Fit in, be absurd 16

Some cultures are superior to others. To be specific, Western culture is superior to others.

But, as everyone knows, it is not politically correct to say this.

The reliably funny Fred Reed writes (in part):

I am done for, and damned. Yes, a poor sinner who has strayed from the path of righteousness, and now sits brooding over a bottle of Padre Kino, Mexican rust-remover marauding as red wine, for I have done the unpardonable: I have said – I cringe with shame – that some cultures are superior to others.

It gnaws my soul.

Please don’t misjudge me. I am in most respects a good American. I have nothing against brainless, passive-aggressive, narcissistic sanctimony, nor preening academic mediocrity, nor intellectual vacuity. No. I tell you, I love all of these things. I am devoted to our traditions. I believe to the roots of my teeth that bovine complacency is the bedrock of democracy. Indeed, the only criticism I can make of our national intellectual life is that it would embarrass a microcephalic box-turtle.

Oh god. Wait. I didn’t mean to imply that microcephalic box-turtles are in any way inferior. They are just otherly abled. I apologize, and acknowledge my Vertebrate Privilege.

Let me recount my fall from grace as a warning to those that will hear. Long ago, a callow youth, I was reading the Huffington Post (this column has no respect for chronology), which informed me that no culture is superior to any other: They are just different. To think otherwise, it huffed, was to concede oneself to be among the Fallen, and perhaps a Republican.

I read this and the scales fell from my eyes (though I had no interest in going to Damascus, where they were using nerve gas). I thought, Yes! It’s true! Hosanna! All cultures are equal! Jewish culture is not superior to Nazi, just different. Why hadn’t I seen it before? The culture of Switzerland is not better than that of North Korea, and the South of Bull Conner was in no way inferior to the most dappled, liquid-eyed liberalism of Massachusetts!

For years I believed this, enraptured, and prattled like a jaybird. I was among the Saved. Then … Woe! Woe! … Padre Kino got the best of me. Oh, Demon Rum! Drink has ever been my downfall …

I was in my cups and, prompted by the Devil, thought: All cultures equal? Exactly how is a pack of nekkid savages in the rain forests of Papua-New Guinea, who eat weird pasty white grubs and each other, who speak a language consisting of seven words none of which means anything … how could they possibly be the equals of Europeans who brush their teeth and wrote Hamlet’s soliloquy? Equal how? In the eyes of God, maybe. If so, I figured the Old Boy must need glasses.

So low had I sunk.

Floating in the vile effluvium of the corrupting grape, I engendered worse thoughts. Regarding Islam, for example. How equal was this medieval horror? Here is a faith that will not let its girl children learn to read, and indeed holds them down screaming and mutilates their genitals with a razor blade and no anesthetic. Equal? To what?

You see. Wine. Booze. The Great Purple Father was making me lose all devotion to equality. Shun strong liquor, I implore you, lest you start to favor the death penalty for such victims of intolerance as Ted Bundy, who was misunderstood by society.

But back to Islam. Before, alight with the equality of all cultures, I had thought clitoridectomy to be a minor surgery, not much different from sending girls to Wellesley. Actually, Wellesley had seemed worse, as on campus girls underwent forced exposure to oppressive dead white men like Plato, while Moslem girls faced nothing worse than gangrene.  But suddenly I wasn’t sure. My Huffington-flavored faith wavered.

I even reflected at one point that European culture had invented everything that kept many of the rest from living in the animal shelter. Where they would probably eat the animals. …

Why was it, I wondered, that all cultures were equal, but that all cultures were superior to white European culture? This seemed illogical. In my earlier state of virtue, I had understood such considerations to be the result of Male Linear Thinking, which had earlier been called “thinking” until it was noticed who was best at it.

Having decided that some cultures were superior to others, I fell deeper into error, and wondered whether maybe being smart was better than being stupid. Before, I had understood from the Washington Post that being illiterate and borderline retarded was a sign of Authenticity. Well, I certainly wanted to be Authentic, though I thought I would pass on eating the pasty white grubs. (Authentic what was never mentioned, but it didn’t seem to matter. If Salon was for it, it must be good.)

I began dressing like the contents of a dumpster, with butt-hanger pants and a baseball cap on sideways so as to look like an idiot. I petitioned the Educational Testing Service to have my SATs lowered, and began Vocabulary Limitation Therapy. I considered lobotomy. Such was my desire for Authenticity.

It did not work. No. No amount of abasement, no embrace of degradation can overcome Vertebrate Privilege. But, like a sociologist, I could revel in being an earnest aspirant to degeneracy. Small compensation, but better than nothing.

But alas! Alack! I am ruined. Having lost one’s faith in the transparently absurd, one may never go back. I will never again believe the Iroquois the equals of the Finns. I am lost.

 

(Hat-tip Frank)

Posted under Commentary, Humor by Jillian Becker on Sunday, May 25, 2014

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Going down 2

We quote from Fred Reed’s blog Fred On Everything. The parts we’ve chosen give the substance and flavor of the article, in which we find much bitter truth.

Ah, the guttering candle of civilization! How I love it. The dwindling flames warm the cockles of a curmudgeon’s heart (whatever precisely a cockle may be): the galloping rot, the stampede to enstupidation, the gathering night of the Fifth Century.

We approve of him choosing the Fifth Century – when Christianity took over Europe from the Roman Empire – as the time when the darkness descended.

For a while I lost confidence in democracy, which was producing a depressingly literate and responsible public. A curmudgeon does not like to see prosperity and content growing from intelligent policy. It offends his sense of rightness. Now, thank Hera, the country rushes toward its appointed endpoint in the abyss. …

Why Hera, queen of the gods? Probably because of her special portfolio of Women & Marriage. Women come into the discussion later.

This, from UCLA, a daycare center in California which was formerly a university:

Racial tensions are inflamed at the University of California at Los Angeles following several incidents — most notably, one where a professor corrected the grammar, punctuation and capitalization in minority students’ assignments. The act of correcting a black student was “micro-aggression,” according to the members of the student group Call 2 Action: Graduate Students of Color, which launched a sit-in during a subsequent meeting of the class.

Wonderful! This is heady stuff. [According to this group] graduate students “of color” … can’t be expected to distinguish “its” from “it’s.” Fourth-grade English is just too hard for them, and they must be sheltered from the burden. Apparently they attend university to avoid being expected to learn anything.

This is balm to a curmudgeon’s cockles. You see, we of our ashen-souled and lonely trade, laboring in the shadows …  feast … on thorough-going damned foolishness, on lunacy, on luminous hypocrisy and suicidal moral preening. These are good times for us. We gorge.

Back to UCLA. Protecting minorities … from the travails of learning would seem more racist than requiring it of them, but never mind. Keep’em dumb, keep’em mad. …  Onward into the gloaming. Let the show go on. …

Someone famously said that democracy lasts until the unworthy learn that they can vote themselves the treasury. Yes. More generally, until they learn that they can vote themselves everything. Here is the backbone of American domestic policy, if that is the right word for floundering narcissism. The inadequate and barely lettered, by weight of numbers, can simply declare themselves the equals of their betters (or should I say “there betters”?). They don’t have to accomplish anything. They simply assert that they have done it, or that doing it is elitist and therefore reprehensible. I have in mind things like reading, scoring at the level of sentience on the SAT, or lifting mortar rounds.

The reduction of American universities to the academic level of the comic book … was of course preceded and made necessary by the mob’s desire for the trappings of education. The substance they find merely annoying. They have the votes, though, and pay the tuition. Thus they get what they want, a diploma, without having to subject their tiny minds to the oppressions of thought.

Their minds might not be tiny. Or they could be expanded. They need a decent education. But Fred doubts that all of them are educable. He despairs of many of them.

This unionism of the shiftless shapes society at all levels. Thus No Child Left Behind when clearly many children can’t possibly get ahead. Thus the drive to have all students in high school “college-ready” when a screaming maximum of twenty percent are smart enough for what used to be college work. Thus the feral grunting of rap.

But here is another jewel of degradation gleaming in the wan light of witlessness: A school (should I say “school”?) in Brooklyn, two-thirds of whose students are black or Hispanic, has abolished its … advanced courses for the intelligent. …

This is a faster road to universal inadequacy than imposing quotas.

Gutting courses for the intelligent also means that bright students of culler don’t got access to the advanced schooling that would let them rise in the world, know what I’m sayin’? …

We see the same principle of inadequacy voting itself the cookie jar in … everything. The Marines have opened the infantry to women. This is ridiculous, which is why I like the idea. Curmudgeons love the ridiculous, and find the results to vary between amusing and hilarious.

It is obvious that women are not physically up to ground combat, that they get pregnant more often than men, that training has to be enfeebled to maintain the pretense. But there are lots of them, and they vote. …

As a curmudgeon, I applaud the step toward equality. As a former Marine, I am fascinated that General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, signed off on it. He knows better. … But it’s democracy, see, and there are more women than Marines. …  Let the ever-lovin’ show go on. 

 

(Hat tip Frank.)

Posted under Commentary, education, satire, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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The fate of females and the fatuity of feminists 9

The very good ranter named Fred Reed (with whom we don’t always entirely agree) rants well and justly about the treatment of women in the past, in the Third World, in the folds of religions –  and about the ignorance of feminists:

Oh, sigh. One grows weary, or at least I do, of feminists who complain constantly of imaginary discrimination. It makes no sense. They are in almost the only place and time in which women are not mistreated.

Indeed, Western women – at least those of the prosperous classes – have, as a group, for the last hundred years or so, been the most protected, indulged and generally advantaged of human beings in all history.

Those who do not read history may not know the extent to which women really have been — tired word, but accurate — oppressed.  …

In general women were nonentities. Men had life-and-death power over their wives and daughters, meaning exactly that: they could kill them if they so chose. It was not a theoretical power, but one at least occasionally exercised. To an American man in 2013 this seems insane …

The pattern holds with variation in details almost everywhere. American Indians, savages but hardly noble, subjugated women utterly.

Foot-binding, as lunatic a practice as the mind of man has conceived, was common among China’s upper classes.

In India women were kept in strict isolation in purdah and, should their husbands die, expected to immolate themselves on the funeral pyres. What all of this was supposed to accomplish, I cannot imagine.

So much for the idea cherished in semi-literate courses in Women’s Studies that non-Western cultures have been female-friendly. They have not. 

But in this feminists are right: The three mid-Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, do indeed have a ghastly record. The Jews I think were least bad, subjugating their women but not waging actual war against them. Christianity was hideous. The Catholic Church for three centuries practiced systematic sadism against witches, torturing and burning alive uncounted thousands of women. Torture meant crushed bones, dislocated joints, molten lead, and other pleasantries ordained by the Vicar of Christ. 

Today the [Catholic] church has softened. It has given itself to the minor consolations of pederasty and to urging women who can’t afford them to have large families. This is an improvement.

Islam, intractably primitive, follows still the old ways. Girls in many places are not allowed to learn to read. Horrendous genital mutilation is horrendously common. Why the world puts up with this is a mystery. If I had been the British administrator of colonies practicing such mutilation, I would have had the fathers strung up naked on the town square and castrated with a blowtorch. Barbarous? Yes. But the cutting would have stopped in about ten minutes. 

Feminists are ill-informed, absurdly self-pitying, and compassionless.

Curiously, in America more fury arises from the suggestion that men may be better than women at mathematics than from tens of millions of bloody clitoridectomies practiced on screaming young girls. … Feminists [do not make] an issue of it. This too is beyond my comprehension …

So why have misogyny and subjugation of women — these are not quite the same thing — ceased in much of the world, and very much so in America? Said subjugation has been so widespread through all time that one might suspect it to be a trait genetically determined. But it isn’t. In Europe, North America above the Rio Bravo, Australia, and New Zealand among others, women are fully integrated into society. …

Feminists believe that they brought about the change by a valiant struggle against long odds and awful men. (By which they seem to mean all men.) Not so, quite. Powerless groups seldom rise unless those in power decide to permit it.

(It should, however, be noted that power itself is not something you can be given but something you take. If you cannot, and do not, you will not have it. Margaret Thatcher seized it. In general, at present, men are allowing women as a class the illusion of political and economic power).

It is odd that in America, where women enjoy historically unprecedented rights and opportunities, often greater than those of men — who don’t have affirmative action — feminists complain of oppression. It is fantasy. …

But one mustn’t speak of this. If you speak unfavorably of the ill-breeding and obnoxiousness of professional feminists, they say that you hate women. …

We live in the middle of a social order that is, so far as I know, entirely new. To those who have grown up in it, it seems normal and, now, is. Seen against the backdrop of three thousand years, the merging of women into the polity is astonishing. How it will shake out in the long run is uncertain, but it seems to work well enough. Spare me the nineteen-year-old bimbos in Women’s Studies at Dartmouth telling me how oppressed they are, on daddy’s dime.

There may yet be women inventors. But not many, we guess.

Women, we conjecture, would never have invented an impersonal judicial system: the rule of law, regulated courts, argument in defense, standards of proof,  juries, condign punishment consistently carried out. However many female lawyers, judges, and lawmakers there may be, they are not natives in the realm of objective judgment.

 

Note: We are indebted to our reader Frank for referring us from time to time to an engaging column by “Fred”, including this one.

Free universal enstupidation 9

Fred Reed is a man who rants cogently and eloquently. Sometimes we agree with him, often we don’t, but he’s usually worth reading.

We find much to agree with in this provocative article of his, but also quite a lot to question:

I wonder what purpose the public schools serve, other than to warehouse children while their parents work or watch television. They certainly don’t teach much, as survey after survey shows. Is there any particular reason for having them? Apart from their baby-sitting function, I mean.

Schooling … should be adapted to the needs and capacities of those being schooled. For unintelligent children, the study of anything beyond minimal reading is a waste of time, since they will learn little or nothing more. For the intelligent, a public schooling is equivalent to tying an anchor to a student swimmer. The schools are an impediment to learning, a torture of the bright, and a form of negligent homicide against a country that needs trained minds in a competitive world.

Allowing for some hyperbole, we accept those points.

Let us start with the truly stupid. Millions of children graduate—“graduate”—from high school—“high school”—unable to read. Why inflict twelve years of misery on them? It is not reasonable to blame them for being witless, but neither does it make sense to pretend that they are not. For them school is custodial, nothing more. Since there is little they can do in a technological society, they will remain in custody all their lives. This happens, and must happen, however we disguise it.

For those of reasonably average acuity, it little profits to go beyond learning to read, which they can do quite well, and to use a calculator. Upon their leaving high school, question them and you find that they know almost nothing. They could learn more, average not being stupid, but modest intelligence implies no interest in study. This is true only of academic subjects such as history, literature, and physics. They will study things that seem practical to them. Far better to teach the modestly acute such things as will allow them to earn a living, be they typing, carpentry, or diesel repair. Society depends on such people. But why inflict upon them the geography of Southeast Asia, the plays of Shakespeare, or the history of the nineteenth century? Demonstrably they remember none of it.

Some who favor the public schools assert that an informed public is necessary to a functioning democracy. True, and beyond doubt. But we do not have an informed public, never have had one, and never will.

Nor, really, do we have a functioning democracy.

On that point he goes on to explain:

Any survey will reveal that most people have no grasp of geography, history, law, government, finance, international relations, or politics. And most people have neither the intelligence nor the interest to learn these things. If schools were not the disasters they are, they still couldn’t produce a public able to govern a nation.

“A public able to govern a nation”. Yes, that would be a description of a functioning democracy. But as the “witless” and those who have “no interest in study” will always constitute a significant part of the demos, it would follow that “a functioning democracy” is forever impossible. And yet – how informed must a public be, or how many persons must be well informed, to sustain “a functioning democracy”? Ill-informed or even illiterate persons can be astute, for instance, about money. (As the old song goes: “He signs his checks with Xs but they cash them just the same.”)

But it is for the intelligent that the public schools—“schools”—are most baneful. It is hideous for the bright, especially bright boys, to sit year after year in an inescapable miasma of appalling dronedom while some low-voltage mental drab wanders on about banalities that would depress a garden slug.

Yes, that’s all too often the case.

The public schools are worse than no schools for the quick. A sharp kid often arrives at school already reading. Very quickly he (or, most assuredly, she) reads four years ahead of grade. These children teach themselves. They read indiscriminately, without judgement—at first anyway—and pick up ideas, facts, and vocabulary. They also begin to think. …

Yes again. Those who want to learn will learn.

The bright should go to school, but it is well to distinguish between a school and a penitentiary. They need schools at their level, taught by teachers at their level. It is not hard to get intelligent children to learn things, and indeed today a whole system of day-care centers only partly succeeds in keeping them from doing it.

By “day-care centers” he means the public schools of course, and we think he’s right that intelligent children manage to learn without much help from public school teachers.

They like learning things … When I was in grade school in the early Fifties, bright kids read, shrew-like, four times their body weight in books… In third grade or so, they had microscopes (Gilbert for hoi polloi, but mine was a fifteen-dollar upscale model from Edmund Scientific) and knew about rotifers and Canada balsam and well slides and planaria.

These young, out of human decency, for the benefit of the country, should not be subjected to public education—“education.” Where do we think high-bypass turbofans come from? Are they invented by heart-warming morons?

To a remarkable extent, dumb-ass public schools are simply not necessary. … The absorptive capacity of smart kids is large if you just stay out of their way. A bright boy of eleven can quickly master a collegiate text of physiology, for example. This is less astonishing than perhaps it sounds. The human body consists of comprehensible parts that do comprehensible things. If he is interested, which is the key, he will learn them, while apparently being unable to learn state capitals, which don’t interest him.

What is the point of pretending to teach the unteachable while, to all appearances, trying not to teach the easily teachable? The answer of course is that we have achieved communism, the rule of the proletariat, and the proletariat doesn’t want to strain itself, or to admit that there are things it can’t do.

An interesting view; true if communism is “the rule of the proletariat”, and if the proletariat rules. In any case, whoever is ruling is getting it wrong.

In schooling, perhaps “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” isn’t a bad idea. If a child has a substantial IQ, expect him to use it for the good of society, and give him schools to let him do it. If a child needs a vocation so as to live, give him the training he needs. But don’t subject either to enstupidated, unbearably tedious, pointless, one-size-fits-nobody pseudo-schools to hide the inescapable fact that we are not all equal.

We’d hope that nobody with a substantial IQ would deliberately set out “to use it for the good of society”. If he uses it for his own good it would be almost impossible for him not to be contributing something valuable to others.

That the type of education or training provided should suit abilities and answer vocational needs is a thoroughly reasonable proposal.

And government should have nothing to do with education.

 

(Hat tip, our reader and commenter Frank)