I have no background with Todd Starnes. I am aware of his October 27 column, “School’s Nation of Islam handout paints Founding Fathers as racists,” only because Yahoo! News captured it. He plays fast and loose with the facts, which does not reflect well on him or Fox News & Commentary.
(Disclaimer: In a follow-up column October 28, Starnes reports information from a second parent that confirms some of his suspicions and contradicts statements of the superintendent and the teacher. For other reasons, I have chosen to write this based on the facts as they were known on October 27.)
Sommer Bauer’s third grade son came home from school with a paper that bore an impressive image of Mount Rushmore. The captions made unflattering remarks about the Presidents shown. The source was a Nation of Islam web page.
Julie West is the president of Parents For Truth in Education, a Tennessee-based group that is opposed to Common Core. At this point there is no indication the Nation of Islam assignment was connected to Common Core. However, West said she is alarmed by whatever happened at Harold McCormick Elementary School.
There is no indication that a “Nation of Islam assignment” occurred.
“We had a teacher who apparently never looked at something, never read something, before it was distributed to a class of third graders,” West said. “In addition, she warned the students not to take it home.”
There is no indication that anything was distributed to the students, nor that they were warned not to take anything home.
I find it hard to believe an 8-year-old boy would steal a handout from a teacher’s desk, bring it home and then concoct an elaborate tale to cover up the crime.
The terms “steal” and “crime” are misplaced; no one has alleged a crime. As to “an elaborate tale,” Starnes has nowhere provided us the boy’s own words, but they appear to be just this: “She gave it to me.”
[Superintendent E. C. Alexander] said the teacher had been preparing for a presentation on Mount Rushmore and had discarded the controversial handout.
I adduce that the teacher probably captured the page from an online search for the sake of the image. If the boy took the page from her desk — or, more likely, from her wastebasket — then that was also most likely for the sake of the image.
“It raised a number of red flags,” [Bauer] said. “They are basically saying our Founding Fathers are racists.”
First, “they” is the Nation of Islam, not the school or teacher.
Second, the Founding Fathers were the framers of the Constitution. Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt did not participate in that process.
Third, Bauer and Starnes both appear to be alarmed at an attribution of “racism” to American heroes.
It doesn’t alarm me. It’s an attribution I’d counsel all white Americans to get used to.
Post-Ferguson, white media personalities have busied themselves insinuating racism in one another, as in the debates of “white privilege.” We’ve been catapulted, however, back to Andrew Young’s definition of racism as “the combination of prejudice with power.” This means white Americans are inevitably racist. That means all white Americans, including Jon Stewart and the white demonstrators in Ferguson. Malice or goodwill don’t matter; what matters is the “historical context.”
But white Americans aren’t alone.
Functionally, any event that distresses a black American is racist, regardless the race or motivations of the perpetrator.
Every time a black child’s parent curses him or her in public, it’s a racist act.
Only when black Americans own this, will we begin to make progress.
And I do believe the good people of Elizabethton deserve to know how and why a handout from the Nation of Islam ended up on school property.
Has Starnes never heard of the First Amendment?
Originally posted 2014-11-22.