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Monolith Looms Over Harvard
From: Fred
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 2003  03:24:27 PM

I am informed by the Harvard Crimson* that the boys among the studentry recently fashioned a large penis from snow on the grounds of the university. Grave consequences ensued. A great squealing arose, as if a Victorian spinster had found a man under her bed. There was righteousness enough to gag Jonathan Edwards. Feminists made solemn asses of themselves. It was a splendid show and a good time was had by all. 

The--I will avoid all the obvious plays on words--construction of the offending organ was the sort of tasteless, crass, immature, natural, and entertaining thing that college boys are supposed to do. I wish I had thought of it. The reasonable response would have been for the administration to take it down and go about their business of mismanaging the school. 

But no. The feminists among Hahvad's girl chillun promptly got their knickers in a bunch over the chill appendage. (The frigid attacking the frigid.) (Wait. No, I promised I wouldn't do that.) But then, perhaps the uproar represented progress. These basilisks being what they are, I'm surprised they recognized the thing. 

As in all affairs involving feminism, language was the first casualty. One Amy Keel, class of '04, opined, "As a feminist, pornography is degrading to women and creates a violent atmosphere," which implies either that pornography is a feminist or that Amy wasn't paying a lot of attention in sixth-grade English. No, Amy, pornography does not create a violent atmosphere. 

She then proceeded to pull rank by claiming to be a "rape survivor." This is a show-stopper for feminists, for whom it is a stock in trade. They cherish rape as a tobacconist does tobacco. The least of them, which is all of them, can quote statistics showing that seven out of every three women have been raped in the last minute and a half. To doubt the veracity of such a traumatized girl would be terribly insensitive and few men will essay it. Which is the reason for the claim. 

Now, I know nothing of Amy, except that she speaks estrogenated Marxigunch. Yet I notice that an awful lot of feminettes parade themselves as rape veterans, and brandish their status as a political broadsword. Given that they tend to be phenomenal liars, in such cases it might be prudent to respond, "Yes. No doubt. You can show me the police report, I suppose. Otherwise the skeptical might think you had awarded yourself a Purple Heart. We wouldn't want that." 

(Their response would be, "It was so destructive to my self-esteem that I didn't report it." Then, often, they tell newspapers about it. I can hardly think of a better way to keep a secret.) 

Continuing her analysis of the snowy projection, Amy said, "Men think they have the right to force that on you. It's a logical extension." No doubt the sculpture was an extension of sorts, but…logical? The adjective would not have occurred to me. 

Amy, with a roommate in support, assaulted the protuberance with the intention of deconstructing it. "A few people came out and crowded me with their bodies and one person shoved me away from the penis," she said. "It was gendered violence, because [their comments] were said in the context of our gender and accompanied by aggressive actions toward us." 

As silly cant and boilerplate prudery, Amy's approximations of thoughts are amusing, but the undercurrent of prissy sexual fear depresses. When I was a college boy, the girls would have laughed, rolled their eyes and said, "Guys. What can you do with them?" and perhaps made invidious comparisons concerning their boyfriends. Then they would have wandered off and done something constructive. Study, even. 

Understandably people get tired of "When I was a kid" wisdom. Yet there is a relevance. The girls of rural Virginia in 1962 were emotionally hardy, perfectly able to handle boys, seldom depressed, and couldn't have achieved neurosis with a birddog and a buzz saw. As far as I know, the word "self-esteem" didn't exist. Anorexia and bulimia hadn't been invented, and would have found no market. Within the limits of the shocks the flesh is heir to, girls were happy and psychically sound. So were boys. 

What happened? Those who devote their young lives to looking in closets and being perpetually angry when they have no reason for doing so, who seem devoured by pointless anxiety actively courted, cannot be happy. 

Adolescence is not the exclusive province of the adolescent, though it loses its appeal in those beyond its proper ambit. Saith the Crimson, Harvard has a lecturer in Women's Studies called Diane Rosenfeld, who teaches Women, Violence and the Law. (Remember when Harvard was a university?) Said Diane, "The ice sculpture was erected in a public space, one that should be free from menacing reminders of women's sexual vulnerability…Women do not need to be reminded of the power of the symbol of the male genitalia. My guess is that they are constantly reminded of it in daily messages." 

One imagines a long line of FedEx employees rushing up with the messages. 

The solemnity of the incorrigibly absurd is perhaps its own punishment. I hope so. But whence the "sexual vulnerability"? The sorrow of my life in college was the lack of such vulnerability. 

My guess is this. The sexual vulnerability of women springs not from rapists but from having been made by feminists into easy sexual game. When I was coming up, college girls could say "yes," and frequently did. But they didn't have to. They could choose whether, when, and with whom. The Pill existed, but society had not decayed to the point that a girl almost had to use it. 

The rules changed, but women didn't. Under the old rules, a male had to stick around if he wanted sex. Since he was going to be around for a while, he chose someone he really liked. Sex was a wonderful idea, and always a possibility, but not the heart of things. 

Under the new rules, the woman has to provide sex in advance to have any hope of anything else, because there is always someone else who will say yes. Among young males, the sex drive trumps everything if women let it. Today, waving the flag of liberation, they do. They still want respect, romance, commitment, and marriage. Yes, many will furiously deny it. Date them a few years later. But feminism and contraception have turned the tables not so much in favor of men, as in favor of sex over all else. 

The effect has been to commoditize women, to make them into, yes, sex objects. One day they will come shrink-wrapped. 

Gun Control...It Doesn't Have Much To Do With Guns
From: Fred
Date: 31 Jan 2002
Time: 16:37:52

If you were to trust the media, truly never a wise thing to do, you might believe the controversy over gun-control to be a Manichean dispute between shadowy fascists and an angelic horde. (Journalism is ever the dark night of the mind.) Talk to the contending forces and you get an equally silly view: The pro-gun folk think that the other side wants to make the nation into a communist dictatorship. The anti-gun crowd believe that the other side consists of heartless Bull Conner clones who want shoot orphans, widows, and people in wheel chairs. Actually, good and evil have little to do with it. The debate over guns is a clash of cultures, a confrontation of different kinds of character, a disagreement over social philosophy, and even--though few notice this--over free will and determinism. The contending factions don't need guns to detest each other. They would anyway. 

Those who favor free ownership of firearms tend to be rural, from the South or west, tough-minded, self-reliant, and disposed to believe in personal responsibility-- i.e., free will. Those opposed are usually urban or suburban, more northerly and easterly, unacquainted with self-reliance, tender-minded, and inclined to believe in determinism--i.e., that society determines our behavior. Exception can be found in droves, yes. Western megalopolitans may oppose ownership of guns, while New Yorkers from small towns may not. But the foregoing dichotomies establish the poles of the debate. 

The two sides have entirely different views of the world. In their approach to guns, both are expressing their experience. They hate each other. 

Let's start with the outlook of the pro-gun folk. I know them well, having grown up in rural Virginia. Everybody had guns, certainly including me. (A lovely Marlin lever-action .22.) Kids of fifteen bought ammunition at any country store, and no one thought anything of it. The first day of deer season was a high-school holiday, since the teachers knew that the boys weren't going to be there anyway. 

Guns were several things to us. To people who often lived at the low end of lower middle class, the shooting of ninety pounds of dressed venison was not trivial. Farmers used guns to kill whistle pigs that ate crops. Shooting was sport, guns and dogs a source of protection in lonely homes. For a boy, getting a first gun was a rite of passage to adulthood, or toward it, like a driver's license or a girl's first bra. Though few recognized it, guns symbolized the independence that rural people prize. 

There was almost no crime, and no gun crime at all. We shot rats, deer, beer cans, frogs, and golf balls. (Well, I did.) We didn't shoot each other. We didn't think about it. There were things you just didn't do. When two kids settled a dispute in the boy's room, bloody noses and puffy eyes abounded. Nobody--ever--kicked the other guy in the head, picked up a piece of pipe, or went for a gun. 

People viewed crime as a choice. Nobody made you rob a bank. You did it because you decided to. Personal responsibility. Guns? We had lot of guns. We had no crime. Therefore guns didn't cause crime. Quod erat demonstrandum. Any fool could see it. 

Now consider those who oppose guns. They live in urban agglomerations where people exercise little control over their circumstances. They are accustomed to relying on the group instead of on themselves. Police provide protection, the plumber changes washers, Safeway supplies food, a mechanic does things with the alternator whazzit. Contractors build the addition to the house. Dependence on society is the rule. 

Theirs is a society of the tender-minded, inclined toward organized compassion instead of toward gutting it out, a land of therapy, support groups, and the detailed study of feelings. Having little sense of individual control over destiny, their lives narrowly bounded by the rules and regulations needed in mass society, heavily psychologized and Oprahficated, they lean toward believing that we do what we do because of society's influence. You rob a bank because of your upbringing. 

No personal responsibility. 

To them, crime is like the weather: something one suffers rather than something one does anything about. Criminals in cities are too numerous to be suppressed except by harsh measures which, aside from being unconstitutional, do not appeal to the tender-minded. Criminals, they believe, can't be held to civilized standards of behavior. So at least take their guns away, and they won't shoot each other. 

Which of the two views of existence is correct, if either, I don't know. If I had been raised in the ghetto, I'd probably be a drug dealer. But that's what the dispute is about. 

There is, of course, more than the cultural divide behind the dispute. The unspoken subtext of debate over guns, always, is race. Whites are terrified of blacks. When their first kid reaches school age, the parents move to the whiter suburbs--liberals as quickly as conservatives. When whites think about armed robbers, rapists, or burglars coming through the window in the night, they think about blacks. The statistics bear them out. The carnage in the cities, for example, is almost entirely committed by blacks against blacks. 

But no one dares mention race. For liberals--though they fear blacks and flee from them: look where they live, for example--there is a powerful ideological aversion, forged in the anti-apartheid movement of the Sixties, to criticizing blacks. The black vote is crucial to Democrats in presidential elections. Reporters keep their heads down: The chains of political correctness are real and strong. You can lose your job by saying the wrong things. Consequently what writers say, we don't believe, and what we believe, we don't say. 

If you fear crime, yet can't attack the criminals without seeming to be racist, and either can't or won't do anything practical about racial ills, then you attack guns. There is no political penalty. (Oddly, the recent series of multiple murders in the high schools and elsewhere have been a godsend for people opposed to guns because the killers have been almost entirely white.) 

That, it sez here, is the reality of gun-control.

Green Soldiers And Violence - Hey, The Hulk Was Green, Wasn't He?
From: Fred
Date: 29 Jan 2002
Time: 15:22:39
I’m going to feed them to hyenas. The prissy passive-aggressive do-gooderesses in the schools, I mean: The ones who think dodge ball is violence, and get their undies in a bunch over plastic ray guns. I figure to coat them with Spam to make them more appetizing to the hyenas, who might otherwise prefer a week-old dead zebra. In the Wilmington (N.C.) Morning Star* a headline appeared a few months back: “Tempest in a toy chest: State rater deducts points for preschool’s ‘violent plastic soldiers.’” 

I’m going to get big nasty hyenas -- retarded ones, just to be sure. They’ll eat anything. 

It seems there’s a preschool in Wilmington called Kids Gym Schoolhouse, and it was getting evaluated by the state. Now, this makes reasonable sense. You want to make sure the school wasn’t built around an open mine shaft, and that the owner isn’t a maniac who locks the kids in a basement and feeds them poisoned turnips, and that the building isn’t a fire trap, or full of hornets. OK. That works. Got it. 

As it turned out, Kids Gym School was just fine, nothing wrong with it, except – one of the inspecting do-gooderesses, ever alert, noticed that the little boys were playing with green plastic soldiers. 

Yes. Green ones. The horror. 

“If stereotyping or violence is shown with regard to any group, then credit cannot be given,” wrote evaluator Katie Haseldon. “It was observed that nine ‘army men’ were present in the block play area. These figures reflect stereotyping and violence, therefore credit can not be given.” 

I understand her concern. You know how kids are: First it’s toy soldiers, then it’s human sacrifice. Studies show that kids who start with G.I. Joe, especially if he’s green, move on to vivisection of unpopular classmates, particularly orphans. 

The labored English of the indictment puzzles. What has stereotyping to do with it? A stereotype is the aggregate observation of many people over time, which is why stereotypes are almost always accurate. Stereotyping means recognizing the obvious. In an academic context, or in the public schools, it means noticing that the wrong groups are better at things. This we must never, ever do. 

But…stereotyping of what? Green men? 

Anyway, do-gooders. Methinks that people who Do Good to people who don’t want it done to them are actually up to something else entirely. They’re playing “Gotcha!” Remember the class tattletale in third grade? Peggy would tell the teacher “Ricky’s got candy in his desk!” and watch with smug hostility as Ricky caught it. Little boys didn’t do this, not because some of them weren’t wormy enough, but because they knew they would eventually have to leave the schoolyard. For girls there was no accountability. There still isn’t. 

The point is that Peggy wasn’t energized by an abstract concern for the rule of law, or solicitude for the future health of Ricky’s dentition. She was angry, she didn’t know at what, and had discovered that she could use the system to punish others in the name of virtue. 


A similar vague anger underlies today’s widespread animosity, ostensibly toward violence – little boys ejected from school for pointing a chicken finger and saying “Bang!” or for drawing a picture of a soldier. Are we to believe that the commissars of niceness really believe that drawing a GI is a punishable offense, or a sign of budding psychopath (who will be cured by a three-day suspension)? Of course not. They are not so stupid, nor are they quite crazy. They are hostile. They want the satisfaction of making others knuckle under. And they have learned to use the system to do it. 

Mostly they are women. Why? Part of the obsession with imaginary violence may derive from the female drive for security, security, security. But the constant assault on little boys is, I think, an extension of The Chip, the snappish, distempered animosity toward all things male that characterizes American women. This ferret-like bad humor drives the feminization of the United States. In the schools it manifests itself in the opposition to rough boys games (violence), to competition of any kind (self-esteem might suffer), to grades (some grades are better than others). Performance has always been a male focus, niceness a female one. 

Women are said to be more psychologically astute than men. I don’t think so. They know how to manipulate men – flash a leg, cry, look helpless, withhold sex, withhold the children. They seldom have the dimmest idea how men think, why they do what they do, or why they might want to. They don’t understand why males want to go faster, take things apart, fiddle with computers, see what would happen if. 

They aren’t happy in a male world, and so work furiously to feminize it. And, being angry at they-aren’t-sure-what, they have decided that men are responsible for – well, whatever it is. Thus, among many other things, the desire to turn little boys into little girls. 

Malignant feminization has consequences. After Ahmet and Mahmud got the World Trade Center, America took up hobbyist patriotism. Yuppies everywhere became willing to send someone else to fight wars. Yet at the same time, the schools punish children for playing soldier, for drawing soldiers, for playing with plastic soldiers, and for chickenstickery. How sensible: As the military desperately seeks recruits, the government of North Carolina, and apparently the public schools in general, teach little boys that being a soldier is Bad, Bad, Bad. 

Note that it is the state of North Carolina. The owner of the preschool said, correctly, that the position of the raters was absurd. “But Anna Carter, supervisor of the N.C. Division of Child Development’s Policy and Program Unit, said authors of the Environmental Rating System consider toy soldiers inappropriate because they represent a violent theme.” It wasn’t just one distressed do-gooderess. North Carolina, by governmental policy, is hostile to the American armed forces. 

In the military itself, the same feminization, powered by The Chip, has brought a focus on feelings and self-esteem, a drastic lowering of physical standards, the usual obsession with sexual harassment, and the conversion of the armed services into homes for unwed mothers. In none of this is there any comprehension of what militaries are for. Nor is there sympathy for the competitiveness of the military male, for the urge to push limits, for charging hard and taking chances, for the rough camaraderie of barracks and encampment. Instead, blank incomprehension. 

Tell you what. Virulent niceness is going to turn us all into angry, confused semi-male women and repressed male milquetoasts living in fear of the vengefully good. Salvation, I say, lies in hyenas.

Democracy - Sort Of - Kinda - Maybe, Anyway.
From: Fred
Date: 21 Jan 2002
Time: 15:00:03

Perhaps the oddest idea regarding democracy is the belief that more than five people want it. Other curious notions are that it quite exists, or ever did, or is particularly desirable, or likely to endure. Few say this. We are all subjected in high school to advertising slogans about Truth, Justice, Freedom, the Will of the People, and Inalienable Rights. High-minded catch-phrases precede and spur all revolutions, whether American, French ("Liberty, equality, fraternity!") or Russian ("Workers of the world, unite." "The dictatorship of the proletariat." "From each according"."). 

In the American case, principled naïfs like Tom Jefferson and George Mason saw democracy, or said they saw it, as the road of the future and an instrument of morality. It would make things better. It would end tyranny, the preferred form of government in Europe at the time. 

It did, pretty much. Or did if you were not an Indian, a miner in West Virginia, an indentured servant, a black, or a kid of ten being sweated in New York’s garment industry. In Europe, tyranny was imposed by the central government, usually an inbred royal family that bled when touched. In America it was under local control, spread over tenant farms and cotton fields. The political right pretends this didn’t happen, and the political left pretends that nothing else happened. 

The United States, as it became, progressed less because of political democracy than because of economic freedom. Then as now, most of the electorate knew little of the issues. Votes, depending on the period, were delivered by machines in cities at the command of political bosses. Newspapers, the closest thing to television until television, were as manipulated and manipulative as the media are today. Then, as now, pols understood that it profited more to gull fifty rubes than to try to persuade one the informed. It was democracy of a sort, though not the sort trumpeted in texts. 

Part of the conventional hooha is the notion that people want democracy, and will defend it to the death. To believe this is to misunderstand the very foundation of politics. Most people wanted, and want, only to be comfortable -- i.e., fed, warm, dry, secure, amused, and sexually satisfied. 

Tyranny has existed chiefly because it has been the only way for tyrants to live in what passed in their times for luxury. Until recently, the productivity of societies was so dismally low that the only way to be rich was to concentrate the exiguous wealth of the poor, which meant almost everybody. The way to do this was to get a sword and some henchmen and systematically rob everyone else. You needed the sword because, when a peasant didn’t have enough to eat in the first place, he didn’t want you to take half of it to have banquets in your castle. He would be likely to object fatally if he could figure out how. 

Democracy appealed to him because he thought it meant he could keep his crops. It was the only reason it appealed. If he had enough to eat, he didn’t care what went on in Paris. He still doesn’t. 

But today the factories are so immoderately fecund that almost everyone can live at a high standard. (A double-wide with a satellite dish, Internet connectivity, a pick-up truck and a beer supply is in fact a pretty high standard of living. Ask a thirteenth-century peasant.) Consequently oppression isn’t needed: The impulse to revolt is nonexistent.. Prosperity is the opiate of the masses. 

And of tyrants. Those who in another century would have inclined to tyranny don’t have to bother. They can get filthy rich by jiggering the stock market, doing leveraged buy-outs, or engaging promiscuously in real estate. Swords have become unnecessary. A Donald Trump can sack New York without putting anyone to death. Such is our national wealth that, after he has done it, no one notices. 

The other incentive to tyranny was power. However, the flood of goods that pours from factories permits those who crave power to get it without riling the peasants (you and me). These, after all, are happy with their SUVs and home theater. Putting it succinctly, sufficient ambient money severs rapacity from oppressiveness. Men who would have butchered countries no longer have to. They can instead sell aircraft companies, elect governors, and otherwise enjoy, more or less harmlessly, the psychic emoluments of potency. 

Which may not be a bad deal. 

In any event, the principle that comfort trumps democracy underlies society today. We have the trappings of elections, the theater of close counts, the excitement of watching the polls that is, the emotions associated with a tight football season. But what real influence do we have? Can we divert the remotely chosen path of our children’s education, alter or even speak against the flow of immigrants across our borders, question racial preferences? No. These things are decided for us. We can lose our jobs for speaking of them. The more things matter, the less we can say. 

Freedom? We have economic freedom, yes: We can start a computer company if we are smart enough, work hard enough, and find the capital. This keeps the ambitious from becoming radical. 

We can exercise any freedom that doesn’t endanger the status quo. We can live where we want, change jobs, watch pornography, read seditious books and even write them (provided we don’t seek wide circulation), and buy endless things we don’t need or much want. But we can’t speak our minds. 

Two things allow the appearance of democracy without the substance. The unanimity of the media permits the inculcation of appropriate values, while not providing lateral communication between individuals. The Internet changes this, but apparently in no practical sense. The other is the satisfaction of the drives for food, comfort, sex, and entertainment. Satiety breeds indifference. 

Things could be worse. If you want to read the classics, or teach them to your children, you can. You just can’t get the schools to teach them. Any book you want, any music, any vacation, any sport from golf to hang gliding, you can easily find. Existence is as secure as it is likely to get. Software gets better. Cable sometimes offers five hundred channels, I hear, or will soon. Life is good. 

It is only the important things that are decided quietly, far away, by the political classes who know where the country should go, who know what is right and will, gradually, without any jackboots at all, make us what we should be.

From: Fred 
Date: 09 Jan 2002 
Time: 15:53:30 

This should be easy to explain. Theists believe in one or more gods. End of discussion, right? Well, there are almost as many conceptions of God as there are theists. There is a wide gulf between the all-too-human gods of ancient Rome, and the abstract, pantheistic concepts of some liberal Protestants (such as the Congregationalists and the Unitarian-Universalist Association). (Just to remind you, in these pages we will be using "the Force " in place of God, because the word "God" is loaded with so much emotional baggage.) 

The "Force" can mean an unseen presence that regulates the ethics of humans, or a Force may represent the earth, the sky, an animal species, a place, or anything else conceived of as an ideal. A Force's perceived sphere of influence may be the entire universe, the world, or something as local as a mountain top or a village. 

What "theism" is: Theism is the belief in the existence of a Force or Forces. 

The belief in one Force, is monotheism (from Greek for "one Force"). 

The belief in many, independent Forces is polytheism (from Greek for "many gods"). 

The belief in two divine Forces (i.e. God and The Devil) would be "ditheism" if we used the Greek, however the concept is more often called "dualism" or "dualist theism," or something like that. 

What "theism" is not: 
"Atheism" is the belief in "no Force." 
"Pantheism" is usually used in the meaning that "everything is the Force ." "Deism" is the belief that the Force created the universe but does not micromanage it. 
"Agnosticism" is the belief that it is impossible to know (at least yet) whether a Force exists. 

"Ideologies" may be believed in as devotedly as traditional beliefs in the Force.

From: Fred
Date: 09 Jan 2002
Time: 16:13:08
AND A HUG FOR EVERYBODY What is there instead, if there's no God? There is humanity -- all six billion of us. We have each other. All of us are riding on this planet. We should be nice to it. It is possible to enrich yourself without impoverishing others. And it is possible to enrich others without impoverishing yourself. 

Why should we need a God? When we need love the Energy is within us so to create successful relationships, enduring intimacy and passion. When we need good health, the Energy is within us to activate our inner spiritual power for transformation and healing. When we need money, the Energy is within us to create opportunities for financial success and abundance. 

There is so much beauty in the universe, sometimes we forget to look at it and enjoy it. We get so caught up in our daily lives, that we don't realize how much we take for granted. Look around you. Watch the colors of the sunrise and sunset. Admire the freshness of the air after it rains. 

Listen to the feelings of the people around you. Is there someone who needs a hug, or a kind word? It doesn't take much effort to brighten somebody's day. 

Look also at the bullies who would take away our liberty, our loves and lives. United we can stand up to the fascists, autocrats and puritans who bring needless suffering and misery to humanity. 

In the Tao-Te-Ching, #78, Lao-Tzu reminds us that there is nothing as adaptable as water. And yet, water has the strength to cut through solid rock. Each of us alone is like one drop of water -- we adapt to what we cannot change. But all of us together can change the course of history. And that is more valuable than empty promises of salvation after we're dead. The real miracles are the good we can do together. So let's have a big hug for everybody. 

The Case Against Self-Concept ... Why Mama Doan' 'Low No Self-Esteem Roun' Heah
From: Fred
Date: 10 Jan 2002
Time: 15:15:52
If I hear anyone say “self-esteem” again, I’m gonna get my duck gun. What I figure is, we’ll catch all the varmints that talk about self-esteem – those pale radishy psychotherapists and feeble-minded educators and enormous talk-show ladies who look like slabs of fatback, only a scientist spilled radiation on it and it sprouted legs. Then we’ll get one of those medieval catapults, the kind that can chuck a ton for a mile. I reckon Oprah would carry at least twenty feet. We’ll fill it with the varmints. Then we’ll put it next to an alligator swamp and invite all the duck hunters, and holler, “Pu-ll-lllllllllllllllll!” What the duck hunters missed, the gators wouldn’t.

Then we’d go for beer and ribs. 

This self-esteem business has gotten out of hand. Turn on the TV, if you don’t have better sense, and you’ll probably get some gal talking about how her self-esteem has gone rancid, and has warts on it, and maybe sags where it shouldn’t so she’s thinking about an implant. 

Usually it’s a woman. Men doubt themselves, but they respond differently. When a man gets to feeling sorry for himself he drinks himself into a stupor. If he really means it, he loses his job and ends up living under a bench. He may get into bar fights. Maybe he’ll just get moody and sulk or inflict a short-man’s complex on everybody. But he won’t tell Oprah how pitiful he is on national television. He doesn’t want anyone to know. 

Now, there are reasons for low self-esteem. If you’ve started a war, for instance, or burned down an orphanage for the insurance and forgot to take the orphans out first, or you’re a televangelist and got old people to send you their savings so now they’re living in cardboard boxes and eating Vienna sausages. Do the rascals who do these things feel bad about themselves? 

No. They’re happy as bugs on a picnic sandwich. 

The folk with low self-esteem are perfectly good people who can’t get dates. (An awful lot of this self-esteem stuff seems to boil down to exactly that.) Or maybe they had unhappy childhoods (who didn’t?) or didn’t get as far in life as they had hoped to (who does?) At bottom they’ve got a case of ordinary life, which ain’t all collard greens and ham hocks. They don’t need low self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with them. 

Maybe the reason they have low self-esteem is that people think television is real. If you lived in a small town with no TV, you’d know that everybody was tolerably miserable -- the banker was a drunk, the preacher cheated, the mayor and his wife hated each other. 

But the fantasy box tells you that the world is chiefly populated by glamorous hunks and gorgeous babes. They live like James Bond and don’t have problems. Maybe guys watch this stuff and start thinking, “Geez, I don’t have a Maserati, I’ve never been in a gunfight with international drug lords, and I’m the only man in America who hasn’t married Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, how I’ve failed.” 

How many of us would worry about self-esteem if the box didn’t tell us we were supposed to? Personally, I don’t know whether I have any. Further, I don’t care. If I’m not interested in my self-esteem, I can’t imagine why anyone else would want to hear about it. I’ve just got other things to do. Honky Tonk Confidential, my favorite bar band, is playing at Whitey’s next week. And I’ve got a new Glock in .45 ACP that I want to shoot. 

Now, the way I figure it, if I went to a therapist lady to get my self-esteem checked, and found out I was a quart low, I’d still have the Glock and I’d still want to go to Whitey’s. On the other hand, what if she told me I had splendid self-esteem – triple-chromed, with low cholesterol and a good credit rating? I’d still want to go to Whitey’s, etc. 

Suppose I found that I was nothing special? Just a semi-bald Presbyterian in a cowboy hat? Or that movie starlets were not lining up at my door in will desperate hopes of carnal knowledge? 

I’m used to it. 

The whole business gets worse. It isn’t just adults. The dumb lobby uses self-esteem as another excuse for making children into whimpering robotic imbeciles. I keep hearing about how teachers want to stop giving kids grades so as not to hurt their self-concept. It’s nuts. The schools won’t teach the white kids to spell, or the black kids to speak English, because being corrected might embarrass them. Really. 

Maybe I’m just a country boy, and don’t understand things like ought. But I have to wonder: Who is going to have the most self-esteem? A baffled semi-literate who reads four years below grade level and isn’t sure what country he lives in? Or a high-school grad who reads fluently and has the self-respect that goes with it? 

I guess I’m missing something. 

It looks as if whimpering is replacing doing. Used to be, a stripling kid might have all manner of doubts about his manhood. So he’d join the Army and become a paratrooper. He’d leap out of airplanes and run seventy miles with a 1200 pound pack, uphill, in a snowstorm. Backwards. That’s what paratroopers do. They don’t have any better sense, which is why they’re good people. 

Today the kid would be sneered at, by people frightened of a dark night in suburbia, because he had something to prove. That’s exactly what he had. Thing is, it works. Afterwards he doesn’t have to worry about what he’s made of. He knows. 

Herewith a radical theory, copyright me and trademarked to the gills. It could put therapists out of work. (If the alligators miss any. I’m only going to use alert alligators.) It might restore learning to the schools, grow hair on bald men and eliminate cellulite. This is it: If you want to respect yourself, do something you will respect yourself for doing. 

How’s that for forty-weight insight? You could lube a diesel with it.

Advice To Ujaweem - Fred Fights For Justice. Like Batman.
From: Fred
Date: 14 Jan 2002
Time: 15:22:29

Today I’m going to become a great moral leader, like Gandhi, but without a diaper. I’ll win the eternal gratitude of all downtrodden people everywhere, and maybe a Nobel Prize. Magazines, and those reprehensible lying TV shows like Twenty Minutes or whatever, are bleating like hung-over goats about how universities mulct black basketball players. Yeah. The players get used for the glory of the school, and then thrown on the street when their eligibility wears out, like cheap shoes with a hole in the sole. They probably end up uneducated and drained and bagging groceries for fat white ladies in Beverly Hills. At least that’s what it sounds like. Every couple of years an uproar arises about it and nothing gets done. Black columnists holler and say it’s exploitation and just no end bad and rotten. 

Which of course is true. 

The predatory commercialism shouldn’t surprise anybody. College athletics ain’t a thing in the world but semi-pro ball, attached loosely to a presumed institution of higher learning. Schools will swindle labor like any other form of sweat shop. 

It isn’t really racial, of course. Give the universities credit for broader vistas of immorality. They would just as soon give basketball pseudo-scholarships to Polynesians, or paralytics, or giraffes, or construction cranes. They are indiscriminately unprincipled. It’s just that black guys play better basketball. 

What can the players do about it? I’m going to tell you. Right here. Copyright me. If black players want an education instead of being jerked around, they can get it. Easy. 

If they want it. 

Here’s how. First, the captain of the team – probably named Ujaweem al Bundeswehr -- at some major basketball factory – UCLA, say – should get on the blower to the Los Angeles Times and all the networks. He should tell them, “Hey gang, next Thursday we’re gonna have a big press conference and talk about how the brothers are getting tromped on and done evil by. You news weasels can distort it and blow it out of proportion and get Pulitzers. Is that a deal or what? Three o’clock.” 

They’ll be there. 

Next, Ujaweem should call the Maximum Leader of the university. Yeah, the Prez. The Big Guy. 

Now, I have no idea who is currently the Reichskanzler of UCLA, or Field Marshall, or head mistress, or whatever universities have to give them form and direction. He may be anything, possible even a vertebrate. But let’s assume that he’s a typical neutered spineless frightened university president. He’ll have a name like Dr. Erlenmeyer Flask and a wife named Florence who gives elegant tea parties. Ujaweem should advise Dr. Flask of the press conference, and suggest the advisability of his showing up. Three o’clock. 

The Prez will show. Otherwise heaven knows what might happen, and he wouldn’t be able to put the right spin on it. 

OK. Picture it. A sunlit afternoon, with scruffy students wandering around like insouciant landfills. A sense of impending spectacle will hang in the air. Ten TV trucks will be there and seventy-five print types. Reporters flock to a racial story like dung beetles who have discovered a camel dropping. Cameras will wave and point. Ditzy blondes with perfect hair will do stand-ups. Anchor persons will ask stupid questions. 

And there will be Ujaweem and the whole UCLA basketball team, united, ominous, towering over journalists and most buildings. 

Whereupon Ujaweem should speak to the Prez in this wise: “Now look here, Dr. What’s-Your-Flask. We’re getting just a little tired of this scam, see? We came here on scholarships, but all we do is play basketball for free, so this sorry school can make money and keep a bunch of rich alumni happy, and you can live in a big house and strut around like you amounted to something. Which you don’t. 

“That’s fine for you.But we get outa here with some lame degree in Recreation, or Rhythmic Breathing – we got rhythm – or nothing at all and end up being gardeners and pruning the tops of short trees in Orange County. Ain’t gonna happen, boss. That’s over. Gone. 

“You got ten minutes to get your scrawny white ass over to the academic dean, and sign us up for real degrees in whatever we want, and figure out a schedule so we got time to study. Otherwise we quit. Think about it. Now git.” 

At that point, Ujaweem will have him by the . . . yes. If any. 

See, the Prez is going to think: “Headlines.” Huge, grim, inescapable headlines. “UCLA Denies Blacks Education.” “Racism Alive at UCLA.” The LA Times. The New York Times. The Washington Post. None of them care about blacks, whom they regard as bushmen, but they love to eat the politically wounded. The Prez will know he’s chow. He will also know it will be only a matter of time – about fifteen minutes – before one of the circling journalists comes up with, “The New Slavery: Black Life at UCLA.” 

A bit of technical advice, Ujaweem.. I recommend that the players wear waders, like duck hunters do in swamps, or at least Gore-Tex socks. It’s because ol’ Prez will fall instantly on his face and start licking your feet like a puppy that’s found a gravy stain. At least, he will if he’s like those Ivy League presidents. Academic officials are cowards. It’s their most useful quality. They’re probably an example of parallel evolution. I mean, it’s hard not to believe that Dan Rather evolved from a monkey, but university presidents seem to have started as jellyfish, and didn’t get very far. 

In an hour the entire team except the white guy could be enrolled in electrical engineering. 

That’s all it would take. The trick is knowing what the most important things are in academia: athletics, and political correctness. Schooling is a distant third. You guys control the first two, Ujaweem, so you can get the third. If you quit, the team would be three puzzled white benchwarmers, not very good, who would either have to play extremely fast break, or revert to law school, buy lousy suits, and become divorce attorneys. And the Dr. Flasks everywhere are scared to death of the race card. Use it. In this case it’s justified. 

Dead serious, guy. There’s not a school in the country that would dare deny you a real education. Then you’d be making out like a Democrat around an unwatched budget. You’d be getting a fairish education in anything you wanted, for free, and playing basketball in front of the whole country and a bunch of scouts. Go for it. 

If you want it.

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