, especially those who have been elevated to mononymic status by this complicated history, will challenge us to at the very least afford the same respect to all of the individuals whose music we talk and write about.

Whether they deserve it or not, of course.  

Roll over, Ludwig Van Beethoven and Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. 

Goebbels anyone?  

California’s Burbank Unified School District has temporarily banned the study of some of America’s greatest, most awarded and best-loved books including To Kill a Mockingbird, The Cay, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The reason? Alleged potential harm to the district’s black students, claimed by a statistically significant four parents. 

One might think that in 2020 books that apply a searing blowtorch to historical racism would be just the thing to encourage reasoned discussion and debate, especially in an area that has about 15,000 students, only roughly 400 of whom are black. But the woke’s totalitarian tendencies don’t allow for discussion. They favour figurative book burnings that channel 1933.  

And you obviously don’t need to have actually read the books to complain. One parent stated: 

There’s no counter-narrative to this Black person dealing with racism and a white person saving them.   

Well, apart from the fact that if you feel so inclined you could always look for a counter narrative in other books, in The Cay, the white boy Phillip, is actually saved by the black man, Timothy, and lawyers Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Mr Jamison in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (incidentally by black author Mildred D Taylor) are merely trying to do their best and treat their clients with the dignity and respect that all human beings deserve. 

You could even call them the original anti-racist allies, so beloved by Critical Race Theory proponents.  

On second thought, maybe not.  They would first need to recognize their privilege and unconscious bias, analyse their own complicity in white systems of oppression, educate themselves, admit their guilt, nix the micro-aggressions, amplify others, and commit to doing better.  

Lies, damned lies and statistics 

Proving that some students are more equal than others a report from a Washington School District came to light this week graphically displaying differences in achievement data between white students and students of colour. Nothing remarkable about that, right?  

Well there was just one teensy anomaly. In a feat of sleight-of-hand woke goalpost shifting par excellence Asian students, with a magical click of someone’s computer mouse, shifted holus-bolus into the white students’ category, where they obviously belong since they continue to outperform other students of colour. Damned inconvenient, that.  

You can view the report here but following the resultant furore you can’t find it on the school district’s website anymore because:  

Upon reflection and response by members of the Asian-American community, we will change how we look at achievement data and appreciate the feedback we received. We apologize for the negative impact we have caused and removed the monitoring report from our website.

The intent was never to ignore Asian students as “students of color” or ignore any systemic disadvantages they too have faced. We continue to learn and grow in our work with equity as a public-school system and we will ensure that we learn from this and do better in the future.

They neglect to say what the intent really was, however. Can we assume that the term ‘people of colour’ doesn’t actually relate to skin pigment but rather to grievance categories that are fluid depending on the outcome you want to achieve?   

Why didn’t they just say so? 

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