Tantrum Tribalism

There's a hidden conspiracy infecting our public school system these days. At least, that's the theme of a new book by educators David and Myra Sadker. Titled Failing at Fairness, the book claims that American teachers are cheating girls out of a good education. But the conspiracy is so well hidden, even people sympathetic to the cause are unable to detect it. For instance, a chapter in the book tells how the staff at NBC's "Dateline" loved the Sadkers' work and decided to do a show on it. They hauled their cameras into a fifth-grade classroom in order to illustrate sexism in action. But to their chagrin, the "Dateline" staff couldn't find any sexism. In alarm, the producer called the Sadkers and asked, "How can we show sexism on our show when there's no gender bias is this teacher's class?" Not to worry, said the Sadkers. By repeatedly halting and replaying the tape, they were able to pinpoint minute differences in the way the teacher related to her students, which—they claimed—favored the boys over the girls. The "Dateline" staff were convinced and ran the program. But other educators remain skeptical. In the Wall Street Journal, education writer Rita Kramer argues that much of the extra attention little boys get in the classroom consists of discipline, not real teaching. Little girls, who are generally less active and more verbal, may actually process information more effectively than boys do. Empirical evidence supports Kramer's argument. In general, girls get higher grades than boys. In high school, more girls than boys complete courses in chemistry, algebra, biology, and geometry. Girls also outnumber boys on college campuses, making up 55 percent of undergraduates and 59 percent of students in master's programs. These figures are impressive. And they suggest that it's the Sadkers—not school-girls—who need to be taking more higher math courses. The fact is that overt sexism has been virtually wiped out of American schools. So why are some people still so eager to paint schools as hotbeds of bias? The answer is that radical feminism is driven by a quasi-Marxist ideology that divides society into victims and oppressors. In classical Marxism, the victim group was the proletariat; today it can be any race or gender you please. In this vision of the world, the path to social justice is to foment rage and resentment among the victims until they revolt against their oppressors. Marxist ideology virtually compels adherents to search for signs of oppression— even when the facts are flimsy. Grievances practically have to be manufactured in order to maintain the ideology. Some have dubbed it tantrum tribalism. For Christians, this approach should ring false from top to bottom. The Bible calls for social justice as strongly as any radical activist. But it utterly rejects rage and resentment as means of getting there. We cannot use evil to create good. Justice is established through compassion and charity. You and I have a biblical duty to help those who are genuinely subject to cruelty and oppression. But we should stand firmly against the Marxist-inspired search for manufactured grievances. Justice was never served by throwing tantrums.


Chuck Colson


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