During the 1980s, there was a hearing on Capitol Hill about obscenity in the music industry. One of the people to testify during that hearing was the lead singer of the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, Dee Snider. When he was asked about possible sadomasochism in his song ‘Under the Blade’ he made a point to say that the song was not about that, and the only reason that people were finding it is because that’s what they were looking for and they were twisting the meaning for their own narratives. It’s a particular theme that is interesting to explore, because we often see this in the modern day. Especially when you try to say that Bernie Sanders, an ethnic Jew wearing mittens and a frumpy coat, is a symbol of white privilege.
Ingrid Seyr-Ochi, a teacher from San Francisco, detailed her claims about Sanders in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle. The claims in the article can best be described as ‘loopy’ or ‘bonkers’ or any other synonym of ‘crazy’. Her statement of “This is white privilege. It can be hard to pinpoint, but when we see it we know it” may as well be her saying that her rather strange opinions are supposed to be taken as fact even when there could be evidence or arguments to the contrary. Especially when you’re trying to tell me that an old Jew in mittens is a symbol of white privilege!
What made me audibly chuckle was when she described her emotions when looking at Senator Sanders, stating that she, “puzzled and fumed to be her best possible teacher.” You would think that she sees herself as a character in Hamlet with her overly dramatic tones. Here’s something to keep in mind. If you are looking at an image and puzzling and fuming to find some sort of meaning in it, there’s a very good chance that you’re making something up. Especially if you’re going to take Bernie Sanders looking like a goofball as anything more than an old Jew in mittens.
Big Quote: “‘When you see privilege, you know it,’ I’d told them weeks before. Yet, when they saw Sen. Bernie Sanders manifesting privilege, when seemingly no one else did, I struggled to explain that disparity.”
This is where the problem lies, because we sit here two weeks on from the inauguration and an educator is teaching her students absolute nonsense about a senator that likely agrees with all of her views. Her descriptions of trying to find meaning in wardrobe choices come across like attempting to make logical leaps to justify her own salary. It’s no better than those people who say they find images of the Virgin Mary in their toast and think it’s a sign from God. More often than not a delicious crispy piece of bread is just that, the same goes for an old man in mittens. I doubt that when Bernie Sanders woke up that morning, there was any purpose outside of his wardrobe choice other than, “I really don’t want to be cold out there.”
This is a general issue that we see in this day and age with the woke spectrum. We see white teachers educating people on how bad they are as human beings solely based on interpretations they seem to be making up on the fly. We live in a time where even air conditioning has been described as racist and sexist. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkisian once infamously said “everything is racist, everything is sexist, everything is homophobic, and you have to point it all out.” Alternatively, mittens are just mittens and the meaning that they have is that they keep your hands warm. I referenced Dee Snider earlier during the PMRC hearings because there is one particular idea that needs to be understood here, and that is inferring meaning.
The things that go on within our world, such as the words we say and the things we wear already have meanings attached to them. Trying to make them out to be more than they already are comes across as a desperate attempt to shape reality to your own worldview. It’s silly to make a song about surgery into sadomasochism, and it’s equally as silly to say wearing mittens and a frumpy jacket is white privilege. When you infer meaning from someone’s statement, you attach something to their actions that simply was not there in the first place. It’s a very cruel way of analyzing the world. Demonizing someone based upon your own personal biases, and then trying to pass those biases off as truth is deeply deceitful.
What I would suggest to this white teacher lecturing her students on white privilege is that maybe she needs to take a step back. Maybe the reason that she is so angry at Senator Sanders isn’t because of his mittens. Maybe there are other issues that she has with him that are reflective of her own biases that she needs to be honest about. Maybe there are larger issues that she should just write in a journal for her own mental health rather than wasting the time of students that need to be learning practical skills, and indeed the readers of formerly respected newspapers. Because at the end of the day, mittens are just mittens. Trying to make them out to be more than that makes you seem like a nut job.
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