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Opinion: Puzzle pieces & disabilities

Feb 21st, 2017 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

This essay was submitted by Jerry Shenk. Jerry Shenk is a Dauphin County-based writer whose work is featured at  He can be reached at His work occasionally appears at American Thinker online and is published weekly in the Lebanon Daily News.

Beginning in mid-February, the Elizabethtown College Democrats began distributing all-white pins in the shape of puzzle pieces. They are intended to be worn only by white students to make them more introspective about race and remind them of their “white privilege,” — “especially in a predominantly white area of Lancaster County.”

Where to begin…?

Snotty, self-superior, out-of-town college kids have always looked down on “townies.” E-town College Democrats typify the phenomenon.

In 2010, 93 percent of Elizabethtown’s community population was Caucasian; 1.2 percent were African American; another 1.2 percent were mixed race; Hispanics were 2.2 percent; and 1.1% were Asian. The average family income was about average, but Elizabethtown’s cost of living and housing remains below the national average.

Nearly two-thirds of E-town College undergraduates are female. The College is ranked number 2,228  nationwide in ethnic diversity with a student body composition below the national average: only 2.6 percent black, 1.6 percent mixed race, 3.7 percent Hispanic and 1.8 percent Asian. None are dramatically above the community’s numbers. In 2014, E-town College accepted nearly three-fourths of applicants.

Demographics suggest that there is no conspiracy to exclude them, so why don’t more minorities choose to live in E-Town or attend college there?

Perhaps, as the college Democrats’ soporific white-pin project suggests, there simply isn’t enough to do in a small town on a smaller campus.

Aileen Ida, president of the College Democrats said, “Discussions about race are often perceived as being only open to people of color, but…it is just as important for white people to partake in conversations about race.”

Only racists and race hustlers are obsessed with melanin levels. To Ida, anyone who is not as fixated on race as she appears to be is somehow responsible for racial oppression. She suggested that, unless they actively work against it, white people allow for a system of societal oppression. In other words, whites’ inaction or inattention equals guilt.

Ida insists that people of color live with racism while whites don’t, even though people like Ida work constantly to convince perfectly innocent white people of their subliminal racist predispositions. Why isn’t that racist?

The Elizabethtown College Democrats’ effort “forces everybody to think about racial issues people face daily.” The campaign is expected to last through February and beyond, one suspects at least until the 2018 midterm election.

This is merely one more example of the left’s endless, senseless virtue-signaling, another empty gesture designed to perpetuate divisive, left-wing, Democratic Party identity politics.

In his book, “Liberal Fascism,” Jonah Goldberg wrote: “The White Man is the Jew of Liberal Fascism.” In the place of Star of David armbands, though, E-town College Democrats are marking their targets with white puzzle pieces.

Ironically, puzzle pieces are established, iconic symbols used to promote autism awareness, so sanctimonious, young E-town College Democrats have clumsily appropriated a perfect metaphor for the left’s social, cultural and political developmental disabilities.


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  1. “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate” Cooler hands would serve us well and we must avoid cutting the heads off parking meters. Sides have been chosen. The teams are familiar. But the discussion is not a discussion, just two soliloquies. “White privilege,” is wise language for building movement participation, but a poor choice for starting a conversation or for persuasion. It is unlikely that an open conversation could take place given our guiding narratives, but starting it with a moniker that will elicit an interpretation likely to be considered an affront can’t help matters.

    What’s going on here? We have one team whose rhetoric primarily serves as a self-affirmation for their social and moral stance and presents it with evangelical fervor and in a patronizing manner. We have another team who sees any effort to address inequality and ameliorate suffering as an affront to their character and a breakdown in the moral order. From what I can surmise, the Elizabethtown students were not particularly patronizing in their message, but evangelical as is their want. That, in conjunction with the already value-defined term “white privilege” was guaranteed to elicit the response it has from the other team. Any social scientist or culture watcher worth his salt would expect the following response to the Etown students: “(Insert any personal story of hard work and struggle here)….. and you have the audacity to tell me that my success is due to privilege. Now you expect me to give up what I have worked for and just give it others….”. That story was heard many times in response to the Etown students campaign and other similar situations.

    Bracketing for the moment, the emotions and feelings that the term “white privilege” invokes, it is a concept that has a basis in reality. It doesn’t imply that those who have achieved do not deserve it. It doesn’t imply that their success was primarily a consequence of an unfair advantage. It does imply that we live in a complicated world, a world in which success is dependent on a variety of factors that interact in complex ways. Hard work and sacrifice are often, perhaps usually, in the mix. However, hard work and sacrifice are undertaken within life frames that vary in the degree that they assist hard work and sacrifice culminating in success. These life frames are not equally distributed across the population. It is certainly true that there are differences with respect to a black-white or Hispanic-white dimension. It is also true that there are differences between those born into relative wealth when compared to those born into poverty or limited means. It is even more mal-distributed for those who are born of color and into limited means. One would be hard pressed to argue for the moral appropriateness that one’s fate in life should be dependent on one’s circumstance at birth. So white privilege is a real thing as is class of origin privilege. It is not necessarily accusatory.

    So we are presented with the situation in which one team prematurely and unwarrantedly feels affronted and the other presses a message that is unnecessarily moralistic and evangelical and too often seeks a villain. There is a discussion to be had if we can agree on some basic postulates.

  2. I’m sorry, but America has been talking about race for more than 150 years. There is little else to discuss without objectively facing the institutional problems of minority communities and their causes, few of which have to do with institutional racism. What most of us hear from their defenders are excuses and accusations.

    Social justice warriors such as the college Ds don’t want a dialog. They’re not really concerned about equality and inclusion. For them, it’s all about political control, domination and demonstrating their imagined morally superiority over others who simply disagree with them.

    For the record, social science and political science are “sciences” in the same as astrology is.

    When did the Church of the Brethren lose control of this campus?

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