Neil from Cloud in Trousers links to this story about a high school in Pittsburgh where the local school district board voted to drop the International Baccalaureate.
Amongst the complaints about the IB from board members was that it is "un-American, un-Christian, Marxist" and generally the work of (foreign) evil-doers.
This caused a bit of a stooshie: at the district board meeting, about a thousand pupils and parents heckled members and the police had to be called. One board member has also received death threats.
Now, if you're reading this - have you taken sides? If so, I'd argue you're part of the problem - or you would be if you lived in the United States. Because this story is all about the culture wars and how they have disfigured American political culture and public discourse.
A plague on both these partisan houses, I say. The case of Jay Bennish reinforced the impression that it is getting increasingly difficult to have sensible conversations about education in the US. The debate had nothing to do with his fitness to teach - he was evidently just a silly wee boy who doesn't understand what his job is. He was supported simply because he was seen as an enemy of the conservatives in general and Bush in particular.
In the same way, the Baccalaureate appears to have been dropped in this case for some fairly lunatic reasons - and then this action is opposed with some pretty outrageous methods.
But what if the Baccalaureate was, like Jay Bennish, simply unsuited for its purpose? Could conservatives make that case without arguing it necessarily leads to "one-world government"? Could a liberal make it and still find themselves identified with the "right side"? They'd find it difficult, I'd imagine. Which is a shame because maybe they should. Is there a compelling "anti-parochial" case for having it? If so, its supporters better get the finger out because at present, an insignificant 1,746 schools in the world carry it.
I don't know enough (anything, really) about the IB to comment on it but while I'm sure it's a perfectly respectable qualification, partisanship can blind you to the possibility that your advocacy for a cause or a policy can lose any connection with its intrinsic merit.
It was like the hoohah surrounding the two films that became for a short while the incarnation of the culture wars in America before the Presidential election. Liberals and Democrats of all sorts went all moist over Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 while conservatives and Republicans got themselves worked into a veritable frenzy over The Passion. Cinema audiences were said to be giving both of these films standing ovations in cinema and - always a bad sign - going on about how "all Americans" should haul themselves down to their local movie theatres in order to be Enlightened as to the Truth.
The problem was both these films were utterly appalling; I forced myself to watch both of them and they were unbearably bad. For anyone sensible enough not to have seen either, basically Gibson's offering was pious pornography; Moore's paranoid propaganda. Pure, blinkered, unyielding partisanship made both of these films much more successful than they deserved, because it brought them more attention than they deserved - becoming to celluloid what Rangers and Celtic are to football.
And this is the problem: the extreme partisanship that stops you standing just a little way back to ask the question, "Is this a good film?" or "Is this good football?" also manifests itself in the failure to ask, "Is this a good educational policy?" - because the perennial assumption is that all matters of public life are subject to the culture wars, and as such can be reduced to a single question, "Who's side are you on?" This inability to abstract social issues from partisan political allegiance disfigures public discourse but is also damaging to the culture of learning. It's going to be difficult to stop because America's culture wars have always struck me as having more than a little of the vendetta principle behind them, animating them and giving them energy.
- ► 2013 (22)
- ► 2012 (41)
- ► 2011 (74)
- ► 2010 (112)
- ► 2009 (117)
- ► 2008 (149)
- ► 2007 (212)
- Lost in translation
- Security services 'not to blame' for London bombin...
- Top QC calls for review of fingerprint cases
- McCabe folds on pensions
- Late for work again?
- Israeli elections and proportional representation
- Last stand of the Black Watch
- People losing their damn minds #11
- Standstill Scotland
- Martin Jacques and 'styles' of democracy
- Abdul Rahman to be freed
- Pointless research alert
- People losing their damn minds #10
- The night before...
- Scottish Lib Dems re-position themselves
- McConnell calls for anthem debate
- Why anti-Semitism matters
- Smoking ban problems 'expected'
- 97% of Americans...
- CAIR calls for release of Abdul Rahman
- Confucius he say: next stop Edinburgh
- School wins Muslim dress appeal
- The Budget in a nutshell
- Eta declares permanent ceasefire
- The McKie case: FBI launch investigation
- Who will save Abdul Rahman?
- Strange outbreak of agreeing with Rowan Williams
- Fukuyama on being careful what you wish for
- Scotland extends smoking ban to the great outdoors...
- Unrepentant and on my way to liberal hell
- Bish says, "religions deserved to be mocked"
- Drug tests for parents discussed
- Do irrational beliefs harm economic growth?
- Glasgow entrepreneurship
- The economics of invasion
- Double-trouble for Blair
- It's a heart-warming sight
- Partisanship and parochialism
- Never mind the bollocks - here's Michael Gove
- Isaac Hayes quits South Park
- More evidence that dentists are evil
- Cameron's star stops rising
- Nokia beats Scotland
- Faith schools 'are not divisive'
- Bennish is back
- Smack, Iraq and Afghanistan
- Reasons to welcome the smoking ban
- Seasons greetings from Glasgow
- Fight, fight!
- Local nannies
- Churchill sculpture sparks uproar
- "Justice was late"
- Too good to be true?
- Holyrood homeless (again)
- The long road to forgiveness
- Beam report disappoints Holyrood
- The politics of immigration
- If you are reading this
- Police defend shooting strategy
- FBI ordered McKie case 'swept under carpet'
- Questions on anti-Semitism and racism
- Lib Dems open door to coalition with SNP
- McConnell to review methadone policy
- 'Toons and terrorism news
- Scottish Parliament producing excessive hot air
- Taking potshots at the powerless
- Early exams may harm learning
- Shark Tales
- Watching Parkinson
- The strange case of Mr Bennish
- Former education official criticises reform bill
- Scottish parliament closes after roof falls in
- Teacher suspended for Bush-Hitler comparison
- Soviets 'ordered Pope shooting'
- Ming wins Lib Dem contest
- China and the Middle East
- A herd of sacred cows
- Why do teachers not make for better TV?
- On Marxism, religion and history
- Livingstone suspension frozen by judge
- Lords defeat Blair over terror bill
- Blair gives Jowell 'full support'
- ▼ March (82)
- ► 2005 (279)
British and Scottish Social
Elections and Voters
- A Cloud in Trousers
- Bad Conscience
- Butterflies and Wheels
- Chase me ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
- Christopher Hitchens
- Dave Hill
- Dave Osler
- Excuse me while I step outside
- Fat Man on a Keyboard
- Flying Rodent
- George Szirtes
- Labour and Capital
- Martin in the margins
- Mick Hartley
- Never Trust a Hippy
- Nick Cohen
- Obcene Desserts
- Olly's Onions
- Pickled Politics
- Rosie Bell
- Rullsenberg Rules
- Shiraz Socialist
- Simply Jews
- Slugger O'Toole
- Stumbling and Mumbling
- The gaping silence
- We'll Get it Right Next Time
- Whitehall 1212
Blogroll with aloe vera
British and Scottish Political
- Amnesty International
- China links
- China Support Network
- CIA factbook
- Democracy Now
- Europa - EU Online
- Human Rights in China
- Human Rights Watch
- International Labour Organization
- Labour Friends of Iraq
- South Africa links
- Statistical Abstract of the US
- Tibet Administration in Exile
- US Elections Stats
- Whitehouse Homepage