Education and the Racist Road to Barbarism
by – George Reisman
Major changes are taking place in the philosophy of American education, changes which are potentially capable of having enormous impact on all aspects of American life. The changes are inspired by what The New York Times refers to as the “Eurocentrism critique.” According to the Times, “Eurocentrism” is a pejorative term supposed to describe “a provincial outlook that focuses overwhelmingly on European and Western culture while giving short shrift to Asia, Africa, and Latin America.”
A typical manifestation of “Eurocentrism,” according to its critics, is the statement that Columbus discovered America. This statement, which most children in America may have learned as their very first fact of history, is now regarded as controversial. Indeed, it is held to be positively offensive because it implies that “there had been no other people on the continent” before Columbus arrived. Traditional American education in general is denounced for seeing non-Western civilization and the rest of the world “only through a Western lens.” Only through that “lens,” it is held, can, for example, African art be regarded as primitive.
In an effort to eliminate such alleged Western and European “bias,” schools are altering the way in which history, literature, and the arts are being taught. Recent changes at Stanford University, where a course on Western civilization was replaced by one in which non-Western ideas had to be included, are only one case in point. The revisions in the history curriculum in California’s public school system, to emphasize Indian and African cultures, are another. Curricula and textbooks are being widely rewritten, and, as evidence of the depth of the changes, the Times reports that efforts are underway “to reconstruct the history of African tribes, going beyond relying on accounts of Western travelers to examining indigenous sources, often oral, and adapting anthropological approaches.”
The implications of these changes are enormous. The acceptance of the “Eurocentrism” critique and its denial of such propositions as Columbus discovered America speaks volumes about the state of the educational establishment in the United States and the intellectual establishment in general.