See me suffer, see me pain. Must be someone else to blame.
— Midnight Oil
For those of you who’ve jumped on the “shocked and offended” bandwagon after reading William Wright’s comments during a MADCAP (Wow ... some things are just too easy) public gathering, a parable:
A frog was about to jump into flood waters and swim to safety when he encountered a scorpion. The scorpion, poised to strike a deadly blow, stopped when a surge in the flood waters left him with only a small patch of high ground on which to stand. He looked at the cowering frog and said, “I could very easily sting you to death, but I can’t swim. I’d like for you to let me climb onto your back so you can take us both to safety.”
The fearful frog said, “I don’t think that I can trust you. Your reputation precedes you, and if I let you on my back, I’m afraid you’ll sting me.”
“If I do that,” the scorpion reasoned, “we’ll both die, you from my sting and me from the water. If you don’t agree to swim me to safety, my last act will be to sting you anyway, so I think it’s time you put away your preconceived notions and get us both out of here.”
Seeing no escape route, the frog agreed. He helped the scorpion climb up onto his back just as the flood waters covered over the last little spit of dry land, and he quickly started pushing with his powerful back legs, swimming for land and safety.
The frog had covered most of the flooded area, swimming for all he was worth, when dry land appeared on the horizon. “We’re almost there,” he told his passenger.
As soon as the frog spoke those words, he felt the deadly sting of the scorpion enter his back. The pain was paralyzing, and he started slipping under the water. Just before he dropped beneath the surface, he cried out to the scorpion, “We were almost there. Safety was in sight for both of us, and now we’re both going to die. Why in the world did you sting me?”
As he started going down into the water and to his own death, the scorpion sighed and said, “It’s just in my nature.”
William Wright trying to turn the school system fiasco into a racial issue had nothing to do with his utilization of flawed logic, as so many have pointed out. It also had no basis in fact. His comments, like the sting of the scorpion, were just in his nature. His words are, in fact, straight out of “militant community activist 101,” better known as the Al Sharpton corollary. The way to get heard is to make some outlandish, indefensible claim, sprinkle it with a little hate speech, and you’re the top story on the 6 o’clock news.
That being the case, I found it very easy to dismiss Wright’s inanities. Had they not been so ironic — sad even — they would have been humorous.
What was not so easy to dismiss, however, were the words of someone named Arrival Marks, who was described by Herald education writer Terry Lewis, who covered the MADCAP event, as a “substitute teacher in the Dougherty County School System.” According to Lewis, Marks said, “We are still operating under the oppressor’s curriculum.”
Not knowing Marks, but basing my assumption on the tone of the MADCAP meeting, I’m left to understand that the “oppressor” he referenced was the white man. Which might have held up if we were still living in, say, 1962.
And while I’m not sure just where Marks has substituted in the school system, I can say without checking the latest stats that with one or two possible exceptions it was at a school overseen by black administrators, an overwhelming number of black teachers and an even higher percentage of African-American students. And it was in a school system that has a black superintendent, a majority-black School Board with African-Americans holding a majority of the administrative positions.
Perhaps Marks’ comment referenced the actual Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, which are used to determine how well all Georgia students are acquiring the most basic reading, English/language arts and math skills. The correct answers on those tests are based on absolutes, not any one race’s interpretations of those absolutes, as Marks implies.
If Marks, Wright and others looking for a scapegoat to blame for the cheating scandal are really interested, as they say, in helping the students in the school system, perhaps they should spend some time in the schools volunteering, rather than trying to turn a group of teachers and administrators who simply took the easy way out into martyrs.
But then, who’d want to swim the floodwaters swirling around our local school system with the likes of them on their back?
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.