Some vital perspective

In an online forum, a professor asks where to place Trump on a list of world leaders.  Most likely blinded by Trump derangement syndrome, the professor concludes Trump comes in ahead of Stalin.  Another forum participant has a better analysis:

Professor ZZZ asks: “[W]here [would] you put Trump?”

No new, major land war(s) in Asia—so Trump is ahead of LBJ.

No missile crisis risking an exchange of nuclear weapons with a superpower—so Trump is ahead of JFK.

No wars of national conquest—so Trump is ahead of Polk (Texas) and McKinley (Philippines, Cuba).

No move to war after foreign power made full, reasonable efforts to amicably settle reasons for dispute—so Trump is ahead of Madison (War of 1812). Under Madison, we burned down the capital of British North America (York/Toronto), and they returned the favor in Washington. So Trump beats Madison.

No wars against native American tribes—so Trump is ahead of [fill in the blank—many such presidents could be listed here].

No wars based on poor intelligence or to prop up foreign absolute monarchies—so Trump is ahead of both Bush I and Bush II.

Trump has not interned 100,000s of US citizens based on race—so Trump is ahead of FDR.

Trump has not allowed a U.S. state or territory to go into civil war and then allow its government to be hijacked by the brigands who engineered the civil war—so Trump is ahead of Buchanan (Bleeding Kansas).

I still don’t know why President Clinton blew up an aspirin factory or why Secretary Clinton permitted NATO forces and materiel to blow up Libya—so Trump probably comes out ahead of both of them too.

Trump is ahead of Woodrow Wilson: World War I, and his resegregation of the federal civil service. I grant you that being ahead of Wilson is not saying much…but then, the nation survived Wilson, and no one today thinks of Wilson as having lowered the bar vis-a-vis future presidents. ((I do… he was more openly hostile to the Constitution than any president before him — Jemison)) Professor ZZZ seems to be worried about this. He wrote: “Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come.” Really?—Will we pay for it in years to come, or is this just a shabby slippery slope-type argument? …

If words and pretty speeches are the measure of a president, then Trump comes up short. The question is whether that is the correct standard for measuring presidents in a dangerous world.

This is why knowing history is indispensable — it provides essential context within which to understand the present.  As for the last point in the quote, I remind those who gauge world leaders mainly by their oratory that Adolph Hitler was a rather gifted and mesmerizing speaker by all accounts.  For all his bluster and distracting patterns of speech, Trump has consistently pursued exactly what he promised to do during his campaigning.  In a world rightfully cynical about politicians who routinely fail to do that, this performance counts for a lot among his supporters.  It’s the key reason many voters are willing to overlook the baggage of Trump’s many personal shortcomings.  That our self-professed elites can’t understand that says more about them than it does Trump or his supporters.

A final thought: it appears Trump has survived one of the most nefarious political plots ever contrived against a president.  If that’s the case, and he successfully brings to public account the unelected bureaucracy that attempted it, his administration may well be remembered as one of the most consequential in our nation’s history.

(H/T: Instapundit)

How we became unthinking mobs

The recent rush to judgment over the Covington Catholic High School group’s actions after the March for Life in D.C. is merely the latest in a string of events, including the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that demonstrate far too many of our citizens react to events via emotion and bias rather than reason.  One only needs to spend a brief time on Twitter to realize our national discourse has largely descended to the level of junior high school taunting back and forth.  Insults, rather than insight, is the currency there.

The danger is that these “two minutes’ hate” events have become so regular, that people who should certainly know better–like Disney producers–begin tweeting things like this:

woodchipper tweet

Sure, he “apologized” as the original narrative about what happened utterly collapsed.   That’s irrelevant — the fact many adults thought it appropriate to say such vile things shows how close we are to actual violence breaking out in our country.  These public utterances simply show what is in the heart of far too many people.

I’ve often noted how close we are to violence now, or the need to defend our freedoms by force.  And while I’ll admit to occasionally thinking like Han Solo, the truth is I’m well aware of what such circumstances would mean.  As a military veteran of multiple deployments, I’ve seen firsthand what happens when the last veneer of civility is ripped away.  And it’s the last thing I want for the country I love and pledged my life to defend.

How did we get here?  Not by accident, that’s for certain:

In terms of communication, people will say what they think. The problem with the sad state of civil discourse today occurs because people are mostly really bad at thinking. The dismal failure of the education system is what created our poisonous public discourse.

This degeneration of the public’s ability to think did not occur instantaneously. The destruction of reason and logic was a gradual process, spearheaded by the adoption of postmodernist subjectivity in the late 1960s and pushed into the American schools since then.

Those of us who are partial to objectivity are instinctively aware that classroom methods of encouraging feelings and emotion are fundamentally problematic. Children are encouraged to express what they feel when it comes to understand the world around them. For example; climate change feels bad because humans are destroying the planet. Capitalism feels bad because we are exploiting the poor. Masculinity feels bad because males oppress women. Environmentalism feels good because we are saving the planet. Socialism feels great because we take care of the poor in society. Feminism feels wonderful because girls are empowered against male oppression.

The method of teaching students to “feel” (i.e. perception from senses) instead of to “think” (i.e. conception from judgement) is the problem with education. It is the reason why Johnny can’t think. Johnny’s mind hasn’t been trained to think in integrated concepts because he has always been taught to rely on his feelings. Johnny’s world is presented to him in a fragmented chaos of sensory perceptions.

It is quite an interesting exercise to note how most people are unable to think in concepts. Take for example, when a criminal kills with a gun, someone who is incapable of thinking in concepts can only see the instrument of murder and thus mobilize against banning guns because they think that it is the gun itself that is responsible of the crime.  The same lack of conceptual thinking applies to those who are incapable of seeing a successful white male for his character, skills and habit as the factors shaping his success because their thinking capacity only allows them to see his gender and race as the factor which determines his success.

The American schools has succeeded in reducing the public’s intellect to the level of the perceptual beast. …they do not know how to put together the data they observed into structured logical thoughts. And like a lost animal incapable of making sense of the world around it, that person lashes out like a beast because the world is unintelligible around them.

These are excerpts from a much lengthier piece I encourage you to read in its entirety.  It goes far to explain how a sitting member of Congress can wonder aloud why people might be more concerned about “being precisely, factually and semantically correct than about being morally right.”  This is not a new development.  Back in 2004 the New York Times actually ran a story about alleged records (proven to be forgeries) of then-President Bush’s service in the Guard that had the headline “Memos on Bush are Fake but Accurate, Typist Says.”  (But whatever you do, don’t call the New York Times “failing” or “fake news!”)

Emotions have their place.  But they must be kept in their place.  That place is not the drivers seat of law and policy.  Our compromised public schools, though, have taught multiple generations to “follow your heart” regardless of any inconvenient facts (example: the 100 million body count Marxist ideology racked up in the 20th century).  So now we have a body politic where one side thinks the other is stupid for ignoring reality, and the other responds by thinking the rationalists are uncaring and evil.

That kind of divide is not likely to end well.

Constructing controversy

Pardon the long post as I parse the issue du jour.  Given the wide reach of Outrage, Inc., you may have heard how a group of MAGA-hat-wearing Catholic high school boys surrounded and intimidated a Native American elder in Washington D.C. Saturday, treating him with utter disrespect.

What you probably didn’t hear was:

  1. The young men were waiting for their charter bus as instructed by their teachers, and passing the time laughing and socializing as high-spirited young men do.
  2. They were harassed and insulted for about half an hour by a small group of radical “Black Hebrews,” who accused whites (and Donald Trump) of being pro-homosexual, and who called a black teen in the group “nigger” and urged him to abandon his white friends.
  3. The Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, who appears to be a professional grievancemonger, walked into the group of kids and began beating his drum inches from the face of one of them.

How do I know these things?  Because I sought out and viewed longer film clips than the carefully selected 90-second vignettes and still photos curated by the liberal legacy press, including a nearly 2-hour one filmed by the “Black Hebrews” themselves:

 

Timestamps (please note: the “Hebrew” cameraman is very liberal with his profanity):

Beginning: notice the “Hebrews” are first yelling at the Native Americans, telling them they “lost their land” because they “worshipped creation rather than the Creator.”  One can only imagine the coverage had this been a group of white Christians saying that to the Native protestors.  They go on to claim that “native Americans, Hispanics and blacks” are the “real” children of Israel, and the Jews of today are “imposters.” (44:00)  This is the thrust of the first 45 minutes of the video.

At 44:30, the cameraman notices a few students standing by with “MAGA” sweaters and hats.  “These are the people who are going to f*** your country up, Mr. White Man” the cameraman says.

At 46:18 the speaker refers to a nearby priest (who was probably part of the March for Life) as a “faggot” and “Father Hands.”  By this point more students are showing up (remember: they’d been told to gather at the Jefferson Memorial to be picked up by their bus).  The speaker refers to all of them (Catholics) as “child-molesting faggots” like “your president, Donald Trump.”

At 49:00, while arguing with a black man who’s calling them out for their hateful speech, the cameraman asks why he wants to fight with his “brothers” with “all these dirty-a** crackers behind you, with their red Make America Great Again hats on… racist b*stards…”

This is what these kids unknowingly went into, following their instructions on where to assemble at the end of the March for Life and visiting D.C.  I’m reasonably sure they had never encountered anything quite like it back in Kentucky.

The speaker begins to address the kids directly (50:00), saying it’s only whites “who shoot up schools.”  When the kids turn away from him, he begins to ridicule them.  At 53:00 he notes some of the kids had come back, after taking their hats off.  (Remember – they were where they’d been told to go… could it be they were trying to diffuse the situation?)  At 59:00, seeing more and more kids show up, “look at all these demons… vicious crowd.”

By 1:07:00, the speaker is focused solely on the kids, calling them “incest babies” and such.  The kids (all but one on a skateboard — not clear if he’s part of the school group) keep their distance.  They begin chanting school spirit cheers, to drown out and mock the abuse being hurled their way.

Only at the one hour, 12-minute mark do we finally first see Nathan Phillips, the “Native Elder.”  He and a group with cameras behind him, walks up to the group of kids.  He moves to them… not the other way around.  Note: the kids were already chanting school spirit chants in response to the insults of the Black Hebrews.  They did NOT start in response to Phillips and his drum. As one kid later wrote to a local TV station, from their perspective, it was like Phillips wanted to join in with them or something.

Over the next couple minutes, Phillips continues to work his way into the group of teens.  This is how he became “surrounded.”  He is the instigator of confrontation, not the teens.  He stops in front of one bewildered young man and continues to beat on his drum.  Frankly the kid shows admirable restraint at this invasion of his personal space.  He also seems to be quite aware of the number of cameras being shoved in his face.  What would most adults do in such a situation?

At 1:17:00, as the groups have converged, an adult’s voice can be heard telling the kids “back it up.”  The kids move back from the “Hebrews.”  Just before 1:19:00, the Hebrews start insulting a black student for associating with the rest of the group.

Sadly, the school has already issued a condemnation of the kids based on initial reporting.  (Feel free to let them know they made a mistake.)  Meanwhile various reporters are looking to identify the teens, with one even asking on Twitter that people with copies of the school’s yearbook contact her!  This is completely unacceptable.

The school’s objective was to have their kids participate in the March for Life protest against the continuing scourge of abortion.  But it’s safe to say these kids learned some unintentional, yet valuable lessons about the condition of their country and the mendacity of the press.  It remains to be seen, however, how much they’ll pay for those lessons at the hands of people who hate them simply because of who they are.  And yet the kids are supposed to be the racists?

Les Deplorables

Little mainstream media attention has been focused on events in France, but they are well worth noting:

Millions of French citizens have been violently demonstrating across France for the last month.  They are known as the gilets jaunes, or “yellow jackets”. The protestors wear the yellow high-viz jacket, that is common on building sites and airports.  It’s a powerful totem for the French deplorables, a unifying symbol of ordinary, working class folk across the nation…

Many still understand France through the lens of Vogue magazine covers: a nation of affluent, happy people who live in elegant homes, with endless holidays, wine and food.  A 24/7 utopia of chic, elegance and style.  Important to note: that France does exist. It is the world of the French ruling class, less than 1% of the population.  This small group of citizens have dominated the business, banking, legal and political scenes for decades.

The ruling class comes from a small group of grandes ecoles, or elite colleges. There are only 3 or 4.   …These people are arrogant. But they are also ignorant. Raised in very wealthy families and cosseted in the networks those families are part of, they have no understanding of ordinary people and their real lives.

Arrogance and ignorance is a very toxic mix. 

What makes the gilets jaunes protests unique?  Their main gripe?  Elites blaming ordinary people, for problems that the same elites have caused.  Elites never being held accountable for their incompetence. And elites never having to experience the conditions, that their failed ideas cause.  French people are sick of being held in chains by a ruling class. They are sick of being poor and unemployed.

They want a new direction for their beloved nation.  Sound familiar?

The U.S. can relate to this more than many people realize.  The current Supreme Court is composed entirely of graduates from either Harvard or Yale.  The four presidents immediately prior to Trump studied at either Yale, Harvard or Oxford.  Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Minority Leader, is a Harvard grad.  In fact, nearly every headline-making political figure these days can be traced to one of the eight “Ivy League” schools.

That’s highly problematic, given the track record of those schools.  Harvard and Yale both earned “D” grades over their graduation requirements (or lack thereof) concerning seven core subjects: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science and intermediate-level foreign language.  These are the foundational studies of a ‘university’ model, as opposed to vocational or technical training.  Yet a 2007 report found that Ivy League graduates actually knew less about American history, government and economics after their four years of allegedly elite education.  This goes far in explaining the lack of respect for the genius of the Constitution as written, and the value of longstanding American traditions.  Indeed, many of these grads consider themselves ‘citizens of the world,’ viewing patriotism merely as something to steer the rubes in ‘flyover country’ with, and national identity as a threat to their globalist agendas (spoiler: it is).

These schools are not imparting the very knowledge one would expect of an entrenched governing class.  Worse, despite their cheers for “diversity” in society, they fail to practice what they preach, with the result students are not forced to develop critical thinking skills by being exposed to a range of ideas and opinions.  In short, they are enormously expensive echo chambers of indoctrination, whose only apparent practical value is in building up networks with other chosen insiders.

Is it any wonder, then, that many Americans — like their French counterparts — feel completely disconnected from their self-appointed betters, who largely aren’t affected by the ill-advised public policies they pursue?  As the main linked article notes, national identity and character doesn’t die easily.  That’s the primary reason why the elites around the world have been encouraging mass migration, the dilution of nation-states, and the constant creation of extra-national entities like the European Union and the recently-renegotiated North American Free Trade Area.  It is a literally diabolical agenda.

After years — decades, really — of observing how the policies of the various elite university cohorts fail the commoners, it appears the long-suffering but newly militant “normals” may finally be reasserting themselves.  It’s about time.

But isn’t it interesting to note that after a month of “yellow jacket” protests put Macron and the French elites on the defensive, that a “known Islamic radical” with a lengthy criminal history suddenly shoots up a Christmas market and somehow escapes the police (some 89,000 of whom had been deployed to counter the anti-government protests across France?

It’s not as if those in power want to change the subject, right?

Sad, but true

Many students from other nations come to study in the United States — a robust tradition that helps bridge cultural divides.  One would hope that coming here would leave a good impression.  Sadly, that’s far from the case.  When comparing their experience here to the expectations they face back home, the U.S. frequently comes up short:

Students from abroad are even more likely today to describe U.S. classes as easier than they were in 2001. The combined “much easier” and “a little easier” responses grew from 85.2% in 2001 to 90.0% in 2016. The change in the “much easier” rating, increasing from 55.9% to 66.4%, is statistically significant.

I currently teach in a private high school.  This year, I have two Vietnamese exchange students (one male, one female).  Not only are they consistently at or near the top of their class standings, they sometimes visibly react to their fellow students’ occasional whine (my words, not theirs) about things being “too hard.”  Frankly, it’s embarrassing. Whereas these guests don’t hesitate to ask well-thought questions or double-check their understanding, my local students’ questions are often a variation of “is this something we have to know for the test?”  (My standard answer is to ask them: “is it in the reading?”  After they respond “yes,” I remind them any such material is fair game.  No, I’m not the most popular teacher among the seniors.)

Surprisingly, as my US History class recently began the Vietnam War era, the exchange student in that class seemed reluctant when I approached him privately to encourage him to share his nation’s perspective on that time.   Only after communicating with his host family did I learn that not much at all is taught about that period in Vietnam.  Perhaps they’re consciously putting it behind them.  Regardless, it’s somewhat interesting to know my exchange student is learning about that era for the first time, alongside his American classmates.

That said, I have no doubt he’ll ace the exam, or come close to it.

The main difference I can see between public and private schools is that discipline is much better maintained in the latter.  But while there are some standout exceptions, most students aren’t interested in doing any more than the bare minimum, the same as their public school counterparts.  Like many teachers, I try to use gimmicks and games to increase interest, but the sad fact is that we simply don’t expect as much of ourselves as we once did.  When I look at what was expected of eighth graders just over a century ago, I marvel at how far we, as a nation, have fallen.

And I wonder sometimes if our current public educational systems are designed to produce historically illiterate, logically challenged graduates who’ll take the word of “experts” at face value because they don’t know any better.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson