Everyone supposes that he is the world authority on his own life, especially on his own thoughts and experiences. But is this really so? I began to doubt it when, the other day, I leafed through the copious notebooks that I have kept over the years. I carry a notebook with me at most times precisely because I know that memory is fallible and there are so many things worth recording.
If I were to die today, someone looking through these notebooks would know more about at least some of my experiences than I could ever have remembered myself if called upon to do so. It is often difficult to reconstruct the circumstances of the jottings in these notebooks but occasionally it is possible to do so, more or less.
For example, I know that I used to take down the curious things my patients said to me that gave me extraordinary pleasure. Literary critics often accuse Dickens of caricature, but some of my notes suggest that Mr. Bumble, Mrs. Gummidge, Sarah Gamp and Wackford Squeers are alive and well. There is a kind of joyous but expressive and revealing absurdity in what they said that Dickens, with his incomparable comic genius, would have stored away for further use, but (until I looked in the notebook) I had quite forgotten.
These are the things that different patients said to me on a single day: “I can”t let things forget;” “The smoking is too much and I”ve always drunk, but sometimes it gets worse;” “It’s just superficient, or whatever they call it;” “I used to play truant, apparently because of my asthma.”
I suppose the common thread here is the avoidance of personal responsibility, that terrible corollary of free will. If only we could have free will without responsibility, a bit like Mr Berlusconi in fact: how splendid life would be!
This little notebook also contains jotting from a day trip to India that I once made on behalf of a newspaper. It called me one morning and asked me whether I could go to India the day after tomorrow to attend the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious festival held every twelve years when the Ganges supposedly turns into nectar that washes away the sins of those who bathe in it. Furthermore, this Kumbh Mela was special, as is every twelfth Kumbh Mela, and ninety million people would attend it.
“You couldn”t have given me a little more notice?” I asked. “After all, you had a hundred and forty-four years to decide to send someone.”
“Ah, we don”t work like that,” said the newspaperman with commendable understatement.
Anyhow, I went and wonderful it was: there is less unpleasantness when 90,000,000 Hindus meet than when six young Englishmen go to a pub and it, the drunkenness, gets worse.
My notes are sketchy. A sadhu, when he knew I was British, asked “Are you from London or Bermondsey?” My notes do not record why a Hindu holy man should have known about Bermondsey, one of the many unattractive areas of that great metropolis. Another asked me where I was from. “England.” “Ah,” he said, “old companions.”
“Guru with gold watch and diamonds” is more or less self-explanatory. Then there is a note about a man who said that if I paid him, his bird (a finch, if I recall) would turn over a Tarot card for me and “you will be happy for ten years and your business will flourish.” I paid and the bird duly turned over the card. “But happiness will only come if you buy ring.” A swami recommended to me by a passer-by because “He has written bible also.” And a note about a yogi who shows a certificate from the Industrial Security Force Commandant testifying that he is excellent at cures and an eminent yogi.
All this I had forgotten.
In the notebook also is an essay written by hand that I had also forgotten, that begins: Many doctors practise for many years without encountering a moral dilemma. This is not because they are morally obtuse: it is because their work is straightforward and uncontroversial… If you had asked me who wrote that, I should not have known that it was I.
Towards the end of this notebook are some notes I took on a medico-legal case, that of a murderer whose name or face I cannot in the slightest remember, though what he said (according to the notes) might have been expected to make some slight impression on me. “I had an argument with her. I lost it. I hit her with a pitchfork “ my head was all over the place, I didn”t know whether I was coming or going. All of a sudden I just flipped.”
I must have asked him whether he was stressed at the time “ a stupid, leading question, whose answer would be uninformative at best and dishonest at worst “ for the note says “Stress “ must have been.”
An operation on my hand after a karate injury has me reading more than usual, and even attempting Don DeLillo’s Underworld, but I soon give it up. Truman Capote famously said that On The Road was typing, not writing, but old Jack Kerouac was Jane Austen compared to some of the novelists of today. Making it sound easy is the hardest thing in writing, and I grant you that today’s modernists sure make it look easier than easy. But they’re also sloppy, self-indulgent and at times incomprehensible. What I don’t get is how one can enjoy a novel when the plot is not clear. When the reader doesn’t know what’s real and what’s imagined it’s time to regress and look up Papa and Scott and Graham and Jane. (Austen’s preoccupation with real estate, income, and class still resonates in today’s world. The sainted editor of the Spectator had to write a letter so I could get into a building in the Bagel, and by evoking all three of Jane’s preoccupations, I got in.) Avoiding dullness is what great writers do, and amusing sinners are always better than pious dullards. Brio is what keeps a novel going, at least for little old me, and long windedness has me reaching for the remote and a soap opera.
Speaking of writers, Saul Bellow has been in the news lately because of a massive biography by Zachary Leader, brilliantly reviewed in the Spectator and by every newspaper and magazine over in these shores. I am not a Bellow fan, too much information, as they say nowadays. The astute Norman Mailer described Bellow as “a hostess to intellectual canapés.” I know exactly what he meant by it. It was an accurate assessment of Saul, as well as a kick in the balls. Bellow was a very Jewish writer, but unlike Philip Roth, of whom I’m a fan, he is more of a revenge novelist, he’s out to settle scores. His close buddy was Jack Ludwig, a fellow professor at Bard, a hothouse of radicalism, and obviously a gentleman of the old school! Ludwig was once asked if he knew Bellow, and he answered, “Know him, I’m fucking his wife!” He was doing just that, and Saul gave it to him in his fiction. Mind you, Hemingway did the same to some of the characters he knew in Paris during the Twenties, Loeb was Cohn and Lady Duff was Lady Brett and so on, but Papa’s characters were more of an inspiration than copies of the real thing. Fitzgerald was famously obsessed with the mysteries of great wealth, but back then wealth was something new among Americans. Poor old Scott wrote more about the ruinous effects of wealth, which is a very large theme even today.
I recently read a couple of articles on Fitzgerald, one claiming that he wrote Gatsby in Great Neck, Long Island, where the action takes place, the other that he wrote the greatest of American novels in Antibes. I believe both writers are correct. He started the novel in Long Island and finished it in Antibes. Detective Taki solves the riddle in one short declarative sentence. Scott and Zelda’s two granddaughters, their mother being Scottie, the couple’s only issue, are very much with us and recently visited Juan-les-Pins and the hotel that was once the home of their grandparents. The cruel irony is that Scott died broke and forgotten, and his granddaughters are very rich because of his immortal work.
Although The Great Gatsby is considered Scott’s greatest work, the greatest literary critic of our time, Taki, thinks otherwise. He gives the nod to Tender Is The Night. When Fitzgerald showed Papa the manuscript of Gatsby, Hemingway did not brood, he went into action. He came up with The Sun Also Rises, not a bad response. It was almost America versus Europe. Great stuff. Which brings me to Hollywood. The best that degenerate place has managed in filming either writer’s works was – in my not so humble opinion – The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Papa’s short story about grace under pressure. It’s an African safari story at a time when guns did not shoot animals from the safety of Range Rovers. Every other movie of the two great American writers has been a disaster, although the 1957 version of The Sun gave it the old college try. Tyrone Power as Jake Barnes, a man who had lost his manhood in the war, was perfect casting, as was Ava Gardner as Lady Brett, but Zanuck’s casting of the greasy New Yorker Bob Evans as the bullfighter had the audience laughing rather than crying when he got gored. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, with Gregory Peck as the writer dying of gangrene in Africa was also a good attempt, as was The Last Time I Saw Paris, the title given to Babylon Revisited, Scott’s greatest short story.
How are things in Glocca Morra? “ No god in this fight “ Quo vadis? “
Another GOP hopeful “ Buy Ann’s book! “ Institutional amnesia “ Enjoy
your flight “ The moos from Ireland “ The good of counting “ Carry me
back to 1960
Ann Coulter is a withered old hag who uses shock value to sell books. Look at her face. What is she, 40? And her hair? Come on. Are we supposed to take this “woman” seriously? Her latest incarnation of Mein Kampf says Adios, America on the front but should really be called Mexicans Are Human Garbage. I haven”t read it yet but the claims she makes in the book are as disgusting as they are outrageous. It all came out on a recent appearance of Fusion with Jorge (pronounced “Hor-jay”) Ramos. As the title implies, his show brings together all kinds of different cultures into a fun plate of multiculturalism that’s like fusion cuisine for the brain. (If you don”t believe diversity is our strength, check out all the cool restaurants in New York City. You can be served by a Somalian one day, a Turk the next, and a Glaswegian in between the two.)
Ramos appeared to be focusing on Hispanics throughout the episode he had Coulter on. It was a brilliant way to expose her irrational ramblings for what they really are: Shock Hate. I haven”t actually seen the entire episode but the Internet is rife with apt descriptions of what happened. The show started out with Ann being repulsed by a Hispanic woman of color who simply offered her a hug. After that, a documented boy from Honduras tried to reach out to her and open her eyes to the dangers of prejudice and Ann barked, “You”re not black so drop the racism crap.” Her hatred for Mexicans ran so deep, she couldn”t talk to any of the audience members. Ramos rescued them from her vile bile and bravely took her on himself. He told her America was becoming more diverse and she said, “more Mexican” is not more diverse. He asked her what her problem is with 11 million hard-working people and she said the number was 3 times that! She also said they”re not as nice as we think. “If you don”t want to get killed by ISIS, don”t go to Syria” she said before adding, “If you don”t want to be killed by a Mexican, there’s nothing I can tell you.” I mean, at this point you have to just give up. Even conservatives know the Hispanic crime rate is the same as that for whites. In her world, Mexicans don”t come here for a better life. They come here to murder people.
Ann, if you”re reading this. Show some humanity! We are a nation of immigrants. We stole this land from the Indians. Mexicans aren”t doing the same to us. They”re here to help us. Do you want us to put them all on a giant bus and send them home? Grow up!
Actually, I had some time to kill so I figured I should double check if Ann is as batshit crazy as we all think. I watched the episode of Fusion everyone’s talking about. The woman who asked for a hug was told quite clearly Coulter had been sick and was still having symptoms. Even if she wasn”t, since when is a guest expected to hug audience members? As Megyn Kelly pointed out, Coulter is a woman who has to hire security every time she does a talk. The Honduran who Ann yelled at had been wasting her time for what seemed like forever. His question itself lasted a full minute and he kept interrupting her answer complaining about racism. He looked about as white as the Spanish conquistadors who stole his country from the Maya. Both audience members wanted to relay their own personal stories like such a thing would destroy her observations about a group involving tens of millions. How frustrating. Don”t these people know that anecdotal evidence means nothing? If you know a short, fat, white man in the NBA, it does not mean tall, black men don”t tend to be better at it. As my colleague Michael Malice says, “You are one data point.”
The more I looked into the immigration debate, the more hate turned into facts. I checked out Ramos” 11 million number and it comes from a decade ago. The Washington Post claims we have about 700,000 crossing per year, but even their info seems skewed. It’s not easy looking up these figures for some reason, especially in the New York Times. Immigrants to America from all countries keep getting lumped in and the definition of Hispanic keeps changing. Something fishy is going on and the crime data was especially hard to look up. I managed to find that Pew says crime for the second generation of immigrants tends to be much higher than that of their parents but there was little else on the subject. Taki’s own Jim Goad dug up a lot of Hispanic on black crime but his article spent a lot of space discussing how hard it is to find this information.
“What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. … We can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”
Thus did Defense Secretary Ash Carter identify the root cause of the rout of the Iraqi army in Ramadi.
Disgusted U.S. military officers say the 1,000 ISIS fighters who overran Ramadi were outnumbered by the defenders 10 to 1.
Why did the Iraqi army run? And what motivated the fighters of ISIS to attack a city whose defenders so vastly outnumbered them?
According to battle reports, the assault began when dozens of captured U.S. armored vehicles and trucks, laden with explosives, were driven by ISIS volunteers to blast huge holes in the defenders’ lines.
Why do all the martyrs seem to be on their side? And why is it our side that, all too often, shows “no will to fight”?
Iraqis are not cowards. From 1980 to 1988, their fathers died in the scores of thousands defending their country against Iran. But if Iraqis would die for dictator Saddam Hussein, why does today’s Iraqi army seem reluctant to fight for the democratic Haider al-abaci?
And the story of Iraq is the story of Syria.
Four years into that civil-sectarian war, the al-Qaida Nusra Front has carved out a sector in Idlib, as have the Islamic State terrorists in Raqqa. Bashar Assad’s army, though bleeding, is still fighting.
And the Free Syrian Army we backed? Defunct. Some fought, but others defected to the jihadis, fled or sold their weapons.
In Yemen, the Houthi rebels came down from the north to seize Sanaa, drive the president into exile, occupy Aden, and capture huge stockpiles of American weapons. The U.S.-backed army crumbled.
Again, why do these rebels seem willing to fight for what we see as antiquated beliefs, but all too often our friends do not fight?
Perhaps the answer is found in Thomas Babington Macaulay: “And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods?”
Tribe and faith. Those are the causes for which Middle Eastern men will fight. Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists will die for the faith. Persians and Arabs will fight to defend their lands, as will Kurds and Turks.
But who among the tribes of the Middle East will fight and die for the secular American values of democracy, diversity, pluralism, sexual freedom and marriage equality?
“Expel the Crusaders from our lands!”—there is a cause to die for.
Go back to 1983. A jihadist of the Amal militia drove a bomb-laden truck into the Marine barracks in Beirut. In 2000, two suicide bombers steered a tiny boat up alongside the USS Cole in Aden harbor, stood, saluted and blasted a hole in the hull, almost sinking the warship.
Nineteen young men volunteered to ride those planes into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers on 9/11. The “underwear bomber” and “shoe bomber” were prepared to go down with those planes.
Here it comes, the big seven-oh. Next Wednesday to be exact; around 6:45 GMT, to be even more exact.
It was quite an entrance, as I recorded in We Are Doomed.
I was actually born around breakfast time on a Sunday morning, at a nursing home behind St. Matthew’s church in the small English country town of Northampton. (Annual venue for the nation’s biggest ram fair. Really.) With VE Day just four weeks in the past, the church bells were ringing, a thing that had then only recently been re-permitted. During WW2, church bells were to signal that the Germans had invaded mainland Britain, and the ringing of them was forbidden for other purposes.
The town’s boy scout troop was marching up the Kettering Road from Town Centre to the church, with their band a-playing. (This is my father’s account of the event.) It was some welcome into the material universe, though my own recollection of it is naturally indistinct.
Making it to seventy is not much nowadays. “Seventy is the new fifty,” my friends assure me. As the scriptural limit, though, seventy is a good point at which to take stock, to look back and get some idea of the shape of one’s life.
Doing that, my main impression”as I also said in Doomed“is of stupendously good luck.
I have got through pretty much my entire life without ever having to work very hard, without ever having seen my country invaded, without enduring war or depression, without suffering any horrid illness, without ever going hungry or wanting for anything. What luck!
Regrets, I”ve got a few, but no more than the average number: missed opportunities, wasted time, small acts of selfish unkindness to people who deserved better of me. Not altogether a bad tally, as these things go.
And now, seventy. Cong xin suo yu, chirps Mrs D. Literally translated: “Follow heart whatever desire.” That’s from Confucius, talking about his situation at age seventy. In a passage known to every literate Chinese person the sage summed up his life by the decades. James Legge put it into English 150 years ago:
The Master said: “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning.
“At thirty, I stood firm.
“At forty, I had no doubts.
“At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven.
“At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth.
“At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.”
You can get an argument going about fine points of translation there. The sixteen English syllables that follow the word “sixty,” for example, are just two syllables in the Chinese original: er shun, literally “ear obey.” The old boy was cryptic. That’s not even him at his crypticest. No doubt Legge was doing his best, as we all must.
Looking back at the shape of my own life, it hasn”t actually been very Confucian.
Fifteen. Mind bent on learning? Not really. What my mind was mainly bent on in the early summer of 1960 was (a) reading all the science fiction I could find, (b) scraping a “pass” in my weak subjects”Latin, History, Eng. Lit.”on the General Certificate of Education, which I sat at Ordinary Level that year, and (c) constructing a card model of five cubes in a dodecahedron, one of the more challenging assignments in Cundy & Rollett’s Mathematical Models. Nerdy kid? Yep.
Thirty. I had a regular job, an apartment, a car, and a couple of credit cards, so “standing firm” isn”t bad for external circumstances. My psyche, though, was going through some acute distress”a nasty case of philocaption that it took me years to shake off.
From this vantage point those psychic woes look like wasteful folly, but of course it’s different at the time. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” That’s Kierkegaard.
Here’s another set of polarities to accompany previous concepts such as Fringe versus Core and High/Low versus Middle that are useful in grasping why some things in modern America are automatically assumed to be liberal and others conservative. This is a reductionist, one-dimensional perspective that hardly explains everything, but it does sum up broad tendencies:
Liberalism Is Expensive, Conservatism Is Cheap
While you are considering that, let me try to usher a few objections out of the way:
There are obvious exceptions to my general rule. Democrats favor, at least theoretically, spending less on defense and medicine.
This correlation hasn”t always been true. The British Liberal Party of the later 19th Century, for example, espoused most of the arguments made by American conservatives today for thriftiness, public and private. The equation of liberalism with high prices has simply been a hallmark of our era since roughly the cultural revolution of the 1960s.
I”m not focusing on traditional topics such as taxes and government spending, but instead calling attention to some empirical commonalities, such as that the more liberal a region or institution is, the more expensive it tends to be, and vice-versa. For example, San Francisco, where the average one-bedroom apartment rents for $3,100 per month, voted 84 percent for Obama in 2012.
As a glance at maps of Presidential elections results by county shows, modern American conservatism tends to flourish where land is abundant and thus inexpensive, while liberalism thrives where cities are thrust up against deep water, and thus suburban expansion is limited. Not surprisingly, the family values party does better where voters can afford to start families.
Likewise, 84 percent of campaign donations by Harvard professors go to Democrats. (And that figure would be over 95 percent if not for Harvard Business School professors, and even they gave 62 percent of their money to Democrats.)
Liberals run academia and they like it the way they”ve made it: ever more expensive.
Higher education doesn”t have to be as costly as it is in America today. The countries that were humiliated in WWII, such as Germany, Italy, and France reacted by radically proletarianizing higher education, with open admissions, low or free tuition, and the concomitant vast lecture halls. That’s what leftism at its best was about in 1946: making good things affordable for the masses.
You may have noticed, however, that you haven”t heard much about formerly world-renown European universities such as Gottingen (current tuition: “¬291 per semester), Heidelberg, Padua and the Sorbonne lately. In contrast, the famously elite universities of WWII’s winners, such as Harvard and Yale, Oxford and Cambridge, became even more elite and famous.
Similarly, tuition at Brigham Young University is notably cheaper than at other private colleges: $5,000 for Mormons and only $10,000 for gentiles. Much of this bargain is due to generous Mormon tithing, but BYU also keeps costs down by having bigger class sizes. The Latter-Day Saints tend to have old-fashioned mid-20th Century American views about equality of opportunity. If more kids want to go to BYU, then they expand the campus, in sharp contrast to Ivy League colleges that have become dramatically more exclusive over recent decades. (Of course, today’s Americans tend to find Mormon inclusiveness weird and scary, whereas having two Yale Skull and Bonesmen running against each other for President in 2004 is just plain natural.)
Interestingly, the social revolution of the Sixties is often specified as beginning in 1964 at UC Berkeley, the flagship for the post-WWII philosophy of affordable mass higher education that was pitched in-between the Dink Stover-traditionalism of the Ivies and the barebones colleges on the Continent.
Numerous explanations have been offered in the half-century since for why Berkeley students found their seemingly rather pleasant education so alienating. But the working solution adopted since then by academia has been to spend more money.
Thus, the number of campus staff on hand these days is staggering. For example, the U. of Michigan recently made sure student council leaders debating an anti-Israel BDS resolution had staffers standing by to provide real time therapy in case any of the young politicos felt threatened or agitated by being contradicted.
As a native Californian, I”ve always been struck by how much of the cultural revolution of the 1960s transpired in California even though many of what we hear ret-conned today as the causes of the 1960s “ slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, civil rights, and so forth “ were not particularly relevant in California. There were enough blacks to stage a major riot in Watts in 1965, but it was hard to say that blacks were terribly central to California in the 1960s.
Instead, the California that fostered Berkeley in 1964 was largely a creation of the once seemingly triumphant liberal consensus of the middle of the 20th Century, with the population almost tripling from under seven million in 1940 to 20 million in 1970.
My impression is that the social revolution that began in California in the 1960s was actually more about the transition from affordability to expensiveness, from inclusivity to exclusivity.
Middle class life in California in the decades after WWII had been, by today’s standards, absurdly cheap. In a review of Kevin Starr’s history of California: Golden Dreams: California in the Age of Abundance: 1950-1963, Benjamin Schwarz wrote in The Atlantic:
From the end of the Second World War to the mid-1960s, California consolidated its position as an economic and technological colossus and emerged as the country’s dominant political, social, and cultural trendsetter. … It was a sweet, vivacious time: California’s children, swarming on all those new playgrounds, seemed healthier, happier, taller, and—thanks to that brilliantly clean sunshine—were blonder and more tan than kids in the rest of the country. … Starr consistently returns to his leitmotif: the California dream. By this he means something quite specific—and prosaic. California, as he’s argued in earlier volumes, promised “the highest possible life for the middle classes.” It wasn’t a paradise for world-beaters; rather, it offered “a better place for ordinary people.”
In contrast, 21st Century California is notoriously expensive. It’s a great place to be Mark Zuckerberg.
Writing “It’s been a bad week for white professors” is a lazy, hacky opening.
Especially because it cues up, at least in my movie-addled mind, Addison DeWitt’s weary counterpunch about “the history of the world for the last twenty years.”
Of course, last week wound up particularly badly for John Nash, although dying outside a New Jersey taxi is marginally preferable to dying inside one. (You”d think his physicist wife would”ve made him wear a seatbelt, no?)
Meanwhile, two other white male academics suffered merely metaphorical motor vehicle-related injuries: Rather than being ejected from a cab, they were thrown under buses.
One, Walter Block—the Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar endowed chair in economics at Loyola—had his libel lawsuit against the New York Times thrown out.”¨
The Times had spotted Block opining that:
“[S]lavery wasn’t so bad. You could pick cotton, sing songs, be fed nice gruel, etc.”
Block objected that the Times writer had taken his words out of context. The judge who tossed out the suit countered that “Perceptions about Block’s notions of race related issues were largely fueled and published by Block himself. In this regard, Block cannot complain about resulting perceptions of insensitivity and levity on serious issues like slavery.”
Let’s start with the troubling spectacle of a American judge and the plaintiff more or less agreeing that joking about “serious issues” is somehow a bad thing.
Here I”d thought that attempting to turn the “tone” of a writer’s jokes into a criminal (or at least civil) matter was a distinctly Canadian compulsion, by way of the Soviet Union.
That’s why it pains me so to side with the judge in one respect:
Block had indeed been wearing a too-short rhetorical skirt while sashaying along Lew Rockwell Lane after dark.
Had he left out those goofy words altogether before hitting “send,” Block’s virtue “ or in this case, his “context”—would have remained inviolate.
Reading Block’s article in its entirety, one discovers so much to admire:
The unapologetically combative attitude. The jabs at Canadian columnist Chris Selley, an occasionally sound but mostly annoying young man in DEFCON 3 need of a haircut. And of course, the fact that Block’s overall conclusions are correct:
As Barry Goldwater wisely and courageously pointed out, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would begin the erosion of two foundational concepts “ private property and freedom of association—which has, fifty years later, left America a shabby red, white and blue shell of its former self.
As an outsider, I find Block’s iconoclastic approach to your nation’s tedious racial obsession particularly refreshing, and familiar.
(I”ll admit to always, heretically, wondering, even as a child:
(If all these folks eventually managed to walk to work instead of riding the bus, why didn”t they just do that in the first place and save ten cents a day?
(And are you telling me that there wasn”t a better burger to be had at the black-run equivalent of a “lunch counter” on the other side of town?)
But then Block marred an otherwise sensible article by sticking in that one unfunny, tone-deaf bit. Humor, more so than Keats” “Beauty,” is Truth. Lest I become the thing I hate “ and, more importantly, use up the remainder of my declining word count—I”ll refrain from performing an autopsy on Block’s “…wasn”t so bad” gag.
Let’s just put it this way: a natural humorist he ain”t. I”d suggest Block not quit his day job, except I suspect he”ll be fired first anyhow.
Anyway, right around the same time, Duke political science professor (and, incidentally or not, “old commie apologist”) Jerry Hough wandered into an adjacent patch of quicksand.
The NAACP’s sole weapon is fear. The organization gets its way because many businesses and public figures live in fear of being slapped with the label “racist.” But what, if anything, frightens the NAACP? No, it’s not your conservative blog or podcast, so don”t flatter yourself. The NAACP isn”t scared of you. The NAACP witch-hunters aren”t scared of anyone who tries to counter their fear tactics with logic and rationality, because they know that in the end fear always trumps reason.
However, there is one person who scares the bejesus out of the NAACP leadership, and he’s one of their own officials: an unstoppable, unkillable bugbear named Reverend Curtis Everette Gatewood. NAACP leaders cower in his presence. Gatewood dislikes Jews, Israel, immigrants, and non-Christians. He’s damned Hillary Clinton supporters to hell, applauded the Baltimore rioters, compared black moms who stop their sons from rioting to white slave masters, co-organized a protest meeting at which Obama was repeatedly called a “nigger,” and pledged the NAACP’s support to an organization that opposes the NAACP, hurls racist bile at Asian immigrants and Jews, and calls Martin Luther King an “uncle Tom.”
And yet the national NAACP can”t, or won”t, get rid of the guy.
Reverend Gatewood first made minor headlines right after 9/11. On September 15th, 2001, Gatewood (then president of the Durham, North Carolina, NAACP) gave a fiery speech at a monthly NAACP meeting in which he implied that the World Trade Center victims were racists. Almost immediately, NAACP National President Kweisi Mfume officially reprimanded Gatewood, but the Durham NAACP chapter unanimously gave him a vote of confidence. So Gatewood doubled-down, claiming that 9/11 was a just punishment from God on America, and that all Americans must accept Jesus or “go to hell.”
And Gatewood wasn”t through. He pledged the support of his NAACP chapter to the African People’s Socialist Party/Uhuru Movement, a black separatist organization that seeks to foment a violent revolution to create an independent black nation on U.S. soil. The Uhuru militants have, in the past, called for the murder of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (in retaliation for him not ordering the mass execution of white South Africans following the end of Apartheid), and the expulsion of “parasitic” Asian immigrants and business owners. On a broadcast of the Uhuru radio program, Gatewood stated that his NAACP chapter stands 100% behind Uhurus” goals.
In October 2002, the weekly “social justice” publication The Black Commentator observed that Gatewood “has all but dared Mfume to strip him of his chapter presidency.” Scared out of his wits, Mfume took a page from the Teachers Union manual, “How to Pretend to Fire Someone You Can”t Actually Fire,” and removed Gatewood from the head of the Durham chapter, shuffling him to a new position, “2nd vice president of the North Carolina NAACP Conference of Branches,” perhaps hoping that having to recite a title that long would rob Gatewood of the breath needed to make inflammatory statements.
It didn”t work. During the 2008 primary, he told the Henderson (North Carolina) Daily Dispatch that black Hillary Clinton supporters were hellbound: “¨
“So-called “black leaders” who are being used as Clinton attack-dogs to discredit Obama, are fat from the fruit produced by Dr. King’s blood, and have been on break from the work of freedom fighting for the past 40 years, are unworthy of speaking on our behalf. Further, they have no vision, no regard for King’s legacy, and appear willing to ride blindfolded on the Clinton bandwagon while traveling toward the deepest parts of hell.”
Gatewood also attacked “the Clintons” gutter-driven and racially tainted brand of politics,” and their “highly offensive race-baiting tactics.”
On the Richard Brown Show, a North Carolina radio program, Gatewood went off on a baffling fear-mongering riff about how immigrants specifically come to this country because they want to “target” black people by selling them drugs. On Facebook, he promulgated an odd conspiracy theory regarding the assassination of Obama by Jews and others:
“If Obama is assassinated (which is highly likely given how the stage is being set and invitations to assassination are being sent to Israel/Jews as well as white CEOs and poor white racists), it will further escalate the violence and divide that is already on the way.”
And speaking of escalation, in 2009 Gatewood again teamed up with the Uhurus to stage a massive demonstration in Washington DC against Obama and Israel (Gatewood’s earlier enthusiasm for Obama apparently having been dampened by the fact that “the revolution” had not come quickly or violently enough after the election). One of Gatewood and the Uhurus” invited speakers was Pam Africa, president of Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and formerly a member of the MOVE black power cult. At the demonstration, to thundering applause, Africa repeatedly called Obama a “nigger motherfucker” and “head nigger,” inciting the crowd that he has to be “taken down.” Another participant, Larry Hales, dedicated his speech to the Muslim gunman who, only two days earlier, had cold-bloodedly murdered thirteen people at Fort Hood. The killer was cheered as a “hero” and a “brother.” Yet another invited speaker, Abdul Alim Musa, used his time at the mic to salute Hezbollah. The crowd erupted into applause every time Musa mentioned the killing of Israelis.
So here’s where I got involved, GOP golden man-child that I was at the time. In 2010, the national NAACP had issued a demand that the Tea Party expel all “racists” from within its ranks. I thought it might be edifying to bring attention to the fact that the hypocritical NAACP had still not removed Gatewood. My piece was picked up by Glenn Beck, and received massive exposure. In response, the national NAACP quietly removed Gatewood from his position (again), and quietly shuffled him around (again). In summer 2013, Gatewood was given the unofficial job of organizing the North Carolina NAACP’s Historic Thousands on Jones Street HKonJ People’s Assembly Coalition (the NAACP really knows how to come up with short, snappy titles), in which he oversaw an alliance that included the AFL-CIO, the ACLU, the Teamsters, Code Pink, and Common Cause.
Only in America can the media take a deadly shootout among white and Hispanic bikers and somehow make it all about black people. And only in America can these same media megaphone-mouths complain about “the media” without realizing that for all intents and purposes, they are the media.
That’s exactly what’s happened in the idiotic editorial aftermath of the May 17 lunch-hour shootout between rival biker gangs at a Hooters knockoff “breastaurant” called Twin Peaks in south Waco, TX.
Details remain sketchy about the incident and, as is typically the case with such violently chaotic events, eyewitness testimonials wildly contradict one another. What is known is that nine people died. All of them were reportedly bikers, and all but one or two of them appear to have been members of the Cossacks motorcycle gang.
At least one victim was a member of the larger and better-organized Bandidos gang. His name was Manuel Isaac Rodriguez, so I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that like George Zimmerman, he was one of those “white Hispanics.” The only shooting fatality that was allegedly “unaffiliated” with an organized biker gang was Jesus Delgado Rodriguez”again, I’ll presume he was a “white Hispanic.”
What’s intensely unclear at the moment is exactly who did most of the killing. Some biker-friendly witnesses claim that cops killed every last biker. Other estimates lowball it, asserting that police killed four out of the nine victims.
That’s right”even by a low estimate, cops killed four presumably white gang members. And yet no whites rioted. To my knowledge, the last group of reckless arsonists who tried to burn Waco down was the ATF in 1993.
This time around, police swiftly quashed the violence and promptly arrested 172 bikers and biker associates who’d been at the restaurant during the shootout, charging them all with criminal conspiracy and setting each individual’s bail at a steep $1 million. In short, police showed a much more aggressive response to this incident”which couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes”than they did to prolonged rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore. But if you were merely to note this fact, you would be deviating from The Script and told to shut your filthy bigoted piehole.
This site shows mug shots of 153 arrestees; of these, a full 42 of the police descriptions classify the accused as “Hispanic” rather than white. Since the Cossacks are affiliated with the whites-only Hells Angels and the Bandidos have always been open to Hispanic membership”even their logo depicts a gun-and-machete-wielding male in a sombrero”it’s probably not entirely insane to assume that most of the Hispanic arrestees were affiliated with the Bandidos. It might not even be completely cuckoo to wonder whether a subtext of this ongoing Cossacks/Bandidos rivalry has something to do with white/Hispanic ethnic tension.
According to the FBI, the Bandidos are affiliated with the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, so they are apparently much more Hispanic-friendly that many in the media would allow. The sputtering scribes who complained about how “the media” handled this incident framed it mostly as an example of rampant white-on-white violence which, as everyone knows, “the media” downplays because “the media” clearly hates black people. A saner argument would be that since the media all but ignored the Hispanics in this equation, the media hates Hispanic people and loves blacks. But the media will call you insane for trying to make that argument.
Much was made of a photo depicting white bikers calmly assembled under the supervision of a gun-wielding cop. The inference we were instructed to draw from this photo is that cops enjoy wearing riot armor and spraying innocent black protestors with tear gas, while they treat murderous white criminals with kid gloves. An alternate inference one could draw from this photo is that white arrestees are less likely to resist arrest than newly canonized black criminal-saints such as Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray. But that would be racist, so sweep all traces of that thought from your mind.
There was also wailing and gnashing of teeth over the fact that “the media” didn’t make a big stink about the “root causes””such as poverty and single-mother families”of such lawlessness. Again, this was trotted out as evidence that the media is racist against black people, rather than the more likely explanation, which is that the media is constantly making excuses for black people.
And, but of course, there was loud and innumerate screaming about how America only focuses on black criminality, making it seem as if blacks are, you know, disproportionately represented in criminal behavior or something, which everyone already knows is a completely nutty idea.