Fact-checker in the atmosphere

by Mrs. Sabraw

The adventure all started the moment I reflected on an event that happened twenty years ago when I taught  Junior Honors English students at one of this country’s top public high schools.

Watching the events unfold in Paris this week caused me to to write an account of the experience. As the words appeared on my screen, I wondered,  Is this how it really went? Were the events then as I  remember now?  Memory has a way of morphing  faces and words that may not have been a part of the story.

In order to assess the validity of my memory, I realized I needed a different view of the situation. An aerial view.

I invested in an airtight suit, a canister of helium, a pump and goggles, filled my suit with helium, un-tethered the ropes holding me to earth and off I levitated, blowing in the wind, floating in the atmosphere, and focusing on a troubling meeting I endured in my academic haven, my classroom.

Surrounded by blue sky, clouds, and a soothing wind, I called up the circumstances of November, 1995.

And they went like this…

*   *   *   *   *   *

I taught for 17 years at a top public high school. In the 90’s, new immigrants from Taiwan, India, Korea, and Pakistan made their ways to Silicon Valley, bringing three generations with them—grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, and children, whom these new immigrants hoped would gain admittance to U.C. Berkeley and Stanford, Harvard and Yale.

I was a young teacher in my 40’s’s with a plum assignment: honors freshmen, honors juniors, and journalism I and II. Students lobbied to get into my class.

Many, many bright new immigrant students—with a perfect command of the English language—sat in front of me, ready and willing to execute any assignment I gave.

My political persuasion was more conservative than most of my colleagues’ in the English Department.

My father had instilled in me values that I held and still hold sacred today—honesty, fidelity, and justice. In my instruction of grammar, literature, and writing, rarely did I allow my personal beliefs to bleed into the subject matter. In those days, such adherence to the educational mission of predicate nominatives, Henry David Thoreau, and Lorraine Hansberry was an anomaly. Most of my peers used their podiums to further their own political messages.

I tried hard to stay apolitical as a teacher.

One day, one of my young Muslim students from Pakistan approached me and asked if I would consider becoming the Muslim Students’ Association faculty advisor.

There were no Muslims on the faculty, so I said, “Yes.” Why not?

The months went by with weekly meetings in my room, N-9.

The students, mainly Pakistani, Iranian, and Middle Eastern at the time, invited imams to speak and a  Black Muslim imam from Oakland even came to talk to the club. The boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other.

My role was nil. I sat at my desk in the back of the room, ate my sandwich, and corrected papers but always kept an ear to the discussion.

And then it happened one November day in 1995:

An Israeli right-winger assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yassar Arafat and Shimon Peres, for trying to shepherd peace into the Middle East.

At the Muslim Club the next week, one student after another, rose to the podium to cheer Rabin’s assassination. Vitriol spewed from their mouths. I wondered what the conversation had been at home with their educated parents.

I stood up from the back of my room and asked them if they knew what Rabin was trying to do in Israel—that he was a good man, trying to find a solution to the problems in the region.

They didn’t want to hear any of the facts—and continued on. These students were honors students. They were not stupid, just ignorant and unsophisticated and clueless about their Jewish advisor who was providing space and energy so that the Muslim students had a place to gather and exchange ideas.

I quit my advisorship on the spot and told them to find a new person who would spend an hour a week listening to the machinations of a “peaceful” religion.

That day, only six years before Islamists flew our planes into the World Trade Center, I wondered if an unholy Holy War were coming.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Today, after the melee in Paris, France and the downing of a Russian airliner  by an Isis bomb, and a Jewish teacher stabbed  while walking home on the streets of Marseille, I hovered above the fracas in order to think objectively about the Muslim Students’ Association meetings of 1995.

Blowing myself up for a cause yielded clarity.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, My fiction, Writing and Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Fact-checker in the atmosphere

  1. Richard says:

    The most worrying aspect is the the easy recruitment by religious maniacs and thugs of young, partially formed and impressionable minds that are governed more by emotion than reason. Was there any hope at all of educating them away from their posturing or would that have been unethical? I fully understand how uncomfortable you must have felt and how your principles led you to give up your advisory role.

    What was known of the mosques attended by your students and their families?

    If the reports are to be believed, the Paris atrocities have sparked an uprising of condemnation of terrorism by influential muslims who say it is no part of Islam: supposedly Islam in its modern rather than mediaeval perspective. Is this cause for optimism? No major religion could stand scrutiny of its record of hideous violence justified by tenets.

    It is a beautiful but bad, bad world out there.

    I’m glad you made a safe landing.

  2. potsoc says:

    When we go down memory lane, we find hundreds of religiously inspired horrors well documented by the writers of yesteryears from every corners of our blue (?) planet. However there were always voices calling for moderation and loving each other no matter our religion, our colour or our country. The extremists are digging their own graves but can do much damage meanwhile. Let’s just not become as savage as they are nor give up to them by running for the shelters nor amalgamating everybody in one whole. Should we do that, they win, and no I will not buy a gun.
    Will be away for a week. Will look up this conversation when I get back.

    • Richard says:

      “……..Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
      Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.
      But you shall shine more bright in these contents
      Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
      When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
      And broils root out the work of masonry,
      Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
      The living record of your memory. ”
      [Shakespeare, sonnet XLVI (final eight lines)]

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Paul,
      We ought to go down “memory lane” more often to remind ourselves of the viciousness in the world. There are many in history who wished they had a gun to protect themselves when the door was kicked in. Love is a wonderful emotion and a healing force to be sure but it has no place in thwarting pure evil.

  3. Brighid says:

    Surgeon Tim & my Doc grandson (at FOB’s) have served multiple deployments down range. They both came to this conclusion…

    Tim explains:
    .”I want to start off by saying that I love my more progressive-leaning friends very, very much. I appreciate the sober sentiment behind posting modified peace symbols and “Imagine” and other gestures in a call for brother/sisterhood.

    The problem is that there’s sentiment and there’s reality, and all the sentiment in the world will not counter the hard, cold truth of reality.

    And the reality is that while you are sitting there reading these words, on your phone or iPad or computer, sipping your coffee or tea, there are people, numbering in the many tens of thousands, with an estimated $1.5 billion in the bank, growing by several million a day, with an exponentially-expanding infrastructure at their disposal, who, if they but had the means to do so, would use it to kill you.

    They want you dead. They want your family dead. They want every wonderful thing your life has been or could ever be erased from the record of eternity. And they want this for no other reason than that you do not share their belief system.

    And if you’re LGBT, they’ll save the more sadistically imaginative ways of extermination for you. It’s like value-added for these monsters.

    That’s it. That’s the reality.

    And sitting there thinking “But I want to live in peace! Imagine peace!” is like a baby gazelle facing a starving lion and saying “But I don’t want to be eaten! Imagine there’s no hunger!” and expecting the lion to say “Umm. Okay! Sorry about the scare! No hard feelings, K? Have a great day!”

    And to this end I’m still waiting for someone to point to a single moment in human history that desiring peace on one side kept bloodthirsty fanatics on the other side from desiring war.

    I encourage these friends to read the article. Tell me where Steyn is wrong. ( http://www.steynonline.com/7298/imagine-there-no-imagination)

    Most of you won’t read it. You’ll take shots at Bush or Cheney or Christians or those inbreds at Westboro (there’s a difference, and if you don’t see it, you need to go back to Sunday school, and please pay attention this time) or Israel – all of which is your right, but it still doesn’t address the problem at hand.

    We can fight them over there (meaning just north of where I write these words) or in the streets of America.

    Try imagining that.” Timothy George Cook

    • Richard says:

      Do the exigencies demand that mediaeval barbarism is met with mediaeval justice? The answer, Brighid, must be in the positive.

      Any action needs to be conscious, considered and temperate and plan for the consequences, as far as they can be foreseen, with reasonable allowance for the gullible, the psychologically vulnerable, the morally weak and those under duress. In particular, caution has to be observed before seeking to apply regime change or repeating the errors comitted in the aftermath of deposing Saddam Hussein. Working with former enemies for peace may be both distasteful and necessary.

      At no time can the dictates if cinscience be ignored.

      The challenges cannot be underestimated, nor the length of time involved.

      These questions have been asked countless times, and we know they were asked in the war against Nazism, a horrific manifestation of an advanced European culture.

      • Cheri says:

        I would point out the difference in language used by our horrible president Obama and Russia’s president Putin.
        Obama said we would bring the perpetrators to justice. Putin said they would punish whoever brought the plane down.

        To the type of people we in the civilized world are fighting, Putin’s words ring true. Here is the US, “justice” often means liberal money forestalling justice.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Brighid and Tim,
      First, Tim, we here on the Rancho thank you for your service to this country and to us. We, too, have a close family member–our nephew Matthew–who has just returned from Afghanistan where his f-16 squadron had been deployed from its base in Aviano, Italy. Our other nephew Daniel, Matt’s brother, has been at Spangdalum (sp) Germany on the flight lines for 12 years.

      All you write, all you have lived fighting in hornets’ nests, rooting out those inhumane people who would ruthlessly kill babies and their mothers, grandparents, and any soul who gets in their way–all of that, I view as true. You are also correct in pointing out the cavalier machinations (not from writers on this blog but in academia and in politics) of those who enjoy precious freedoms from the comfort of their lounge chair and who have not a clue about the evil that is all around us, hoping to destroy such freedoms. Thank you for your letter to this blog, for your courage, and for what you are doing.

  4. I ask my American friends to forgive me, but I cannot help but hark back to events of 1956. Just to remind you, Israel invaded Egypt and in support France and Britain sent troops to the Suez canal and took joint possession of it. Eisenhower and Foster Dulles opposed the occupation, whether out of misguided concern over imperialism or desire for oil, I shouldn’t like to say. Be that as it may, the action crumbled under pressure from the US, including financial pressure, and Britain, France and Israel have been universally condemned for what they did ever since. How different, I ask myself, might the subsequent history of the area and today’s world have been had US policy been otherwise?

    Still, it is water under the bridge now and I must not distract from the vital and urgent topic of this post.

  5. ShimonZ says:

    My dear Cheri, there are so many facts… some of them, no longer remembered, And at some stage, I stopped checking facts, and arguing with those who remembered myths as facts. Having spent a lifetime watching some cultures living side by side, and others in never-ending fermentation, I’ve learned to live patiently with an imperfect world. But occasionally, ‘the affairs of man’ seem so vile that I withdraw to the safest refuge I can find, heartbroken as I am these days. When younger, of course, there were also those opportunities to work and fight for justice and righteousness. But in old age, what is left of that, is contemplation.

    • Cheri says:

      Dear Shimon, It is wonderful to hear from you in Israel. None of us who are not living there can know the heartbreak and a host of other feelings that dampen the spirit, confound the rational, and anger the soul. And yes, you can not argue with someone who has his/her “facts” askew. I know many people like that. It is fruitless.

      Contemplation and retreat are like a quiet refuge in which we regroup. But then, we must exit and reappear as a life force for good.

      I am very happy to see you here.

      B’Sherit!

  6. shoreacres says:

    Hashtag diplomacy is sentimentality, and sentimentality never can stand against evil.

    Beyond that, as I read the reports coming out of Yale, Ithaca, Amherst, Columbia, Missouri, et. al., I can’t help thinking of the Red Guard fulminating against and finally destroying the “Four Olds” — Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, Old Ideas. If anyone can point to significant distinctions between the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the stated desire to “transform America,” I’d welcome it.

    We need some grownups: in academia, in Washington, in our political structures generally, and frankly, in some of our families. Whether certain segments of our society want to destroy the very society that’s nurtured them and given them their safe spaces is beside the point. They are helping to destroy it, and we need to push back.

    • shoreacres says:

      You might find this of interest.

      • Cheri says:

        When the throngs leave my house after Thanksgiving, I will brew a cup of tea and read not only this article, but the one Christopher sent me DAYS ago about education.

      • Cheri says:

        I do find this article provocative and true. The great intellectuals of Western Civilization are rarely studied today. Thank you for sending it my way, Linda. I have printed it.

    • Cheri says:

      Wonderful comment. To your point:
      by Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2015

      “Liberal Parents, Radical Children,” was the title of a 1975 book by Midge Decter, which tried to make sense of how a generation of munificent parents raised that self-obsessed, politically spastic generation known as the Baby Boomers. The book was a case study in the tragedy of good intentions.

      “We proclaimed you sound when you were foolish in order to avoid taking part in the long, slow, slogging effort that is the only route to genuine maturity of mind and feeling,” Miss Decter told the Boomers. “While you were the most indulged generation, you were also in many ways the most abandoned to your own meager devices.”

      Meager devices came to mind last week while reading the “Statement of Solidarity” from Nancy Cantor, chancellor of the Newark, N.J., campus of Rutgers University. Solidarity with whom, or what? Well, Paris, but that was just for starters. Ms. Cantor also made a point of mentioning lives lost to terrorist attacks this year in Beirut and Kenya, and children “lost at sea seeking freedom,” and “lives lost that so mattered in Ferguson and Baltimore and on,” and “students facing racial harassment on campuses from Missouri to Ithaca and on.”

      And this: “We see also around us the scarring consequences of decade after decade, group after group, strangers to each other, enemies even within the same land, separated by an architecture of segregation, an economy of inequality, a politics of polarization, a dogma of intolerance.”

      It is an astonishing statement. Ms. Cantor, 63, is a well-known figure in academia, a former president of Syracuse University who won liberal acclaim by easing admissions standards in the name of diversity and inclusiveness. At publicly funded Rutgers she earns a base salary of $385,000, a point worth mentioning given her stated concern for inequality. The Newark Star-Ledger praised her as a “perfect fit” for the school on account of her “exceptional involvement in minority recruitment and town-gown relations.”

      Yet this Stanford Ph.D. (in psychology) appears to be incapable of constructing a grammatical sentence or writing intelligible prose. All the rhetorical goo about the “architecture of segregation” and “dogma of intolerance” rests on deep layers of mental flab. She is a perfect representative of American academia. And American academia is, by and large, idiotic.

      That’s why I’m not altogether sorry to see the wave of protests, demands, sit-ins and cave-ins sweeping university campuses from Dartmouth to Princeton to Brandeis to Yale. What destroys also exposes; what they are trashing was already trashy. It’s time for the rest of the country sit up and take notice.

      For almost 50 years universities have adopted racialist policies in the name of equality, repressive speech codes in the name of tolerance, ideological orthodoxy in the name of intellectual freedom. Sooner or later, Orwellian methods will lead to Orwellian outcomes. Those coddled, bullying undergrads shouting their demands for safer spaces, easier classes, and additional racial set-asides are exactly what the campus faculty and administrators deserve.

      In other words, the radical children who grew up to run the universities have duplicated the achievement of their parents, and taken it a step further. In three generations, the campuses have moved from indulgent liberalism to destructive radicalism to the raised-fist racialism of the present—with each generation left to its increasingly meager devices. Why should anyone want to see this farce repeated as tragedy 10 or 20 years down the road?

      Education entrepreneurs have long been trying to find a new way forward, without much success. For-profit schools could help—if they weren’t the constant target of liberal invective and government investigations. It might help, too, if concerned alumni could apply greater pressure on their alma maters in the face of these campus uprisings. But as the Bass family discovered when they tried to establish a Western Civilization program at Yale some 25 years ago, rich schools can afford to blow off rich alumni.

      A better way might be to found great new universities, as John D. Rockefeller did with the University of Chicago or Andrew Carnegie did with the Carnegie Technical Schools (later Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. Is there an Adelson or a Gates or a Walton University to be started along similar lines, perhaps on the campuses of colleges that have recently closed their doors? It would help, too, if these new schools adopted the model of Hillsdale College in Michigan (where there are no protests) by refusing to accept federal subsidies, thus relieving them of the strictures and mandates by which the government enforces political correctness.

      The campus uprisings of 2015 are the latest symptom of the disease of the American academy. Nobody should be surprised by it. Whether the disease of the academy also becomes the disease of the American mind depends on how far we are willing to let this go. Another generation shouldn’t be incubated in idiocy before we try something new.

      Write bstephens@wsj.com.

      • Richard says:

        Such passion and eloquence! It is difficult for me to empathise because the campus uprisings of 2015 have not yet occurred in the UK, nor had I heard about them.

        But I agree with most, if not all, of what you say, although I am not sure that you bear upon the questions raised in your post, or if you do, only incidentally. Your observations are none the worse for that. More generally, you speak of freedom within civilised standards.

        There is no question that affluence and liberality, or rather licence – not only on the part of parents but also educators and their theories – have threatened the very structures by reason of which civilised values pass down from generation to generation. In many cases parents find themselves powerless to counteract them. To what extent these developments are the conscious intent of anarchists, revolutionaries and the like, I should not like to say. Certainly they fall into the mode of operation espoused by the Fabian Society for well over a hundred years.

        Whether Nancy Cantor and others form a conscious judgment or are duped by the culture in which they live is hard to discern. For the most part, I would say they have been duped: the very antithesis of the freedom of thought which they claim to champion. I draw this conclusion from the lack of even-handedness in their pronouncements and the tedious, repetitious ways they express themselves.

        Yes, the students protest in the only way they know how, a product of intellectual degeneration and the abandonment of reason. The revolutionaries turn upon the revolutionaries. As you say, they may destroy each other in the process, whatever damage they may cause in the meantime.

        If not, it is left to the rest of us to remain independent and truly free and open to all argument. To do otherwise is to fall into the dual trap of arrogance and ignorance. It is this trap that leads to the abuse of power and is the real threat to civilised progress. So, all strength to independent schools and universities. Independence is valid only if funded by profit in a free market.

        • Cheri says:

          Hi Richard,
          Bret Stephens of the WSJ wrote this editorial, the content of which I agree 100%. Academia here in the US is soft-headed and often sees itself as superior to the general populace. In my own experience at Stanford, I was surprised that the higher-ups at the GSB caved into student unhappiness with a mandatory critical thinking and writing course. Really?
          Your last paragraph, Richard, addresses the heart of the problem–remaining independent thinkers. As I reread the content of this paragraph, I am started by the force of it. Brilliant. Thank you for all of your powerful and scholarly thoughts. I am very lucky to have someone like you who has loyally commented on so many topics on this blog.

  7. Christopher says:

    Reading through this discussion, I sense a subtext in much of it – the anger, born of fear, of the Old against the Young. Perhaps I sense this because I, myself, am Old, as I suspect most of you, my fellow commenters, are too.

    You’ll surely know that the fear-filled Old have always been angry at the Young, generation after generation. If now Old, think only of when you were yourself Young, perhaps in the 1960’s, when you were growing your hair, imbibing LSD, dancing to the Beatles and the Stones, reading Herbert Marcuse, engaging in promiscuous sex, protesting the Vietnam war, and all of that.

    The Old of that time, fearful and angry at where all this was leading, told you to cut your hair, put on a suit, and get a job. Which eventually you did. And, later on, you voted for Reagan too, thereby ensuring that what happened in the 1960’s and 1970’s would be but an aberration. You saw that Mom and Pop had been right all along, and you became just like them.

    I put it to you, then, my fellow Old-Timers, that, at your urging, your currently shaven-headed, tattooed, cocaine-snorting, student-protester children, will eventually grow their hair, put on a suit, and get a job. They’ll see you were right all along, and will become just like you.

    You have little to fear…………

    • Cheri says:

      The point of the blog post took a turn when Shoreacres brought up the recent student protests in her comment. I followed her lead and posted Bret STephens’ editorial in the Wall Street Journal, the content of which I endorse (having just recently spent four years in academia).

      The blog post itself was an indictment against a number of Muslims who like to blow themselves up. It was also harsh commentary about the Muslim students whom I instructed during the 1994-95 years whose behavior, I believe, was a precursor to the many Muslims worldwide who danced in the streets when the Paris bombings killed their own and other innocent people. I’ve been waiting for the right time to tell that story and the right time came.

      I’m waiting for the Muslim communities to take care of their refugees, too. Why are the Syrian refugees hiking all the way to Europe?

      As far as your comment above, again, I disagree. I have no fear or anger toward youth. I love youth, but I hate to see their critical thinking washing around in the toilet that can be modern-day academia.

    • Richard says:

      As I grow older, Christopher, one fear and one fear only – the final final and inevitable one – predominates, as it should.

      Thus it is not so much fear of the younger generation that concerns me as fear for them. Evidence for a generation gap from 5000 years ago, so beloved of those who wish to turn the world upside-down, also reflects a like concern.

      What is so contrary to nature is the segregation of youth, whereby they isolate themselves from from their seniors and deprive themselves of the wealth of experience, skills and knowledge so easily available to them. Those who separate themseves are not the majority, just the noisiest and most disaffected. Older people who wish to impose a new world order, whether or not the rest of us want their version of it, consciously and tirelessly encourage this segregation by whatever means and through whatever channels are available to them. It is an intent that has arisen particularly since the arrival of the proselytisers of revolutionary socialism, who have much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths: the difference is only in degree. It is not born out of care for the young or for society at large but is abuse and destruction. pure and simple.

      This will to prevent the young from standing on the shoulders of the old is not only damaging to the young but also slowing progress to a fairer, more just and more peaceful world.

      • Cheri says:

        Thank you for your measured and thoughtful comment.

      • Christopher says:

        Richard, you said, “…….As I grow older……….one fear and one fear only – the final final and inevitable one – predominates, as it should……..”

        Yes………er……….quite.

        And you said, “…….it is not so much fear of the younger generation that concerns me as fear for them………”

        Indeed, I would hate to be young now. Which makes me glad (well….up to a point) that I’m now in life’s Departure Lounge, just waiting for the ‘plane to come in.

        You spoke of “……..the segregation of youth, whereby they isolate themselves from from their seniors and deprive themselves of the wealth of experience, skills and knowledge so easily available to them. Those who separate themselves are not the majority, just the noisiest and most disaffected…….”

        I, for what it’s worth, think it healthy that the Young isolate (separate) themselves from their seniors. If they don’t, they won’t find themselves. The likes of Freud and Jung said the same thing (in so may words).

        Unfortunately, though, after finding themselves, the Young usually see (or, rather, are brainwashed into seeing) that Mom and Pop were right all along, and – as I said to Cheri yesterday – they end up becoming just like Mom and Pop.

        This may be why the world is today in such a mess – the mess that Mom and Pop and their ilk helped brainlessly to perpetuate, and the mess which their now compliant grown-up children will continue brainlessly to perpetuate.

        You spoke of “…….Older people who wish to impose a new world order, whether or not the rest of us want their version of it, consciously and tirelessly encourage this segregation by whatever means and through whatever channels are available to them……….”

        Having myself, when young, been, seemingly endlessly, on the receiving end of the right-wing version of How Things Are (or How Things Should Be) drummed into my head by the Old (those set in authority), what you said resonated with me. But, while what I experienced was indeed “separating”, it did challenge me to make an effort to find out, on my own, how things really were, which, almost needless to say, I learned were quite different from what I was told they were.

        Hence I don’t think the Old propagandising the Young – no matter how nonsensical the propaganda – is necessarily a bad thing.

        You also spoke of “……the proselytisers of revolutionary socialism, who have much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths: the difference is only in degree……”

        Why do you single out “……the proselytisers of revolutionary socialism…..” as the ones having “……much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths…….”?

        Given that proselytisers generally, have been shown to have similar psychological profiles, could proselytisers of right-wing doctrines, too, have “……much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths…….”?

      • Richard says:

        Thank you for your carefully argued reply, Christopher, which skilfully draws out the serious points of difference between us. In response, I use your excellent technique of quoting and answering.

        ……….I, for what it’s worth, think it healthy that the Young isolate (separate) themselves from their seniors. If they don’t, they won’t find themselves. The likes of Freud and Jung said the same thing (in so may words).
        Unfortunately, though, after finding themselves, the Young usually see (or, rather, are brainwashed into seeing) that Mom and Pop were right all along, and – as I said to Cheri yesterday – they end up becoming just like Mom and Pop. …………..

        What you think has considerable worth since it challenges entrenched views, which is always healthy.

        Segregation from the body of society is not one which Nature endorses. Unless you are uni-celled, association and accommodation with members of the same species is essential for survival. This reliance upon others is the more vital the higher the species. Isolation or separation of an individual is a marker of ill-health, physical or psychological.
        Even where there is no indication of ill-health isolation is a disadvantage. Compare, for example, among predators, the relative success of the lion as against the cheetah.

        I shall be obliged if you will particularise the findings of Freud and Jung which you call in to your point of view. I am only aware of Freud’s observation that the frustrated ambitions of the father are passed on to the son.

        There are always shortcomings of the older generation, but proper nurture avoids the shaping of offspring into exact copies. Equality between the generations does not preclude mutual respect or the ability to learn from each other for the benefit of the whole. Thus I do not recognise your general charge of brainwashing.

        …..This may be why the world is today in such a mess – the mess that Mom and Pop and their ilk helped brainlessly to perpetuate, and the mess which their now compliant grown-up children will continue brainlessly to perpetuate. ……

        The world is, it is true, in a sorry state, but it is better than it might have been thanks to the ability of the wise and the discerning to learn from the mistakes and achievements of those who have gone before, to cope with inevitable change and to avoid wasting energy on pointless confrontation and disharmony. Revolution, as history shows, is not the way forward.

        ………..Having myself, when young, been, seemingly endlessly, on the receiving end of the right-wing version of How Things Are (or How Things Should Be) drummed into my head by the Old (those set in authority), what you said resonated with me. But, while what I experienced was indeed “separating”, it did challenge me to make an effort to find out, on my own, how things really were, which, almost needless to say, I learned were quite different from what I was told they were.
        Hence I don’t think the Old propagandising the Young – no matter how nonsensical the propaganda – is necessarily a bad thing. ………….

        Your experience is an unfortunate one. Since individual experience cannot be taken as typical, I can only counter this with my own experience of a tolerant environment that encouraged critical thought and the challenging of established points of view. There was, at times, complete disagreement, but this was never seen as weakness. It initiated a learning experience which continues to this day.

        When he was young, my father toyed with joining the Fabian Society. Since his own father was rarely at home, and his mother died when he was sixteen, his parents had little opportunity to brainwash him. Reality meant he simply outgrew his earlier beliefs.

        It is a pity how some political interests demand unfailing loyalty. Nothing could halt development and freedom of thought as decisively as this.

        …………Why do you single out ‘……the proselytisers of revolutionary socialism…..’ as the ones having ……’much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths…….’?
        Given that proselytisers generally, have been shown to have similar psychological profiles, could proselytisers of right-wing doctrines, too, have ‘……much in common with Islamist malcontents and psychopaths…….”?…………
        ‘ ”

        I admit deliberately seeking to irritate you. My apologies! My observations refer to anyone who seeks to foist his or her views on others and force compliance. As part of their armoury, such persons deny the very efforts at democracy which are made falteringly within existing systems and seek to install their own dictatorship. The rise of Hitler owes as much to the failure of a system as much as to anything else, for his rise was nominally within a system.

        • Christopher says:

          Richard – I’m going to leave your sentiments to stand unchallenged, for I wish, instead, in this comment, to dwell on the recent news of England’s own Mr Tyson Fury’s ascension to be the new World Heavyweight Boxing Champion – something that can only have warmed the cockles in the hearts of Englishmen everywhere, including, I’ll surmise, yours.

          Mr Fury, with his shaved head, designer stubble, lumbering physique, vacant grin, unadorned speech, and his immersion in the contemporary Zeitgeist – expressed in his singing and dancing to Aerosmith – seems the very model of a modern young Englishman.

          And his interests extend far beyond boxing and Aerosmith, for he has expressed himself lucidly on matters ranging from the sociopolitical to the Manichean. This would make Mr Fury a veritable Man of the Renaissance.

          How many international sportsmen can also be called Renaissance Men? Hardly any, I’ll venture.

          Yet more unique is that the philosophic prism through which Mr Fury looks at matters beyond the Ring (and Aerosmith), appears decidedly conservative. Hence Mr Fury is of the philosophical ilk that would resonate in the hearts of all red-blooded and true Englishmen, and – as a bonus – in the hearts of all red-blooded and true Americans too.

          From my distant viewpoint, Mr Fury seems – if he plays his cards right (so to speak) – the ideal figure whom the currently fissiparous English nation could – within the foreseeable future – rally around, in a way it hasn’t since it rallied around Mr Winston Churchill in 1940. Should this happen, Mr Fury would be the one who could lead England back to the path leading to its historic destiny.

          Stranger things have happened, you know…………

          • Richard says:

            Ha! Touché.

            In order to correct my complete ignorance of Tyson Fury’s political ambitions, I have just read a BBC report upon them. Yes, a sentimental wave flooded through my body and was gone, in much the same way as my sympathies for the much more colourful and informed Monster Raving Looney party that fought so many elections over countless years with almost no following.

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