Achievement in the Crosshairs

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thomas Sowell writes about something I am particularly concerned about as a parent: the war on achievement being fought by the left. Although the following is more of an aside within his column, it struck a chord with me:

The length to which this kind of thinking -- or lack of thinking -- can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.

What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.
On top of what Sowell points out in the second paragraph, this astounding and deliberate misuse of language manages to righteously commit injustice on many levels at once (evidence, reasoning, or contradictory goals be damned): (1) to deprive individuals of recognition for their achievements, (2) to assert that individuals exist only as parts of groups to which they are members from birth, (3) to assign personal guilt through association, and (most important) (4) to claim justification for the enslavement of some groups by others.

On of the most important things a parent must do is encourage one's child to set and achieve goals. Although I was already aware that I'd have to navigate through our "every kid gets a trophy" culture, I have noticed that it is possible (and common) to heap inappropriate praise on children. (This is even on top of accounting for what even very young ones can realistically accomplish.) It is almost impossible, for example, to look at modern children's programming that does not treat individual effort as if it doesn't exist or divorce effort from reward. So I guess that if I help her see though this nonsense or she does so herself, we can look forward to the same battle again, from a slightly different angle, later on. The progression seems to be: empty praise, hooray for the group, pillage groups that have more than your own. Forewarned is forearmed.

On a much more positive note, the rest of the Sowell piece brings up an inspirational story you probably haven't heard of yet. Do read the whole thing.

-- CAV

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