Friday, April 27, 2018

Up With The White Cisgendered Heteropatriarchal Conservative Gun Nut!

     Given any particular inane notion, even a blatantly counterfactual one, you could find someone to swear that it’s the Gospel truth. There are people who’ll tell you that water fluoridation is part of a Communist plot, that the banks are plotting to destroy capitalism, and that contemporary toothbrush heads are made tiny to promote the sale of “designer toothpastes.” Indeed, there are people in this world who would insist to their last breath that the sky is tiger-striped, that drinking water causes impotence, and that the moon is made of green cheese.

     I’m not kidding, Gentle Reader. I’ve met some of those folks.

     For any well-confirmed fact, there’s someone out there who’s made it his personal mission to deny it and to belittle those who’ve proclaimed it. You might not be able to find him with Google, or on Facebook, but take my word for it: no matter what fact you might have in mind, he’s out there. In both senses of that phrase.

     When it comes to political, social, and economic disputes, much of the Sturm und Drang is counterfactual and worse.

     Here’s today’s stimulus to the bile gland:

     “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.” -- Amy Wax and Larry Alexander

     The quote you just read comes from an excellent Jonah Goldberg column I read recently. It reminds me of Walter Williams’ formula to avoid poverty:

     Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

     After seeing these quotes, most of the successful, responsible adults reading this are probably thinking, “That’s good advice. A little simple, but it’s the sort of thing parents used to tell their kids and it works.”

     However, Jonah Goldberg noted a quite different response to that essay that contained that initial quote:

     A coalition of students and alumni responded to the essay in predictable fashion. [Amy] Wax and [Larry] Alexander were peddling the “malignant logic of hetero-patriarchal, class-based, white supremacy that plagues our country today. These cultural values and logics are steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability . . .”

     The important part about the furious response cited above is that the Wax / Alexander / Williams formula for “making it” (in the sense of not being trapped in poverty and dependency) has been well confirmed, repeatedly so, over virtually the entire history of this country. Indeed, Charles Murray – is there a social scientist the Left hates more than Dr. Murray? – laid out the same program in his 1980 book for intelligent laymen, Losing Ground. Myron Magnet condensed the recipe and made it even more explicit:

     After all, it is not impossibly hard to rise out of poverty in late twentieth-century America. That’s why the vast majority of people whom the census counts as poor – most of the non-underclass poor – don’t stay poor long. Statistics suggest that the recipe for escaping long-term poverty is straightforward: finish high school, get and keep any full-time, full-year job (even at the minimum wage), get married as an adult and stay married, even if it takes more than one try. “These are demanding, although not superhuman, tasks,” drily remarks the report of the Working Seminar on the Family and American Welfare Policy, a group of scholars and former government officials

     Now, we know from painful repeated experiences that one who endorses such a view will make enemies. Who are they? How many are they, and how influential? Perhaps most important, what’s their angle? Or in somewhat less loaded terms, what do they hope to achieve?

     Ponder those questions for a moment.

     It is normal to admire the hugely successful, and to aspire to equal (or exceed) their attainments. Of course, “success” is something for which every individual has a personal metric. I have no doubt that somewhere in this hallowed land there’s someone who measures “success” according to the number of his illegitimate children. As I said at the outset, any notion, however bizarre, will find a champion somewhere.

     Yet for most of us, the “success” we can reasonably hope for is a matter of two parts:

  1. Attaining material sufficiency and perhaps a little more;
  2. Staying out of serious trouble with the law and the neighbors.

     These are achievable goals for nearly everyone sufficiently hale in body and mind to:

  1. Finish high school;
  2. Get and keep a full-time job;
  3. Get married and stay married.

     That’s not a pipe dream; it’s a well-confirmed fact. The perpetually aggrieved can rail against “the system” all they like, but the fact remains that self-sufficiency and ordinary respectability are attainable through that simple formula.

     So what do the perpetually aggrieved hope to achieve by railing against the formula as “cultural values and logics...steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability” -- ? It must be extraordinarily valuable to them, considering that the price to be paid for heeding their ravings is the continuation of millions of Americans mired in poverty and dependency.

     Insanity – genuine, no-foolin’ certifiable psychosis – is certainly one possible explanation. But insanity on this scale would normally have been detected by concerned relatives and friends, and the sufferers packed off to some pleasant institution where the accommodations have padded walls and the doors lock from the outside. If we omit insanity for the moment, what remains?

     Not all the activists for any blatantly stupid notion are interested in personal power. Not all intend to run for office or hope to be appointed “Commissar for Screw Standards” in some hoped-for communist utopia. Not all are hoping to get laid. But they seek something, and their spittle-flecked denunciations of the proven formula for self-sufficiency and self-respect is their avenue toward it. Ferreting out that something has become an urgent necessity.

     More anon.

1 comment:


Amalgamating a couple of Thomas Sowell quotes:

So much of today's liberalism consists of replacing what works - the distilled wisdom of countless generations of experimentation - with what sounds good at the present moment.