Dec 28 2010

Awww… adorable!

From time to time I like to post pictures of otters. There’s no good reason, I just think otters are cute. This is cuter:

Young Andrew Pendergraft is playing in the sprawling grounds of his family’s country home. Like any other active ten-year-old, he loves running through the fields and splashing about in the river. But later he will appear on internet TV and – clearly reading from a script – he will solemnly share his bigoted views on the supremacy of the white race with potentially thousands of other children online. Andrew may be only ten but he is the face of youth within America’s Ku Klux Klan, the most infamous hate organisation in the world.

Aww… look how cute that is! His parents taught him to hate black people and Jews!  That’s just so cute I could spit.

Take a moment right now to grab a piece of paper and see how many of the items in the rest of the story you can predict without having to read another word. Just take some guesses as to how this kid’s life might be a little different from yours. While you wait, here is a video of some otters playing with a little girl:

I know, right? Adorable!

Okay, let’s see how you did…

He has been indoctrinated into the ways of the Klan – famed for its burning crosses, lynch mobs and attacks on black people – by his mum Rachel at their home in Harrison, Arkansas, deep in America’s Bible Belt.

If you said “lives in the American south”, then give yourself one point. That one was kind of obvious though: the Klan doesn’t really have much presence anywhere else.

We film White Pride TV on Sunday after church and I have my own spot, The Andrew Show.

If you said “religious upbringing”, give yourself one point.

“I thought the film Avatar showed white people as destroying the rainforest, which we don’t do, and I like to talk about that.”

Give yourself one point if you wrote down that the kid clearly has no grasp of what corporations are doing in the world, as well as a bonus point if you wrote that everything is about white people, even the stuff that isn’t (there were lots of black marines in Avatar, and also the protagonist is a white guy).

Robb’s extremism originated with his own parents. The 64-year-old – Rachel’s father – claims to have “become awakened” to many of his views from the age of 13.

Give yourself a point if you guessed that his parents aren’t exactly bastions of a multi-cultural liberal philosophy.

Although 40-year-old Rachel claims the Klan has changed since its violent heyday, she has home-schooled all three children at the family ranch to prevent them absorbing views from other children.

One point for home schooling (I can hear Scary Fundamentalist tut-tutting in the background).

Daughter Charity says: “What role did black people play in the history of America? I mean no offence, but none. None at all. They were here but they didn’t build the country. They didn’t sign any of the documents of the Declaration of Independence.”

One point for revisionist history.

“There is growing oppression against white people around the world. The greatest endangered species to fight for is the white race, and as a white person I don’t want to see the end of my people.”

One point for “growing oppression of white people” privilege statements. Thanks, Mr. Limbaugh, by the way.

And award yourself bonus points if you picked up the rhetorical tools in the comments (“it’s not technically ‘hate’ per se”, “it’s just one family”, “they should be allowed to teach their children what they want”).

How did you do?

Oh, and in case we forget, this is a ten year-old kid. I don’t have any particular animosity to Andrew, I rather pity him for having been born to such asshole parents. Then again, it’s hard not to laugh when he says shit like this:

Have you seen the new Disney Princess movie? It’s called The Princess And The Frog. The Princess is black, so that is good for all the black kids out there. But the Prince is white. Race-mixing is wrong. If all other people mix up there won’t be any more white kids. So don’t race-mix. There are lots of people against white people and Christians in the movie. The good guy is a voodoo witch doctor. He does spells and has magic potions. Voodoo doctors worship the Devil so it’s a pretty bad movie for kids, especially white kids. Voodoo is the religion that lots of blacks used to have but white people taught them about God. So don’t race-mix. Well, I’ll see you next week.

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  1. 1

    But the Prince is white. Race-mixing is wrong. If all other people mix up there won’t be any more white kids. So don’t race-mix. There are lots of people against white people and Christians in the movie. The good guy is a voodoo witch doctor. He does spells and has magic potions. Voodoo doctors worship the Devil so it’s a pretty bad movie for kids, especially white kids. Voodoo is the religion that lots of blacks used to have but white people taught them about God. So don’t race-mix. Well, I’ll see you next week.

    As a Disney fan I am personally offended! It’s obvious he didn’t even watch the movie. It’s his loss, it’s a great film.

    I have pretty mixed feelings about home schooling when it results in bigotry and ignorance like this being unwillingly thrust on kids. But then I meet liberal kids who are home-schooled, and many of them are super-sharp and have gotten great educations because of it.

    Maybe we can all just agree that religious homeschooling shouldn’t be allowed. :P

    Also, otters are adorable. It’s like PZ Myers and Cephalopods, only much cuter.

  2. 2

    I think all kids should be home-schooled, as well as school-schooled. Parents should be teaching their kids stuff, because the schools definitely aren’t able to get all the topics covered well. Keeping your kids out of the public schools because you want to insulate them from beliefs that don’t reflect your own is unforgivable.

  3. 3

    Keeping your kids out of the public schools because you want to insulate them from beliefs that don’t reflect your own is unforgivable.

    Definitely true, and this is probably the best attitude to take. Of course, speaking from experience, the school day tends to be long and tiring and while I did learn a lot of stuff outside of school with my parents, once you get to high school you tend to learn less outside of school because “outside of school” means less and less time, especially when you get into doing homework.

    Of course, people with more time/money are better able to give their kids those experiences… so my experience with home school kids may be more because they are affluent than because they are home schooled.

  4. 4

    Wow. How totally depressing. It’s kind of eye-opening, though, for us as parents… We have to be careful encourage skepticism and rational thought in our children, rather than dogma (even if it’s right HAHA). Sometimes it scares me when my daughter repeats weird things she hears from other people and I want to correct her, but I have to be sure to simply encourage her to think for herself and she usually reaches the right conclusion.

  5. 5
    Scary Fundamentalist


    Wonderful statement, though, that all kids should be home-schooled as well as school-schooled. I would modify it slightly – all kids should be home-schooled first and foremost, and school-schooled as a supplement.

    Katherine, are you saying that you want the government to have the power to prevent parents from transmitting particular religions/ideologies to their children? Who decides what is banned and what is not?

    And, as an aside, I’m sure you would keep your young children out of public schools should they be promoting the KKK’s beliefs, for insulation’s sake.

  6. 6

    Well I don’t have kids, so this is just hypothetical, but while I probably would spend a lot of time shouting at any teacher who instructs my kids in the oh-so-factually-correct teachings of the KKK, I wouldn’t pull them from the school system. I’d be spending my time teaching them critical appraisal skills.

    Also, you’re not allowed to modify my statements on my blog :P

  7. 7
    Scary Fundamentalist

    Modify? I simply offer refinements on excellence.

    I’d agree with you if the kids in question were in Grade 11. But at age 6, they aren’t yet at the developmental stage to engage in this kind of critical appraisal.

  8. 8

    You’re the one that said modify first.

    Also, give 6 year-olds a bit more credit. While they may not be able to reason like adults, they are keen bullshit detectors when it comes to issues of fairness.

  9. 9
    Scary Fundamentalist

    Okay, caught. It was just a slight modification.

    Obviously Andrew Pendergraft didn’t have a very good BS detector as a 6-year old.

    I’ve read studies that demonstrate that children are most likely to take on their parents’ values if the same values are echoed by other authority figures, especially at school. If there is a constant dissonance of values between the parents and other authority figures, kids are more likely to reject the guidance of all sources of authority, often with disastrous results.

    Though I guess “disastrous” is up for discussion. I would argue that pre-teen sex, unexpected pregnancies, vandalism, binge drinking, drug use, etc. are “disastrous”.

  10. 10

    That point is far from obvious to me. I doubt Andrew was allowed to question or given any conflicting information by his parents. He was simply taught their beliefs, without the ability or skills to critique them. I don’t know how much time you spend with 6 year-olds, but I recently spent a lot of time with my cousins who are around that age – they can figure stuff out on their own if you give them the opportunity.

    I’d be interested to see those studies. As what you say completely contradicts my own experience of my upbringing (not to mention that of anyone else I know), I’m obviously more skeptical than normal. Are you suggesting that it is bad to teach kids to question authority, in favour of simply teaching them to believe whatever mom or dad says?

  11. 11
    Scary Fundamentalist

    I think you know full well that there’s a big difference between questioning and outright rejecting authority. One says “why?” and the other says “no!”. There’s good reason for kids to assume by default their parents’ values; for the most part, these values are borne out of experience and hard knocks. There is a biologically hard-wired phase – adolescence – in which kids naturally question, and often reject, the values given by their parents, for better or for worse.

    Seeing as how my eldest child is of pre-school age, I’m just getting to the point in their development in which most would have them in school. My significant other is a first-grade teacher, so there is lots of exposure to kids that age. IMHO, they do not have much of a BS detector – think of the widespread belief in Santa Claus. Critical thinking doesn’t really start until at least the teenage years.

    I’m still trying to find that study I read, but it was an American study on the transmission of sexual values. Basically, it went like this:

    liberal parents + liberal authority figures = kids more likely to practice “safe” sex

    conservative parents + conservative authority figures = kids more likely to practice abstinence

    conservative parents + liberal authority figures = kids more likely to have unprotected sex

    liberal parents + conservative authority figures (very small sample size) = kids more likely to have unprotected sex

  12. 12

    There’s more to critical thinking than simply saying ‘why?’ My point is that if a child is given a variety of information and encouraged to critique it, she/he is certainly capable of determining what is likely without having to rely on parental fiat. This is a different process from being taught only one story/narrative and being told that it is irrefutable fact. In that sense, the Santa Claus analogy doesn’t apply – kids aren’t told “well some people think it’s a fat guy who comes down the chimney, but some people think it’s mom and dad”; they are only given one side of the story. And yes, when only presented with one explanation, they will believe whatever stupid stuff their parents tell them – we can certainly agree on that. I did specify that kids have good BS detectors specifically when it comes to issues of fairness, but I’m certainly willing to extrapolate far enough to say that kids are not incapable of sufficient critical appraisal ability to learn how to evaluate some pretty basic stuff (like “race mixing” for example).

    Your experience via your SO certainly trumps my handful of weekends with my cousins and afternoons reading with kids, but I’ve been on my fair share of inquisitions from curious kids who don’t necessarily buy my hastily-assembled explanations of things.

    I’ve heard similar results from a study of authoritative vs. authoritarian parents. Considering that places that teach abstinence only in schools have pretty piss-poor outcomes wrt sex, I’d question the validity or at least the design of that study. If you can find it I’d be interested to read it.

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