It is to laugh – or not ... More on the culture wars

It’s not often that life imitates art so precisely.  When it does, the result is frightening.  But there it all is, on YouTube and Twitter. 

Watch Alternative Math  - A Short Film at  from Ideaman.  This is a nine minute recounting of a teacher’s existential crisis at trying to teach 2 + 2 = 4 in a modern progressive American school. The 2017 film is meant to be a parody, but then ….

On August 16 Cathy Young reported on MathGate, or the Battle of Two Plus Two – the culture wars come to math and reach a new low   at 

This is no parody, and apparently progressives around the country have rallied to find alternative answers to the question 2 + 2 = x.  And the debate is not only on Twitter, but in schools and school administrations. 


Among the twitter combatants on whether 2 + 2 + 4 is a real mathematics teacher – an ethnic studies math teacher – who posted -



Apparently, in 2019 the Seattle public schools reconsidered their math curriculum with a view toward integrating ethnic studies into math. Part of this effort involved teachers considering these questions in the K-12 math curriculum  - How important is it to be Right?  What is Right?  Says Who? 


The Seattle document is at


Apparently, the short film made in 2017 turns out not to be a parody but a real crisis for some social justice warriors.   We are at this point in American cultural history - Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences? 


I would make a point about the role of the Electoral College in elections or letting truly ignorant people vote, but I suspect that would not endear me to the progressive side in this brouhaha. 


In her post, Cathy Young makes the relevant point –


In George Orwell’s 1984, the protagonist, Winston, writes in his diary that “freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four” (i.e., not being forced to deny reality), and is later tortured until he agrees that two plus two can be whatever the ruling Party wants. For many anti-SJWs, this is highly relevant to the current moment: they believe that undermining the truth of “2+2=4” is part of an “SJW” push to compel people to accept “politically correct” fictions.


I wrote about a similar development at  - how the forced language of the progressive left reminds me of the speech codes in the Chinese Communist Party.


Social justice warriors spending their own time and resources, and that of real teachers in real schools, arguing over the meaning of 2 + 2 is nothing but a waste.  We are talking kindergarten or first grade kids here, not about abstract ideas that can properly be considered when those kids come upon base 2.  In the end, the answer “4” will prevail.  But we will have spent plenty of … stupid … time on the stupid discussion.   My Chinese students, and I would bet students in most of the world, are incredulous first, and laughing next. To Americans -  “You go right ahead, and argue over the answer.  Knock yourselves out ….”