"Somebody else's babies"

Waterloo teacher John Grieder reflects on the “disgusting and disturbing” phrase now made famous by Representative Steve King. -promoted by desmoinesdem

So as many of you know I teach and I truly, regardless of any grumblings you may hear from me after a long day, love my job. And it’s because I love working with my students. I tremendously enjoy going to work and helping young people better understand our history, their place in the world and how to build a better future. And I fight every day to show my students that they can be whatever they set out to achieve so long as they are willing to work hard, persevere, and learn. I believe in my students, I believe in their futures, and I firmly believe that they can and will make Iowa and the United States a better place.

And my students and their families come from all over the world. I have students whose families have lived in Waterloo for decades and I have students whose families fled chaos and destruction within the last few months. I have students who have plenty and I have students with very little. And I say this not to garner sympathy or to paint a saintly picture of myself. Rather a say it because I want you to understand what a challenge the classroom can be and what hurdles face some of our students. But for all the challenges facing our children I firmly believe that they can be overcome. And I know, in my heart of hearts, that all of my students are capable of truly amazing, awe inspiring things because I see it in my classroom every single day.

So it was with an extremely heavy heart that I watched the events of the last few days unfold. And it all started, as apparently it will these days, with a tweet.

Some of you may be unaware but Steve King, the infamous Congressman from Iowa’s 4th District, tweeted this gem;

“Somebody else’s babies”. If there is a more disgusting and disturbing phrase that I’ve seen in print recently I surely cannot remember it. This is certainly not the first time that Congressman King has said something disturbing and racist. It is, however, the most overt and a peg leading solidly to the current President of the United States. White nationalism is now no longer a distasteful vestige of intellectual deformity and depravity, but rather a remarkable badge of political appropriateness. And that should disturb every American.

Because Congressman King gets two things wrong with this tweet. First, he continues the defunct mythology of our nation that somehow we were set up as a white, Christian haven set a part to carry on a mission from God. We were not for several reasons. One, the early American colonists were religious zealots kicked out of Europe because they could not get along with other communities, not because they were being oppressed. Oddly that sounds like some current people I know. Second, America has long been a melting pot of ideas, peoples, races, and religions. Some where brought here forcible to pick our cotton. Some came fleeing persecution and hatred. Some came seeking economic and political opportunities. All came here seeking something and became an irreplaceable part of the American fabric. Immigrants and their children and grandchildren built this nation and so it has been. You cannot save our civilization from the quintessential piece that built it.

Second, Congressman King’s dismissive attitude about children who do not look like him is greatly disheartening and disturbing for any public official to hold. I started this blog in part because of my frustration and angst over the completely avoidable death of Aylan Kurdi and thousands of children like him. I know that I have not done enough, but I have attempted to bring awareness to the situation and I have tried to ensure that the children who’s lives I come in contact with have the tools they need to be successful and aware of the world so that we can avoid the catastrophes of the present. And the students I work with are honest, bright people who try to learn, to grow, to understand and to fix. They do not always agree but they’re always willing to listen. They are always willing to try. And they care not at all that one is the daughter of a doctor and their other a son of refugees. Never have they stopped to consider that this one looks different, or worships different, or speaks different. Never have they thrown up their hands and pledged to one work with the like minded, the like believe, the like skinned. Because they all understand that while they are all somebody else’s babies it’s only by working together that we can build our nation and create a brighter future. They give me hope.

If you think that Congressman King and his despicable views on race belong outside of Congress I strongly encourage you to give to Kim Weaver https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/weaverforiowaexpresss

Stay engaged, keep learning, and feel free to comment here or reach out on Twitter @JohnGrieder2012

Keep up the Good Fight

Cross-posted from I Learn Therefore I Am

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  • Babies

    As appalled as I am by the reference to “somebody else’s babies,” I’m equally appalled by King’s apparent suggestion that some groups of human beings should be trying hard to have many more children. Already there is not a single inch of this planet that is not affected, one way or another, by human activity. Aquifers are dropping around the world, soil erosion is horrendous, we’re in the middle of a mass extinction event, we’re changing the climate, the oceans are becoming acidic, etc. etc. etc. We are one single species, we humans, and most of us have enough common sense to understand that sooner or later, our population will have to stabilize if only because Planet Earth is finite. We shouldn’t be electing people who don’t understand that and/or don’t understand basic concepts like carrying capacity and quality of life.