Our Mad Mad World: Year One of the Roberts Court    
 Year One of the Roberts Court8 comments
picture6 Jul 2007 @ 23:16, by Paul Quintanilla

(The portrait to your right is of Richard Wright, as a “crossword puzzle.” It was painted by my father, Luis Quintanilla. For more portraits of writers as “how they see themselves,” go to “www.lqart.org/portsfold/writports.html”)

Well now it’s here. It’s happened.

A rightwing Supreme Court.

Prophets warned against it during the last presidential election. But as a national concern it ranked very low among the voters’ priorities.

More than fifty years of progressive change has come to an end. Dwight Eisenhower selected a solid Republican, Earl Warren, to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court more than half a century ago. And in 1954 he stunned the world by overturning Jim Crow, brilliantly, movingly: uniting the Court in a unanimous decision. To make sure the moral point got across.

That has come to an end.

Why was bussing begun in the first place? It was a bold corrective move against the deep racist roots Jim Crow and segregation had established in this country. It attempted to rectify an uneven, unbalanced ingrained social bias against African Americans. It recognized that separate was not equal. That the best way of insuring little black children had the same advantages little white children had was by putting them all together in the same class. In the same schools. What’s more, in a heterogeneous society it is good for all the children to learn about each other, and to accept, at an early age, that all kinds of differences exist. And that we should respect each other no matter what our backgrounds. In a democratic society this is a good starting point. And it helps avoid future struggles and troubles.

But now the Supreme Court has told us there is no such thing as institutional racism. That our society is color blind and that any race based social planning is wrong. That there is no need to rectify the problems of the past for they do not exist. And that any consciousness of color is in itself racism.

It is ironic, isn’t it, that this historic struggle for equality has been characterized as racist, isn’t it? Because color consciousness puts whites at a disadvantage. Because, according to this attitude, there is no racism, no cultural bias against minorities. We are all just one big color blind society.

The court has swung to the right. Does this mean prayer will someday become a sanctioned and promoted activity in public schools? That the Ten Commandments will appear on the walls of court rooms? That Roe v. Wade will be chipped away and eventually made meaningless? That the “rights” of power and money will take precedence over basic human rights?

I think so. The trend of the past half century has come to an end. It does matter who we elect to high office. The consequences, as George Bush has amply proved, are enormous.


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8 comments

8 Jul 2007 @ 11:22 by jazzolog : Buses, Lunch & Sex
Initially in my years working in schools, which career began in The Bronx in 1963, I was enthusiastic about changes being considered and tried. I remember the reasoning for busing and I had spent a lot of time and energy in civil rights...but I was a bit suspicious of this. I prefer integrating work environments and neighborhoods to moving kids all around. The argument was you have to teach the benefits of integration and reaching young minds with experience is the best way.

It meant school systems had to buy buses and hire drivers and people to do repairs. Gasoline was 16 cents a gallon then. Big expense at first and absolutely disastrous now. Fifty years ago rural folks were supporting the idea of closing the one-room schoolhouses and setting up central schools...but even then few buses got kids to school in this country.

Now you got students in a building miles from home. Are you going to feed 'em? I walked home for lunch every day until high school where they did build a cafeteria. Most kids packed lunch. Soon every school had a cafeteria. One argument was providing good nutrition...and teaching it through experience. Now schools had to buy food and hire cooks and cafeteria workers. Many schools provide breakfasts now too.

As far as I'm concerned, these 2 programs have busted the American public school system. Teachers buy their own materials and nearly every class has fees to pay. A town north of here requires students to pay $100 per semester to play sports or be in the band. Many of my colleagues tell me they suspect the whole setup is a plot to privatize education totally in order to complete a process of dumbing down the voters to an appropriate herd mentality.

The bright idea of sex education could be the final straw. Switching my hat to being a parent just now, I have to say I find it impossible to uncover what my kids are learning about sex from one year to the next. These are required courses, and one year in middle school my daughter got 3 different versions. I know what she learned because I work in that school, but other parents could have no idea unless they really go after information. What she did not learn about was contraception. Five years earlier my son got complete information on that subject in the same courses in the same school. This much of a shift in any curriculum spells big trouble. Sex education is basically a health issue, but we have one nurse for this entire metropolitan district. When I was a kid there was a nurse in every school.

I don't know what to say about the trends of the last half century. I don't think all the liberal ideas were ill conceived, but they were not thought through and worked on continuously. Conservative backlash---it was called back-to-basics---was immediate and ferocious. Administrators caved in at the sightest touch. We in education have made some careless mistakes, and if now politicians and the courts are all over us I guess we asked for it.  



8 Jul 2007 @ 14:31 by Quinty @72.195.137.102 : Excellent points, Richard

Thank you.  



9 Jul 2007 @ 15:04 by vaxen : swarm intelligence
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20 Aug 2007 @ 17:51 by jazzolog : From Linda Gramatky Smith
I have a number of emails the past week or 2 complaining about the non-member comment feature, and so I've asked Ming to look into it. Linda was able to salvage the message she wanted to leave here, and so I'm posting it for her~~~

"Hi there, Paul,

I saw your comment ("I never heard of this artist... He is indeed a good water colorist. Judging only from these electronic reproductions, which, by their nature, tend to lose much, Gramatky was indeed a powerful poet of mood, with a very sensitive and evocative style.

It's too bad "representationalism" has become nearly moot in our day and age, So that someone who is really good at it is ignored - ignored for not being considered relevant or particularly important. And many artists merely search for novelty.

Modernism has brought us to a dead end. And electronic imagery is widespread today, ingrained in our culture. TV and advertising having become dominant.

But a poem is a poem, whatever shape it takes or appears in. And this artist, Gramatky, was a very true and deep and good poet, as his watercolors show.") in Dick Carlson (jazzolog)'s blog and I loved your comments about my dad's watercolors. Thanks. And it was great to find the painting by your dad (Luis Quintanilla) of Richard Wright. Wow, he had talent. And you're probably right that representationalism is passé but who knows what will be around the next corner? I guess the public feels the same way about Andrew Wyeth's art, although I still love his paintings. He named Dad (Hardie Gramatky) as one of the 20 all-time great American watercolorists last fall ... and I know my dad would have been humbled and amazed. I loved your comment about how some artists just want to find a novelty that sells.

Thanks for sharing about your dad and sharing his painting. Hope this gets to you. I'm not always sure how blogs work (i.e. do you see new comments to old entries?) Best to you, Linda"  



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