Talk about mixed feelings. I'm trying hard to be honest with myself about the big blow-up over the Dallas school system spending $57,000 yesterday to take 5,000 fifth-grade boys to a war movie while the fifth-grade girls had to stay back at school to watch a movie about a spelling bee.
Tell you what. Somebody obviously never lived at my house. Oh, man. If I were ever in the newspaper for having made a decision like that? Shoot. I'd call a neighbor and ask him to go over to my house and try to get my toothbrush and bathrobe and bring them to the Motel 6.
But was there a reasonable explanation? I think there could have been. Not one you can say in the paper. Well, except for this paper.
I am the proud father of a wonderful young man who used to be a boy. I've had a lot of boys around my house. I think I know a thing or two about boys. Boys are wonderful. Some boys are very smart, while other boys are intellectually challenged.
The problem is, they are all idiots. Idiots. Especially when you take them to a war movie. Double especially if there are girls around.
I don't know how we deal with that issue realistically in this age of political correctness and caution. It's one of those things everybody knows but nobody can say out loud.
The Dallas school system now operates all-boy and all-girl schools. I discussed that issue a couple weeks ago with Shirley Ison-Newsome, one of the DISD administrators who later made this decision about the war movie. We laughed about boys. I told her I attended an all-boys school for much of my adolescence but transferred to a co-ed school toward the end of high school.
I even remember walking into a classroom and seeing girls at desks for the first time. It was like an instant lobotomy. Girls make boys stupid. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.
I'm not sure it's even a sexual thing. I look back now, and I know that a few of the boys in high school who were rendered stupid by girls were guys who turned out later to be gay. It must be something weird about brain waves.
Bottom line: Having shepherded large groups of boys to movies myself, I can see how somebody might just not want to deal with the whole boy-girl thing. Plus, this was not just any movie. It was Red Tails, George Lucas' unabashedly jingoistic old-fashioned macho move about the Tuskegee airmen.
It was a hero movie about guys making things go boom. You take busloads of boys to a hero movie about heroes making things go boom, then you need to just wait outside after it's over.
You don't even have to wait that long. Twenty minutes, tops. Watch through the door. Wait until they stop popping up and down and biting each other. Then you can bring them out and put them in your vehicle.
But if you put girls in there with them? Oh, man. That's gasoline on the fire.
I don't think the gender separating was wrong, necessarily. It was the separate movies. The real significance of the Lucas film for all kids today, black, white, Hispanic, Asian and everything else, is the window it provides on white American racism as a force in history.
We don't want to leave that out of kids' educations any more than we want to forget about the Holocaust. Racism is not gender-specific. The girls need to know that lesson every bit as much as the boys do.
In fact, maybe more. You know why? Let's say you take them all to the movie together. Girls come out, file aboard the bus, sit down, start doing their homework. Boys pop up and down and bite each other for about 20 minutes, then get on bus.
After you drive for five minutes, you can ask, "How 'bout that movie?" The girls will already have their notebooks out working on their essays about it. But you know what the boys' answer will be, right?
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