From Greatness to Whiteness

They see great men founding a great country.

If you ask recent graduates of almost any American university what they see when they look at these paintings, chances are that they see something entirely different.

They are apt to see rich, white males who are not great and who did not found a great country. And for many, it is worse than that. These men are not only not great; they are morally quite flawed in that they were slaveholders and/or founded a country that allowed slavery. Moreover, they were not only all racists; they were all sexists, who restricted the vote to males. And they were rich men who were primarily concerned with protecting their wealth, which is why they restricted the vote to landowners.

In the past, Americans overwhelmingly saw pictures of greatness. Increasingly only conservatives see pictures of greatness. More and more Americans — that includes the entire left and many universities attendees who were indoctrinated by left-wing professors — now see rich, white, self-interested males.

The left-wing trinity of race, gender and class has prevailed. The new dividing lines are no longer good and bad or excellent and mediocre, but white and non-white, male and female, and rich and poor. Instead of seeing great human beings in those paintings of the Founders, Americans have been taught to see rich, white, (meaning — by definition — selfish, bigoted, racist, sexist) males.

In colleges throughout America, students are taught to have disdain for the white race. I know this sounds incredible, or at least exaggerated. It is neither.

For example, from the day they enter college, many students are taught about white privilege — how innately advantaged white students (and all other whites are). Last week, the president of Western Washington University posed the question on the university’s website: “How do we make sure that in future years we are not as white as we are today?”

Imagine if the president of the University of California at Berkeley had posed the question, “How do we make sure that in future years we are not as Asian as we are today?”

Inner city young blacks who work hard in school are routinely chastised by other black youth for “acting white.”

Regarding white privilege, last year, three academics at the University of Rhode Island wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“The American Psychological Association’s educational goals for the psychology major include sociocultural and international awareness, with learning outcomes regarding mastery of concepts related to power and privilege. Other professional organizations, including the American Sociological Association, have developed similar learning goals for teaching in higher education. Instructors have been charged with teaching their white students to understand their own privileged positions in society relative to those of marginalized groups.”

The key point here is that the word “values” never appears. Instead of asking what values made America’s Founders great, the left asks what race, gender and class privileges enabled those men to found America. Instead of asking what values does the white majority (or, for that matter, on some campuses, the Asian majority) live by in order to succeed, and how can we help inculcate those values among more less successful people of all racial and ethnic groups, the left asks what privileges do whites have that enable them to get into colleges and graduate at a higher rate than blacks and Latinos.

The undermining of the very concept of values was starkly made clear last month at a national inter-college debate tournament.

As reported in the Atlantic last week:

“On March 24, 2014 at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted. Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities.”

In the final round, Ruffin and Johnson squared off against Rashid Campbell and George Lee from the University of Oklahoma, two highly accomplished African-American debaters with distinctive dreadlocks and dashikis. Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like ‘nigga authenticity’ and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. ‘F—- the time!’ he yelled.

In a national intercollegiate debate contest, a black debating team won by transforming the topic of the debate, one that that had nothing to do with race, into a race question.

But to object to this, or to argue that a team might be disqualified for yelling “f—- the time” when told it had gone over the time limit, or to ask what performing hip-hop has to do with the topic “whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted” — is now deemed to act white.

This is another victory for the left. And another defeat for standards, for truth and for the values embodied by the men in the paintings of the Founders.

Dennis Prager’s latest book, “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph,” was published April 24, 2013 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com.

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  • potemkin_village_usa

    Just because the founding fathers were white, does it make the blessings of liberty any less dear? Have we forgotten that nearly 400 thousand white men gave their lives in the civil war freeing the slaves?
    ” What difference does the color of the cat make as long as it catches mice?”
    ____Deng Xiao Ping

  • Tim Bertram Black

    “that includes the entire left” — buzzzz…. you are wrong.
    I am as left as left can be — and when I see pictures of our founders, I see greatness!
    Were they perfect? No. Nobody is.
    We don’t judge them based on morality of today — we judge them on the morality at the time. It was a much different time!
    Slavery may be a counter-example to that because many of them saw that allowing slavery undermined the whole liberty and justice for all riff. But they were willing to table the issue: to compromise. Slavery was taken up again 70 years later — resulting in a horrendously bloody war.
    Oh, and they fervently believed in the separation of church and state. Sorry.

  • Wheels55

    If Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Wassermann-Schultz founded this country, we would all be under the rule of Putin.

  • Brian Fr Langley

    I love the way my ancestors settled disputes. They called it trial by combat. The theory was, whoever was killed, had displeased the gods, so by definition, they were in truth, in the wrong. In fact, trial by combat endured almost right into modern times, though they were known by the less offensive name, gentlemanly “duels”. Although getting shot by a mini ball, or skewered with the pointy end of hardened steel, hardly sounds gentlemanly to my way of thinking. The point was, “might makes right”. (Unless you think the loser really did displease gods, and wasn’t simply the smaller, weaker, guy). In addition to the gods declaring victors in trials, they also selected the peoples sovereigns. (why do you think kingships or lordships were typically hereditary)? Enter the genius of the framers. Leadership earned by merit, the transcendent right of the individual, the transcendent right of private property, and the rule of the people by the people. Yet not strictly a democracy, because in addition to the rule, of the people, by the people, the framers, institutionally hard wired into the national frame, the “rule of law”. People were to be ruled by law, NOT sovereigns. Whether King, President, or indentured servant, all were subject to the law, and that law was constitutionally enshrined. Today, we see way too many lawmakers and leaders, (dare I say Presidents), taking on imperial airs, and making law by royal decree, reminiscent one might say,of Aristocratic days long thought gone. If the King himself is not subject to the law, is any man? So my disagreeable friend, will that be pistols, or swords?

  • artlouis

    One of the first things a good history professor teaches is that you cannot properly judge a period in the past according to the moral mindset of the present. Each era defines itself for itself.

    • Ron F

      Art does that mean morality is relative to the times? If so, when did slavery become immoral?

      • Wheels55

        When MLB, the NBA and the NFL allowed blacks to play. Not a racist comment. Just think of when that happened and when Civil Rights began to have a chance to work.

  • Ron F.

    Isn’t slavery on its face immoral which would make slaveholders flawed?

  • Ron F

    I doubt that the majority of students in colleges today are only learning that the founders were only racists. On the other hand, isn’t allowing slavery and not allowing women to vote a value. It seems to me to learn that the founders were brilliant, but flawed, and that they created this great country but on the other hand some who were extolling the virtues of liberty were slave owners is legitimate.

    • Josh

      “isn’t allowing slavery and not allowing women to vote a value”

      Certainly seems so to me. If that’s part of who you are, it’s part of who you are. You can’t skirt responsibility because of the good. Folks can excuse it anyway they want, but part of what their “values” were included: slavery = okay; men>women.

  • Josh

    I see the founders as great within a certain framework. Forward thinking enough to understand that religion can’t rule over people, a large government can’t rule over people, and that people are inherently free to live. But nowhere near insightful and progressive enough to extend those freedoms to everyone.

    I don’t see any difference in viewing them as only great men who founded America, held these vague “values,” etc., than viewing them as only privileged rich white men who owned slaves and oppressed women .

    For many of them, they were all those things. And people who choose to only look at either extreme tend to blow a gasket if someone else chooses to view them as actual people rather than caricatures of our projection.

  • ARJ127

    Prager’s descriptions may apply to some intellectually bankrupt academics. However, I doubt that it applies to the mainstream in our universities. However, this gives Prager a soapbox to air his opinions.
    It was heartening to see that SCOTUS has affirmed Michigan’s anti-affirmative action provision it its constitution. Good for them. Affirmative action is NOT the way to level the educational playing field for visible minorities (i.e. African-American and Latino). The way to level the playing field is to make schools in those neighborhoods better. That may mean spending more money on improving educational materials, fixing rotting buildings, providing more mentorship programs and so on. I can support those types of initiatives. I can’t support affirmative action, which by its very nature is racist and condescending.

    • Josh

      Yeah, but it’s no fun at all if you can’t pull a radical slice from the privileged white guilty and use that to paint everyone who opposes your ideology as radical. It’s not politics unless you can do that.

      1 stupid sign = entire tea party racist.
      1 vandal = entire OWS vagrants and trouble-makers.
      1 nutty religious person = whole religion’s nuts.
      1 overzealous atheist = atheists are anti-religious demons.

      And on and on…

    • Guest

      We already spend more than just about anywhere else on earth. What needs to happen is a clean sweep of the ineffectual, lazy, corrupt system we have now. Throwing money at a worthless hog is wasted money.

      • ARJ127

        You make a valid point. Americans spend more per capita on primary and secondary education than anyone else in the world. Unfortunately, despite this spending, the education in they receive isn’t top drawer. A good house cleaning is in order. Nonetheless, it will be necessary to ensure that schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods receive the funding and resources necessary to allow them to compete with those in good neighborhoods.