Rantz: Fake outrage over word ended Kent School Board president’s career

Apr 5, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2023, 3:27 pm

Kent School Board...

A group of women with the Kent Educators of Color Network spoke during the public comment section of last week’s Kent School District meeting. (Courtesy of the Kent School District)

(Courtesy of the Kent School District)

A completely contrived controversy over a word we’re supposed to pretend is offensive cost the Kent School Board president his position. But no one seems willing to publicly explain why what happened was racist or insensitive. They will, however, purport to explain how a word caused “harm” to a community they don’t belong to.

Tim Clark was effectively forced to step down after referencing a “colony of Somalis.” The comments were reportedly made during a board meeting about how school redistricting could hurt specific communities. Afterward, a small colony of activists complained about the term “colony” being offensive and racist, though no one said why. And local media didn’t help.

Every news story covering the comment neglected to explain why the word is inappropriate. KING 5 framed the story over parental and teacher complaints about the “concerning comments” when there was only one comment quoted, and it doesn’t explain why the word is concerning. The reporter even calls the word “insensitive” but doesn’t attempt to explain. Likewise, the Seattle Times cites the mounting pressure from supposedly offended parties, but doesn’t explain why “colony” is offensive. The Kent Reporter cited anger from a private Facebook group for district families and staff, but didn’t explain why the word angered them.

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Claiming racism just because…

No media member seems able or willing to explain why “colony” is offensive because the word isn’t actually offensive. Progressive activists and their media enablers are just feigning offense. It gives them a contrived fight, as they’re taught that they live in a white supremacist society. This made-up controversy gives these people something to do.

“I’m sorry for any of that I have offended, but I just want you to know it’s because I’ve actually been working with that group, and I didn’t use the right terminology,” Clark said, apologizing to those who pretended to take offense to his comment. While he stepped down as school board president, he remains on the board.

Much of the controversy seems to be fueled via Mill Creek Middle School teacher Shannon Jephson-Hernandez. She explained her position via email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. She complained that the word “colony” is a “scientific term used to describe species.” She doesn’t directly explain why the word is offensive, but explains the damage it can cause.

“Using it has the power to dehumanize those being discussed,” she wrote. “Using it towards ethnic groups, especially minority groups, has the ability to plant implicit bias as it potentially can prevent people from recognizing the humanity of those groups. Dehumanizing others creates disconnects and dangerously makes space for marginalization.”

In an interview with KING 5, Jephson-Hernandez accused Clark of not being able to “think in an equitable way,” though that doesn’t really mean anything. She went on to call Clark a “colonizer.”

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Kent School Board meetings attract the fringe

None of Jephson-Hernandez’s explanation makes sense, though she sounds sincere in her belief. That’s different from the fringe group of activists with oddly dyed hair who pat themselves on the back for fighting a white supremacist culture that doesn’t exist.

Self-identified as “allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators,” which helps us identify them as aggressively unserious people, a group of women (including Jephson-Hernandez) with the Kent Educators of Color Network spoke during the public comment section of last week’s meeting. They sought to “educate” Clark and demanded white people call out the former school board director’s apparent racism. Joanne Jo Barber, an Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Culturally Responsive Classrooms Strategy trainer with the Washington Educations Association and Crestwood Elementary teacher, led the group. She appears to be a white woman speaking on behalf of the Somali community, none of whom attended the meeting. In fact, in all the coverage and meetings I’ve reviewed, no Somali member of the public claimed offense to the remarks.

“White people must be doing this work, and white people must be at the microphone speaking so other white people will hear,” Barber said, justifying why a privileged white woman would speak for the Kent Educators of Color Network.

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You better apologize my way, or else!

Barber chided Clark for an unsatisfactory apology because he said he didn’t “intend” to cause offense. Then, she offered him a pre-written apology letter with some blank spaces for him to fill. He was, apparently, supposed to look at the issue and offer an apology through an “intent versus impact” lens. And if he didn’t use the phrasing that she demands, he’s not truly sorry.

“When a person indicates that your words have caused harm, or maybe you realize after saying them, this is where the work starts,” she said, still having not shown a single Somali person was “harmed” by the word “colony.”

“Had Mr. Clark truly understood ‘intent versus impact,’ his apology would have sounded more like the following. It would have started with a sincere apology. ‘I’m so sorry for saying or doing ‘a specific thing.’ I understand your feelings of ‘blank,’ ” Barber continued. “I am going to work on ‘blank’ and learn more about ‘blank.’ Note: Simply apologizing for how someone feels places the blame back on that person deflects the responsibility from yourself and can sound condescending.”

The insufferable lecture went on for over seven minutes, culminating with a demand that Clark be removed from the full school board “through equity.” The speech ended with her small group of friends in the audience snapping their fingers — instead of clapping — because they’re narcissists.

Keep in mind: Many of these people are teachers who oversee your kids for hours a week. They often speak in generalizations about the “black community” when describing victims of systemic racism (regardless of whether or not black people agree). They write off all white people as having unearned privilege. But “colony of Somalis” is racist?

Please… please… just stop

Can we please stop with the word policing and feigned outrage? No one is offended by the word “colony” — in this context or any other. One might have thought it was stupid or inartful. Maybe they disagreed with whatever point he was trying to make. But for professional activists who endlessly make sweeping claims about groups of people (be it race, gender, age, religion, or even profession) to claim offense is transparent nonsense.

There was a vocal group of perpetually irascible activists who complained entrepreneur Elon Musk suggested we “colonize Mars.” It led to painful faux-think pieces about how “the language of colonialism is infecting outer space, thanks to dominance by rich white businessmen and politicians.”

Writing for The Outline, Caroline Haskins complained that “a long lineage of space pundits, politicians, and thinkers invoke the history of colonizers and colonization in order to frame the future of humanity in space.”

The whole contrived controversy landed in history’s trash heap where it belonged, long-forgotten as one of the many embarrassing wars fought by the Radical Left.

Unserious people are in positions of power

Simply saying a word “caused harm” doesn’t mean that it did. It’s likely why media outlets couldn’t find any Somalis to complain — only privileged activists who take offense with everything. Maybe the media should have considered framing the story differently, given it couldn’t find people from the group who claimed to take offense. But, like the activist community, it doesn’t matter. Left-wing reporters love fighting for marginalized communities even when they’re not asking for it.

Even though only the most fringiest of fringe hold this view on language, they still yield too much power. Using sheer annoyance and threats of protest, they silence their opposition. Who wants to deal with these lunatics? Often, the subject of the left’s ire will submit. It’s why the activism is dangerous and destructive.

I don’t care that Clark stepped down as president. He’s too cowardly to push back against unreasonable and selfish malcontents. Still, he reportedly vows to stay on the board as a regular member. His colleagues offered a mild rebuke of the comments since they had to. Then they vowed to work with him so he can change his supposedly racist views. But the people demanding his removal are dangerous and destructive.

This narcissism has consequences

These activists are not engaging in social activism for positive change. They’re just looking to address their narcissism.

Deep down, they must be seen as either heroes (the white activists) or victims (the non-white activists). It gives their lives meaning. So, they fight against an imaginary white supremacist culture. They’re either elevated for fighting injustice (hero!) or for being a victim of injustice (also hero, but with more offers of support!). It’s the manifestation of their 16-year-old selves posting emo lyrics on MySpace indicating they’re depressed so that their friends can show them support. They just want to be loved or show people they’re capable of love.

But there are consequences to their fight for higher self-esteem. People lose jobs or are bullied into silence. And when no one speaks up, people like the Kent Educators of Color Network start running things. And that’s a terrifying thought.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Fake outrage over word ended Kent School Board president’s career