The H3O/Art of Life Blog
Artificial IQ: The Historio-Philosophical Origins of Ideas, Part Three
By Dr. Josef Ben Levi
Presented by Omni-U Virtual University
I have endeavored to bring to bear some foundational philosophical underpinnings to the thinking that has permeated this ethnocentric notion of the "pathos of distance" which has created not only systemic violence but, I dare say, a Euro-centric form of education and strategies for assessing outcomes. Not only does this line of pedagogical discourse support the dominant ideological view of what knowledge is and who should get it. But, it also determines the shape and form of that knowledge, how it is disseminated, and by whom. It defines knowledge in such a way that there is only one form of knowledge and rests on the notion of a “one world” education that is exclusively Euro-centric and American to the exclusion of all other worldviews.
Despite the assumptions inherent in the notion of neutrality in multiculturalism, it is merely a false claim. Allegedly, there is only one history- if history is taught at all- and this history is the history of the so-called "founding fathers." But, whose founding fathers were they? These social constructions -which always direct us toward researching the victims rather than the victimizers- only support and reinforce the values of the dominant society. This "victim analysis" model creates and supports xenophobia since it creates a criminal model which views other cultures as composed of inferiors who are in competition for resources that are perceived to be scarce. These scapegoats are always created during times of a purported economic crisis. These ideas have always led to cultural wars which are sometimes fought in the guise of national freedom but are, in reality, wars of aggression for the supremacy of Western civilization- or, what Samuel Huntington called, “the Clash of Civilizations” (Huntington, 1997). We must, instead, treat humanity with humility. Otherwise, labeling /stereotype-casting will continue to be merely old wine recast into new bottles with new labels.
These concepts have impacted the epistemological nature of education for Black children and determined the types of curricula that are created for them. Most of these curricular formations are more concerned with the social control of a population which- similar to the Black Codes- they have already castigated as "savages," "monsters," and "beasts." (Ekberg, et al., 1724/1963) When it comes to the dehumanization of African children- most notably Black boys in public schools- there are several books and articles which provide particularly good critiques. (See "Recommended Readings"). But, these ideas have antecedents in the "Enlightenment Period". This was the period in which Europe was determining how it would collectively impose its will on the rest of the world; particularly that part of the world inhabited by people who did not look like them. Nowhere was this more imperative than in the collective African world (Smedley & Smedley, 2005).
There were many European nations who were engaged in this intellectual enterprise, none more prominent than Britain, France, Spain, and, eventually, the United States. They assisted in disability studies by perpetuating notions of White privilege and White Supremacy using the stereotype-casting which created, for them, a historical premise upon which to impose labels on groups such as "mentally deficient," "imbecile," "EMH" (educable mentally retarded), "TMH" ( trainable mentally retarded ), etc. These labels were based on assumptions regarding so-called inherited defects within "racial groups." These groups were viewed as social deviants and "burdens on society". While they may not yet be criminals, they were perceived as "potential" criminals and classified as "menaces to society'' based on their very existence within the cultural mix. They had ‘cultural deficiencies and did not fit the “norm’ so, consequently, they were viewed as outside of the "normal curve."
It is unfortunate that African Americans- namely Black boys- have been victims of this vitriolic xenophobia. There have been many early authors who, in these formative years, were instrumental in defining Black boys as deviants who harbor any number of so-called disabilities. These writers assisted in creating the current environment for the prevailing view of Black boys as "incapable of learning," "innately intellectually inferior," and -by extension- so are their parents, grandparents, etc. Therefore, they are not entitled to-or in need of- the necessary tools to assist them especially since they would be competing with those who are considered to be a part of the academic "mainstream", i.e., white, middle-class males.
The "Pathos of Distance" has created various combat zones between those viewed as "normal" and "capable" versus those viewed as "abnormal," "disabled," "incapable," and so on. A war is being waged between those who would sell out the noble profession of education and educators in some backroom corporate deals for training in nebulous future skills and those who want to demonstrate the value of education in the transmission of knowledge for life as well as a tool for liberation. Those aggressive war-mongers at the top have created a kind of "shock mentality" among the American public regarding public education. They have also organized deceptive events to justify public policy measures such as "No Child Left Behind," I prefer to call it "No Child Left Standing;" since it appears to be the ultimate corporate takeover of public education through clever reforms supported by corporate think-tanks.
By using psychometric educational psychologists and the neo-conservative movements, the creation of an atmosphere of xenophobia has endowed educational reform with a new mantra, i.e., testing. Keep in mind that corporate CEOs are not intellectuals nor are they interested in intellectuals unless they view them through the lens of psychometrics. Hence; we are victimized by standards and accountability which simply boils down to the profit- motive of another business model.
The cover story of an edition of Governing Magazine, October 2011; is a poignant reminder of the topic under discussion. The cover page reads, “Billionaires in the Classroom: How Private-Sector Cash is Reshaping Public Education Policy.” Now, how direct can that be? This neo-liberal policy of assemblage functions in the same form as the justifications for the Louisiana Code Noir, i.e., Black Codes of 1723 which were the colonial slave laws of French mid-America that included the Illinois territories. Article 23 of The Black Codes states\ in part: “…If their masters have obtained no profit, any property that the masters allowed the slaves will be liable after their masters deduct from it…” They become what Article 40 calls “…movable property and, as such, a part of community property.”
This is essentially what David Imig is stating when he talks about an agenda that centralizes authority over teacher education to commercialize the process and views this relationship as one between goods and services and a national assessment as an investment opportunity. This is nothing more than the reproduction of a slaveocracy with another name. It must be remembered that the whole slave buying, selling, and holding enterprise from its relatively modern inception -starting with the Arab slave trade in the 6th century through the European slave trade of the 14th century- was a business with investors and commodities which had to turn a profit to fulfill their commitment to their shareholders. (Lewis, 1990; Segal, 2001).
Let me conclude by quoting from a speech given by Rep. Henry Berry of the Virginia House of Delegates on January 11, 1832. His speech was designed not only to support and maintain the "pathos of distance" but also to reinforce, among his colleagues, the importance of preventing any form of education from taking place among the Blacks. It reflects the xenophobia of the time as well as the underlying paradox they faced if Blacks were to be educated. The whole text is an eye-opener by itself and reveals that the planning which we currently see is related to labeling and assessment and is a stark reminder of the saying that, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Speaking to the other members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Rep. Berry declares:
"But, sir, although I have no fears for any general results from the efforts of this class of our population now, Still, sir, the time will come when there will be imminent, general danger. Pass as severe laws as you will, to keep these unfortunate creatures in ignorance, it is in vain, unless you can extinguish that spark of intellect which God has given them. Let any man who advocates slavery, examine the system of laws that we have adopted (from stern necessity it may be said) towards these creatures, and he may shed a tear upon that, and would to God, sir, the memory of it might thus be blotted out forever. Sir, we have, as far as possible closed every avenue by which light might enter their mind; we have only to go one step further—to extinguish the capacity to see the light, and our work would be completed; they would then be reduced to the level of the beasts of the field, and we should be safe; and I am not certain that we would not do it if we could find out the necessary process and that under the plea of necessity. sir, this is impossible; and can man be in the midst of free men, and not know what freedom is? Can he feel that he has the power to assert his liberty, and will he not do it?"
"Black Inferiority: From Theory to Practice ",
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Ancestor Dr. Amos N. Wilson:
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