Category Archives: Politically correct

Cleansing education of classical texts

WSJ 1/11/2021

This is just the first inning… mrossol

A sustained effort is under way to deny children access to literature. Under the slogan #DisruptTexts, critical-theory ideologues, schoolteachers and Twitter agitators are purging and propagandizing against classic texts—everything from Homer to F. Scott Fitzgerald to Dr. Seuss.

Their ethos holds that children shouldn’t have to read stories written in anything other than the present-day vernacular—especially those “in which racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hate are the norm,” as young-adult novelist Padma Venkatraman writes in School Library Journal. No author is valuable enough to spare, Ms. Venkatraman instructs: “Absolving Shakespeare of responsibility by mentioning that he lived at a time when hate-ridden sentiments prevailed, risks sending a subliminal message that academic excellence outweighs hateful rhetoric.”

The subtle complexities of literature are being reduced to the crude clanking of “intersectional” power struggles. Thus Seattle English teacher Evin Shinn tweeted in 2018 that he’d “rather die” than teach “The Scarlet Letter,” unless Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is used to “fight against misogyny and slut-shaming.”

Outsiders got a glimpse of the intensity of the #DisruptTexts campaign recently when self-described “antiracist teacher” Lorena Germán complained that many classics were written more than 70 years ago: “Think of US society before then & the values that shaped this nation afterwards. THAT is what is in those books.”

Jessica Cluess, an author of young-adult fiction, shot back: “If you think Hawthorne was on the side of the judgmental Puritans . . . then you are an absolute idiot and should not have the title of educator in your twitter bio.”

An online horde descended, accused Ms. Cluess of racism and “violence,” and demanded that Penguin Random House cancel her contract. The publisher hasn’t complied, perhaps because Ms. Cluess tweeted a ritual self-denunciation: “I take full responsibility for my unprovoked anger toward Lorena Germán. . . . I am committed to learning more about Ms. Germán’s important work with #DisruptTexts. . . . I will strive to do better.” That didn’t stop Ms. Cluess’s literary agent, Brooks Sherman, from denouncing her “racist and unacceptable” opinions and terminating their professional relationship.

The demands for censorship appear to be getting results. “Be like Odysseus and embrace the long haul to liberation (and then take the Odyssey out of your curriculum because it’s trash),” tweeted Shea Martin in June. “Hahaha,” replied Heather Levine, an English teacher at Lawrence (Mass.) High School. “Very proud to say we got the Odyssey removed from the curriculum this year!” When I contacted Ms. Levine to confirm this, she replied that she found the inquiry “invasive.”

“It’s a tragedy that this anti-intellectual movement of canceling the classics is gaining traction among educators and the mainstream publishing industry,” says science-fiction writer Jon Del Arroz, one of the rare industry voices to defend Ms. Cluess. “Erasing the history of great works only limits the ability of children to become literate.”

He’s right. If there is harm in classic literature, it comes from not teaching it. Students excused from reading foundational texts may imagine themselves lucky to get away with YA novels instead—that’s what the #DisruptTexts people want—but compared with their better-educated peers they will suffer a poverty of language and cultural reference. Worse, they won’t even know it.

Mrs. Gurdon writes the Journal’s Children’s Books column.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/even-homer-gets-mobbed-11609095872?mod=theme_opinioncommentaryribbon

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The Slow Birth of Covid Realism

If the censorship doesn’t get totally out of control, it will be a fascinating tale of just what caused this event, this virus, to literally turn the political forces on their heads.  mrossol

WSJ 12/29/2020

Italy, last seen trying to prosecute government scientists for failing to forecast an earthquake, is now pioneering the use of criminal prosecutors to examine the country’s Covid-19 response. Italy as a country ranks low on every index of efficient, accountable governments and effective legal systems. Criminalizing policy disappointments and managerial errors is a symptom of this failure, not its cure.

Still, the particulars of the indictment being sought by relatives of early victims will ring bells for many Americans: the shipping of infected persons to nursing homes, failure to test patients who couldn’t be connected to China, failing to order lockdowns sooner, worrying about the potential impact on businesses.

The U.S. remains in a similar phase of denial, with every failure related to testing, mask promotion, etc., spun as a missed chance to extinguish Covid altogether. When the reality principle intrudes, here’s suspecting the greatest failure will be the one we are least willing to acknowledge or even understand: It began with our strange reticence to acknowledge the reality of mild (and, as it turned out, asymptomatic) Covid.

Any alert person knew from the get-go that, amid the exigencies of Wuhan, Chinese doctors were failing to detect mild cases, and that thousands of these cases were likely being exported to the world. Whatever the horrors in Wuhan’s hospitals, they happened not because Covid-19 is an extravagantly deadly respiratory infection. They happened because a flu-like disease had been allowed to spread unrecognized for months in an urban population unprotected by any prior immunity or vaccine.

Yet it instantly became a U.S. journalistic trope to accuse anyone mentioning the flu of “downplaying” the new disease—downplaying anything being the worst sin in journalism.

Inexplicably, authorities, including the World Health Organization, insisted on promoting a fatality rate they knew was exaggerated because of the failure to account for mild infections. To this day, U.S. officialdom and the media dwell on a nearly meaningless “confirmed” case count, knowing full well that doing so is innumerate and unstatistical. It’s a mystery and my only explanation is that they are afraid to stop because it portrays the disease as more deadly than it is (supporting the case for urgency) and also less prevalent than it is (supporting the case that it can somehow be contained).

A parade of conclusive contrary indicators is not so much unreported as simply unintegrated into the picture sold to the American public. To give the latest example, a Johns Hopkins study finds that in late spring in Maryland, when “confirmed” cases were less than 1% of the state’s population, 10% of autopsies showed evidence of Covid infection—a rate that applied equally to auto-accident victims and people who died of natural causes.

As the pandemic has unfolded, only deeper has become media revilement of anyone who pointed out that the death risk was being exaggerated, that the lockdowns were not sustainable due to the costs they imposed on people who were at low risk, that our efforts would be better invested in shielding those at high risk of a bad medical outcome.

The hostility is even greater now that these views have been adopted implicitly and unavowedly almost everywhere in obedience to the reality principle. The lockdowns were unsustainable. Low-risk people were unwilling to maintain energetic social distancing through the summer and fall. Vaccines are being rolled out now expressly to protect the most vulnerable first.

For all their talk that no cost is too great to save a life, the actual behavior of our elected officials has made clear that the one thing they believe their careers can’t tolerate is a breakdown in hospital care for Covid patients and others.

I’ve informally adopted Brown University’s Ashish Jha as my metric for realism’s gradual unfurling. In his latest media appearances, he invariably now stresses unseen spread, the impracticality of the lockdown solution, a role for herd immunity in supplementing vaccination to end the pandemic—even if he also occasionally utters imprecations against these opinion pages for making the same arguments months ago.

When it’s over, countries like Germany and Sweden, which have hardly been spared Covid’s ravages, I suspect will be seen as the least-bad models. And for reasons American leaders will be loath to admit: They treated their people like adults. They leveled with their citizens about Covid’s inevitable spread. They skimped on the baby talk, virtue signaling, or any resort (especially prevalent in the U.S.) to trying to mislead a supposedly infantile public for its own good.

These countries worked no public-health miracles nor any miracles of the self-isolating sort that appealed in the antipodes. Where they succeeded was in eliciting the intelligence of their peopletheir intelligent adaptations, to make the Covid trial as bearable as possible.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-slow-birth-of-covid-realism-11609284003?mod=hp_opin_pos_3

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Research does not support the lie.

This article HAD to be removed; it didn’t support the lie.  I’ve been saying this for six months:  Let’s look at the total death counts after 6 or 12 or 24 or 36 months, and the total deaths will not be statistically different than normal. Many who would have died from heart attacks died of COVID, etc.  mrossol

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https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/coronavirus/johns-hopkins-published-then-deleted-study-questioning-us-coronavirus

Last week, Johns Hopkins University published a now-deleted article explaining a study examining the effects of the novel coronavirus on United States death totals using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Genevieve Briand, the assistant program director of the Applied Economics master’s degree program at Johns Hopkins, determined, in the study, that there have been 1.7 million deaths in the U.S. between March 2020 and September 2020, 12% (or roughly 200,000) of which have been coronavirus-related.

Briand posits that the only way to understand the significance of the U.S. coronavirus death rate is by comparing it to the number of total deaths in the country.

According to Briand, who compared the total deaths per age category from both before and after the onset of the global pandemic, the death rate of older people stayed the same before and after coronavirus.

“The reason we have a higher number of reported COVID-19 deaths among older individuals than younger individuals is simply because every day in the U.S. older individuals die in higher numbers than younger individuals,” wrote Briand.

She also noted that between 50,000 and 70,000 deaths are seen both before and after the emergence of the virus, meaning that, according to her analysis, coronavirus has had no effect on the percentage of total deaths of older people, nor has it increased the total number of deaths in the category.

These results contradict the way most people see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately affects the elderly population.

Briand believes, after reviewing the numbers, that coronavirus deaths are being over-exaggerated. After seeing that in 2020, coronavirus-related deaths exceeded deaths from heart disease — the leading cause of death in the U.S. for many years prior — Briand began to suspect that the coronavirus death toll figure may be misleading.

Briand found that “the total decrease in deaths by other causes almost exactly equals the increase in deaths by COVID-19,” according to the original JHU newsletter.

“If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks and all the other death causes doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some misclassification,” said Briand.

“If [the COVID-19 death toll] was not misleading at all, what we should have observed is an increased number of heart attacks and increased COVID-19 numbers. But a decreased number of heart attacks and all the other death causes doesn’t give us a choice but to point to some misclassification,” said Briand.

“All of this points to no evidence that COVID-19 created any excess deaths. Total death numbers are not above normal death numbers. We found no evidence to the contrary,” she continued.

Several days after removing the article, Johns Hopkins University tweeted that the article, “A closer look at U.S. deaths to COVID-19,” was deleted because “the article was being used to support false and dangerous inaccuracies about the impact of the pandemic.”

“We regret that this article may have contributed to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19,” tweeted the institution.

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