Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Monday, April 02, 2007

The closed circle

Knute Berger's maiden Mossback column for David Brewster's new Crosscut oped site is a meta discussion on discussions of racism in Seattle Public Schools. In it, Berger strikes a chord that rings an enormous "PRT Is a Joke is a Joke" bell --

The school district... has a problem with a kind of institutional political correctness that sees racism at the bottom of everything -- and this feeds a culture of aggrievement. It's at the point where everything in the schools is seen as racist. Two-tiered learning is racist. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning is racist. Closing schools is racist. Recess is racist. Summer vacation is racist. Even white charity to raise money and help fund enhanced programs is racist. No teacher, parent, or staff member, it seems, is ever accused of having good intentions, such as a simple desire to do the best for children in a flawed world.
In looking over my column, I was reminded that one of the examples of racist hegemony, according to the authors, was "discourse," the idea that rational discussion is itself racist. While relatively harmless as an academic mind game, I suppose, in the real world this construct is a recipe for toxic gridlock because it posits that the means of reaching understanding or a reasoned consensus are themselves suspect. How do you educate without discourse? How do you learn? And what are the alternatives?

What Berger has done here is identify a doctrinaire faction that has defined its operating environment in a circular way -- no matter what, the faction is always right.

Sound familiar?

In the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's little universe, discourse about transit innovation is in itself anti-transit because, dammit, everyone knows that only light rail is worth having, case closed. Anything to the contrary -- even if objective -- is to be ruthlessly attacked. Those who want to 'reach understanding or reasoned consensus' about PRT 'are themselves suspect.'

PRT supporters "buy" reports with favorable findings. Reporters Laurie Blake and Britt Robson "report lies." Grist Magazine is helping to perpetrate "nonsense." Julie Risser is part of the Pod Squad for considering PRT. Reporter Zoe Naylor is to be taken as seriously as the actress of the same name -- "just for fun." A Democratic state senator is an "idiotic... nutcase" because one out of 99 bills he introduces is about PRT.

Not even elders are worthy of respect if they support PRT. Prof. J. Edward Anderson, still the "wacky professor," now "sounds way tired and way old." Ex-Navy aviator John Kropf is "cranky," and to be laughed at for making a toy train for children.

Kiln Ovendoor the anti-PRT propagandist: still klassy after all these years.

Also today: "Did Dutch Company Anonymously Edit Wikipedia Personal Rapid Transit Page?" Not if anyone, even a Labridor, can trace the DNS address! Is updating a URL now evidence of the "PRT scam"? (Remember: Avibore used to love Wikipedia until it stopped serving his purpose-- then he joined a Wikipedia Critics page. Now he's considered Not Good.)

Oh, and "40 km/h [25 m/ph]" will also be the average speed of Seattle's Central Link light rail (p. 9). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Ken Avidor is a leading source of greenhouse gas

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