Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Glimmer of Optimism about America

Some of us have become markedly pessimistic about America. The war against American culture is ongoing and corrosive. It destroys national unity, undermines patriotism and sets faction against faction. Without a common culture and a common national purpose, we are not looking at very many bright tomorrows.

But, Joel Kotkin offers a slightly more optimistic tone about the current state of America’s disaggregation, and we will allow him his analysis.

He begins his Newsweek column by concluding, based on the election results of two weeks ago, that America is not really a radical leftist nation. Fair enough.Most Americans reject the radical progressivism practiced by the Squad and other squid-like groups:

Only a very small fraction of Americans, well under 10 percent, consider themselves progressive, and most reject the view of America as uniquely fallen. And the prevalence of the "woke" view in the media and popular culture, despite how marginal it is in American society, goes a long way toward explaining the Democrats' astounding losses at the polls last week.

He continues to suggest that the current media and academy driven anti-Americanism is not finding very many adherents. One might notice that this does not seem to reduce its power.

This is really an argument about history, at the end of the day. Can we have a shared national culture is another way of asking if we can have a shared interpretation of our past. And the answer right now seems to be no. Consonant with its view of America as fallen, the (tiny) progressive Left believes that American history is uniquely shameful and racist, a view that provides the rationale for separating third graders by race and asking them to rank their "privilege." And despite their small numbers, the progressives have the educational and corporate establishment behind them.

What they don't have is the support of parents, who are clearly in rebellion. Increasing numbers are home schooling, or shifting to charters and private schools. And contrary to the progressive myth around this, it's not because they don't want to teach the tragedies within American history, or the changing nature of America. It's not that these parents don't believe instruction these days requires a greater emphasis on the role of ethnic minorities; it's that they believe this instruction should not reduce minorities to victims but should cast them as what they are—contributors to our national culture and economy within an admittedly imperfect system.

True enough, parents across America are protecting their children from the mass indoctrination that the public schools are offering. And yet, how effective will this be in the long run?

As we know, Asian parents have long since taken charge of their children’s educations. They are not allowing their children to feast on the trendy leftism that schoolteachers are purveying. Ultimately, this separates America by class, and perhaps even by race. On one side we have the Asian overachievers; on the other we have the rest. We have divided the nation and have politicized just about everything, to our detriment.

Much of it has to do with values, with the ambient ethos. As of now, the habit of denouncing Western values as “white” can only have the effect of teaching minority children how to fail. The damage done to black children will be inestimable. 

Sadly, it is now the fashion to denounce things like hard work, punctuality, individualism and family as "white." But minorities, particularly immigrants, often show a greater proclivity to start businesses than many Americans and are generally more culturally conservative, both in the U.S. and the U.K., than the native born. Asian parents in particular have reacted negatively to motions to remove standards for academic high schools, which blame successful Asians for adopting "white supremacist thinking" as a San Francisco school board member put it.

In order to produce what is now called equity, schools are hard at work shutting down advanced math and science education. If minority children fail at these tasks, our pedagogues believe that we can solve the problem by denouncing math and science as white. This is so stupid, it takes your breath away:

Particularly concerning is the assault on math and science, where immigrants and their children now predominate. Science itself, as former Obama advisor physicist Steve Koonin notes, is becoming increasingly politicized. On campuses, militant groups like "Shut down STEM" seek to recalibrate science and math and even such seemingly innocent fields as astronomy to fill the progressive critique of western advances.

And traditional American values involving the rule of law, the right to due process of law, the respect for jury trials and the adherence to objective standards are being undermined by radical leftist ideas:

Meanwhile, the ideas critical to the operation of a diverse society—the rule of law, debate, objectivity—are now increasingly replaced by post-modernist ideas about race and gender, something the Biden Administration sadly seems to have embraced. And the media, rather than oppose illiberalism, now celebrates it. In too many cases, notes long-time liberal writer Andrew Sullivan, "the narrative replaces the news," often using convoluted, opaque and awkward language that would have offended a good socialist like George Orwell.

As promised, Kotkin finds a glimmer of optimism in the darkness. More and more Americans are rejecting the views of their philosopher kings:

The good news is that Americans are pushing back, including people on the Left. The public now disdains the media at historic levels. The ratings for all the networks—particularly the ultra-politicized CNN—have cratered, while Hollywood's politically correct movies have done poorly. Hollywood's party line progressive orthodoxy clearly repels many Americans.

All of this points toward a hunger among Americans for a return to a shared culture and shared history—the one abandoned by the would-be cultural arbiters.

I fear that it will take more than a hunger. Too many minds have been ruined by the non-stop leftist indoctrination in the schools. And too much money is behind the effort to take down America.

A recovery is not going to happen today. It is not going to happen tomorrow. More and more young people now take pride in hating their country. Corporate managers report that young hires lack the most basic work and social skills. Many Americans are happy to allow the news to be censored:

A shift in culture can't come fast enough; we're already seeing a large drop in patriotism among the young. Already more than one in three young people are lukewarm about their country and more than two in five favor such things as censorship of unpopular views, according to the Pew Research Center.

So, it’s going to be a long uphill climb. Kotkin shows that many Americans do not like what is going on. And we grant the point. And yet, the powers that be, in the media and academia are lined up against these values, so, one can entertain only a glimmer of optimism.


markedup2 said...

This is good news, albeit only a glimmer of awareness.

As for the time involved, it took as about 100 years to get here. Much like weight loss - it takes about the same amount of time to lose it as it took to gain it (if you want to keep it gone) - it's going to take significant time to recover.

On the bright side, the cream will rise. The incompetent are going to find their safety net much reduced when we simply cannot afford it any longer. The hard-working will do OK, if not well, as they always (ok, "usually") do.

I highly recommend getting out of big cities. The hard-working are concentrated (but not exclusively found) in jobs that keep cities livable - such as food production and delivery. If truck drivers demand a premium to enter the shitholes that our cities are becoming or plumbers to enter certain neighborhoods, you don't want to be around for the results (the "racism" screams will be schadenfreudelicious).

It's just annoying to have to live through a self-imposed crisis. This was all avoidable, but, no, the good need to suffer because of the evil and the idiots who follow them. Perhaps a lesson to us all to react faster next time.

james said...

The times I have tracked down who makes the calls for "decolonization of mathematics" the perpetrator has never been a mathematician. Someone with a degree in math education, yes; someone who does real work in the field, no.

Knowing how to teach (having a degree in teaching may not be the same thing) seems to be regarded as at least as important as having the domain knowledge of what you are teaching. I wonder if our information gatekeepers--teachers and reporters--have been trained in a kind of glib "My certificate gives me mastery of fields I haven't studied."

After all, if I can teach the subject, surely I must understand it already. If I am trusted to report on it, I obviously understand all the important parts.

Skwab said...

Kotkin is a deluded fool.
He sometimes asks the right questions.
But, He'll never believe or understand the right answers. They threaten his worldview too much.

Sam L. said...

I gave up on NEWSWEEK back in the '60s.

Sam L. said...

Also, TIME.