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Satire In The Big Easy: ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ By John Kennedy Toole

BAB's A List, Barely A Blog, Comedy & Humor, Culture, English, Juvenal Early's Archive, Literature

The plot concerns Ignatius’s long war of attrition against the 20th Century ~ Juvenal Early

By Juvenal Early

New Orleans (N’awlins, as they say in the South) has always been a city full of characters.  Port cities are like that, and, as the Mississippi River’s window on the world, New Orleans has been the ne plus ultra of character cities, throughout its colorful history. It’s a veritable bouillabaisse of Acadians, swarthy Mediterranean types, rednecks, Cajuns, Creoles, Africans, Arabs, and anyone else who ever went down to the sea in ships. The most Catholic of cities, New Orleans did Carnival so well, its Mardi Gras became a major industry. Throw in jazz, politics, the Mafia, the flesh trade, and several quirky genius chefs, and you’ve got an unusually high quotient of characters.

Set in The Big Easy, John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces (© 1976), gave the world Ignatius J. Reilly, a latter-day Thomist, a Medievalist, a Grand Inquisitor, a man for whom the standard New Orleans character was degeneracy incarnate. Given his druthers, Ignatius would’ve chosen to live in a world purged of said characters. Fictional though he was, Ignatius has ended up becoming perhaps the grandest New Orleans character of them all. In homage, the real people of New Orleans erected a statue to Ignatius, and right on Canal Street.

Ignatius is fat, unkempt, lives with his mother, is a perpetual student of Medieval philosophy, and critic pop culture. He complains constantly about the misery visited upon him by his faulty pyloric valve (abused as it is, by Ignatius’s diet). As described in the book’s first paragraph, he is distinguished by his odd dress: baggy pleated trousers, oversized flannel shirt, a scarf, and topped off by a green hunting cap with earflaps—all this, mind you, in one of the capitals of The Long Hot Summer.

The plot concerns Ignatius’s long war of attrition against the 20th Century. The elevated language he spouts in defense of his worldview—and the way people react to it—makes for non-stop Rabelaisian pageantry.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel, lurching hilariously from one episode to the next, from one lively conversation to another. Ignatius is a man who can attract the wrong kind of attention just by waiting for his mother in front of a store. Whenever he speaks to people—which is often—he gets deeper into trouble. Completely without self-awareness, he insults virtually everyone whose path he crosses, assuming they’ll take it as constructive criticism from someone who obviously knows better. By the end of the book, he’s pissed off everyone to high heaven, and they all want a piece of him. The clashes and conflicts, conflated into his conversation, makes for some of the best social satire of the Sixties.

Irene Reilly wants her son to get a job. Setbacks old and new have depleted the family nest egg, and they need a new revenue source. As man of the house, Ignatius must sally forth and be the breadwinner, but his long college training in Boethius and the Middle Ages have fitted him for nothing outside of academics, and he burned his bridges there long ago. What to do? Reluctantly, Ignatius, age 30, begins his search.

He quickly lucks into a job with Levy Pants, a moribund sweatshop. The loyal but dull-witted office manager, impressed by Ignatius’s pompous language, hires him as a file clerk. Whereupon Ignatius dumps the company records in the garbage, fills the file cabinets with plants, and writes insulting letters to the company’s biggest customers. For good measure, he organizes the labor force—mostly black—and impels them to attack the company office, the vanguard holding a banner—made from one of Ignatius’s crusted sheets—proclaiming a “Crusade for Moorish Dignity.” He is, of course, summarily fired.

Next, Ignatius finds work pushing a hotdog cart for Paradise Vendors, Inc., and, of course, he ends up eating much more than he sells. His pyloric valve, as he tells everyone, completely shuts down. Dressed up as a pirate—head bandanna, sash, plastic cutlass, and earring—he roams the French Quarter, looking to cash in on the tourist trade (ironic, of course, since most tourists come to the French Quarter specifically for the great variety of Creole, Cajun, and Southern cooking). He catches the eye of a prominent member of the gay community—a sodomite, as Ignatius would say. Initially appalled, Ignatius hits on a brainstorm. If gays can be organized politically, they will eventually take over. Taking power, they will also control the military, rendering it effeminate, ineffective, and fabulous! A non-aggressive US Army means World Peace. It all fits into Ignatius’s master plan. (Hey! It’s not all that farfetched.) Ignatius sets to work with predictable results.

There is much more: the conflict at home with his mother; forays to the local movie palace, where he declaims loudly about the degradation of cinematic art; a couple visits to The Night of Joy, a Bourbon Street skin joint, where Ignatius hopes Boethius will save the world from its worst appetites. The plot builds and builds to the inevitable denouement and the unlikely Deus Ex Machina.

Most scenes are replete with wonderfully lively dialogue, at once zany and…well, altogether real. Toole knew his hometown and he captures the peculiar Brooklynese patois heard among certain of its down-market denizens (think Stanley Kowalski). Wondrous too is the elevated pomposity of Ignatius, truculence as poetry. As a special bonus, Toole throws in Mr Burma Jones, doubtless the greatest black character ever created by a white writer.

But why take my word for it. Let the book speak for itself.

There is conflict:

“You got any identification, mister?” the policeman asked…

“What?” Ignatius looked down upon the badge on the blue cap. “Who are you?

“Let me see your driver’s license.”

“I don’ t drive. Will you kindly go away? I am waiting for my mother.”

“What’s this hanging out your bag?”

“What do you think it is, stupid?  It’s a string for my lute.”

“What’s that?” The policeman drew back a little. “Are you local?”

“Is it the part of the police department to harass me when this city is a flagrant vice capital of the civilized world?” Ignatius bellowed over the crowd in front of the store. “This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians, all of whom are only too well protected by graft. If you have a moment, I shall endeavor to discuss the crime problem with you, but don’t make the mistake of bothering me.”

Movie commentary (during a public screening):

Popcorn spilled down his shirt and gathered in the folds of his trousers. “What degenerate produced this abortion?”

“Shut up,” someone said behind him.

“Just look at those smiling morons!” …

When a love scene appeared to be developing, he bounded up out of his seat and stomped up the aisle to the candy counter for more popcorn, but as he returned to his seat, the two big pink figures were just preparing to kiss.

“They probably have halitosis,” Ignatius announced over the heads of children. “I hate to think of the obscene places that those mouths have doubtlessly been before.”

Criticism of the Ladies Art Club:

“Oh, my God!” Ignatius bellowed…” How dare you present such abortions to the public!”

“Please move along, sir,” a bold lady said…

“You ladies need a course in botany. And perhaps geometry, too.”

“You don’t have to look at our work,” an offended voice said…

“Yes, I do!” Ignatius screamed. “You ladies need a critic with some taste and decency…The water in this bowl looks like motor oil.”

Helpful Race Relations:

“Shit! You think I like the Night of Joy? Ooo-wee. I wanna get someplace. I want to get someplace good, be gainfully employ, make me a livin wage.”

“Just as I suspected,” Ignatius said angrily. “In other words, you want to become totally bourgeois. You people have all been brainwashed. I imagine you’d like to become a success or something equally vile.”

“Hey, now you gettin me. Whoa!”

“I really don’t have the time to discuss the errors of your value judgements.”

Don’t forget LGBT:

“Please be serious for a moment. Stop fluttering around here.”

“Moi? Fluttering? What do you want, Gypsy Woman?”

“Have you people thought of forming a political party and running a candidate?”

“Politics? Oh, Maid of Orleans. How dreary.”

“This is very important!” Ignatius shouted …”you may hold the key to the future.”

“Well, what do you want to do about it, Eleanor Roosevelt?”

“You must start a party organization. Plans must be made.”

“Oh, please,” the young man sighed…

“You may be able to save the world!” Ignatius bellowed in an orator’s voice….

“This kind of conversation depresses me more than you could ever imagine,” the young man told him.

And the aforementioned Burma Jones at the Night of Joy:

“You oughta tell your customer use they ashtray, tell them peoples you workin a man in here below the minimal wage. Maybe they be a little considerate.’

“Listen here, Jones” Lana Lee (said)…” All I gotta do is phone the police and report you’re out of work. You understand me?”

“And I tell the po-lice the Night of Joy a glorify cathouse. I fall in a trap when I come to work in this place. Whoa! Now I jus waitin to get some kind of evidence. When I do, I really gonna flap my mouth at the precinct.”

“Watch your tongue.”

“Times changin,” Jones said, adjusting his sunglasses. “You cain scare color peoples no more. I got me some peoples form a human chain in front of your door, drive away your business, get you on TV news.”

When Ignatius is home alone, he fills Big Chief writing tablets with his unique invective, gems of nihilism, as his half-foe/half-ally Myrna Minkoff describes it:

I can at last describe to you our factory…The scene which met my eyes was at once compelling and repelling. The original sweatshop has been preserved for posterity at Levy Pants. If only the Smithsonian Institution, that grab-bag of our nation’s refuse, could somehow vacuum-seal the Levy Pants factory and transport it to the capital of the United States of America, each worker frozen in an attitude of labor, the visitors to that questionable museum would defecate into their garish tourist outfits. It is a scene which combines the worst of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; it is mechanized Negro slavery; it represents the progress which the Negro has made from picking cotton to tailoring it.

You won’t want to put this novel down. But you also won’t want to rush through it.  You’ll want to savor every dialogue. There’s nothing else like it. Sadly.

Everyone loves this novel. Everyone I know who’s read it is also saddened, disappointed, and angered to know that it’s all we’ve got. John Kennedy Toole spent most of the 60s writing A Confederacy of Dunces and trying to get it published. Failing in the latter, he took his own life in 1969. His mother, believing ardently in her son’s genius, shopped the manuscript around, until she was finally able to press it into the hands of another Louisiana novelist, Walker Percy. In the novel’s preface, Percy describes how he reluctantly took up the dog-eared pages and was dismayed, after reading the first few pages, to find that it wasn’t bad enough to dismiss. He read on and gradually came to relish its genius. He managed to find a publisher for it, and a year later it won the Pulitzer Prize.  See if you don’t think it’s not the funniest novel you’ve ever read.

I could say a lot more about the book. Subplots involving a half-dozen of the novel’s eccentrics; Toole’s not-so-hidden messages; the sexual tension between Ignatius and Myrna Minkoff; strippers and cockatoos; theology, geometry, and the consolation of philosophy. But in the end, it’s just a great book to read. What’s it all mean? Who knows? Just read it.

With apologies to Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (which is the great Mardi Gras novel), A Confederacy of Dunces is the great New Orleans novel.

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“Juvenal Early” is a contributor to Barely A Blog. His first essay was “The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem.” It made waves! He has a BAB archive.

Must-Read AMERICAN Novel: Blood Meridian, Or The Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy

America, Art, English, Juvenal Early's Archive, Literature, Morality

“This is prose that is akin to a neo-archaic channeling of the King James Old Testament by way of Herman Melville”

By Juvenal Early

Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian is, in the estimation of many critics, among the finest half dozen American novels of the 20th Century. The late Harold Bloom thought it the greatest novel since As I Lay Dying. Unlike no other novel in contemporary letters, the book has been called an American Iliad, also compared to The Anabasis of Xenophon. Published in 1985, Blood Meridian is a revisionist, maybe even a nihilistic, Western. It’s also an epic. If you want a sense of how the West was won, you will find no finer fictional work.

The Plot: A character known only as the Kid, born in Tennessee with a predilection for “mindless violence, in 1833, runs away from home at 14, and by 1850 finds himself in Texas. He takes up with filibusters—mercenaries—hired to solve the new state’s Indian problem. The Comanches and Apache had dominated the plains for three centuries. Texans demanded eradication.

The fictional Kid eventually joins the historical Glanton Gang, and falls sway to the gang’s philosophical leader, Judge Holden. McCarthy learned from his sources that the Judge was an uncommonly tall man, a completely hairless albino. In Blood Meridian, he turns the bare facts into the mythical. The Judge is perhaps the most nightmarish monster in all of fiction. Not Ahab but Moby Dick himself.

The Glanton Gang murders its way across Texas, Northern Mexico, Arizona, eventually to the sea. They take many Indian scalps (proof for the money men). They take non-Indian scalps too. Who can tell the difference? It all pays the same. In time, these bounty hunters will have a bounty on their own heads. Few are left by the end of the narrative.

Blood Meridian may be the most appallingly violent great novel ever written. Be prepared for several particularly graphic scenes but do stick with it. As Shelby Foote said, the book’s hero is the American Language, and here it is presented in prose that is akin to a neo-archaic channeling of the King James Old Testament by way of Herman Melville.

There is movement, always movement, mixed with a sense of place in Blood Meridian. Few have ever combined the two better than McCarthy. To take a random sample:

On the day that followed they crossed a lake of gypsum so fine the ponies left no track upon it. The riders wore masks of boneblack smeared about their eyes and some had blacked the eyes of their horses. The sun reflected off the pan burned the undersides of their faces and shadow of horse and rider alike were painted upon the fine white powder in purest indigo. Far out on the desert to the north dustspouts rose wobbling and augered the earth and some said they’d heard of pilgrims borne aloft like dervishes in those mindless coils to be dropped broken and bleeding upon the desert again and there perhaps to watch the thing that had destroyed them lurch onward like some drunken djinn and resolve itself once more into the elements from which it sprang.

How do McCarthy’s mercenaries talk? Aside from the Judge, they are as terse as a John Ford Western. But, oh!, when the Judge does speak, you hang on every word. Here’s a short speech he delivers about halfway through the novel. He expounds on the nature of God’s cruel universe and man’s place in it. It explains the book’s cryptic title:

If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he not have done so by now? Wolves cull themselves, man. What other creature could? And is the race of man not more predacious yet? The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die but in the affairs of men there is no waning and the noon of his expression signals the onset of night. His spirit is exhausted at the peak of its achievement. His meridian is at once his darkening and the evening of his day.

Notice that the passage quoted contains no punctuation, save for periods and question marks. Commas appear infrequently in McCarthy, but little else. There are no quotation marks. Even James Joyce set his dialogue off with dashes. McCarthy assumes you’ll figure it out. You will. McCarthy’s oeuvre is all this way. He used 42 semicolons in his first novel and only one in the nine that followed. Most writers need a more formalistic approach. But I wouldn’t try to enforce Strunk and White on Homer—and not the modern Homer either. Art has no rigid rules, and Blood Meridian is high art. But don’t be intimidated by art. Blood Meridian is not particularly arcane. After four readings, I think it’s lucid—and exhilarating.

Does McCarthy take sides, Cowboys or Indians? We never really get to know the Indians. From the viewpoint of the settlers who hired the filibusters, they’re a problem to be solved. As for the Glanton Gang, it takes a tough bunch to solve a tough problem. I doubt McCarthy was concerned with questions of right or wrong—only about getting the story right. In that, he succeeds triumphantly. The reader—grateful for such poetic prose—can make of the ethical lessons what he will.

Cowboys and Indians alike, they are forces of nature, compelled to do what they have always done. The novel’s 3rd epigraph is your first clue.[i] Scalping didn’t originate in the Wild West of the 19th Century. The culmination of Blood Meridian could not be otherwise than what it is.

We would do well to keep this in mind as we go about assigning blame among our own ancestors.

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[i]
“Clark, who led last year’s exhibition to the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, and UC colleague Tim D. White, also said that a re-examination of a 300,000-year-old fossil skull found in the same region earlier showed evidence of having been scalped.
THE YUMA DAILY SUN
June 13, 1982”

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“Juvenal Early” is a contributor to Barely A Blog. His first essay was “The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem.” It made waves! He has a BAB archive.

FRED REED: Stop Lawlessness And Looting Before It’s Too Late … For Blacks

Crime, English, FRED REED, Law, Media, Race, Racism

If an eruption comes, it will be bad for whites but worse by far for blacks who, whether they like to admit it or not, depend on whites for much

By Fred Reed

“A country deserves what it tolerates, and will assuredly get more of it,” said my favorite political commentator (me).

He has also asked, “And this is supposed to help blacks?”

Across the country the rabble rampage—Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and mobs sacking stores. They are by no means all black. Whites participate in the vandalism, blacks do the looting and beatings of whites. Both are out of control. Anger over this quietly grows. A spring is being wound, methinks, a hammer cocked, the scene set for a grisly outbreak of racial bloodshed.

The backdrop will be the hatred between Elites and Deplorables, exacerbated by a declining economy, financial anxiety for the future, anger over immigration, the epidemic, and so on. Yet it is race that will provide the spark.

Does this sound like unbalanced raving? If I had told you the day before the Floyd incident that in a few days cities across the country would be in flames with looting and vandalism, would you have thought me unbalanced?

For whatever reason, catastrophic racial realities exist, disguised and hidden by the White House and the media. Maybe these think they are preventing, or postponing an explosion that might occur if people knew what was happening. Maybe they are stroking their voters. This video, of actual events, catches the straits in which America finds itself. The degree to which it shocks you is a measure of the effectiveness of the journalistic suppression.

The political landscape is of course complex. In a curious twist the white Elites use blacks against their Deplorable enemies, claiming and perhaps sometimes believing that they are opposing racism. To this end, they eliminate bail, defund the police, hide crime by blacks, order the police not to use tear gas and rubber bullets.  Police resign in droves, not wanting to be the next Chauvin. Homicide rises sharply. Looting flourishes.

Crime by blacks is now barely restricted, and reported as little as the big media can manage.   For example, Thirty-two Black-on-White Homicides, for October. These typically appear for a couple of days in local papers but are never picked up by the majors

The results of the unpolicy?

Seattle has become so dangerous that police have to walk the city’s employees to transportation after work.

The great majority of blacks do not do these things, but the great majority of those who do these things are black. The white and Asian victims will notice this. People remember who did, not who didn’t. Anger will grow, grows. This is a very bad thing.

We now see stores selling expensive goods attacked by organized flash packs, windows smashed and wares stolen, in minutes. The looters are not Japanese school girls. In San Francisco, where shoplifting is virtually legal, store after store leaves for friendlier climes, unable to withstand the losses. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a region of stores selling prestige goods, now has many empty stores because of looting. Goodbye tax base. Shortly, goodbye middle class. There is no reason for these robberies to end since they are profitable and almost free of risk.

How can the spreading lawlessness be stopped? Easily, but not nicely. Throwing a brick at a policeman is at least ADW, assault with a deadly weapon, and arguably attempted murder, twenty to life. Apply it! Lighting buildings or cars is arson. So charge it and throw the book. Allow store owners to shoot looters. But this we will not do, or at least not yet, and nothing else will work.

The brighter among the woke worry that if ever whites develop a racial consciousness like that of blacks, things will get very, very ugly. Thus the hysteria over White Supremacy. Unfortunately, the best way to promote white consciousness is exactly what the woke are doing–to encourage crime by blacks, allow the beatings, and endlessly pummel whites for racism. The woke are working hard at getting exactly what they don’t want. They are not doing blacks a favor. If an eruption comes, it will be bad for whites but worse by far for blacks who, whether they like to admit it or not, depend on whites for much. The country would never recover.

Journalists, perhaps lacking the wit to understand what they are doing, labor to intensify racial hostility. In particular, they relentlessly tell blacks that they are victims of whites, that they are being killed in large numbers by white police, while suppressing the fact that far more whites are killed by blacks. This understandably enrages blacks who, emotional, less educated than whites, reading little, believe it.

Having worked in the scrivener’s trade, I partly blame the joy of shared indignation and a diminishment of the former belief in fact-checking. (It used to be said, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” No more.) Wild partisanship adds to the problem. The journalists of Washington read each other, write for each other, talk to each other and, finding that they all think the same things, assume that they must be right, because they all think the same things.

Further, networks run by people of a particular view hire people who agree with them. Reporters, too, seem gripped by the free-floating anger that afflicts America as a whole. Bingo.

Remember that the strongest human proclivity, stronger than the sex drive, is to avoid information working against ardently held beliefs. Liberals do not, will not, read Fox News or American Renaissance, and conservatives avoid Salon and NPR. It is curious that reporters, whose job is to know what goes on in America, largely don’t.

Remember also that that the networks have limited news-gathering ability compared to freelance websites. During the Floyd riots, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people with smartphones recorded video of looting, vandalism, and beatings. These were posted, and circulated, freely on the net, but not on CNN. They showed the looters to be almost entirely black.  The vandals no, but the looters, yes. In my (now limited) acquaintance with the media in Washington, they really don’t know what is happening.

The upshot? It would be a very good idea to stop the lawlessness, the racial attacks, and the mob robberies before those targeted decide to take things into their own hands.

For the literally inclined, perhaps worth contemplation:

THE WRATH OF THE AWAKENED SAXON
by Rudyard Kipling

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

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FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”

FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE

FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE

*Image Thanks

FRED REED: The Possible Virtues Of A Salutary Distance

Affirmative Action, Conflict, Crime, Education, English, FRED REED, Intelligence, Law, libertarianism, Multiculturalism, Race

By Fred Reed

Most of the profound anger and apparent actual insanity afflicting the United States stem from racial antagonism: The Floyd riots, the tearing down of statues, affirmative action, the renaming of buildings, hostility to everything Confederate, racial attacks on whites by blacks, critical race theory, the fury over trials. Racial policy isn’t working and isn’t going to. America had better find another approach before, one day, the guns come out.

Sez I, a massive step toward racial reconciliation could be achieved simply by deregulating the schools. The races have very, very disparate cultures and want different things. In the integrated schools, either blacks must be forced to learn things of interest only to whites, or whites must be prevented from learning these things. It is hard to see why black students or their parents would have any interest in Jane Austin, Mark Twain, Shakespeare, or Beowulf. Nor is it clear why whites, of either generation, would care more than passingly about Africa. Why, unworkably, force each to do something both alien and of no interest to it?

Many object that the study of mathematics constitutes racism, or is a means of oppressing blacks. Why force math on blacks or, more importantly, prevent white kids from learning them? Similarly, English grammar is now said to be racist. Why should black young of a background having no interest in such things have to be burdened with it?

These difficulties could within an administrative district be remedied by allowing different groups to establish such schools as they chose, for such students as they chose, teaching such material as they chose. Charges of discrimination could be avoided by requiring by law that all students be subsidized at the same per-pupil rate. Further, allow schools to select such students as they choose. If some schools wanted only white students, or black, or racially mixed, so be it. As long as they were given equal resource’s, it would be their business. If some parents preferred schools of mixed race, it would be their business.  Evangelical schools? Fine. Jewish? Equally so. Chinese? Equally.

The right of schools to choose teachers without governmental bureaucracy—most importantly, certification—would be crucial. Certified teachers are often of low quality and always carriers of industrial-strength political correctness. The teachers unions are just that—unions, interested chiefly in the good of the membership, not the students. I would not be allowed to teach either writing or journalism whereas a half-literate political hire would be.

This would also allow parents of very bright kids to use such tests as they chose to find the extraordinarily smart and then to teach them at their level.  Those opposed to testing could avail themselves of schools not engaging in testing. Forcing kids of IQ 140 or better to agonize in classes at the level of “Mommy Beaver had two sticks and Daddy Beaver had two, how many did that have in all” is child abuse. A child in that range in the second grade is reading at the ninth-grade level and school is nothing but an obstacle. Why do this?

In aggregate these measures—we could call them “freedom”—might go far to reduce hostility.

Smaller and seemingly less important matters count in racial relations. Blacks often deprecate other blacks for “acting white.” This is not unreasonable. People naturally want to be around others who share their culture, manners, and ideas of consideration and propriety. I don’t want my children, or people around me, “acting black.” I don’t know what “acting white” means and I don’t care. I don’t want my children wearing their pants below their knees and saying “muggafugga” every second word. These practices do no actual harm, but are extremely disagreeable to most whites. While I do not want to dictate the culture of blacks—it isn’t my business—neither do I want them transgressing mine. Would not separation be the comfortable solution?

Housing is another matter in which less government would be of use. Here again, policy is disastrous. The races obviously do not want to live together. When blacks move into white neighborhoods, the whites leave. When whites move back into the city, “gentrifying,” blacks are enraged. Upon reaching university, blacks often demand dormitories only for blacks, courses only for blacks, student centers only for blacks, and graduations only for blacks. If whites had the same privileges, friction would diminish. By (again) providing these things on a rigid and transparent basis of equal money per student, discrimination could be avoided.

Since the races usually want to live apart, why not simply let them? Those who wanted to live in mixed neighborhoods could, but if a black neighborhood wanted to avoid gentrification, it could vote to do so.

The voluntary separation of races would greatly reduce the very high rates of crime against whites by blacks, and the fear and intensifying hostility caused by this crime. I don’t know how to end crime, but reducing the fear of blacks would go far to encourage racial reconciliation.

Blacks say that white police discriminate against them.  Whether this is true would make no difference if blacks policed black neighborhoods and whites, white. Cities typically burn because white policemen have beaten or shot a black. The blindingly obvious solution is, in racially homogeneous regions, to have the local race do the policing. Friction might in some degree continue between police and policed, but at least it would not be racial.

Further, though it will at first sound strange, I suggest that black and white neighborhoods be permitted to decide what laws to enforce, at least in those matters affecting only the neighborhood. If blacks chose to ignore use of marijuana, drinking in public, selling crack, or driving without a license, why should they not? Do they not know their neighborhood, its needs and problems, better that I? Why are these things my business either way? The result would be vastly fewer arrests of blacks by whites and fewer blacks in prison, both of these contributing greatly to hostility between the races.

I am not recommending the abandonment of black neighborhoods to crime, but rather letting those affected decide. For example, blacks often hate stop-and-frisk policing. Why not let those affected make the decision? This would reduce the impression of the police as an occupying army, often white.

Nor am I suggesting the subjection of blacks to a punitive regime. I believe that all citizens should have access to good medical care, that providing schools with textbooks of their choice is a proper function of government, as is maintenance of streets, water supply, and electric supply. If a black university wants microscopes or a computer, it should get them. And universities should be free to hire any staff they choose, depending only on the willingness of the staff to be hired. The various forms of welfare should be continued as there is no choice other than causing great hardship–even hunger.

Since the races are in America, and none is going to leave, finding a workable approach to amity would seem a good idea. What we have hasn’t worked, is not working, shows no sign that it ever will, and indeed things are getting worse. A little distance might go a long way. If there is ever an explosion of the very real, very deep anger in the country that the media are hiding from themselves, it might make Floyd’s uprising seem trivial. In the Floyd riots, the guns didn’t come out.

 

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FRED REED describes himself as [previously] a “Washington police reporter, former Washington editor for Harper’s and staff writer for Soldier of Fortune magazine, Marine combat vet from Viet Nam, and former long-haul hitchhiker, part-time sociopath, who once lived in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Yankee Capital.”
His essays “on the collapse of America” Mr. Reed calls “wildly funny, sometimes wacky, always provocative.”
“Fred is the Hunter Thompson of the right,” seconds Thomas E. Ricks in Foreign Policy magazine. His  commentary is “well-written, pungent political incorrectness mixed with smart military commentary and libertarian impulses, topped off with a splash of Third World sunshine and tequila.”

FRED’S BOOKS ARE ON AMAZON, HERE

FRED’S ARTICLES ARCHIVE