Re-posted by Nicholas Stix
There are two main reasons why I was whitelisted from ever teaching college again in the City University of New York system, at the end of 1998. One was my 5,000-word Liberty article debunking so-called Ebonics, and the other was an essay I published in CUNY’s Baruch College student newspaper under my own name, arguing that it did not serve young black men’s interests to irrigate Harlem’s gutters with their blood, rioting on behalf of genocidal black supremacist Khalid Muhammud, who was then the leader of the New Black Panther Party, and who had just led a black riot in Harlem. (This is another essay I wrote on the same black riot.)
When the aforementioned “Ebonics” article appeared in print, the editor who’d worked on it said it was the most thorough exposé ever written on the subject.
I’d been teaching college in New Jersey, and then New York City, mostly remedial classes, since 1992. During the 1997-1998 academic year, I organized the remedial composition (“Basic Writing”) class I was teaching on three CUNY campuses the theme of education, and an ambitious reading list and writing project. My students read Plato, Dewey, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and many contemporary writers on education in general, and language and education, in particular.
I always assigned homework questions, because I had found that otherwise, people wouldn’t do the reading.
The Plato passage was the “Myth of the Cave,” from The Republic. The Dewey reading was an entire small 1938 book of his on education, in which he attacked those (anti-intellectual communists) who claimed to be his disciples, and who had perverted his philosophy of education. The Washington passages were form Up from Slavery, while the readings from the latter’s enemy, DuBois, were from The Souls of Colored Folk.
In the present, I dealt with so-called language rights, i.e., “Ebonics.” I forced my students read a screed by a tenured black supremacist named Keith Gilyard, in defense of Ebonics.
A few of my students complained that Gilyard was awful, which he was, but I had to give his side its say. (I didn’t give them my counter-essay to read.) Some of them—including a black American girl and a Hispanic guy who otherwise wouldn’t agree with me on the time of day—correctly argued, “There is no Ebonics!”
I then had them read my exposé, and answer homework questions, but didn’t push my positions. (Links to my various articles on “Ebonics” can be found here.
The universal position in academia was that “Ebonics” was a real “language,” or a legitimate “vernacular,” as opposed to broken English. The reason for the universal academic embrace of “Ebonics” was simple: Anyone who rocked the boat was destroyed. Professors of linguistics, including John McWhorter, the neocons favorite young black academic, all towed the party line. That’s when I learned that linguistics isn’t a science, but just another political department.
For the past 50 years, Noam Chomsky has been the dominant figure in academic linguistics. Chomsky is an anti-American, anti-Semitic communist or anarchist. (He identifies himself as an anarchist.) Chomsky has, for purely political reasons, denied the distinction between “dialect” and “language,” and agreeing with him is a political litmus test that every graduate student in linguistics must pass. Thus, the unanimity.
Why did I bother assigning my own work? I was often forced to assign lousy works written by colleagues, in some cases at students’ expense (the textbook racket). Why would I give them garbage to read, while withholding excellent writings?
A few years ago, the gifted editor who’d worked on my Ebonics exposé contacted me, to ask me to never mention him, in connection with it. He had gone back to teaching, and being connected to me was bad for his professional health.
English Spoken Here
By James Howard Kunstler
May 4, 2015
[Blog, whose name rhymes with “luck”]
Of course, the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore last week prompted the usual cries for “an honest conversation about race,” and countless appeals to fix the “broken” public school system. So, in the spirit of those pleas, I will advance a very plain and straightforward idea: above all, teach young black kids how to speak English correctly.
Nothing is more important than acculturating ghetto kids out of their pidgin patois and into real English with all of its tenses, verb forms, and cases. It’s more important initially than learning arithmetic, history, and science. I would argue that it is hardly possible to learn these other things without first being grounded in real grammatical English.
When these kids grow up, their manner of speech will identify them and their prospects for success at least as much as the color of their skin — and probably more, in my opinion. Their ability to speak English correctly will be the salient feature in how others assess the content of their character
I’m sure by now that the racial justice hand-wringers are squirming over this proposal. All dialects are equally okay in this rainbow society, they might argue. No they’re not. Have you noticed that TV news, business, show biz, education, and politics increasingly employ people whose parents came from India and other parts of Asia. Do they speak in a patois lacking in complex verb forms? Apparently not. Are they succeeding in American life, such as it is? Apparently so.
Notice that the speech issue — how people talk — is never part of the “honest conversation about race” that we are supposed to have.
Has anybody noticed that in his public speeches Martin Luther King spoke regular English correctly, if with a Southern inflection? Has anybody noticed how important that was in his role as “a communicator?” Why is this crucial question of language absent from the public conversation about “the intractable problems of race in America?” Is it because both blacks and whites are too fearful, too cowardly, to face this particular problem of how English is spoken?
Perhaps this raises the specter of IQ. I’d like to know how any IQ test can be meaningful when the person taking it can’t speak the language that the test is given in. I’m sure that any ghetto kid drilled in English for two years would show substantial improvement in such a generalized test. But, of course, first the American people of all skin tones would have to admit that this is important.
We don’t want to. We’d rather wring our hands over “structural racism” and other canards. Why? Because Euro American whites have been programmed to “not offend” at all costs; Asian Americans are too busy being successful; and African Americans are too invested in their own excuse-for-failure industry, wringing money from offense-o-phobic whites.
A year ago, I gave the opening day lecture to the entering honors freshman class at Rutgers, New Jersey’s State University. I swear at least half of that class of about 400 young people was made up of first generation kids of parents from India — owing, I suppose, to the current demographic of the state. Many of these kids were very dark-skinned, as dark as African Americans. Guess what? They didn’t speak in any kind of pidgin patois. They spoke regular American English. Do you suppose during their childhoods that the household fretted about “sounding white?” I doubt it. By the way, not only did these very bright, dark-skinned honors students speak English correctly, they also behaved politely. No fights broke out during the convocation. They effervescently launched themselves into their college careers — and then they went out for pizza.
How about it America? Job number one: learn how to speak the English language. Everything else depends on it. Excuses not admissible.