The headline gravely concludes with,
It cost him his job.
This was not some human-interest story, nor a story with a local connection. It was not tucked away in the back of the paper, nor buried on the website along with building fires, road construction alerts, and pharmaceutical advertisements.
No, this was front and center – "above the fold" as they say, right at the top.
This was "important." This had grave national ramifications. This was bigger than just one man.
You could tell early on that this was a piece of hard-hitting journalism deserving of such honored prominence. A Post reporter was apparently there, on site, as the high school teacher, Matthew Hawn, awaited the outcome of his latest (and ultimately doomed) legal action to hold on to his job.
Hawn, 43, White and balding, sighed. Marloh, his German shepherd, started to whine. Hawn grabbed the leash, because no matter what, he still had to walk the dog.
Shrugging on a gray hoodie against the fall chill, he walked out his front door and down the long, sloped driveway of the house he had grown up in, Marloh tugging at every step.
When they start talking about your dog, you are in sympathetic company.
There's more to the story than Marloh's disinterest in properly heeling or Hawn's preference for gray hoodies, and it's good The Washington Post laid on the sympathy early because Hawn was going to need it going forward from here.
First of all, he told his students that the existence of "white privilege" was not a topic for discussion nor a theory to be addressed. He told them it was a "fact."
Then at the start of last school year, he made a pronouncement during a discussion about police shootings that would derail his career. White privilege, he told his nearly all-White class, is "a fact."
I will Psaki back to that in a moment, but let's just consider a high school teacher telling teenagers that an extremely contentious proposition that is currently the topic of vigorous public debate is "a fact."
Second, this was not the first time he got into trouble.
Tired after a long day of hybrid teaching...
...Hawn accidentally uploaded the video [one intended for "Google Classrooms"] to the folder for his personal finance students, where a parent spotted it. The parent immediately contacted Sullivan County administrators to complain.
The Post embeds a portion of the video in which Hawn contrasted the fates of Kyle Rittenhouse and Jacob Blake: the former defending himself against criminals, the latter a criminal.
That's not the way Hawn saw it, of course.
While WaPo quoted a few tidbits (because transcribing is hard) I'll provide you the whole thing, context intact.
I'll go ahead and say it: There's no really arguing this or debating this. This is white privilege.
He tends to deal in absolutes a lot. This is a hallmark of leftist thinking. The desperate claims to certainty and "facts" and "science," all of which are a transparent attempt to get you to just shut up and accept their assertions, betray their deep-seated intellectual insecurity.
...Is what it look like. That kid right there. [a picture of Rittenhouse on the screen.] Whenever you can fire into a crowd of people, and kill people, and then you can walk to the police without fear of being shot at. That is the definition of privilege, of white privilege. It's awful.
It's not entirely clear what he thinks is awful here. That the police didn't shoot Rittenhouse?
These aren't isolated incidents. This has been happening to African-Americans for 400 years. Slavery. Jim Crow. The War on Drugs. Police brutality.
That's some real conflation going on there. To lump slavery and Jim Crow together with vastly more complicated things like the war on drugs and police brutality diminishes the clear evil that was slavery and Jim Crow. Plus, when leftists racialize issues that affect everyone, they alienate natural allies such as myself who might have a sympathetic ear regarding the war on drugs and police brutality. But then, perhaps their goal is not to make other people's lives better, but to make themselves feel better.
The government using the using the arm, and by arm I mean weapon, of the state to control a population of citizens of a specific color of skin. People say well, maybe they shouldn't riot.
People do say that.
This is unintentionally revealing. This is a rare moment that a lefty admits they were not peacefully protesting, and an even rarer moment admitting that he doesn't care. That he thinks it's okay.
Of course, no one was burning down his neighborhood.
How little he must think of black Americans, the vast, vast majority of whom did not attack innocent people or lay waste to their property.
Absolutely horrifying. America is not equal to everybody. This is just another example of that. And I thought I would open it up for discussion and ask you all what you think...
Oh, well, okay, that's the right way to...
...but there's no counterpoints to this.
Ah, there it is.
The Post embeds the video and I can't find it apart from that, but if you do find it, or have a subscription (or access to one) for The Washington Post, I would encourage you to listen to it. It is very halting with a lot of weird pauses. He definitely chooses his words carefully, but most of all he sounds exactly like every holier-than-thou leftist you've ever heard.
Third, the transgressions continued.
Just after winter break, a Trump-supporting mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead in its wake and more than 130 police officers injured. In response, Hawn assigned his contemporary issue students the Coates essay on the 2016 election, in which the well-known Black writer argues that White racism drove Trump's ascendance.
The word "whiteness" appeared 20 times in that essay.
Totally not racist.
Four days later, a parent emailed the school board to complain that the article's explicit language was inappropriate and that Hawn had failed to offer an opposing viewpoint.
I don't mind him offering viewpoints, nor did this parent apparently. I mind him offering only one.
And that was just one of a number of examples.
As The Post put it:
He always presented White privilege as an incontestable truth...
Keep in mind that The Post is trying to portray him in the best light possible.
...although he said he urged students to do their own research and challenge him if they disagreed.
Because the power relationship between the teacher who is grading you and his students is an equal one.
But he did not get fired for any of those.
He got fired for this.
After repeated warnings and an official reprimand...
...But in late April, a student mentioned White privilege during a class discussion about the trial of Derek Chauvin — the White Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd by kneeling on the Black man's neck...
(Yes, WaPo is still still arguing this despite all video and coronary evidence to the contrary.)
— and Hawn could not help himself. He navigated to YouTube and pulled up "White Privilege," a scathing and profane four-minute poetry performance by Kyla Jenée Lacey.
Early on we noted that Hawn considered "white privilege" a fact. The poem in that video defines the term, a definition with which Hawn must be comfortable.
We learned your French. We learned your English, your Dutch, your Spanish, your Portuguese. you learned our nothing, you called us stupid.
Half of my ancestors were forced to learn English long before they emigrated to this country and the other half after they arrived.
I remain curiously not bitter about it, and in fact never even thought about it until just now as I write this.
That's white privilege...
Cool. I'm a victim!
...and I'm sure it probably hurts for you to hear those two words kind of like gunshots and explosions...
She really overestimates how much people care about the mouth noises she makes.
Anyway, she goes on spouting nonsensical propaganda for a while. White privilege is:
400 years in the same fields literally is an incredible resume builder.
it is Katrina answering the government's prayers of eugenics.
That's maybe a little bit insane.
Dick Cheney going fishing the next day. Condoleezza on a shopping spree.
Who wants to tell her?
Oh am I making you uncomfortable?
More bored really.
Try a cramped slave ship.
Says the woman who was raised in a suburb of Orlando.
But wait, she anticipated that!
..but wait, slavery is over now, it's just called the prison system cuz like you're not racist cuz you don't use the 'n' word, but y'all use n*ggas everyday .
What is white privilege? It is the acceptance of bombs over Baghdad but not over Boston.
She wants to bomb Boston?
I'm sure there's some meaning there that I could look up but unfortunately I don't care.
It is European history being taught as a major and African as an elective.
You know where they probably teach African history?
My ancestors' histories are relegated to back burners and electives, too, plus I doubt there is a university in the nation that does not have an entire department dedicated to the African experience in America, but that's okay.
Thank you for the Enlightenment, European white guys. Really appreciate it. Happy to have benefited from it.
Now, ready for full-on unhinged rage?
It is learning about my people only 28 days like I'm not black every $#%@ing second.
It is every white boy who wanted to $#%@ my brains out not because I'm pretty, but because I'm pretty for a black girl.
It is people thinking that Africa is one nation.
It is the waving of the Confederate flag like you didn't lose the battle then telling us to get over slavery.
She goes on like that for quite a while and finishes with this.
It is everyone who hears this poem, and dismisses all this truth I just spit.
That is white privilege.
Disagreeing with her is proof that she's right.
Pretty neat how that works!
Hawn thought this would be useful to show his students. At a school board hearing he said hers was "an American voice we should all be listening to."
Slate thought to ask her what she thought of the controversy and the role her poem played in Hawn's firing.
Her responses were unsurprising.
The poem went viral a few times, and in the very first wave of its virality, a lot of the white people who were upset continuously said, "Well, you need to learn your history. You need to learn your education." I have a degree in history. That is literally what my degree is in.
It's always a thing where white people are so quick to denounce the education of someone who's Black when their lack of education is offended.
Yep, she's a straight-up racist.
Our entire country was built on the premise of racism. So how do you teach what manifest destiny is without teaching that white people decided that this [country] was theirs? Because, really, that's what colonialism is. Colonialism is a white man saying, "This is mine," and another white man agreeing, obviously by force and by violence, but that's what it is. So how do you teach that? If not the truth, what are you going to teach the kids?
A racist and an unhinged leftist.
And I'd be really curious what all those colonized Asians thought of the Japanese saying "this is mine," or what the people of central and south America thought of the Spaniards saying the same.
Or, are they both white this week? I can't keep track.
A couple more things from The Post.
His firing comes amid a tsunami of conservative outrage about critical race theory...
"Conservative outrage." Not parental outrage, not independent outrage, conservative outrage.
It's these little characterizations that are so revealing and so endemic.
...an academic framework for examining systemic racism in the United States that educators contend is rarely taught in public schools.
And here's the part they don't understand, or don't want to understand.
Hawn said he'd never heard of critical race theory until he was accused of teaching it.
Exactly, and an unintentional self-own. They define critical race theory as "an academic framework for examining systemic racism in the United States," in an article in which they literally profile an academic who got in trouble for examining systemic racism in the United States.
That is why claims that "we don't teach critical race theory" ring so hollow. They are teaching it, under other names or no name at all, but they are.
Finally, and perhaps my favorite part. This is the town where Hawn grew up, the town where he was teaching, the town where he thought it important to educate the children and through them their parents, about their white privilege.
The makeup of the class was not surprising in Kingsport, a town of about 54,000 nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains that is about 90 percent White. The median household income is roughly $43,000, well below the national average, and most Kingsport residents work at a large coal gasification plant owned by Eastman Chemical.
Hawn, and apparently The Post, are mystified as to what the problem is with a college-educated teacher telling the children of working-class parents that it is "a fact" that they are "privileged. They don't understand why they might become offended when he shows their children a vulgar and profanity-ridden video of a college-educated poet lambasting them all as racists.
Providing differing points of view and challenging students' preconceived notions is essential to a proper education. Teaching the at-times ugly history of this country is also important. Despite claims to the contrary, those of us who oppose critical race theory do want the whole story told.
And that's just it. The whole story.
As one student testified at one of his hearings:
They were countered by a teenager, identified only as "T.S.," who was in class on the day Hawn played the Lacey video. The teen said that he and his friends felt belittled by Hawn for voicing objections to the poem.
"Some students disagreed with the video," T.S. said, according to a hearing transcript obtained by The Washington Post. "Hawn blew it off like it didn't need to be discussed."
Hawn never sincerely invited dissent, and never offered a counterpoint as he had been told to do repeatedly. As sympathetically as the Harvard-educated (of course) Post reporter tried to portray him, it is clear through his own words and actions that he's a committed leftist who has fully embraced the poison of division, and yes, critical race theory. He wants to inculcate, not educate.
That is why Hawn got fired.
Nice dog, though.