Columbus and Hitler: Nothing in Common

I have read bloggers and editorialists complaining for years about our children being taught that the New World was an Eden invaded by white racist males… and I always took it with a grain of salt.  Maybe that happens in the schools of Chicago and Oakland and Seattle—surely not here in my back yard!

I was wrong.  My eighteen-year-old freshmen are fully persuaded that Columbus was a slaver and genocidist who anticipated Adolf Hitler.  I wonder if I might dare to point out a few disparities off the cuff?

Columbus didn’t play the demagogue, stirring the masses up against a defenseless minority in their midst.  He traveled a very long way at great personal risk and blundered into a situation whose parameters he was wholly incapable of measuring beforehand (or even, for the most part, after the fact).

Hitler vigorously encouraged the development of advanced weapons possessing unheard-of lethality, such as the V1 and V2 rockets and the ME 262 jet fighter.  It is possible that his team of scientists even succeeded in producing a small thermonuclear blast experimentally before the success of the Manhattan Project.  Columbus was attempting to pioneer a lucrative trade route.  He hadn’t the slightest notion of bacteriological warfare, of course; and to hold him personally responsible for spreading smallpox and other diseases unknown to the New World is as preposterous as blaming the sun for skin cancer.

Hitler’s imperialism started at home and worked outward.  His aggressions were fully planned and systematic.  Columbus—and indeed, the later conquistadors (who admittedly were no choir boys)–scarcely knew what part of the planet they were on.  Their numbers were few, their technology not so very superior to bows and arrows, their situation entirely cut off from the restraining cultural forces of Europe, their diet uneven, their health fever-ridden, their morale inclined to the paranoia of castaways.  Many of them behaved badly, perhaps most of them; but they weren’t being wined, dined, and sycophantically placated like the German chancellor.

For the record, too, the Aztecs and the Maya practiced human sacrifice on a vast scale, some of it indescribably brutal.  Hitler’s victims hadn’t been piling up the hearts of young virgins, ripped from childish ribs as they were still beating, for hundreds of years.  Frankly, a “civilization” that tolerates such things, and even considers them holy acts, richly deserves to go defunct.

We always get history wrong, though we may make a much more sincere effort to understand than one sees in American public schools today.  We weren’t there: we can’t know exactly how it was.  What bothers me more about the attitude of my freshmen than their wealth of misinformation is the ease with which they self-righteously condescend to their elders and to the past.  Where is their “life experience”?  Why do they so readily sit in judgment upon centuries of human struggle?  Why do they offer so few traces of humility?  Who has made them this way?

Of course, the answer is “we who are their parents”.  These children haven’t been well raised. The true deficit in their education—far greater than a diet of “fake news” (from which we all suffer)—is the mature adult’s reluctance to pass snap judgments on complex situations.  They will judge us harshly, too, I suppose—these smartphone whiz kids; and we, at least, will deserve it.

But what will their own children say of them for buying up solar panels that left a clear trail of cancer villages behind in Third World nations?  How will their own children judge them for creating and bequeathing a world so electronically artificial that its inhabitants forgot basic manners and couldn’t forge ordinary friendships?  What will those of the next generation who aren’t aborted say about this one for ignoring an Aztec-level slaughter of innocents—not to appease wrathful gods, but to indulge in carnal pleasures without incurring inconvenience?

You see, my dears, you also can be made to resemble Cortez and Pizarro.

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Moral Chernobyl: A Place Where Kids Die Young

As the father of an only child who just graduated from a college in—of all places—Colorado, I was deeply saddened to hear that disgraced FOX News personality Eric Bolling’s only child Chase was found dead at his campus in Boulder. Apparently the boy had overdosed on some drug or other. Naturally, speculation about suicide runs rampant, given the notoriety that Eric had lately collected about the family name. At the very least, Chase must have been driven to the drug in a retreat from a situation that, by several accounts, was tremendously upsetting to him.

And understandably so. When your dad is accused of photographing his membrum virile for the benefit of certain women he wished to impress and sending them the portrait—and when his defense is a heated, “I don’t remember doing that!”—your filial universe has to be turned inside-out. Really, Dad? You don’t remember? So that’s something you just practically never do with the photos you take of Mr. Johnson?

At the same time, it occurs to me that a good many other segments in our society might share a little of the blame for this boy’s fate. What about the U of Colorado, and our colleges in general? What have they done to curb the culture of easy hook-ups, boozy parties, easily available drugs, and aloof professors? Professors, yes… for most of this boy’s teachers are bound to have known who he was. Because his dad was a hated Trumpista employed by the hated FOX network, did they decline to reflect for a moment that he was probably going through a very hard time? Did they, perhaps—God forbid—even add to his burden with a snarky comment or two? I almost don’t want to know.

Of the state of Colorado and pharmacophilia, I will say nothing, for I think little more needs to be said than this: when you acknowledge before young people the acceptability of altering unpleasant moods artificially, you purchase a small share of tragedies like Chase’s.

I’m not going to let neo-feminism off the hook, either. I think Bolling Senior probably has some utterly disreputable behavior to answer for, as I wrote weeks ago; and his “manly” bluster on behalf of Mr. Trump did not reassure me last year that his and my notions of male maturity had much in common. Yet as a young man in the Eighties whom women frequently refused to date a second time after the first adventure failed to land us in bed (thanks to my religious scruples and my distaste for exploiting giddy fools), I sincerely wonder just how many guys living in Eric’s New York fast lane get good results from obscene selfies and all the rest. I’m guessing that certain women must respond to such things in an encouraging manner; and I’m willing to suppose, even, that some of the women who accused Bolling months after the fact weren’t overly insulted until the hunt for his head was on.

How much of this crap—the lewd photos, the leers, the pawing, the dashes to a hotel at midday, the frolics on the office couch… the later fallings-out, the belated charges, the counter-charges, the broken marriages, the public disgrace, the professional meltdowns… the drinking, the drugs, the deep depression, the longing to be out of this world—how much of it would envelop us if feminists long ago had decided that imitating the very worst male behavior wasn’t necessarily the best way to prove they “had balls”?

How many young people have died because the older generation has created a moral Chernobyl amid whose toxic fumes they were somehow supposed to find adulthood without guidance?

One Last Plunge into the Ivory Sewer

For the umpteenth—but final—time, I begin September by asking myself why I ever became a teacher. I know the answer well enough. “We’ve been over this a thousand times,” I say to my pining soul. “You’ve always loved to read, write, and speculate, and you got academic awards in your youth for doing those things well. When you were in college, you kept retreating to areas where you’d found success. Then, when it came time at last to find a job, you were fit for nothing else but pedagogy and pettifoggery. A journalist? We tried that major: they sneer at good writing—takes up too much space. A lawyer? Never! Arguing for pay that the kettle is blacker than the pot hardly qualifies as seeking truth. A government position—living high and wide on taxpayer dollars for shuffling papers? And besides, by the time you came along, white males weren’t exactly receiving serious consideration for hire.”
And so I became a teacher. To be honest, I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with students (well, almost always, to be really honest)… but nobody ever told me how very secondary that was to the job. First and foremost, flatter and fawn upon your bosses. Do their bidding with a smile. Laugh at their jokes, fight for their ideas in committee, and clap vigorously from the first row when they deliver public speeches.

On a related matter, be the boss’s “pet”. Make yourself highly visible. Stay on campus from dawn till dusk, even though serious grading, lesson-planning, reading, and reflection can only be done at home. Don’t even attempt thoughtful work at the office: it will impede your being seen. Make frequent trips up and down the corridors of power as if you were on urgent missions—but always detain a passing dean or VP to remark how brilliant you think the new curriculum revision is.

Go to conferences in Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston… and maybe London or Madrid. Soak up coffee and doughnuts like a Hoover for junk food, and get yourself on the program with some five-page paper about Aphra Benn’s lost diaries that you cooked up from a note in a previous paper about Aphra Benn’s perhaps having kept a diary. There’s nothing you can say or hear at these gatherings that couldn’t have been (and isn’t being) disseminated over the Internet without the cost of airfare and hotel—but you need to be seen.

So how did I get myself into something so antithetical to my nature that the fanfare of the new school year quite literally makes me faintly nauseous? I know, I know… but that thousand-times-recycled answer is really no answer at all. The truth is a failure of character: I was too cowardly to fling myself into something for which I had no apparent aptitude or no previous training—architecture, agriculture, marketing—in order to escape from Hell. And so I have spent almost forty years—pretty much my entire adult life—drifting through Limbo, neither saved nor damned: a psychic zero.

No more. This is the last year. Whatever I have left of life will not be passed in this egotistical, futile maelstrom.

Slander Is Loathsome… But So Is Intimidation

A clarification: yes, I’m very, very tired of being called names because of my genetic material. The argument that a particular biological type is responsible for vast misery, not because of conscious choices made by representatives of the type, but because of overriding instincts irresistible to the whole group, is definitively fascist. It isolates the entire enemy-group (males, blacks, whites, Jews, aborigines) without reference to its individuals—without extending to those individuals any possibility of redemption. We call a man bad because he elects to do bad deeds: to steal, to cheat, to betray. We don’t call him bad because he grew up in a culture where anyone may walk into another’s house and carry off a bit of food from the larder. We certainly don’t call him bad because he has curly dark hair, and we’ve decided that curly dark hair indicates “oversexed” DNA conducive to sexual aggression. That’s “witch hunt” stuff. The very possibility of a “good/bad” determination about moral character is removed if the subject cannot make willed choices; and, indeed, to insist that a person is bad for something over which he has no control is itself bad, in that the judge has refused the terms of common humanity to the judged.

I reiterate, then, that to call a male a sexual predator merely because of his sex, to call a Caucasian a genocidist merely because of his race, and so forth is pure Nazi-speak. It’s self-contradictory, hypocritical, arrogant, inhumane… and, by the way, quite stupid.

Here’s the clarification. I do NOT therefore endorse behavior which licenses our showering deliberate liars with obscenities, pushing them off the sidewalk, punching them in the kidney, or criminalizing their exercise of free speech. It didn’t even occur to me, frankly, that clarification was needed there. When you’re slandered, you have every right to stand up and denounce the slanderer—and even, usually, a moral duty to do so; for if you allow a crime to be committed against you today with impunity, then it will very likely be committed against someone else tomorrow. But a denunciation consists of a rational argument from the other side built upon coherent principles and adducing truthful evidence to expose the perpetrated fraud: it’s not a series of counter-slanders.

Especially in this case, where men are being accused of eyeing every woman for a chance to rape her, to “double team” the assailant with an assault of twice the vitriol—and backed up with real intimidation, such as threat of a gag order or physically outshouting the other party—makes one look like the very kind of man one has supposedly been slandered with being.

I know that a lot of people as fed up as I am (probably men, especially) cast their vote in the last election because they’d had enough. They lacked a forum to bellow, “Sit down and shut up!” so that it would be heard nationally, but they found a figurehead who—they thought—got this message across. Unfortunately, elevating a “bogeyman” figurehead doesn’t address the issues underlying our culturally pathological indulgence of lies that slander large groups within the nation: it only makes us more closely resemble the unfair caricature.

Thanks to the other side for circulating all these caricatures, in the first place—you of the educated elite, I mean, who’ve been railing against “stereotypes” for half a century. The “brutal male” wouldn’t be nearly so prominent in our cultural life if you hadn’t insisted that all males are brutal. The best way to raise a thief is to accuse a kid of stealing things all throughout his childhood. Just keep up your good work in this area, O Ivory Tower Beacon of Enlightenment!

As for me, I cannot consider a guy who slanders slanderers to be a champion of truth—and I certainly don’t consider men who’ve lost every trace of chivalry to be paradigms of manhood. This side, that side… I just see one side, and myself not in the middle but far beyond the perimeter. I wonder more every day if I’m alone.

 

More Disgusting Lies From the Nanny-Campus

Have you heard about “male toxicity”? Apparently, some rather small private colleges, as well as the usual Ivy League suspects, are forcing eighteen-year-old boys to sit through accusatory lectures about the wickedness inherent in their gender. I honestly don’t understand why parents continue paying through the nose to send their children to such places.

The hypocrisy of the avant-garde feminist victimology-mill is truly stupefying—it soars above Himalayan altitudes. Feminists insisted in my youth that women had precisely the same right to sexual experimentation and promiscuity as males enjoy (the assertion that males in fact so behave having never been verified, or even held up for a second look). Naturally, college-aged boys were delighted—at least those who were not brought up with a resistant coat of gentlemanliness that didn’t crack under abuse for holding doors open. Promiscuity ruled the Seventies and Eighties until it created a culture of savage thirst for gratification and a sentimental nausea whenever love intruded upon sex. Young men, especially in the campus’s crucible, became boors. For the past several years, feminists have now tried to outdo each other in insults aimed at anything male. Despite evidence that slaps the observer in the face like a neo-feminist stormtrooper to whom you’ve offered your seat on a crowded bus, the contention these days is that manners are NOT taught. No: young men misbehave on campus because it’s in their genes. Their “maleness” may be subdued in some measure by toilet-training, just as a dog may be taught not to bark at strangers; but Mother Nature always lurks just beneath the surface—and the sneaky tramp is a male!

Enough, already. I’m a racist because I’m Caucasian, I’m a reactionary because I’m old, I’m a rapist because I’m male, I’m a Nazi because I’m anti-statist, I’m a flat-earther because I believe in a metaphysical reality… and did I note that I’m a racist because I’m a Southerner? We can double down on that one.

In short, before I’ve lifted a finger or opened my mouth, I am guilty of every vile, obscene, or atrocious behavior and conviction known to modern man… er, modern humankind. And the people who liberally pile these insults upon me do so deliberately and repeatedly, without one thought for my feelings, while not one of my innumerable offenses can be linked to any specific act that I have personally performed.

You see, my just being the things that I am implies to these deranged, slavering accusers that I am at least thinking forbidden thoughts. Implication is reality: if as long as they think wicked thoughts into my head, then I own the wickedness. I am responsible somehow for not adequately, visibly neutralizing the threat in my occupying the body bestowed upon me by the dictates of DNA.

Why does any group of people have the right to impose thoughts upon me? Or let’s stipulate that sometimes I entertain some reprehensible thoughts: why does anyone have the right to ignore that my behavioral choices have overridden a dishonorable impulse in an assertion of reason and will—how can any human being be prosecuted, even correctly, for having a bad thought? And why do my persecutors get to have bad thoughts and to act upon them with free rein?

There’s such a stench to the moral saloperie that IS the contemporary nanny-campus that I can’t discuss it any further and keep my blood pressure down. You liars! You wicked, wicked liars! You disgust me.

 

The Lessons of Working Up an Honest Sweat

Lately, I have been struggling to put up any new posts or to spend much time polishing what does get up. The reason is that the revision of a book I finished a year ago has sucked me in. Once I begin a project like this one, I can’t juggle very much else at the same time. I acquire a kind of vision of where the work should be going, and I need for my mind to cling closely to that vision as I wade through all the chapters that stray hither and yon from it. I can’t simply give the thing an hour’s attention one day and half an hour’s two days later: I have to maintain focus.

Before I start making myself sound like Michel de Montaigne, I should confess that the work in question is about baseball swings as taken a century ago with very different bats. Most people would find that admission a big let-down… “Oh! I thought maybe you were writing about the possibility of preserving our humanity as Artificial Intelligence absorbs more and more of our mental function.” I would scarcely redeem myself before such a commentator if I added that no book whatever exists on the subject, that casual references to yesteryear’s hitting techniques are ludicrously imprecise and inept, and that my crazy dream is eventually to teach some of what I’ve learned through research and experimentation to young people who’ve been told that they’re too small to play the game.

For, yes, there’s a kind of mission involved in this project. I watched my son get nudged aside and passed over for the better part of two decades as he tried to advance and improve in the game he so loved, all because of his size. It ticked me off. It still does, in retrospect. And so I started learning about hitting, and learning more… all of it too late to do him any good, of course; but one of the morals of my study is indeed that much of this sport depends on technique rather than size, and that it seems otherwise only because the professional gurus no longer know the old techniques.

I will add in this forum, though, that yet further and broader lessons might be gleaned from my work. One is that life generally is a terrain occupied by mutually supporting groups of “specialists” who understand nothing beyond their microscopic sphere of expertise—and who often don’t understand that, either, but unite to conceal their ignorance before a dazed public of “uninitiated outsiders”. I can say this confidently, because I have made myself an expert on the subject of yesteryear’s hitting in the game of baseball—and yet much of what I wrote about year ago in the book’s first version is utter crap. My satisfaction in how much I’ve learned lately is more or less neutralized by my chagrin at how wrong I got it all just a few months ago. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we should always remember that we don’t know what we don’t know.

Another lesson is that we forget our culture’s past at our own considerable risk. The assumption has been made in hitting instruction that the oldtimers were comical amateurs who practiced their art about the same way that the Wright brothers practiced flying. You don’t really think that Wilbur and Orville could teach you anything about your Cessna, do you? Probably not, in terms of handling the controls… but maybe they could tell you something about the fear of the unknown or about how to keep a cool head in a crisis.

Finally (just because I need to get on with it today), I have learned that a boy needs to try his hand at something physical, and that a man needs to retain that interest in the active. As politically incorrect as it is to say, boys are in more trouble than girls today because the insulated, safety-net society is more damaging to them. They need to undertake, to initiate… and that means that they must come to know failure well and learn to attack a resistant problem from a different angle. Baseball offers all sorts of opportunity to earn an advanced degree in failure: it breaks you heart. But it can also, for that very reason, teach you how to put a heart back together again.

As for grown men, they—we—need to get out from behind our keyboards once in a while and swing a bat, throw a ball, bail some hay, drive some nails (not with a pneumatic nail-gun, please)… they need to do something other than vegetate with their “ideas”. I’m convinced that quality of thought actually deteriorates as physical contact with the world of hard labor is lost. Indeed, almost all of our political and existential dilemmas in the West are owed somewhat to our losing touch with basic reality. When I was still trying to be a “scholar”, many moons ago, I wrote a little piece about a 2,500-year-old fragment of Sappho’s where she compares a woman getting married rather late in life to an apple that has grown high on the tree, out of reach of the pickers. I pointed out that these are the best fruit because they get so much sun: they grow the largest and taste the sweetest. Any ancient Greek hearing Sappho’s poem would have known that… but the great “scholar” who reviewed my piece could only sniff and turn up his nose because I hadn’t indicated another poet from whom Sappho might have borrowed the image. She borrowed it from life, stupid!

Thank God—and baseball—that my son hasn’t grown up to be a “scholar”!

How Many Millions of Lives Could the “Purists” Cost Us?

I used to be a Pat Buchanan fan. His willingness to question received orthodoxy and to advance conclusions that made sense, even though they set everyone on edge, impressed me. As wicked as Hitler surely was, how could his tally of carnage be said to rival Stalin’s or Mao’s? Were the tens of millions of additional victims claimed by the latter two to be excused because communists always “have their hearts in the right place”? And in any case (another Buchanan proposition), why could we not have left Hitler and Stalin to duke it out rather than so quickly and decisively siding with Papa Joe? Was Churchill really so admirable for selling out Eastern Europe at Yalta in his monomaniacal loathing of Hitler? (Stalin, he would explain in Chamberlainesque terms, had to be “appeased”.)

Where Pat and I suffered a definitive parting of the ways was over his “demography is destiny” comments. The notion that our genetic material determines the kind of citizens and neighbors we will be flies in the face of American idealism, Christian ethics, and indeed any operative concept of human free will. In an age when the word is so grossly abused as to be practically senseless, this notion is genuinely racist: it renders us prisoners of our DNA.

Yet I remain willing to accept Buchanan’s testimony about certain historical events in which he played a part or had a ring-side seat. In a column about a month ago, he detailed how Nixon’s preoccupation with the Watergate scandal so weakened America’s hand internationally that the Viet Cong recovered their flagging spirits and eventually (under Ford) forced our disorderly retreat. There followed such slaughter of innocents as no Westerner can imagine… ah, but Tricky Dick the Tyrant had been deposed, and journalists and the political Left generally were in such a celebratory mood that, if “high fives” had existed in the early Seventies, ER’s would have overflowed with sprained wrists.

Hundreds of thousands of people were butchered… but the American intelligentsia had bagged its “tyrant”!

Now we are witnessing both Russia and North Korea ramp up tensions as our crusading, utopian Fourth Estate again seeks to topple a “tyrant” by whatever means possible, ignoring real news while sensationalizing one nugatory gaffe or out-of-context utterance after another. We may be plunged into World War III—the inhabitants of Seoul may be obliterated and Japan may grow so soaked in nuclear fallout that Hiroshima will look like a stubbed toe; but the important thing is to “get Trump” at all costs, regardless of how much this may incite a genocidal psychopath like Kim Jong Un.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump and am not a member of his marching band… but there comes a point when the greater good demands a closing of the ranks. If the slavering hounds chasing after that thin but expensive red brush get their trophy only as radioactive ruins glow in the distance, I hope they will live to realize that their obsession has spoiled the planet a helluva lot more than climate change on steroids could have done.