Pun Salad Whitesplains It All For You

[Newspaper Fail]

Yesterday's local paper, SeacoastSunday, contained an op-ed column by the always-irritating Robert Azzi, headlined "Clutching privilege, pearls, pistols". First paragraph (don't worry, I'm not doing the whole thing):

I am increasingly tired of white people – or nonwhites seduced by their proximity to whiteness – trying to “whitesplain” away the existence of systemic racism or Critical Race Theory (CRT) as some sort of insidious socialist / marxist / communist / wokeness / leftist / BLM conspiracy to undermine an exceptional [white] America – as alien usurpers trying to dethrone God’s chosen guardians of American “excellence” and “exceptionalism.”

Unfortunately, Azzi isn't too tired to write 1100 or so words in defense of CRT. He tars white CRT critics as racist. It's inconvenient to his thesis that there are non-white critics? Ah, never mind, they've been "seduced by their proximity to whiteness". Only CRT is true! All hail CRT! Down with the whitesplainers! And the clutchers!

It's all Standard Operating Procedure for Azzi. But there's something even more irritating further down:

We need CRT, too, to understand that Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to American crewed space flights – including for Gordon Cooper’s Project Mercury-Atlas 9 spaceflight – couldn’t use the bathrooms in the building where she worked because she was African-American.

That caused me to write one of my very infrequent LTEs. Here 'tis, appropriate links added:

Dear Editor --

Robert Azzi's recent column on "Whitesplaining" attempted to rebut criticisms of "Critical Race Theory" (CRT). One of his assertions caught my eye: that CRT is needed to explain why NASA's Katherine Johnson (whose career was featured in the movie Hidden Figures) "couldn’t use the bathrooms in the building where she worked because she was African-American."

If CRT helps us "understand" that, then so much the worse for CRT. According to the Wikipedia page for Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson was originally unaware of the segregated facilities; she went ahead and used the convenient "whites-only" restrooms. Eventually, after years, someone complained. She ignored those complaints. And when NASA was estabilished in 1958, it ended any remaining segregation policies at its workplaces.

So, according to Azzi, CRT helps us understand things that didn't actually happen.

It doesn't matter. Azzi could easily replace his 60-year-old fake historical anecdotes with more accurate, and more recent ones. It's important to know those. But CRT doesn't "explain" those, nor does it aid in "understanding" them. And it doesn't explain why, given its assumptions of "systemic racism" and overbearing "white supremacy", how Katherine Johnson overcame every obstacle to learn math, master the thorny details of orbital mechanics (rocket science!), and have her stellar career at NASA. So CRT not only explains things that didn't happen, it fails to explain things that did. It's worthless.

But it's worse than that. When thinking of Katherine Johnson and her co-workers I was reminded of the CRT-inspired "Equitable Math" website (equitablemath.org), which has a self-proclaimed goal of "dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms". What are the "characteristics of white supremacy" in math education? In their list: "Perfectionism", "Sense of Urgency", "Objectivity". They deride the focus "on getting the 'right' answer".

I can't help but think that Katherine Johnson would consider that a bunch of hooey. And she might point out that astronauts' lives depended on her perfectionism, and "getting the right answer". When it comes to learning important and useful things, CRT is more of an obstacle than is systemic racism.

I assume Azzi will dismiss all this as racist "Whitesplaining". Too bad.

That's it. I'll let you know if it's published.