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Breitbart attacks New Trier seminar day

Alt-right website criticized the race based seminar day the past two years

Maggie Curry

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On Jan. 15, Breitbart News Network published an article about New Trier’s all-school seminar day headlined “Suburban Chicago School Teaches ‘Blackenomics,’ ‘Trans-Rights,’ and ‘White Genocide Against Blacks.’”

Writer Warner Todd Huston said in the article, “along with teaching math, science, English, and history, the school is launching into a major left-wing indoctrination project based on Obama’s agenda of liberal activism.”

Breitbart has published several articles written about the seminar day that took place last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

On Jan. 12 of last year, reporter Joel B. Pollak wrote, “Other area schools- including Evanston Township High School, which has the largest percentage of black students of any high school on the North Shore– will be closed for the holiday, as usual.”

Speech and Debate teacher Aaron Vinson is part of the workshop committee that reviews all the proposals from teachers and students for the all-school seminar day. About Obama’s “re-education project,” he said, “The federal government doesn’t really have a large input on curricular decisions.”

Huston used the term “re-education project” in the article to characterize the seminar day.

Vinson explained that the 2016 seminar day was held because last year the schedule was modified due to construction. There were several holidays that the school no longer had off, including MLK Day.

The school decided to make the attendance day a seminar day rather than a normal schedule day for both years. According to Vinson, “Over the last few years, there have been a few incidents that illustrated that our population wasn’t really well versed  in issues relating to racial diversity, that some of our students sometimes displayed a lack of sensitivity and awareness in terms of interacting with people of color, and the day was an attempt to promote awareness, not guilt.”

Huston also went on to pick out a Northfield Seminar, saying, “even the smallest children will be targeted for Obama’s re-education project with a program called ‘Developing Empathy and Acceptance by Reading Picture Books to Children.”

This course was summarized in the Workshop Catalog as an opportunity to read picture books focusing on themes of diversity to young children in the Northfield Campus’s library.

Dance teacher and Seminar Day Committee member Lucy Riner explained that many of the lessons people learn as children show them how to treat one another.

“From a humanitarian perspective, going back and reiterating some of those lessons you had as a small child now that you’re growing up is a way to remind yourself that we’re still practicing and learning about people and diversity and being good human beings,” said Riner.

Pollak also quoted an anonymous parent in his article that said, “They are supposed to be a neutral environment. Yet they are pushing all this ‘white guilt,’ using our kids for their own agenda, twisting their minds–whether it be sexual or racial.”

About all these opinions surrounding last year’s seminar as well as the upcoming all-school seminar, senior Celia Buckman said, “I think people are against the day because it’s so different from business-as-usual. This is bound to create some disagreement. It’s also difficult to admit to having privileges–whether that’s based in race, income, or sexuality. As a white person, I don’t realize the way my race affects my everyday life until I’m presented with the experiences and perspective of a non-white person. Having real conversations, presented with privileges, isn’t easy.”

A second article was written by Pollak last year in response to a post on the Huffington Post from Buckman in defense of the MLK Seminar day headlined: “Check Your Privilege, Rich White Leftist Girl.”

In the Jan. 17th 2016 article response to Buckman, Pollak described the seminar day as an “elitist, racist farce New Trier is staging this year.” He also described the day as “an elaborate ritual of guilt.”

In response to Huston’s article, Buckman said, “It assumes that New Trier is simply creating a nebulous ‘liberal agenda,’ when really the seminars are based in history and facts– Breitbart writers  mistaken perspectives that are often ignored in our educational systems as simply being wrong.”

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The student news site of New Trier High School.
Breitbart attacks New Trier seminar day