The Soul of a Curmudgeon

Dismal Wisdom for Dismal Times

February 3, 2014

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.

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.

The signs are as clear as pigeon droppings on a martial statue. 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. Graduate students “of color” (which never seems to include Chinese or Koreans, who can spell) 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, take no pleasure in the honest mistakes that befall us all. No. If your grandmother trips and breaks her hip, we feel no joy. We feast only 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 (which category never seems to include Jews, men, Mensans, or Anglo-Saxons) from the travails of learning would seem more racist than requiring it of them, but never mind. Keep’em dumb, keep’em mad. Especially, keep their tuition. Onward into the gloaming. Let the show go on.

The inevitable inevitably happens, and it is. (You saw it here first.) 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 (or, as we now say, “graphic novel”) 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.

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 (I mean “it’s”) advanced courses for the intelligent. Why this salubrious excision? Why, because too many of the students therein are white. That is, classes for the intelligent contain the intelligent. My god. This cancer must be corrected lest it spread.

“Citing a lack of diversity, PS 139 Principal Mary McDonald informed parents in a letter that the Students of Academic Rigor and two other in-house programs would no longer accept applications for incoming kindergartners.

“Our Kindergarten classes will be heterogeneously grouped to reflect the diversity of our student body and the community we live in,” she announced in an ooze of perfectly normal priss-enhanced  boilerplate bird-brainery. The dull crabs don’t want the smart crabs to escape from the pot.

The usual remedy for superior performance by superior students is to mandate the admission of unqualified students of color (“of culler” I meant so say, no elitist I (“Me” I meant)) (Damn the parentheses, full speed ahead.) who can’t keep up, so that the advanced courses have to be diluted. New Jersey, more direct, simply eliminates courses for the smart.  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’?

Wisdom from afar: My wife Violeta, a Mexican, describes the United States as a third-world country with a first-world infrastructure (Un pais tercermundista con infraestructura primermundista). Ummm…ah….

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. Reality is what the greater number say it is.

And in our fourth-stage democracy, everyone has to nod and agree. Is high-school calculus to hard for minorities? Why, get rid of it. Future engineers can count on their fingers just like Chinese engineers. If women can’t lift 175mm rounds, declare ammunition obsolete, or that it weighs less. In wars today, you just push buttons anyway.

Militarily, watching the evolution of Pentagonal policy is like  watching the fingers fall from a leper. You can bet on it. What falls next? The thumb? The little finger? Is there a point spread?

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. (What would Chesty Puller think?) But it’s democracy, see, and there are more women than Marines. If the National Organization for Women wanted Amos to wear bra and panties, he would, with nothing to fill either. Let the ever-lovin' show go on.

Philip Francis Stanley and Grotesque Ophthalmological Malpractice