Breitbart Math: MAD Magazine Without The Humor

A few days ago, a Breitbart article written — I use that word quite loosely and liberally — by Tom Ciccotta appeared in Breitbart. Now, I am going to be honest, my first reaction was “cool, I have pissed off Breitbart”! However, I quickly learned, through a conference call that the blind spot that I missed in my reaction was that many of the people who read Breitbart are racist trolls who will bully math educators through social media and make them feel unsafe.

That is what they want. That is their endgame. There is no desire to discuss/argue about the merits of racism/whiteness in math education. Why would they do that? Why would these people inject themselves into a discussion which will only reveal the biting truth.

Mathematics in itself isn’t racist. Math education, as a construct, designed by white males in the previous century, is.

What is hilarious about the article is that the proceeding comments — yes, I read them all — only SUPPORT the claim of bias/discrimination/racism in math education! None of the comments had a shred of interest in academic discourse. Of course this should not surprise you since we are dealing with the shallow end of the gene pool. Throw in some sniffing of paint thinners, a missing cold water faucet perhaps, and probably some bizarre male bonding rituals involving war paint and shotgunning Schlitz beer, and you probably have the collective life history of where comments like these crawl out from:

Spelling Doesn’t Count in White Supremacy

The Breitbart article needs to read. Because for someone who probably champions white supremacy, the writing quality is supremely idiotic. But, how much can you expect from a writer who looks like he took a limo ride to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival — and writes for Breitbart? I mean…math education? Here are the requirements for that position. Can you copy/paste? Are you a racist?

Seriously, did I miss something, Breitbart?

The sad fact is, the one thing that you are really, really good at — racism — you don’t even have the stones to admit/commit to the cause! I mean, all the comments are spewing racism like hot lava, and you are trying to cozy in on academic discussions? Jeez Louise, stick to enabling your bread and butter — supporting and enabling white supremacists.

Which brings me to this. You see, all those brilliant people that Charles Boisvert mentioned. Ummm, you don’t get association to them just by the color of your skin. You know, especially if you have a season’s pass to tractor pulling and spelling isn’t your long suit.

Let’s temporarily live in the unicorn world that the readers of Breitbart are seeking truth and not Rambo-infested hatred in their articles. Now, I know that the readers are only capable of holding cos1080 degrees thought at a time, so not sure how much can be absorbed other than red meat headlines. But, I will give it a go. Just because people like me are strongly advocating for a detailed examination of the larger trajectory of math education, doesn’t mean we have abandoned mathematics. Pedagogy is but one facet. Content knowledge is another.

I for one argue that the K to 12 math curriculum, in addition to it being culturally responsive, needs to be filled with decision-making mathematics like game theory, graph theory, mathematical expectation, utility, statistics, emergence of AI victories in poker, chess, and GO, etc.

I also started teaching my daughter number theory in grade one. Her smile and her smarts is the antidote for the cesspool of humanity that sits at the bottom of your articles.

I also have some more bad news. Most of the high school mathematics that has been entrenched in your system — trigonometry and quadratics — comes from Indo-Vedic mathematics of the 9th century. And, you know that guy Fibonacci? Smart white dude. A number pattern of 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc. is named after him. Problem is that some smart brown dude came up with those numbers several hundred years earlier studying Sanskrit poetry.

Dagnammit. There goes that history/truth thing again. I know. Not in your wheelhouse of interests. That’s why you got to stick to what you know and love — racism. It’s not a cool thing to have, in spite of your President trying to make it hip. But, at least it kind of/sort of makes you real I suppose.

Anyways, that is all I have to say. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Mathgarden. Now, if you are going to that trolling thing, be original. Sure, I am brown-skinned and the same color as shit, but I heard those things in grade 3. Are you going to send me back to the country I came from? Well, I was born in Australia. Oh, you mean my country of ethnic origin? That would be India. The same country that hosts medical tourism from your country and has call centres of radiologists that examine x-rays from hospitals from your country and send back the results faster than shipping them downstairs.

Anyways, do your best. You can try throwing in some smelling like curry stuff, that is always a safe play. Although, you would be surprised the number of white folks who love curry over a Carl’s Jr burger.

One of the funniest comments I read was reaching for the classic — pinko commie — and saying that all educators are that. Not sure exactly what that means, but I am ready to put that on a shirt and give you a commission cut.

But, seriously folks…(quoting one of my favorite guitarists, Joe Walsh). The real reason I am responding is to alert you to the fact that your publication is unintentional satire. I skip the articles — I mean I don’t have 23 seconds to waste reading high school journalism — and go straight to the comments. It’s not often you get to see the musings of Sea Monkeys.

Your publication might have a strong following of snake charmers, conspiracy theorists, and coked-out devotees to toxic masculinity, but c’mon, chiming in on math education? Sheesh, that is so far out of your league. But hey, if you want to get into the trenches of modular mathematics, Ramsey Numbers, and Catalan Numbers, I am your guy — well, brown guy.

But, if you don’t want to listen to the non-white guy, maybe you will listen to a white guy, a professor who only wrote one of the greatest calculus textbooks ever. Here is his article. You won’t understand much, but take it down to your local li-brar-y, and someone will guide you through.

In the meantime, there is help in the form of leaving your porch and getting out of the basement. Not sure if that will stop the free-radicals from eating through your brain, but I am here to help.

No. I lied. I am not. You all know what I am really asking you do. In honor of the 50th anniversary of one of the most pivotal albums in rock history…

For the radical and psychotically militant right, everything is to be feared and nothing understood. So until you can show me your two Nobel Prizes, just take the advice of Iggy Pop’s fingers and pick your knuckles off the ground.

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Sunil Singh

Sunil Singh

Author, porous educator, audiophile.