Formal education is a life-changer, and over the years it obviously has improved countless millions of lives. But education has its limits. It can’t always erase prejudicial thinking, as we are constantly reminded.
Two of the most recent reminders are Steve King, a U.S. congressman from Iowa who believes only white people have made significant contributions to the development of civilization, and Cynthia Dunbar, a former member of the State Board of Education who has helped publish a proposed textbook that denies and misrepresents the contributions of Hispanics to Texas and American culture. In truth, people of all colors and ethnicities have made important contributions to what Texas, America and the world are today.
King and Dunbar are educated people, although Dunbar, as an SBOE member several years ago, denounced the public education system as a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion.” It is a public education system that, in Texas, has a majority enrollment of Hispanic students.
King and Dunbar can’t see past their near-sighted, white views of history, culture and politics in a rapidly changing world that people like them just can’t bring themselves to accept. And many of their kindred spirits were in the convention hall in Cleveland this week, cheering what they would like to believe is Donald Trump’s promise to “make America white again.”
Some people could draw that interpretation from Trump’s pledges to build a wall on the Mexican border, round up undocumented immigrants and ban Muslims from entering the country. Moreover, the convention’s delegates were overwhelmingly Anglo. According to a preliminary figure reported by the Washington Post, only 18 of the 2,472 delegates who gathered in Cleveland were African American.
It’s a dangerous world, at home and abroad, but prejudice and fear aren’t solutions.
The Dallas Morning News column linked below discusses King’s comments, Dunbar’s textbook and the ongoing battle to educate young people against intellectual blindness and intolerance. It’s a tough fight that’s getting tougher.