It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
(From the musical South Pacific)

Or not taught at all. Last week as I sat in my cosy home office contemplating things, the ebb and flow of the internet brought to me the woebegone maunderings of a (presumably) white and (arguably) somewhat credentialed Millennial, who in her search for meaning and purpose in her life wound up involved in those anti-pipeline protests near the Sioux reservation. The ukase of her lament seemed to be that she had no native culture, not in comparison with those charming and dignified tribal elders. She appeared to view them as benign, terribly exotic, definitely ‘other’ – pretty much the same lens with which the old National Geographic viewed and photographed those interesting aboriginal peoples in far distant foreign lands all these decades ago.

And it was terribly sad to read, because the poor child does in fact, have a culture of her own – just that she has been deprived of it; deprived by intent or by cultivated sloth on the part of those who should have taught it to her; the unimaginably rich canon knowledge of western culture – our history, art, literature, music, technology, folkways. Homer and Cervantes, Shakespeare, da Vinci, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner and Rossini, Dickens and Twain, Michelangelo and Machiavelli, Brunel and Bruneschelli, the Brothers Grimm, the Brothers Wright, Don Juan of Austria and Ulysses S. Grant, the Duke of Wellington and whoever it was invented the toilet flush valve and the first working sewing machine. Likely all this and more were never taught to her, or what is worse – badly taught and as examples of western racism or whatever. To live without a sense of history is to be adrift in a kind of cultural sensory-deprivation tank, as exhibited by that child.

I can’t make up my mind which is the bigger crime against the minds of the young these days: the sin of omission in neglecting to teach them anything but the most anodyne little bits and bobs … or the deliberate commission involved in teaching them that western culture is one long sodden exercise in violence, racism, sexism and other -isms yet to be discovered by the tireless exploration of social justice scholars. (I have been told that we have socialist subversion on the part of malignant fools like Antonio Gramsci to blame for this sad state of affairs.) That second alternative has produced bitter, self-involved credentialed idiots like Sarah Jeong, who as of this week still has a prestigious position at our so-called national newspaper of record, the New York Times.

It is a good thing that many responsible parents are turning to home schooling, I suppose – and that many more miseducated adults are embarking on a belated program of independent self-education. Nature does abhor a vacuum, but shouldn’t our society offer a little more of substance to fill that vacuum? Discuss what can and might be done, if you can bear to contemplate the disaster that is education in the western world these days.

(Bonus – meme appropriated from the internet)
Sarah Jeung - Ask Your Grandma


  1. Jim Burke

    Yut! Nailed it again. Hadn’t seen that meme – on time on target

  2. “I dare you to get on Wikipedia and play “things white people can definitely take credit for…”

    Bringing more products to more people than anyone anywhere on Earth, in history? If someone on the poverty line is living a relatively comfortable life, that isn’t thanks to the wonders of socialism, but rather of the vast production capacity of the (relatively) free market.

    To bring up the Korean war again in a different context, North and South Korea weren’t all that different economically at the end of it. And yet, they almost couldn’t be more different NOW. This isn’t an accident.

    • Actually, in 1945 when the original Soviet vs Us occupation zones were established, the north was the industrial part of the country, while the south was primarily agricultural.

      • richard hampel

        Only partly true. There was industry in the USSR zone near Berlin and other areas, but the Western zine also had the Ruhr Valley, which was the industrial heart of Germany. I would say on the whole industry was about equally divided pre war between the Eastern and Western zones. Although that did not matter much anyway, since the war destroyed most existing German industry, and any they ended up with was rebuilt after the war ended. The bigger variable was skilled workers, and I suspect many skilled workers purposely made sure they ended up in the Western Zone, since they knew we would treat them a lot better than the Soviets would. The other big variable was the free market economy of Western Germany drew a lot more post war capital investment than the Communist one of East Germany.

  3. Anne R. Abler

    “What is honored in a country is cultivated there.” Plato

    “What is cultivated in a country is honored there.” Everybody who has ever read Plato.

  4. Felix Kasza

    Careful teaching of the young should also include an admonition to eschew words whose meaning is perhaps not quite firm in the writer’s mind. The case in point is “ukase” which is an edict issued by one of the Russian czars of yore and, by extension, any sort of command imposed from above; but it is certainly not anything with the meaning of “summary” or “core”.

    That niggle out of the way, I fully agree with what you say. Thanks!

    • You know, Felix, you are unquestionably right, yet, considering the orthodoxical thinking of our progressive friends these days, I think a case could be made for ukase.

      • Felix Kasza

        That is actually close to the truth, too close for comfort; where I live, these people have already suborned the European Union (originally purely a customs union) because they know best, after all. I am still advocating for tar, feathers and a rail for now, but the progressives are rapidly exhausting my benevolence as well as my patience.

  5. Re: Sarah Jeong: Watson&Crick, Pasteur, Alexander Fleming, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky…ignoring her numerous other failings, the fact that SJ finds it difficult to make such a list confirms everything I think about her.