Thursday, January 14, 2010

Truths We Dare Not Speak: The subtle Orwellian shift

Victor Davis Hanson's latest post, "Truths We Dare Not Speak", hammers home some of the great unmentioned aspects about what is "permissible" to discuss in the modern political paradigm. The werewolf has always thought how tragically amusing it was that "collective memory" transfers certain topics from "tip-of-tongue" outrage, to the dustbin of the deliberately forgotten or intentionally neglected. Hanson's article focuses on illegal immigration, the Iraq War, affirmative action, Ivy League elitism, and the "Middle East." Here are a few highlights from each subject covered in the article to whet your appetite:

Illegal Immigration and California

I’ll pass on increased per capita rates of crime, gangs, etc. that are considered too illiberal to mention. But if studies are correct that anyone who comes north, without English, legality, and education, over his life-cycle will have to draw somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000 more in entitlements than he contributes in various taxes, and if we were to prorate that on an annual basis, and if we were to multiply that by several million, then one can envision an annual outlay of several billion in state expenditures.

Instead, illegal immigration is never much cited as a contributor to California’s fiscal implosion. To mention all this is considered racist. Yet, to take one instance, the cost of incarcerating the state’s illegal aliens alone exceeds the budget of the new UC Merced, a campus intended to serve mostly minority communities of the central valley.

Iraq

We are tired of Iraq and have Trotskyized it out of our existence, given the huge cost and 4,000 dead.

But consider: not a single America died in Iraq in December (38 murdered in Chicago during that period); three have been lost this month (24 murdered so far this month in Chicago).

No one has officially said they were wrong in alleging “No Blood for Oil.” But we got no oil from Iraq. The price rose after we invaded. The Chinese, Russians, and Europeans got the contracts in free and fair bidding.

(Contrast Saddam’s rigged pre-war, quid-pro-quo oil concessions to the corrupt French). There was no Halliburton conspiracy to steal resources. The left often now, mirabile dictu, accuses us of being na├»ve in bleeding to give others the resources that they once accused us of wishing to steal. Barack Obama still talks of Iraq as a mistake, even as he quietly ignores his own prescriptions to have gotten out by early 2008, and to have stopped the surge—and continues to follow the Petraeus/Bush plan.

Affirmative Action

The concept was noble, but now antiquated and mostly absurd. It requires the logic of the Old Confederacy to determine racial purity among the intermarried citizenry. Jet-black Punjabis get no preferences. Light-skinned Mexican-Americans of the fourth-generation claim privilege. Poor whites from Tulare don’t rank. The children of black dentists do. I see very little logic here.

Asians? We both claim them as minorities, and yet we discriminate against them at the University of California admissions process on the basis of their own superior achievement. (Apparently, the deplorable record of discrimination against Asians is now deemed irrelevant due to the community’s own success. Ponder the ramifications of that for a bit: should Asians have been struggling at UC, they would be considered suffering from the legacy of oppression; since they are excelling, they need to be quietly discriminated against).

The Ivy League is a Naked Emperor

By Ivy League I do not mean just Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, but the entire concept of high-priced elite schools like a Stanford, Duke, or Columbia as well. We know a BA from such institutions does not ipso facto any longer, as it once may well have, guarantee knowledge or competence. We know the race/class/gender craze has watered down the curriculum, and ensured therapy and empathy trump recall of facts and adherence to the inductive method. And we know that one’s first two years will probably mean instruction largely by graduate students and lecturers.

Had we national exit requirements, I am convinced those leaving a Hillsdale College or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. John’s would do better than the average Yale BA.

The “Middle East” is a Fraud

Why do we beat ourselves up over Israel and the Palestinians? Why not occupied Cyprus? Or the Kuriles? Or South Ossetia? Or the divided city of Nicosia? Is there a “Falklands Question”?

Why are not Germans blowing themselves up in Gdansk, the former East Prussia, the Alsace, or old Silesia to recover “lost” land?

Were there no Israeli-Arab wars before the “occupation” of 1967? Does anyone think that, should the West Bank simply take a 30-year break from the violence, emulate Western business and government, draw in Gulf capital, a few thousands acres here or there would then be still be relevant?

Are the far poorer people of Chad blowing themselves up? Is the world crying for those in the slums of Lima? Does want and famine drive those in rural China to capture the world’s attention by virtue of their terrorist acts? Do we send special envoys to occupied Tibet? Is there a Green Line there?

Sorry—take away three things, and the Mideast “crisis” is relegated to Cypriote status. If there were no oil in the Arab Middle East; if there were no Islamic terrorists; and if there was no endemic global anti-Semitism, we would be as likely to have a “Mideast czar” as we would an “Ossetian Czar.”


Although the article itself is not too long, the aforementioned reflects the best excerpts from it. If you have the time, it is highly recommended reading. Pursuant to the topics themselves, the werewolf thinks their relegation to the tertiary rings of the public discourse represents a dangerous trend for thought and perspective in this country.

Growing up in California, the illegal immigration debate was always front and center. The werewolf vividly recalls the intense debate around Proposition 187 which occurred when he was in junior highschool and he fondly remembers Governor Pete Wilson's respectable and tough stance on the issue. Although there is some talk about amnesty these days, addressing the actual issue of illegal immigration seems no where as present as it once was. Plus, the frequent and hateful hurling of "racist" by the left has diluted the merits around this important discussion. It the republic is to sustain itself, this issue will need to be addressed. The werewolf thinks the intense desire expressed by the blighted populations of the world to get to America by any means necessary speaks to America's exceptionalism and reaffirm his belief that America is unquestionably the greatest nation. Cubans and Haitians face the shark infested waters around Florida in rickety rafts and inner-tubes, Asian boat people spend months in utter squalor in the cargo holds of merchant vessels, and Latin Americans face dangerous desert crossings all motivated by the intrinsic ideal and that something better awaits in the United States. While the extreme efforts displayed touch his heart, the werewolf recognizes the costs of tolerating an unchecked inflow of human capital is unsustainable and needs to be halted. He thinks the issue needs to be moved to foreground promptly, and America should still entice those who want to make their home here, but in a regulated and orderly fashion that incentivizes assimilation, meets America's internal human capital needs, respects our sovereignty and the rule-of-law, while still making the American dream attainable. There is no direct policy prescription, yet, but the issue isn't about being racist, it's about sustainability and responsibility, and that needs to be hammered home.

Iraq has all but vanished from the headlines. The werewolf recalls the multi-year stretch where the front page of every newspaper splashed pictures of the violence, U.S. casualty counts, and how hopeless the situation was. He also recalls the bigoted left and their anti-enlightened bumper stickers screeching about "NO BLOOD FOR OIL." Well, as anyone who reads the paper knows from articles deliberately buried on the last pages, or as indicated in this article, the U.S. did not win an contracts for oil, and the violence from the insurgency aimed at the US has all but vanished. Iraq is still a tough place, has many hurdles and growing pains ahead of it, but, it looks like President Bush, General Petraeus, and the "surge" worked and a degree of victory can be claimed. The werewolf is of two minds why the latest news out of Iraq has been banished to the innards of the newspapers. One, Bush is no longer president, and therefor Iraq can't be manipulated to discredit him any longer or used as a pugil to bash the GOP. Secondly, the werewolf really thinks the over-emphasizing of negative and depressing events, and spinning the darkest elements of any tale, is still a crucial component to generating buzz and moving news products. He is all about full transparency, doesn't view the world with rose-tinted lenses, and is a realist about how twisted and broken the world can be, but there is always a Yin to the Yang, and that needs more attention as portraits of the world are painted.

Affirmative action has become a cottage industry for the likes of Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and other race hustlers. The moral bankruptcy of it as concept occurred a generation ago, yet, with all of those invested in pimping racial acrimony and tension, it'll be here to stay. One would think that a half-black president getting elected by a nation that is majority white would silence the tired and vapid chorus of the racial preference industry, but sadly, too many people have welded themselves to yesterday's dead causes, at the expense of tomorrow's honesty and betterment. Oh well. Just call bullshit where you see it.

It's interesting to watch the decline of the Ivy League. As the product of decently reputable -but not Ivy league- schools himself, the werewolf is fascinated by the gradual decline. There are many things to attribute to it, however, the cost paradigm is what he thinks will eventually do them all in. (The elitist crap has side-effects, but will not be driver) As the population continues to grow, capital for the middle class gets reallocated differently, and there ceases to be a justification for the excessive tuition charged by the elite private schools, especially as the return-on-investment (ROI), gets harder to calculate. The werewolf is convinced that flagship state institutions that offer the same measurable and perceived quality, will become the new preferred destination and hyper elite school sets. With the exception of a few highly specialized graduate divisions, he thinks the Ivy's will have to work harder than they think to stay relevant. Many of the Ivy's and elites schools have poorly managed huge portions of their endowments. This will drive even more people away as they raise tuition to cover their poor investment choices, while cutting back on programs that may have distinguished them. It'll be interesting to watch.

The werewolf is an Africanist by education and passion, and everything that comes out of the middle east, exacerbates his migraines. He thinks that Hanson calls out the bullshit beautifully. That being said, as long as the middle east commands a large portion of the commodity oil, is the focus of western diplomatic efforts, and is a source of global jihad, putting up with the ridiculous terms and realities of it are a de facto headache the world will have to tolerate. He would like to see more intellectual challenges to the perceived understanding regarding the rest of the world's flash points. Wishful thinking.


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