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Brats and Their Enablers
“Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep.” – Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley
Forgive me if I’m a little less celebratory than many that 153 left-leaning intellectuals recently signed a letter registering their alarm at the “Cancel Culture,” which is busy trying to wreck the lives of anyone who might conceivably disagree with them on any point, at any time. After all, many of these signatories labored mightily to raise these little monsters into the ravenous ignoramuses who now roam the land mindlessly assaulting black and white, young and old, flesh and plaster, sentient and dormant.
Included in the letter to be published in Harper’s is the observation that we are seeing a “needed reckoning,” but that it has also, “intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.” Fine time to deduce all that, Sherlock. The dirty little secret — and one which the signatories dare not confess — is that the norms of debate and tolerance were long ago jettisoned in the interest of ideological conformity disguised as iconoclastic independence. And these signatories know it.
What we are facing is the onset of nihilism in the United States…. The three most important points are that nihilists are almost entirely drawn from the educated, even upper classes. They are extremely idealistic, seeing themselves as agents of the purest charity. They are violent in the most extreme ways. . . Nihilist movements typically have led to political regimes of the most oppressive and reactionary qualities. . .
Those are not the words of Donald Trump, though he would surely be denounced as “dark and divisive” by the New York Times were his lips to frame them. No, those were the words of prominent liberal Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, written in the late 1960s. As author Yoram Hazony observed, “…too many of the signatories (not all!) have themselves spent years systematically trying to stifle reasonable public debate — by delegitimizing conservative voices and creating a context in which it’s too costly to engage them.”
In his book, The Closing Of The American Mind, the late Prof. Allan Bloom described the scene at Cornell University in 1969, when the faculty capitulated to the demands of thousands of students — including a group of black students — when those students threatened the use of firearms and threatened the lives of individual professors. The chairman of the Economics Department, and his secretary, were held hostage for a period of hours. The building in which the Sociology Department resided was taken by force, it’s occupants and contents tossed out and the president of that department was physically assaulted by students.
In a sane world, those students would have been arrested and order would have been restored. But sanity was beating a hasty retreat, even in 1969, so that what instead happened was that Cornell capitulated to the mob. Some faculty were fired, including a black assistant dean who had the audacity to be an integrationist. A memorandum was sent to the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences informing one and all that they were all guilty of institutional racism, even though no acts of racism had ever been alleged. Classes for black students only were established. The building that had been forcibly seized was handed over to the students who had overrun it, and a lavishly funded black studies center was created. Black students were provided a voice in the appointments of faculty members as well.
The results of these and other “needed reckonings” with the mob of over 50 years ago? We now have generations of entitled miscreants who possess neither an understanding of the culture to which they are heirs, nor the intellectual curiosity to explore how its ideas and ideals apply to their lives. Today’s marauders are intellectually bankrupt and morally adrift, rudderless in a sea of relativism.
Just this morning, I saw an attempt at defending Nick Cannon’s racist comments, in which he said, “The Jews are wicked. And we can prove this.” He went on to say that people who lack melanin and have a lighter pigmentation to their skin, have a “deficiency” that has historically caused them to act out of fear. If David Duke had said anything so irredeemably idiotic, he would rightly be condemned as a racist. But to Cannon’s racist screed, a young commenter on social media wrote, “I feel like this statement had some validity to it but people don’t wanna check their history.” This is the level discourse to which we’ve now sunk, where we “feel” what history would say, if people would just check it.
Meanwhile, the police step back, their funding having been reduced, and shootings in New York City alone have risen 277 percent over this time last year, and the hypersensitive types, who “feel” what history would say, have become eerily quiet about the carnage they’ve enabled. Were you to suggest to them that the amount of bedlam and destruction unfolding across the nation today is commensurate with just how far we’ve fallen from the principles of America’s founding ideals and documents, they would look slack-jawed at you with vacuous gaze, and declare you a racist.
What surprises, then, is the idea that so many decades of capitulation to radicals should have produced anything other than still more radicalism. How it could be any other way? In 1959, William F. Buckley Jr., observed:
In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think (assuming no prepossessions in the way), but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. That man is outraged by the suggestion that he is flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators, and gets really sore when you cite his yelps of protest as still additional evidence of how good a job was done on him. Yet anyone who turns his attention to it can gather a reliable impression as to the political and intellectual atmosphere in representative American colleges and universities. These institutions are heavily staff with liberal indoctrinators, and expert ones at that.
Commenting on the typical graduate of Vassar College, in 1951, novelist Mary McCarthy wrote:
A wistful respect for the unorthodox is ingrained in the Vassar mentality. …The effect of this training is to make the Vassar student, by the time she has reached her junior year, look back on her freshman self with pity and amazement. When you talk to he about her life in college, you will find a series of before and after snapshots: “When I came to Vassar, I thought like Mother and Daddy. I was conservative in my politics.” With few exceptions the trend is from conservative to liberal, from the orthodox to the heterodox.
The indoctrinator’s work has continued unabated ever since, as, to quote Prof. Bloom, “..the universities gave way under the pressure of mass movements, and did so in large measure because they thought those movements possessed a moral truth superior to any the university could provide.” Reason yielded to passion, science yielded to commitment, history yielded to emotionalism, and a national heritage yielded to self-victimization and erroneous accusations of “privilege.”
The irony is that, by invoking concepts of justice, tolerance, equality, and natural rights, today’s radicals are, to borrow Prof. Bloom’s phraseology, wasting the “capital” that was patiently and scrupulously stored up for them since America’s founding. “Racial justice is an imperative in our theory and historical practice,” observed Bloom, “without which there would have been no problem and no solution.”
These incurious brats have labeled as “corrupt” and “racist” the very apparatus that condemned racism and defeated slavery. They stand on the shoulders of intellectual and philosophical giants and think they’re flying. With the inculcation of over 60 years of leftist indoctrination, they’ve abandoned the philosophical traditions upon which everything depended. Again, from Bloom:
The American university provided the intellectual aspirations for decent political deeds. It is very doubtful whether there is a teaching about justice within it now that could again generate anything like the movement toward racial equality. The very thing the sixties students prided themselves on was one of their premier victims.
So that, unaware of whence they came, the rightful successors of those 1960s radicals have no idea where they’re going. But the signatories to the Harper’s letter know where their creation is headed, and they are belatedly trying to stop the monster that threatens to destroy them.Published in General
Quick, bud. Frankenstein (1818).
“ We now have generations of entitled miscreants who possess neither an understanding of the culture to which they are heirs, nor the intellectual curiosity to explore how its ideas and ideals apply to their lives. Today’s marauders are intellectually bankrupt and morally adrift, rudderless in a sea of relativism.”
Well said! It’s stunning how quickly history can be completely rewritten into a victim ideology that does nothing for the advancement of the nation. Rather, its cause is sowing resentment to bear the fruit of division and more hate. At some point there must be a conscience decision to accept American heritage as the heritage of all Americans – a common, nationalist viewpoint made up of many diverse voices – or we will forever be a divided country, and then we will surely fall.
Do not worry about the police being defunded. The UN military is waiting in the wings.
This has been the plan all along.
Some similar sentiments expressed here
I’m going to hear a lecture by the writer of that article next week entitled The Death of Journalism.
Meanwhile, the president of the New York State Troopers is asking (demanding?) that all State Troppers be pulled from New York City streets:
I am hoping that Covid kills a lot of university budgets. Unfortunately, it will probably only hurt adjunct faculty, but I am hoping that the cut is deeper than that. I am hoping students themselves stop going to universities and walk down different avenues for work. After all, after the virus has burned itself out, higher education has a demographics issue. There are not enough children coming up to replace all the students who are currently there. That’s the real cancer.
Just read the article. Thanks for linking it! Journalism died some time ago, actually, and was preceded by the death of intellectual curiosity and honesty. Maybe the writer could lecture on that one too.
I love your opening quote from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. This short novel is the original. Mary Shelly is so underrated. The frightening sci-fi aspect is what everyone at first reacts to. What they fail to see is that Mary Shelly is a very acute social critic. You have picked up exactly on Mary Shelly’s intention. One might ask, “Who is the worse monster, The Monster or Dr. Victor Frankenstein his creator?” When Dr. Frankenstein begins to understand his own folly, it is too late he has released an extreme danger which makes havoc on the world and finally makes havoc on Dr. Frankenstein himself. This is the perfect analogy for your critique of the brats and enablers.
I know it is a little far afield from your post but again I have a very deep respect for Mary Shelly so I’d like to explain her a little further. The story is written in 1816 as she and her husband and friends are on holiday in Geneva. Everyone goes right by this fact not realizing how revealing it is. Why wouldn’t British aristocrats have vacationed on the continent for a very long time? The French Revolution then Napoleon. Napoleon isn’t finally defeated until 1814. Only 2 years later Mary Shelly and her party are vacationing on the continent. What character do you think Napoleon is symbolized by in her novel. Of course, it is The Monster! The Monster (Napoleon) is the creation of all the liberal French Revolutionary thinkers symbolized by Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
I will take it just one step further (be patient with me). (from the original novel) The Monster escapes and he is lost in the woods. He comes upon a small cabin in the woods. The Monster isn’t the dumb brute he is made out to be but quite self-aware. He knows his appearance is hideous so he hides and at night sneaks up to the side of the cabin to listen to the occupants. The occupants are petite nobility who have run away from the French Revolution and hidden in the cabin. The Monster brings firewood to the cabin every night and the occupants find it in the morning and are happy to have a mysterious benefactor. The occupants have brought many books with them to the cabin. When they are fast asleep the Monster peeks through a crack and sees the bookshelf. He carefully slips into the cabin and borrows books which he reads (yes The Monster is quite literate). His favorite book is Paradise Lost by Milton.
For me, this amazing section of Shelly’s novel tells the whole story. The Monster is as much a victim of the foolishness of Dr. Frankenstein as everyone else. The Monster realizes he is a horror to others and the Monster is searching for some kind of a solution. He responds to Milton’s tale about Gd the true creator and a rebellious brilliant angel Lucifer (Dr. Frankenstein). You see even the Monster knows it is all wrong and probably has a better handle on where it went wrong then the big liberal Dr. Frankenstein.
Sorry for bending your ear but you won’t get this from modern English departments that have their brains twisted by deconstructionism and other wastes of time.
Okay, so this fascinating, Jim. And thanks so much for bringing this perspective to light. I suspect that, in the novel, The Monster has a level of self-awareness which completely eludes the monsters among running about today. Would you agree?
Luckily, we have people around here who were around to discuss it with Mrs. Shelley. 😜
Ah, those were the days….
Oh yes, I would completely agree. Only a few, over time, will realize just how low they have sunk and just how wrong they were. It is the process of redemption which might be quick but rarely so. All of them will have nagging guilt but most will push it away with ever more angry nonsense.
Very nice post Dave.
I’m not that old! I feel that old but I’m not that old!
It seems like only yesterday I was telling ol’ Julius Cæsar that the Ides of March might not be his lucky day.
So he wouldn’t listen to you! You try and try.
It might be too late, but this would make an excellent Post Of The Week, @jameslileks
(And it’s already got WAY more “likes” than anything Gary Robbins has ever done.)
The above re-telling of Frankenstein was both profound and entertaining. Thank you!
Hmmmmm. Your posts and comments lately have had more of a “get off my lawn” flavor . . .
Well yes. Get off my lawn! (if I had one).