The ReEducation of Legotown - or- What is the Difference Between the Western Left and the Caliphate Muslims?
I found myself in a Catholic Church again last Sunday morning. If you are surprised that someone who calls himself Yaacov Ben Moshe has been a relatively frequent visitor in Catholic Churches over the past ten years, you are not alone. I’m a little surprised myself. It is a family thing; my wife converted to Judaism with the head rabbi in Israel many years before I met her. She grew up Roman Catholic so half of our extended family is eastern European Jews and the other half Irish Catholic. There is also the odd self-professed Buddhist and a Protestant or two but of the last seven family funerals I have attended, three have been Jewish and four Catholic. This latest occasion was much happier though- we were there for the first holy communion of the daughter of a cousin.
The event took place at a beautiful old church in Boston- the Parish church that has been home to much of Mrs. Ben Moshe’s family for three generations. After the ceremony we adjourned to a restaurant across the street for a celebratory brunch. Mrs. Ben Moshe’s Parents are no longer with us but her father’s brother, the grandfather of the little girl whose communion we were there to honor was at the table along with his four daughters and one of his two sons (the other lives too far away) and their families. Following the custom of pseudonyms I have established for this blog and because he mentioned to me today that he would rather have been named James- after the saint on whose saint day he was born, I will call him James. James is a vibrant and statuesque ninety years old. I have always admired him and enjoyed his company. He is a lively and astute conversationalist He was raised during the great depression in a family that was economically deprived but far too strong, cultured and motivated ever to be called poor, he is solid and quintessentially American.
James is a devout man who respects the devotion of others. James and I enjoy talking about the things that matter to us and we have quite a bit in common. We understand the Bible, for instance, in very similar ways. He has always shown a sincere and respectful interest in Judaism and I have learned a lot about Catholicism (and life) from him. Almost every time we have had the opportunity, we have managed to share some of the most interesting, spiritual and intellectually intimate conversation I have ever known. One of the most spectacular of these occurred on the day that everyone who was available went to his house to help him pack and clear out the house in which he raised his kids. He was moving to a smaller place and was happy but nostalgic about the change. It was well into the evening when the work was done and we gathered in that living room jone last time. The women, his daughters and my wife were talking about their childhood memories as I sat next to James and we got into one of our deep talks- I don’t even remember how it started but soon he mentioned, offhandedly, that he was a soldier in the Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II. That got my attention- I’ve seen the movie at least five times. I questioned him and he kept on. He lived through many of the most critical battles of that war and at the end of it was present at the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp. We had been sitting on the couch, talking while Mrs. YBM and three of James’ daughters were moving around and engaging in other conversation. Soon however, they were all gathered around listening to the story of his wartime experiences. Later, one of his daughters took me aside and told me, “Dad has never talked about any of that before with anyone. We’ve never really known what he did in the war…”
So there we were last Sunday- the Jews and Irish sat around the restaurant table trading stories and jokes and I thought briefly about my parents who had had a close group of friends and relatives of the same mixture back in the thirties before the war. They even had a nickname for their group they called themselves “The Hebes and the Hibernians”, I like the name. It is full of a very American brashness and disregard for old hatred and fears. It also expresses a kind of nostalgic mid twentieth century consciousness of differences without the stagnant, hypersensitivity of today. But aside from the fact that we are now too cosmopolitan and politically correct to think of ourselves that way, there was another big difference between then and now- the children.
There were three adopted children there last Sunday along with two biological ones. The eight-year-old girl who had her first communion had been adopted from China when she was an infant by her Irish-American parents. There were also my two youngest. I have six altogether but my four oldest are between 30 and 21 at this writing and too old and too occupied with lives of their own to have been there. The two youngest are the eight and nine year-old that Mrs. YBM and I adopted from Ukraine when they were 3 and 4 years-old respectively. For those of you who will whant to know, yes they are biological brothers. Then there were the two sons of two of James’ other daughters- one is fifteen and the other is twelve.
So, you have to picture it- here was this beautiful little girl who survived the perils of abortion, abandonment and infanticide in the land in which she was born and the two little boys who had come through the harrowing and tragic loss of their first family, a year of orphanage deprivation and the shock of cultural dislocation. The three play and talk happily and lovingly together. They also play with their sweetly tolerant older cousins. They help themselves from the steaming, silver-plate chaffing dishes and walk from one adult to another smiling, collecting hugs and making conversation.
Let me make it clear, my wife and I adopted our two youngest sons because we wanted two more children to raise with each other. It drives us both a little crazy when someone tells us how wonderful the think we are for having done it. “Wonderful” in that sense, had nothing to do with it. The same goes for our cousins who adopted the little girl. We are an American Family, and in America, the open-hearted, self-reliant adventurous side of you is freer and more empowered than any where else on earth.
You are also free to take another view. Leftists and guilt laden liberals think of us as an expression of a neo-colonial super power and accuse us of cultural imperialism. To them we are crossing cultural lines and doing the unforgivable, not respecting and preserving other cultures. An economist might look at American who adopt abroad and describe us as a net importer of children as compared with China, Ukraine and so many other countries who are net exporters. Both of these views miss the point entirely.
We are just plain people who struggle through day to day life, know how to have a good time, love children and have faith in the future- We get to raise these kids and love them because:
1. We can
2. We want to
3. We believe in the values we can impart to them as Americans, members of western civilization and Jews
There are, no doubt, a lot of well-meaning people on the left but the simple truth is that they are the in the thrall of a mistaken and destructive ideology. Its most destructive aspect, even worse than the blood baths of the Soviets, Maoists and Khmer Rouge is that they squander human talent and its potential to improve life. Ukraine and China are net exporters of children because of the economic and social conditions that exist there. Those conditions, in both cases, are a product of their Communist past. They cannot take care of the children they produce because the economy can’t support them and because the people are uneducated. Or, rather, they are educated to be cogs in the illusory collectivist world of communism that never did materialize in spite of all the terror and thievery that was committed to try to bring it about.
That terror lives still, in the hearts of those “cogs with no machines” and in the unregenerate leftist imbeciles in the west who have refused to learn the lessons of recent history. Stuck on the failed intellectual trick of imagining that human nature and culture can be changed to fit their superficially logical idea of how to make the world a better place, they just keep coming up with new ways to demonstrate that their ideas are worthless.
An interesting manifestation of this particular form of repetitive self-humiliation is their desire to enlist children in their lost cause. They keep trying to replicate themselves, but in an odd parasitic kind of way. They are mostly, too self-involved and narcissistic to have very many children of their own. Oh, some of them have kids, but often they are the childless by choice kind of people.
While folks like us do things like adopting two little boys when we are at an age when most people we know are beginning to shop for their retirement home, they make themselves busy with tying to mould young minds. Having eschewed what they sometimes call “bringing children into this screwed up world” they often become “educators”.
They do not, of course, become teachers like Kettering, who make it their first priority to know their students and help them to grow as individuals, but “educators” of the sort who in the seventies were of the opinion that sexism, aggression and many of the other ills of society were brought on by bringing boys and girls up differently. If boys played with dolls and not guns and girls played with trucks, they told us, all the differences between males and females would even out and not trouble us any longer.
Those humorless twits would never have called themselves Hebes or Hibernians they had problems enough with “Boy” or “Girl”. No, and they intimidated anyone who wanted to point out that children have their own character and that boys and girls are treated differently because they are different. Now that the generation that they attempted to raise that way has broken the all time records for murder, robbery and rape, we are on to another campaign to educate the personal freedom out of today’s youngster.
Here is a case in point:
The Hilltop Children's Center Bans Legos
The Hilltop Children's Center calls itself a child care program in Seattle, Washington. My understanding of Child Care is that it is “not school”, it is a safe, enriching environment where kids can be entertained and stimulated while waiting for their parents to finish work and pick them up. It turns out that Hillside is more like an experimental “ReEducation center” on the familiar communist model. One notorious episode in particular has hit the news media recently and is an instructive example of how the left endangers our future.
The (re)educators in charge have written an article explaining their actions. The article appeared in a periodical named Rethinking Schools. Just the name of the magazine gets my teeth on edge- it seems to imply that “What ever this school thing is that you old dolts thought up, it is wrong, the whole thing is a mess and we are just the group of bright young geniuses to set it all right- here we come watch us think!”
The story tells how the staff of a day care center fancied themselves to be educators and in the process of trying to prove it, banned one of the worlds most popular and least violent toys. Apparently it all started with a grand vision that a few children had conceived for building a place they called Lego town. It is notable that the only Lego Town builders that they mention are boys. The article begins with a dialogue between Carl and Oliver purported to be 8-year-old boys. Here’s a quote
"I'm making an airport and landing strip for my guy's house. He has his own airplane," said Oliver.
"That's not fair!" said Carl. "That takes too many cool pieces and leaves not enough for me."
"Well, I can let other people use the landing strip, if they have airplanes," said Oliver. "Then it's fair for me to use more cool pieces, because it's for public use."
Now, granted, I’m not a “ReEducator” but I have six kids including an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old and this sounds like a pretty stilted and politically pointed bowdlerization of eight-year-old talk to me. But, let’s read on…
A group of about eight children conceived and launched Legotown. Other children were eager to join the project, but as the city grew — and space and raw materials became more precious — the builders began excluding other children.
Oh my, it sounds like reality… are we “educators” going to find ways of helping the kids work through the shortages and conflicts? What do you want to bet the builders were all boys? If its one thing the left, especially the gynocratic left hates, it’s a boy with the imagination, initiative and enthusiasm to envision a big project and try to get it done- even if it means not including others with conflicting aims and visions.
Occasionally, Legotown leaders explicitly rebuffed children, telling them that they couldn't play.
Oh, the horror of it, a game that is taken so seriously that casual wanderers and dilettantes are actively discouraged by the enthusiasts.
Typically the exclusion was more subtle, growing from a climate in which Legotown was seen as the turf of particular kids. The other children didn't complain much about this; when asked about Legos, they'd often comment vaguely that they just weren't interested in playing with Legos anymore.
Hold on, maybe it really didn’t bother the other kids that much. Many kids don’t like Legos all that much. Maybe the Legos only seem so exciting when someone else is excited about them. Why were the other kids even being asked such leading questions about it? Clearly, only because it rankled the Commissars of ReEducation, I wonder why?
As they closed doors to other children, the Legotown builders turned their attention to complex negotiations among themselves about what sorts of structures to build, whether these ought to be primarily privately owned or collectively used, and how "cool pieces" would be distributed and protected. These negotiations gave rise to heated conflict and to insightful conversation. Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.Yes, well, of course you were concerned, dear, these boys were achieving something, they were committing themselves to creating something and they were acting on it with passion. Their achievement had, by its success created a hierarchy of sorts where builders and creators excelled. How very un-leftist, masculine and goal oriented of them! Oh, and by the way, did anybody notice that they just called America “unjust and oppressive”?
Thanks very much, your child care services will no longer be required- my children won’t be spending any time in your care, Ms Pelo and Ms Pelojoaquin.
After Legotown was “accidentally” destroyed under mysterious circumstances, a meeting of the educators’ presidium decreed that Legos would be banned. Yes, of course, that’s the perfect way to combat the eight-year-old oppressors, we take their favorite toys away from them and denigrate their achievements and aspirations.
They didn’t just take the toys away, though, they made a great moralistic show trial of it. Proving that it wasn’t, at all, about the children and their toys but about the educators’ feelings, great world issues, the educators’ political ideas and the educators’ fragile egos.
One teacher described her childhood experience of growing up without much money and her instinctive critical judgments about people who have wealth and financial ease. Another teacher shared her allegiance to the children who had been on the fringes of Legotown, wanting more resources but not sure how to get them without upsetting the power structure. We knew that our personal experiences and beliefs would shape our decision-making and planning for the children, and we wanted to be as aware as we could about them.
We also discussed our beliefs about our role as teachers in raising political issues with young children.
Hmm, yes, that’s important, raising political issues with eight-year-olds. What’s next, then, addressing the merits of vegetarianism with wild Bengal tigers?
We recognized that children are political beings, actively shaping their social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity — whether we interceded or not. We agreed that we want to take part in shaping the children's understandings from a perspective of social justice. So we decided to take the Legos out of the classroom.
How dare these kids have so many Legos to begin with? Yes, we’ll shape those spoiled little bastards and we’ll make the world safe for mediocrity and we’ll save on our own psychotherapy bills at the same time!
It goes on and on, I could continue in this vein but I think I’ve made my point. I want to draw a line under this point because it is critical to the preservation of western civilization. These people who are dedicated to warping our children are a parallel and exacerbating analog to Caliphate Islamists teaching their children to chant Death to America, Death to the Jews. The one weakens our ability to defend ourselves while the other whips up the enemy who would destroy us. How do we fall victim to the sappers in our midst? Why do they get away with their idiocy that seems so obvious?
I think the answer lies in the educators’ navel-gazing meditation on their own childhood hang-ups. It just makes you want to scream. Give me a break; it’s not about you, you self-absorbed losers. It’s about kids and their toys and helping them to become better realizations of who they are. Just because you are not able to let go of the angst of being a poor child or a social dud as a kid, you have no right to torture these kids and force them to ape your insipid version of social justice. You can, if you want, pretend that it is possible to create a world in which no one would be smarter, more popular, richer or better at something than anyone else if you want to but it is not true and you had better realize that you can’t force that kind of equality on anyone else. Get over it, get a life and join the celebration of freedom and creativity that is America. In the words of Pink Floyd:
“Hey, Teacher! Leave those kids alone!”
America is oppressive and unjust? Only the squalid corner of it where you lord it over powerless kids who deserve better than your cynical, intellectualized manipulations. Look at every failed communist and socialist society where people like you have tried to force everyone to believe in their version of social justice. What do you find? Losers and misfits like Stalin, Hitler, Arafat, Saddam and Pol Pot who had sad and brutal childhoods and were angry enough to make the world pay for it under the guise of economic and social equality. Yes its true, when nobody has anything, when the state is everything, then everybody is, in some sense, equal.
Look at the Caliphate Islamists with whom the left makes common cause, The only way to view this connection as anything but an absurdity is to see that these are two failed, repressive and ignorant culture/ideologies that are refusing to face reality and surrender. They have no choice but to support themselves and eachother by pretending that both are actually culturally superior to and spiritually closer to God than the freest, most successful culture in the history of earth. We, as the most compelling common enemy trump all of the inherent dissonances in their relationship.
One may well shrink back from the comparison. Some will ask "How can I equate these “well meaning” fools who espouse such benign ideals (as Dave, a commenter on my “Nancy and Hillary” post listed them: no torture or humiliation, no killing, human dignity, help the poor, etc) with the Caliphatists who wrap their children in explosives or send them out to throw rocks at tanks?"
While it is true that our leftist educators, are not advocating violence directly, they rationalize it, explain it and excuse it to the degree that one suspects that they would not wholly disapprove of the Ward Churchill formulation that justifies it. What made Churchill’s “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” formulation so incendiary is not just the sheer insensitivity and wrong-headedness of it but the fact that it was really just a logical extension of the perverse and mocking core of rage hidden beneath the left’s drab, sincere façade. If they seem to revel in Israel’s agony and rationalize the bloody wreckage of 9/11 it is because they derive satisfaction from it. When they protest for “evenhandedness” in the middle east, when they stand in front of Israeli bulldozers, when they march with CAIR in street demonstrations and, especially, when they try to neuter and denature our children (especially our boys) they are enabling, if not committing, murder. Passive aggression can be just as deadly as naked aggression.
Un fortunately, its not just obvious idiots like the educators at the Hillside Reeducation Camp that we have to watch out for. Here in Newton, Massachusetts for example, in our acclaimed elementary school I was shocked, two years ago, to get a notice asking that, in honor of a delegation of seven-year-olds (and their educators) from China, could our children please wear white shirts and red kerchiefs to school on the day of their visit. I was astounded at the moral blindness it took for such an idea to seem like a good one. To dress our children in what amounts to the uniform of the Communist Pioneer Youth is unthinkable. It is comparable to an American school of the late 1030’s asking kids to come to school wearing brown shirts and jack boots to welcome visitors from Hitler’s Germany. Needless to say, my sons did not wear white shirts that day. We didn’t bring those two boys here from the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine to allow them grow up in a country where dopey, morally tone deaf, leftist educators would encourage them to forget what they escaped from. These boys know more about the horror of the world than most American adults. I am surprised too that in the large Asian community here in Newton, some of whom are political exiles; there has not been an open revolt about the idea. It is as if America has become in the early years of this century, a modern isle of lotus eaters. We have forgotten our goals and our values and we are constant threat of something even more deadly- forgetting our enemies- forgetting that there is a beast that stalks us.
One final word, I used the word “loser” twice in this essay and want to emphasize that I meant it both times. America and western civilization is about winners. It is about guys like James who was born into a family that never had enough money. His father passed away when he was a small child. As a young man he fought against Hitler’s evil under Old Blood and Guts himself. Then, after a few years of happiness and peace his wife was incapacitated by early onset Alzheimer’s disease when their six kids were all between the ages of five and sixteen. He raised those kids, visited his wife in the “home” twice a day, feeding her her breakfast and her dinner tenderly, one spoonful at a time, and he worked nights to support them all. All that and he still has a quick and convivial wit, a broad grin, a firm handshake and a loving heart. He never once stopped to whine about social justice and he never needed to be lectured about it either. That kind of makes the bitter, whining “educators” at Hillside Reeducation and their friends the rage/humiliation addicted Caliphate Muslims look like losers, doesn’t it?