Regular readers no doubt know that gun control advocates appeal to firearms fence straddlers’ hearts, not their heads. Their go-to technique: “waving the bloody shirt.” wikipedia.org defines the technique as “the practice of politicians making reference to the blood of martyrs or heroes to criticize opponents.” For the antis’ anyone who dies from “gun violence” is a martyr to their cause. Especially children. Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop machine – The Trace – tries to sell itself as a legitimate news source, and so tries to avoid obvious BSW (Bloody Shirt Waving). And fails. Like this . . .
Kenya [above] has a choice. During writing exercises, her fourth-grade teacher, Joe Alberti, lets his students sit and work wherever they’d like. Kenya’s desk is near the door, where she has a clear view of arithmetic problems chalked on the blackboard, and printed instructions for what to do in case of a lockdown. But she decides to move to a spot where she can have more space to herself. She picks a pencil from the graveyard of broken stubs in her desk and heads for an open swath of green carpet across the classroom.
Today’s assignment is poetry. The writing prompt is, “Because there was a gun.” Kenya opens her composition book to a fresh page . . .
Because there was a gun
everybody live in fear.
Because there was a gun
my father isn’t here.
Because there was a gun
some people cry out tears.
Because there are guns
life is a nightmare.
Clearly this fourth grader was “prompted” to blame guns for the murderous mayhem that claimed her father, rather than the perpetrators of same. For The Trace’s Elizabeth Van Brocklin, the fact that Kenya’s father made bad choices that led to his death is besides the point. In fact, I’m surprised she deigned to mention it.
To Kenya, her father was a puzzle with a habit for disappearing and disappointing. “My dad mostly would do drugs and hurt people,” she says. A 31-year-old Philadelphia resident listed in court documents under several aliases, his record of arrests trailed back to his 20s. Once, three years ago, he beat a blind man in broad daylight. Kenya says he tried to get therapy for his drug problem. But “he had a freak out.”
At least Van Brocklin fingers the man responsible for, at the least, encouraging Kenya’s gun control fixation – rather than using her father’s death as a teachable moment on morality.
[Joe] Alberti knew not to push, yet. Known by his kids as Doctor Joe, the homeroom teacher towers over his students with his lanky 6-foot-7-inch frame. Wearing a hoop earring and ponytail, he looks like a genie. For the past three years, Alberti has partnered with Need in Deed, a local service-learning nonprofit, to let his class self-select a social topic to study. He’s not naive about the issues his students deal with — his previous classes have chosen to explore bullying, child abuse, and air pollution. But this year was a first: Asked what they wanted as their project’s focus, his fourth-graders chose to talk about guns and violence.
If that seems reasonable — and I have my doubts about the fourth grade class’ “choice” of subject matter — make no mistake: Alberti is one of those teachers who never lets a crisis go to waste – in the Saul Alinsky way of such things.
In early December, a week after the school’s two fourth-grade classes selected the topic, Kenya’s dad was fatally shot. Alberti watched her retreat behind a “hard outer shell,” where she appeared to stay for months. Then, one day in February, the shell cracked. That morning, Kenya and another student were leading a class discussion about gun violence when she began to talk about her dad. She talked some more. She started to cry. Hands shot up from other students, itching to share their own stories. Some had cousins who’d been shot. Uncles. Grandfathers. Within minutes, more than half the students were crying, a few edging on hysteria.
In Alberti’s 11 years teaching in Philadelphia schools, he’d never seen a class become so overwhelmed with emotion. After he’d given several rounds of hugs, Kenya approached him. “No one’s listening, no one cares,” he recalls her saying. “Adults won’t listen to kids. They’re not even listening to other adults.” . . .
Through the class project, Alberti would give his students what power he could. He and the school’s other fourth-grade teacher, Chris Powers, have hosted guest speakers, including the district police captain, a gunshot-wound victim, and social-justice activists. They’ve studied Pennsylvania gun laws, the Second Amendment, and homicide rates versus those of gun suicide.
Anyone want to take bets whether or not the Second Amendment got a fair hearing? But that’s not my main objection. Fourth graders should be learning reading, writing and arithmetics, rather than engaging in group therapy.
There’s something more than a little ghoulish about group hugs for a fourth grade class goaded into mass hysteria. The fact that Mr. Alberti drives Kenya home against her own wishes strikes me as a teacher too far.
The real problem here: The Trace. Specifically, their desire to celebrate the exploitation of a pre-teen victim of crime. Then again, simple minds agitate alike.