Well, the jury, they see their facts. My thoughts of the jury, they old, that’s old-school people. We in a new school, our generation, my generation.
Poor Rachel Jeantel has been ridiculed for her diction, elocution, and irrationality, but in her interview with Piers Morgan she makes a valid point in contrasting “old-school people” who “see their facts” with her own “new-school generation” for whom facts, if they have any significance at all, are subordinated to considerations of race, age, and “gender.”
Poor Rachel’s bad grammar, worse diction, and unintelligible pronunciation have been blamed on her Caribbean background, but her primitive speech—distinguishing neither tense nor number—and her logic-free style of reasoning are products less of the vibrant cultures of Santo Domingo than of our own government-subsidized ghettos whose vicious habits have been reinforced by public education. White “kids” may not speak quite the same dialect, but the ungrammatical lingo and the sing-song patterns of Valleyspeak have been so universalized that it is not uncommon to hear them in the mouths of the poor benighted economists and sociologists who jabber away on NPR. When I meet college students and even graduate students these days, I have to ask them to repeat themselves: Half the time, I honestly do not know what they are saying.
Poor Rachel was, of course, the star witness for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial, which was deliberately misrepresented as the Trayvon Martin trial, as if the purpose of the proceedings was not to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused but to offer him up as a sacrificial victim to the shade of a man killed in self-defense misrepresented as a murdered child. Grown men and women in the media were apparently unable to grapple with a few simple facts or with the reality of the law. The attorney general of the United States, in the days following the trial, treated it as a test case for Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Even Eric Holder, as impervious to facts as he is, must know that the Zimmerman defense decided not to avail themselves of that law, primarily because they did not need to. There is probably no place in the United States where a man who used a legal weapon in self-defense would not be acquitted.
On the whole, the Trayvon Martin affair may have been the most embarrassing episode to date in American public life. (If you do not know why, you should thank your teachers.) When the case first began to make the national news, I took the occasion of our weekly radio show to explain that neither George Zimmerman’s feelings about black people nor his response to a 911 operator’s ambiguous advice would have any real bearing on a charge of manslaughter or murder. Even before we learned of the deceased young man’s drug abuse or his troubles in school, the obscene and threatening tweets he posted under the name “NO_LIMIT_NIGGA,” and his possession of both burglary tools and jewelry he refused to account for, there was no evidence on which to indict, much less convict, Mr. Zimmerman.
These are facts, clearly irrelevant to the people who have taken to the streets to protest what any rational person should have known to be the only proper outcome of the trial. Nonetheless, the rioters were justifiably surprised by the revelation that there are six women in Florida whose minds were not so completely ruined by public education as to remain unimpressed by the prosecution’s cheap rhetoric and contempt for law or by the judge’s patently dishonest legal shenanigans. Either schooling is better in Florida than in Illinois, or the ladies played hooky.
If Rachel Jeantel is a good representative of her ethnic group and generation, my own generation (and those intervening), whether they watch FOX or CNN, are only a small notch up. Right or left, white or black, Democrat or Republican, Ph.D. or high-school dropout, Americans today are the dumbest human beings since our ancestors crawled down from the trees to have a look around to see what they could steal. In calling us “dumb,” of course, I am not referring to our average IQ but to our inability to understand the reality of everyday American life. When I read or listen to professional conservatives on the radio or have a conversation with young professionals living in New York or D.C., I go away grateful for the autonomic nervous system, because if these people had to think to keep their hearts beating or their lungs pumping for even a minute, they would all be dead. Too dumb to live, I mutter to myself after such conversations, too dumb to live.
Naturally, we flatter ourselves that these You-Nited States represent the pinnacle of human achievement, and we all like to look back in history at the unwashed peasants and uncouth noblemen of the Middle Ages and at the superstitious and technologically backward Romans. We can sneer our way back even to despising the violent small-brained Neanderthals, but—and please believe me when I say this in all sincerity—Neanderthal man, despite an IQ approximating that of the American underclass today, had a genius for living that few scientists or physicians (much less journalists or politicians) achieve today. If the Neanderthals had failed to defend their lives and exploit their environment, they never would have survived for hundreds of thousands of years. Compare this with the record of European-Americans who are aborting, contracepting, and affirmative-actioning themselves out of existence.
Mr. Neanderthal knew the world around him and how to exploit it; he looked out for his own interest, and, when he sought a mate, he knew enough to choose a female who would bear him children without asserting her right to make war instead of love; he defended his mate and offspring from enemies and rivals; and, like nearly every member of every succeeding human group, he was not persuaded that members of other subspecies, whether Homines erecti or Homines sapientes, were members of a superior culture entitled to their fair share of his bananas. When Homo sapiens took his place, he did not go quietly, much less accord that admittedly more intelligent subspecies the status of victimized minority.
For his part, Mr. Sapiens did not play affirmative-action games with his less-talented Neanderthal cousins. In the musical chairs (hardly a march) of civilization, each group—whether Egyptians or Babylonians, Greeks or Romans, English or French—has done what it could to maintain its laws and customs while defending its women and children from rival groups. It did not matter whether the rivals were culturally inferior or superior, because every tribe has the same duty that every man has: to protect what is theirs. Roman law and Christian ethics did their best to dissuade ambitious and violent men from massacring and enslaving the competition, and in some cases they succeeded, but neither law nor ethics ever counseled defeat or submission. The admonition to “turn the other cheek” did not apply to the Huns and Mongols who were bent on slaying your men and raping the women of your tribe or city.
What, then, explains the suicidal tendencies of modern Americans? Much of the impetus for this dissociative psychosis derives from the rejection of the religion that re-formed our civilization over a period of two millennia, but this does not account for the inability of conservative Christians to defend not only their religion but their selfish interest. Most conservatives, apart from a dwindling number of bubbas not on crystal meth, are as clueless and defenseless as the liberals whose ideas they so frequently parrot. What can explain the pure dumbness of Americans if not the “education” they receive in public schools? Even the mass media are only a secondary factor, reinforcing the lies and stupidity that have been drummed into the heads of our poor children until they are nearly as dumb and inarticulate as poor Rachel.
Part of the failure—though that is hardly the right word for a deliberate policy of “stupification” (as it is known in the UrbanSpeak dialect)—of modern schooling derives from the mistaken notion that basic education “is all about” (another popular U.S. expression) job training. Try listening to a school principal or a business tycoon interested in what they think is education, and within a minute or two (after the obligatory boozhwa about values) they will be talking about how their schemes will prepare a young American to enter the “world of work” (another U.S.ism).
Getting and spending actually have very little to do with education, from the point of view of either the students or those who run the system. If money could buy education, Americans would be the best-educated people in the history of the world. The dismal failure of American schooling teaches us the contrary lesson. Whenever important work is left up to mental incompetents, there is a positive correlation between money and failure. The more money they have to spend, the worse the results. In that sense, we truly have the best educational system that money alone can buy.
Naturally, every decent parent wants his offspring to be able to support themselves with some congenial form of honorable work, but vocational training, important as it is, is only a secondary aspect of education. After all, most men work for about 40 to 50 out of their 70 to 80 years of life, and those years they annually spend at work roughly 1,900 out of 8,760 hours. Even if we deduct time for sleep, work hours make up less than a third of time spent during an active career—and much less if one happens to be a public-school teacher. As important as work is, parents and teachers should be at least twice as interested in how schooling affects men and women outside the workplace.
Besides, the intellectual and moral qualities that were once the object of early education serve people equally on as off the job: the ability to read and write clear and grammatical English, the ability to do simple arithmetic up to the division of decimals and fractions, the ability to think through a problem and reach a rational and valid conclusion based on the available evidence, and, finally, the ability to communicate conclusions in an effective and persuasive manner. These skills or abilities are as essential for people who have to write a business report or scientific paper or draw up a budget as they are for those who intend to vote or are required to sit on a jury. In other words, any useful curriculum must be based—apart from arithmetic—on grammar, logic, and (at least in rudimentary form) rhetoric.
These three subjects, it is true, were the components of the medieval trivium, and they were also the basis of Greek and Roman education and of humane education from the time of the Renaissance down to at least World War I. But history and nomenclature are less important than reality. It is true that someone ignorant of grammar and logic can make millions by writing steamy romance novels or inventing gizmos in Silicon Valley, but what else is he good for? Not much, if we consider the public utterances of Bill Gates or E.L. James (authoress of Fifty Shades of Grey).
One may quibble about the best means of teaching the essential skills. Those who know something of the history of the West, however, can hardly quarrel with a strong preference for the classics, particularly for Latin grammar. No one who has read Tacitus or Vergil seriously can be quite so obtuse as the staff of the New York Times or quite so defenseless as the enervated young males at NPR.
My point is not to argue for the classical curriculum but to point out the obvious. There is as yet no law requiring Americans to be dumb, and while it would be foolish to expect educationists to abandon their lifelong commitment to making their fellow Americans as ignorant and inarticulate as themselves, we do not have to send our children to their indoctrination centers. While learning Latin and Greek, logic and rhetoric requires a great deal of work, anyone of average or even somewhat below-average intelligence can benefit from studying Latin. While it is right to be suspicious of every nostrum, whether ginseng or TM, Latin actually works, as anyone knows who has tried seriously to learn it.
With Latin, results are guaranteed. In only a matter of a few years, people will notice a smarter and more successful you. Try Latin today: You won’t be disappointed.