A few minutes ago, I received an email from the obviously fake account of “Wes Porter.”
If you have any journalistic integrity you will publish this response in full, which is now circulating. You cannot publish a story, give one side a full opportunity to respond and then silence the other side.
In fact, I first gave voice to the anonymous “Westport Parents 06880” post objecting to TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Contest on Friday. A number of readers objected — you don’t allow anonymous comments on your blog, they said, so why do you allow an entire anonymous post?
My answer was that it was circulating in town, people were talking about it, and I wanted to open up my “Comments” section to readers for an important debate.
A number of comments in support of the anonymous statement came from fake email accounts, or used false names. That’s against “0688o” policy. I did my best to remove them.
Meanwhile, I had asked Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport chair, to respond. He sent a statement last night; I posted it this morning.
Normally, that would be the end of things. I don’t want “06880” to become a place for hurling back and forth statements, with the expectation I’ll highlight every one. Both sides have had their say.
Furthermore, “journalistic integrity” also includes knowing the source of what one prints. Woodward and Bernstein knew who Deep Throat was. They kept it quiet, as I would with the anonymous “Westport Parents” site. I believe it is legit, and run by Westport parents, but I can’t even be sure of that.
However — in the interest of furthering this discussion, and because it offers a different take on the essay prompt — I will post the anonymous response here. I will then allow TEAM Westport to respond if they wish, giving each side 2 stories. And that will be it.
I reiterate too: “06880” policy is that all commenters use full, real names. That has not changed. If you have something to say, you must stand by it publicly, with your full, real name. And I reserve the right to require proof that you are who you claim to be.
Here is the statement from “Wes Porter”:
We appreciate Mr. Bailey’s response to our concerns, although he put forth a series of misrepresentations about our statement in order to distract the community from and avoid confronting the most important point we are making. There was absolutely nothing in our statement to suggest we sought to stop any child in Westport from expressing his or her point of view on any topic.
We are passionate supporters of first amendment rights and free expression. It is misleading for Mr. Bailey to suggest that all criticism against his group is anonymous, as many individuals in town have been outspoken on areas of disagreement, and many others have lent their names to the ideas we have presented by sending emails to elected officials and making supportive statements on social media. We did not at all criticize the basic premise of an essay contest on racial themes, and we explicitly lent support to the idea of a town body that celebrated diversity.
There is of course nothing wrong with or unconstitutional about any American sharing his or her experiences or opinions on racial topics. Rather, our statement was narrowly focused on the chosen essay topic because of its ideological slant. This year’s essay contest steers students to accept and lend support to a particular political ideology with regard to racial matters, namely “antiracism.”
As we explained with reference to Ibram X. Kendi, antiracism is a philosophy that calls for the proactive use of racially conscious discrimination by government to remedy perceived inequities in the distribution of goods and services along racial lines. We view this philosophy of antiracism as fundamentally unconstitutional or perhaps, more precisely, “anti-constitutional.”
Antiracism (which actually now has its own page on our Town’s website) is the guiding philosophy of the “equity” movement to which our Town government now appears to be fully committed, thanks in no small part to TEAM’s pressure/coercion on this subject. With the forthcoming equity study recommendations, it is possible that antiracism will become the guiding philosophy of our schools.
Thus, it is urgent that our community take a very hard look at what antiracism is really all about. Recent examples of antiracism in action include policies enacted by hospital systems in various states to prioritize non-white patients in the delivery of life-saving COVID treatments. These policies, which are flagrantly unconstitutional and will likely be defeated in the courts, lack any basis in medical science. They are instead driven by the politics of “equity” that has ascended just in the past few years, in Westport and across the country.
Antiracism is, by design, difficult to criticize. Any religion or belief system that vilifies those who disagree with it should be inherently suspect, but antiracism takes it to a new level by defining itself in negative terms. For isn’t an anti-antiracist a racist? While our anonymous approach appears to be infuriating to many (“how can we destroy them personally for disagreeing with us if we don’t know who they are?”), it is necessary for that very reason for us to have this philosophical debate. TEAM has already personally attacked residents of this town by pushing for the official censure of someone who was willing to challenge their ideas and actions.
We are anti-antiracists, but we are not racists. We object to antiracism for many of the same reasons African-American intellectuals from John McWhorter to Ian Rowe to Glenn Loury object to it. We object to antiracism and the resulting politics of equity because we believe they promote an unconstitutional and illegitimate public purpose: the creation of laws and policies designed to achieve an “equitable” distribution of goods and services along arbitrarily defined racial categories. “To each according to his membership within a government defined racial identity category” cannot become the 21st century interpretation of “all men are created equal.”
We continue to believe this year’s essay contest topic tends to promote an ideology, in violation of Westport Board of Education policy, which means Westport schools must not participate in any way with this essay contest. The ideology being promoted is antiracism. A possible solution to this problem would be to reword the essay contest in a way that is ideologically neutral. We propose the following language:
In 1,000 words or fewer describe the challenges people in your community face speaking about race, including the risk of harsh accusations if their views do not conform to certain expectations. Should instances of systemic racism be addressed through the implementation of more systemic racism? What are the advantages and pitfalls of abandoning the colorblind approach to issues that we have relied upon since the Civil Rights movement?
My personal feeling is that there should be NO posting of news submitted by an anonymous unverifiable source. To me that is akin to posting FALSE news.
I totally agree with Bob and Dan Woog! If you wrote it, own it, by disclosing your real name!
Personally, I would like to see an essay on racism ask how is racism used to make the some people feel superior to others as a diversion to the economic reality of the policies they have been convinced to support? Is it similar to derisive rhetoric about being educated or being “woke” as a devise to make the uneducated feel like they are superior to the educated? How has racism been institutionalized and normalized even today? For example, do mill rates propel economic disparities and reinforce racist notions? If so, how might that be corrected?
A fascinating and erudite discussion.
Still, the well expressed anti antiracist position builds on an undisclosed and unacknowledged premise not only of the existence of current freedom and equity in education, opportunity and advancement, but also of historic freedom and equity of education, opportunity and advancement.
Neither is the case.
Systemic Racism exists as a result of both contemporaneous and historic policies and practices. That the playing field has not been fair, means the current playing field continues not to be fair.
As but one tiny example, the black families which were murdered in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/#flexible-content), and others, do not exist anymore. Those that do, do not enjoy the accumulated financial wealth, societal prominence, or established businesses which would otherwise now be supporting and providing for black people in America.
I won’t cite other foundational inequities. Suffice it to say that the huge cost of minority people not having been able to move into non-minority neighborhoods, receive loans, have access to medical care, and enjoy the developmental benefit of cohesive family history remains incalculable.
The anti antiracist position — and the position of some black artists and leaders — seems to be that granting special favor to people simply because of their skin color is both demeaning and racist.
Yet, we live in the real world.
The issue stands: How best to redress systemic, societal and cultural wrongs without practical measures which reverse centuries of oppression?
Dan I think your policy of requiring true identity is too important to compromise. The fact that these people feel compelled to hide their identities is an indicator that their views are too radical to be worth entrance to the public square, and likely supported only by a fringe minority. They can easily dispel those notions by having the courage of their convictions, and publishing essays and comments over their names. Otherwise, they are not deserving of “air time”. I encourage you to ignore them in the future until they come out into the light.
Good lord this is getting tiresome. This latest post is the best example I’ve seen in a long time of what is known as the “straw man fallacy”. Perhaps it could be used in a class on logic or rhetoric?
Take a simple writing prompt that doesn’t mention “anti-racism” in any way shape or form, and then reframe it, using your own definition of “anti-racism”. into something it is not. Then use that fake version of the essay prompt that you have created as a pretext for writing a lengthy screed against something that isn’t contained in the essay prompt at all.
Nice try! E for effort, as the teachers used to say!
Actually, for bonus points, this post also aggressively employs the “slippery slope fallacy”, in which one argues that if we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too, therefore A should not happen.
In other words: If we allow our students to identify the challenges in discussing race with people who don’t believe in the existence of systemic racism, it will inevitably lead to rationing healthcare services and letting non-whites die from Covid.
Again, nice try! E for effort!
Seriously can we stop feeding the trolls on this?
Some of the folks on this anonymous website really need to look themselves in the mirror and figure out why they are so terrified of having conversations that acknowledge the simple fact that institutional racism exists, and has existed since the founding of this country, when the phrase “all men are created equal” was held as a self-evident truth that somehow didn’t preclude slavery.
Didn’t I say TEAM Westport shouldn’t wrestle with pigs? Alas.
I do think that Bob Rosenkranz is right – it’s time to stop giving these people free publicity. I get the appeal of letting Westporters read the words of buffoons, but their unwillingness to stand behind their own words makes them beneath being treated seriously.
If I may quote my former neighbor Richard Rogers:
“You have to be carefully taught.”
Now, you guys just gave the Game away. You are bought and paid for by the Koch brothers, The Federalist Society, ALEC and like groups pushing ideas that are anathema to a majority of Americans when they are educated about them.
Ideas that have been tried over time and are now bankrupt in terms of public policy. Ideas that have led to an unjust, totally inequitable society now on the verge of significant turmoil due to the political handmaidens (GOP) of the above named people (plus everyone else who hides their political $ support through “dark PACS” created by that darling of the Reagan WH, now CJ, John Roberts).
Yes, let the Town invite all three of these significant AMERICAN intellectuals you are hiding behind to do a panel on what Team Westport is now and has been doing since its creation. I think the results might surprise you.
Yes, let’s get McWhorter to give a talk at the Library or the Town Hall (I acted historical pageants on that auditorium stage which celebrated all peoples of America in the 1950s–thanks, Max Schulman). Sure, let’s have Ian Rowe in too. Though it might surprise McWhorter to be paired up with Rowe, as the former self-describes as “centrist liberal” while the latter, and I quote from his website, “We have a moral imperative to encourage young people of all races to adopt a new cultural norm around Family, Religion, Education, & Entrepreneurship.”
The icing on the cake is the inclusion of Glenn Loury, another scholar of note, but of a particular persuasion. I quote Wikipedia: Loury achieved prominence during the Reagan Era as a leading Black conservative intellectual. In the mid 1990s, following a period of seclusion, he adopted more progressive views. Today, Loury has somewhat re-aligned with views of the American Right, with The New York Times describing his political orientation in 2020 as “conservative-leaning.” ”
Stop hiding behind these three men, these three African-American accomplished individuals. You are clearly nodding your heads in agreement to whatever Jordan Peterson is yapping about, rather than engaging in their nuanced statements and with the views of those, of the same caliber, who disagree with their proscriptions for Americans (black and white). You are just citing them as cover for the ideas you have imbibed from Bill Buckley on. They happen to be African-Americans which makes citing them useful to you.
Come out and say what it is you actually mean — and detail the implications of those policies you clearly support for the future of America, for the future of ALL Americans in this Great Republic, “the last, best hope of Earth.”
YOU DON’T DARE.
Your ideas might be rejected in a fair contest. But then, given your anonymity, how can I know if you do believe in “free and fair elections?” 6 out of 10 expected GOP voters believe the national 2020 election was stolen. You may belong to the 40% who know better. But how would I, or the voters of Westport, know this to be a fact?
You should do what a true CITIZEN should do – run for election to the school board. Put your ideas out there in the true Marketplace of America — ELECTIONS. If you can fiddle with this Faux-06680 website, you have the time, you have the money, you have the education. If you are in rural Tennessee, may be they’ll buy your snake oil. Here, in Westport, I don’t think so.
BUT YOU DON’T DARE.
You hide behind 3 distinguished Black Americans. You hide behind false names and false addresses. You hide behind marginal interpretations (really, plain wrong) of the Constitution, of the D of I, even of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “We The People” is the fundamentally controlling phrase. And that is expressed through ELECTIONS, public debate formalized through voting.
Until you have subjected your ideas to that open debate in the American political arena, what you assert is simply hot air and of no consequence.
Be a True American Citizen. Run for public office. Try to sell your opinions to your fellow citizens. Let them judge.
DO YOU DARE?
P.S. I recommend reading my other former neighbor (well, okay, he lived in Weston) John Hersey’s The White Lotus. A neglected late work, a What-If tale of white Americans as slaves in China, or as an Amazon reader wrote:
White Lotus may be more relevant now than ever. Unfortunately the people who should read it won’t. It gives new meaning to living life as a free person and how it would feel to be the “inferior” being because your skin is the wrong color or ethnicity.
“We object to antiracism and the resulting politics of equity because we believe they promote an unconstitutional and illegitimate public purpose: the creation of laws and policies designed to achieve an ‘equitable’ distribution of goods and services along arbitrarily defined racial categories.” The COVID-treatment controversy is best questioned as “when, if ever, should race be used as a proxy for some other risk factor?” It was neither “arbitrarily defined,” as being non-white correlates with a much higher risk of severe illness and death due to COVID infection, and it did not serve to exclude white patients from treatment, with the CDC finding that there was systemically lower prescribing of monoclonal antibody treatments to non-white patients as compared to their white counterparts.
Interestingly, the winning essays that I read neither complain of a lack of resources or nor demand advantages from the Town of Westport. What the essayists are looking for is the empathy, inclusion, respect, trust etc. that is automatically given to other of their peers. Again, read the essays. Start with the 2019 winner, Chet Ellis, whose soccer teammates orchestrated their team photo so that he would be singled out, and then a classmate photoshopped it to a horrifying end. It is specifically because of Mr. Ellis’s race that the described edit is so cruel. Would a “colorblind” approach recognize that? It’s a good question, which a thoughtful teen may answer for us.
Dan, I am saddened that you backed down on your principles and published this answer. It is not as if these people have no voice – they have their own website. They can be as anonymous there as they like.
You’ve stepped on a very slippery journalistic slope.
No exceptions required. Speaking out on an issue requires the sort of conviction that exposing yourself publicly provides.
I would appreciate if you would state for all here who know well and appreciate your blog, that you will NOT make such exceptions for those who already have a voice.
It is equity for those of us who stand by our convictions with our identity.
Marla, It’s Dan’s site, not yours or mine. He explained his reasoning, and it’s entirely appropriate to state your disagreement, as I have. But neither one of should be finger-wagging at him and he is free to apply his policies, and make exceptions to them, as he pleases.
Real nameThis has become so hugely complicated and thanks Dan for Mediating and sorry you have to put up with the sh—. So far you are the hero in the story I’m following for my family in Westport (kids and grands) from Michigan every day.
We have here a classic example of muddying the waters.
Commenters using real names and email addresses makes perfect sense.
Cowering behind anonymity has been a practice long associated with pusillanimous trolls and scoundrels.
Open forums and open minds should be the ultimate judges of what is valid and what is not.
As for the extended and convoluted exegesis of the WPP 06880 position it is a shambling effort to mask a simple truth.
It brings to mind the hollow echo of “States’ Rights” corrupted and bleated loudly and repeatedly from the schoolhouse steps.
Illegitimi non carborundum Dan
Ambitiosus stultus, Frankie.
Ad Ignoto Mulier
Aquila Non Capit Muscas
Vermis in horseradish, mundus est cursus equorum.
Carpe Vine, Much ???
Sorry, Doc. I got censured. No rebuttal.
No, you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t hit “submit” or “send.” Please re-send.
Sorry,though it was fun while it lasted .
Stay well and safe.
Lord, Dan, why did you even bother to publish it? So many angry people out there, you just opened the door for more hacking. I remember the days when 06880 was anonymous posts. It was real fun for awhile until it got out of hand. Literary integrity? Bullshit. It is a private blog with rules. Bravo Zulu.
Dan — Personally, I would not have waived a rule against publishing anonymous content in response to that hectoring and disingenuous demand from “Wes Porter.” But, hey, it’s your site, not mine, The irony here is that people could see WP06880’s rebuttal on their site, but the posters wanted it on your site because far more people read it. And that boils down to your credibility, which is bolstered by the fact that you do not [normally] publish anonymous content!
The other irony is that political provocateurs, like the WP06880 posters, crave the attention of generating angry replies from the opposite side, especially from members of the establishment whom they despise. But, in their infinite wisdom, WP06880.com chose a format with no feedback loop, and — I’d guess — a minuscule number of organic hits, with most coming via links in your blog or Hearst. So they are reduced to getting attention on YOUR site.
Allowing an anonymous Wes Porter to call into question thoughtful and sincere efforts of well-meaning, responsible and responsive community members seems not only wrong but naive. The illusion of ambiguous motives Wes Porter ascribes to Team Westport creates an atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty which—given the space and audience of this venue—lays out a political astroturf with a political goal that transcends by far the essay contest… one anonymous individual becomes a host of “beautiful people,” one out-spoken student becomes a signal of societal unrest…
I wish you would make sure all the players are really grass roots, not phonies.
I do my best to make sure all commenters are legit. A few sneak through. Just last week I deleted dozens from “Art Lefkowitz.”
If they’re anonymous their comments are worth exactly that—nothing.
Or to paraphrase Yogi Berra: an anonymous website is not worth the paper it’s not written on.
We have learned over the years that Free Speech is by no means free. Folks hide behind the 1st amendment to speak anonymously – I have to admit that I don’t quite get that logic. Folks spend huge amounts of money to gain influence and a platform. And folks risk the aggravating the Trolls and bringing them out from under the bridge near Devils Den.
I salute TEAM Westport’s mission to engage our youthful students in critical thinking and writing about diversity and multiculturalism from whatever perspective they may have. I respect Dan for exposing the tortured mindsets of the “anti antiracist” crowd. Trying to follow their arguments gives me a headache, but we must realize that school boards and local governments across the country are facing, and too often folding, to the pressure campaigns of a small number of aggrieved whites backed by dark-money interests and a dishonest media committed to stoking fear and divisiveness. Books are being banned, school board members harassed and laws passed that harm teens, from “Not say gay” legislation to rules curtailing how students are taught about slavery and other racial injustices.
The danger to our social cohesion is deadly real, and must be confronted head on. I trust our kids will rise to the challenge. Frankly, I suspect that the people behind WP 06880 remain anonymous because their children are ashamed of them.
I sent this email yesterday to firstname.lastname@example.org; I have not had a reply…yet:
“We know who the TEAM Westport people are. If you want to get an intelligent conversation going, some of your principals are going to have to reveal their names. Think about it and take a chance that it will work. “
“Wes”, Run your own damn contest. See how that goes.
wp06880 doth protest to much, me thinks.
Has Westport really become a place where people are so afraid of ostracism by holding opposing views to the majority that they cannot state their name? That is troubling.
More like the anonymous (Russian?) trolls would like people to think opposing views would cause one to be afraid of ostracism.
In response to all the above commentators regarding the issue of anonymity, I would like to point out that Danielle Tiplicca (D) was accurate in saying that the website is not really anonymous. Many of us have spoken out before the BOE. Many of us have written emails to town leaders. I have tried to organize a debate at the library so that the differing views might be heard. At every turn, I met with a brick wall. The Library, which in its mission guarantees to treat all residents equally, negotiated with me for 2 months to host Ian Rowe as speaker, but TEAM refused to participate, so the Library cancelled the event, while allowing TEAM to hold as many events as it wanted without requiring opposing views in their case. This has allowed only one view to dominate in our town. And even though our Selectman has insisted that our town is welcoming and inclusive, he in the next breath implied that if you expressed views contrary to TEAM’s, you should be censured. And in fact, he passed a motion in October censuring me and others like me and “denounced” us. This is why many choose to be anonymous. I am able to speak out only because I do not have a job to lose. As Glenn Greenwald points out, Censorship is the tool of the Authoritarian Left and in my view, Westport is diminished by buying into such censorship.
I’m sure people like Anne didn’t think Colin Kaepernick was being censored.
You can’t call people intolerant because they don’t tolerate intolerant views. That isn’t “tolerance,” it’s “false equivalence.”
“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” – John Stuart Mill
But your husband who is connected to the apparatus that makes money in opposing equality of access is now threatening to sue the town over the TEAM makeup. If you can’t beat them, dismantle and silence them through other means?
I recall the days when Dan allowed anonymous posts. It became a forum for the lowest common denominator- a problem that Dan rightly soon ended.
Please no more anonymous posts- if the anti antiracists have something to say they should come out into the public forum and own it- it’s what they believe- stand up for what you believe.
And this post needs to be fact checked- it starts with a fabrication!!
” Recent examples of antiracism in action include policies enacted by hospital systems in various states to prioritize non-white patients in the delivery of life-saving COVID treatments. These policies, which are flagrantly unconstitutional and will likely be defeated in the courts, lack any basis in medical science. They are instead driven by the politics of “equity” that has ascended just in the past few years, in Westport and across the country.”
There is no hospital system that would prioritize a non white person being treated for covid over a white person- it is against the law!. I don’t think I could say the same in many areas of the south if the statement was reversed. Bigots always find a way to make it harder to vote, to get a job, to get an education for the kids. If the anti antiracists want to put their thoughts out to be heard in a public forum get the facts right- no fake news please- and have the courage to stand behind your convictions!!
Can someone explain to me how the essay topic chosen by “Team Westport” brings peace , healing and unity to our community? I m from a disfranchised group that “Team Westport” represents. I feel that Harold and “Team Westport ” have good intentions however I feel they missed the mark on this . Love and Light Friends
The one thing that stands out is racist stereotyping, such as all_____ people….. anything like that is racist propaganda..to justify race riots.
I can remember the kids at school teasing the poor kids, all the time. I still hear it around town. These rich kids think they are so great. Its so funny because if you have lived here generation after generation you see the family go broke and have to leave Westport, the children are usually shocked with no skills to survive as poor people, happens everyday in Westport. Never once in all my decades did I see a racial incident. Never… But the rich making fun of the poor, happens everyday in Westport. There are currently 25 states with anti-CRT legislation pending… so its a valid debate. This is my 55th year in Westport congratulations!!! It all started at Saugatuck Nursery School where we had a progressive multi-cultural program so that the kids(me) were raised to not judge people by their skin color. Anybody saying all white people are privileged is not only wrong but being brainwashed. We are to judge other by their actions not what the look like. That is why I am speaking up. Ahh freedom of speech… From all the comments it looks the adults need to do essays more than the kids.. lol
Oh one more think, victimization–once you identify yourself as a victim you cant take responsibility for your own life. You resort to blaming others, like the white privilege people. That outlook is a downward spiral and leads to nothing in society. Instead the children should write an essay about how life isn’t fair but you have to try as hard as possible, including loving everybody. Take responsibility man! Quit the blame game, the weight will be lifted once you don’t hate others anymore. Thanks Dan for providing the fair forum!!
Anne Alcyone posted that a recent example of antiracism in action includes “policies enacted by hospital systems in various states to prioritize non-white patients in the delivery of life-saving COVID treatments.” Steve Stein posted that Ms. Alcyone’s claim was a “fabrication” as it is unlawful for a hospital to prioritize who receives treatment based on race. Neither provided factual support for their claims, so I researched the issue and found the following:
“Oral antiviral treatment is authorized for patients who meet all the following criteria:
• Age 12 years and older for Paxlovid, or 18 years and older for Molnupiravir
• Weigh at least 40 kg (88 pounds)
• Test positive for SARS-CoV-2 on a nucleic acid amplification test or antigen test; results from an FDA-authorized home-test kit should be validated through video or photo but, if not possible, patient attestation is adequate
• Have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms
o Patient cannot be hospitalized or receiving oxygen therapy due to COVID-19
• Are able to start treatment within 5 days of symptom onset
• Have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe COVID-19 illness.
o Consider race and ethnicity when assessing an individual’s risk. Impacts of longstanding systemic health and social inequities put Black, Indigenous, and People of Color at increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes and death.”
And there you have it. Given the current surge of COVID cases, New York hospitals are able to prioritize who gets potentially lifesaving COVID-19 therapies based on, among other factors, race.
The bigots are out in full force. There is a Facebook group that doesn’t even try to hide themselves except for those who use fake names while being a full on bigot. It’s pathetic how fragile they are when a town tries to center marginalized voices. I had the pleasure of volunteering in the elementary school library just today. A Black Student found a book called Hair and when she saw the character on the front cover, she happily exclaimed “She looks like me!” This is apparently too much for this group of folks who vent on their back porch. I wish they could see how obvious their bigotry was but they are blinded by righteousness, claiming their children will be indoctrinated while desperately trying to make sure no one shows their child another point of view.