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They say Trevor made a mockery of MLK Day

By David M. Huntwork
web posted January 26, 2004

Trevor is a junior at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Trevor, along with a couple of friends, decided to orchestrate a campaign that he be named the recipient of the "Distinguished African American Student Award" for next year. In the best American political tradition, they printed and plastered throughout the school about 150 posters showing a smiling Trevor giving a thumbs up and encouraging votes for him. The award has been given for eight years on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to a senior selected by teachers.

Trevor Richards posterThere was only one slight problem. Though Trevor was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, he is white. This apparently did not sit well with the powers-that-be at Westside High School. In very short order, Trevor and his band of merry men found themselves on the receiving end of disciplinary action. Though the punishment of the other students has not been publicly disclosed, Trevor himself was suspended for two days. This was his reward for publicly spoiling the spirit of this inspiring award on no less than the holiest of the politically correct holidays.

I suppose an insignificant punishment for unsanctioned poster hanging may have been in order but the resulting punishment was certainly out of proportion to the crime. The students were not officially disciplined for the hanging of the posters themselves but for the particular ideological message that was contained on them.

Even more disturbing and serious was the punishment of another student for circulating a petition the following day criticizing the practice of recognizing only black student achievement with the award. This gallant expression of grassroots activism was swiftly squashed by the now on-guard school administration that was boiling at the audacity of mere teenagers hanging, as they put it, "inappropriate and insensitive" posters in this culturally aware and enlightened society.

There is no law that says one has to be "appropriate and sensitive" (as defined by who?) but the speech codes in public high schools and college campuses are mercilessly used to strangle any suggestion of dissent of the policies and ideologies of the Left. Never mind that Trevor is more "African" than any other student attending his high school and is probably more knowledgeable of African culture than the other 1,842 students combined.

This incident only further reveals the idiocy of Balkanization, tribalism and race-based activities, awards, and advocacy groups. Under the guise of diversity and multiculturalism, true independent political thought and action is subject to attack at the slightest provocation as Trevor and his friends found out the hard way. There is no room at the inn for the viewpoints of conservatives, libertarians, Christians, or constitutionalists in the public indoctrination system.

I was notified of this situation by a member of my small circle of friends from college who keep in touch and relish the realm of ideological and political discussion. Within a short time, we were responsible for a series of critical e-mails descending upon the brave guardians of the Distinguished (black) African American Student Award. My particular contribution went something like this:

"I can hardly believe that a small group of Westside High School students were disciplined for advocating that a white student from South Africa receive the "Distinguished African American Student Award" next year. It would be laughable if it wasn't true.

Since when is it punishable to be "inappropriate and insensitive"? Poor preparation for real life. In reality, these students made a good point. I am proud of these young men for exposing the blatant racism, tribalism, and idiocy of the Distinguished African American Student Award. As a public school, maybe Westside High School should try teaching a little more reading, writing, and arithmetic instead of wasting everyone's time hunting down those who happen to hang a politically clever poster. Ideological censorship and heavy-handed punishment for petty political acts should have no place in our schools.

Even more disturbing is the punishment of a student for circulating the petition that criticized the practice of recognizing only black student achievement with the award. Welcome to America and the right to disagree with the powers that be. These children were logical, witty, and courageous to take on the entrenched forces of Political Correctness. They should be praised for their actions, not punished. Frankly, I am disgusted to see that this is even an issue. Shame on you both collectively and individually for allowing this type of incident to occur. These children deserve an immediate apology…"

Our small barrage of e-mails included some comments from my cohorts in common sense that are worth repeating.

"…The ham-handed, one-track liberalism that your administration has clumsily used to club innocent students is a disgrace. That your teachers and administrators are so single-minded and dim that they cannot even deal with simple dissent from TEENAGERS, speaks poorly of those who are working for your school. You should apologize to the students for abusing their trust, and to the taxpayers of Nebraska for being unequal to the task of educating their youth…."

And from another to the student's social studies department "…When students engage in real life lessons of civics and government, it is essential that they do so with the knowledge that their Constitutional activities will be backed by a member of the Social Studies department. Regardless of where you stand on the Distinguished African American Student award, it is an outrage that your department chose not to come to the aid of the petitioners. Moreover, the inability of your institution to deal with any of the listed "offenses" in a constructive way is an embarrassment. The kids deserve teachers that support the activities that enhance life learning. Not teachers that hide behind knee-jerk administrators with an ideological axe to grind on behalf of the offended..."

Also included was the short and direct criticism. "What could you fools possibly have been thinking? This is America!!! Or is it? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves and quit education altogether…"

All good fun in support of a brave little group of free thinkers.

It is amazing that Martin Luther King Jr.'s brave dream of a colorblind society has degenerated into divisive race-based awards jealously guarded by guilt-ridden liberals and white apologists. Trevor and his fellow students deserve praise for pointing out the obvious double standards of race-based policies.

David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado where he lives with his wife and three young daughters.You may contact him with any comments or questions at DaveHuntwork@juno.com. A brief bio and past columns are available at: http://dkhunt.tripod.com.

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