I’m starting to think any successful figure who was not created by the current ruling class is next up on the long list of “Next to be Canceled.”
Now that a San Francisco school has decided that Abraham Lincoln was too racist to have his name on a school and a SF teacher wrote that Bernie Sanders wearing mittens is an example of “white male privilege” — teachers are now removing William Shakespeare from their classrooms.
According to the New York Post, some teachers now say they can longer teach Shakespeare’s work because it promotes “misogyny, racism, homophobia, classism, anti-Semitism, and misogynoir.” Got all six of those reasons? Because Claire Bruncke, a teacher in Washington, has some more words to add. Bruncke says she stopped teaching Shakespeare so that she could “stray from centering the narrative of white, cisgender, heterosexual men.”
Man, he’s all that? According to another angry, woke instructor, those are the least of Shakespeare’s crimes.
“Shakespeare was a tool used to ‘civilize’ black and brown people in England’s empire,” said Ayanna Thompson, a professor of English at Arizona State University.
Jeffrey Austin, the head of a Michigan high school’s English literature department, is proud to see Shakespeare get booted out of schools. Now, Austin says teachers must take the next step and “challenge the whiteness of the assumption that Shakespeare’s works are universal.”
Look at the titles these people hold, roles that matter greatly. Some are the individuals teaching our youth — mostly over Zoom, of course.
As laughable as this story is, I want to take a moment to point out what’s going on because the underlying motives are important. The teachers are looking at Shakespeare’s literature through the lens of modern time and concluding that it is, well, those 20 words listed above. This same method could be applied to any past figure or story. That’s why a San Francisco school told its students that Lincoln, who freed the slaves, was an evil racist. This flawed game never ends. One day, our current period will face scrutiny. How will it fare?
In most cases, this approach is counterproductive. Instead of providing students the context and facts that surround historical stories, views, laws, and interactions, our school systems tell students exactly how to view past events. If students disagree, they are told they are wrong. That’s not teaching, that’s telling. Unfortunately, the latter is winning in the classroom.
There are lessons to be learned from Shakespeare, but if these teachers have their way, future generations will never learn them.
Shakespeare won’t be the last to have his works removed from schools. The better, more interesting question is who won’t? Who will replace Shakespeare in the classroom? If we are placing wagers, Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility, is my guess.