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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 9/16/20

Good morning,

A friend of mine who knows Mr. Trump quite well, having worked for him, provided the above. One will note that the Taj Mahal casino, in Atlantic City (which Mr. Trump bankrupted twice), does not resemble the actual Taj Mahal. Instead, it seems to carry far more design elements from St. Basil’s Cathedral, in Red Square. Could this be yet another example of Mr. Trump’s affection for our Russian friends?



There are now diversity seminars and racial sensitivity classes being administered at colleges and racial sensitivity courses required in many businesses. While these courses are important, it is equally important to consider what is contained in the curriculum and what the intended outcomes from the class should be. If we are simply telling people about how they shouldn’t be racists (or, worse, about how they already are irretrievably racist), can real change come? There is no doubt that the history of racism and oppression throughout human history is a necessary part of one’s education but I don’t think real understanding will come primarily from “hating hate.” There needs to be a focus on loving “the other” for who they are and what they add to the human tapestry.

The way the battle on the California curriculum is shaping up is a contest for “air time”—who will get the most said about their victimization to prejudice. No doubt there is plenty of discrimination to go around and certainly the emphasis must be on the effects of slavery and treatment of indigenous people. But what of Manzanar and the history of anti-Latino hatred? And what of antisemitism?

Here’s my thought experiment. Assume there are several lessons one can impart. What order would you put them in if you were designing an ethnic studies curriculum?:

• How to organize politically

• How to identify racism and not act in manners that perpetuate racism

• The horrors of racism, police violence and the institutional inequities in society that exist today

• The history of racism in America’s past (slavery, treatment of indigenous peoples, anti-immigration, antisemitism, etc.)

• The contributions of other races, ethnicities and religions to humanity, and an understanding of their traditions and cultures

I would argue that the current emphasis is more or less in this order, while a more meaningful curriculum is in exactly the opposite order (from bottom to top). Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not suggesting all of this shouldn’t be part of a balanced curriculum. But if we’re going to try to provide an appreciation of the ethnic diversity of our culture, change behaviors and create a more mixed society, understanding each other must be “job one.”

We should first be teaching about the contributions of diverse ethnic groups to our shared culture—to better humanize and understand each other. Ethnic studies and racial understanding should be based first in love—not in guilt and not because it’s a requirement to graduate. Only in that way can we truly appreciate the horrors of hate. We should come to understand each other first as people and not as victims. The result would be that when we learn of how people have been victimized, we identify not only with the victimization but with them as fellow human beings and friends.



A couple of weekends ago, one of Jerry Coben’s goals was to catch up on two months of the Musings. For those who know Jerry, it will not surprise you that he provided periodic (thoughtful, pithy) critiques as he went through them. And yes, he finished. Regarding the proposed mandated high school ethnic studies curriculum in California, he provides this troubling quotation from a course outline, taken from the Wall Street Journal:

“Students will write a paper detailing certain events in American history that have led to Jewish and Irish Americans gaining racial privilege.”

Is that really a lesson, how people gained racial privilege, rather than the struggles to overcome racism?

The model curriculum that requires a full semester of ethnic studies (given to students in public schools that rank below national and international averages in science, math and English) that:

“…build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.”

I think this curriculum may need further thought…



Beyond the stories of the hall of famers and unlikely heroes exists a group of players that are quirky for a variety of reasons. One of my favorites from Angels lore is George Brunet. A pitcher for the Angels for five years (his longest stop in a major league career that saw him on at least nine teams and minor league career with another ten or so.

Then he went to Mexico at age 39, where he pitched for another 11 years and earned a place in the Mexican baseball hall of fame.

He holds the record for bases loaded walks by a pitcher and was proud of not wearing underwear because it was more comfortable and he didn’t need to worry about losing them.

Baseball lore is populated with many of these guys. I challenge all die-hard fans to share stories of bizarre players or events involving their favorite teams, e.g., Alok Gaur (White Sox), Peter Bain (Reds), Howard Kroll (Dodgers), John McMullen (Giants).



For Bobby’s birthday last month, I promised to mention him regularly in the Musings. Hi, Bobby!

All the best,


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