I’m gonna do it. If I hear one more academic halfwit running on about the evils of Western civilization, and how it oppresses everybody, and isn’t spiritual, and lacks Authenticity, and probably kicks dogs, I’m going to get a concrete truck and empty it into the faculty lounge. After it hardens, I’ll drop it into a swamp.
The other day on the radio I found one of these ideological Victrolas from the professoriat hollering and carrying on about how much we terrible Westerners have to learn from the Third World. The Victrola, a guy in one of the mush departments at some university — psychology, I think — explained that Westerners aren’t in touch with nature and Being, and spend our time brutalizing the world, especially women and people of color.
I do. I hardly have time for beer and sushi, what with being oppressive. I’m wasting away to nothing.
I wondered whether the guy had ever been out of the country. Where do they get this civilizational masochism? Think about some of these compassionate, enlightened civilizations in the bush world.
The West oppresses women? Actually it’s about the only place that doesn’t. In Moslem countries, as for example Afghanistan, the men make the women wear black bags, and don’t let them go to school. By contrast, over half of American college students are female. Give me a quick list of countries outside of Europe and North America where that is true.
It was really a quick list, wasn’t it? Fact is, if a lot of countries wanted a college student of any sex, they’d have to rent one.
Then we’ve got black Africa, which is great if you like sleeping sickness and female circumcision. Now, that is truly ugly. Where I come from, you could get shot for just thinking about it. It’s authentically African, though, which I suppose is why I’ve seen academics defending it. I guess I’m not too enlightened. It strikes me as authentically subhuman.
Traditional values? In India, widows were traditionally supposed to leap onto their husband’s funeral pyre and become authentic pork rinds. You couldn’t sell the idea in Alabama. Then there’s China, the home of foot-binding. China is now pro-abortion, but not pro-choice: You get an abortion whether you want one or not. Let’s hear it for reproductive freedom.
Fact is, anyone with the perceptiveness of a crawfish would notice that Western civilization gives not only women, but everyone, more of everything than any other civilization, or sorry substitute for a civilization, which is what a lot of them are. And if you think the non-West doesn’t know it, offer them a visa.
I’ve lived in the undeveloped world. It isn’t nice. It isn’t Rousseau and his noble savages or Thoreau thinking deep thoughts in the woods. There is very little to recommend pellagra, beri beri, trypanosomiasis, plasmodium falciparum, malnutrition, scabies, infantile diarrhea, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, leprosy, AIDS, scurvy, dengue fever, ebola, yellow fever, impetigo, untreated high blood-pressure, and death in childbirth. That’s five percent of the spiritual Third World. Consult a text on tropical medicine for the other ninety-five percent.
Further, people in the Third World aren’t especially attached to the transcendent, don’t have mystical insight into the hidden nature of being, aren’t particularly at one with Nature. Nor are they piously concerned about the environment, being much more likely than we are at the moment to wreck the joint for a nickel. They’re not particularly philosophical. They’re just people. You know, arms, legs, kids, debts, problems. They want food, comfort, and blue jeans. They do not want the usual conditions of the Third World.
This is not to say they don’t value their own civilizations. They do, in most cases with justification. But they want it with air-conditioning.
It’s easy to romanticize what you haven’t seen. I’ve watched an Indian mother desperately begging (“You rupee my baby? Look my baby, you look. Rupee?”) while her kid nursed on a bottle of filthy water because she had no milk. That’s non-Western civilization. What do you reckon that woman needed — patronizing propaganda from a bunch of pampered American hobbyists? Or an economy, a job, and an education?
There is something obscene about a pack of congenitally lofty academic prisses, who think deprivation is being out of range of a flush toilet, lauding the illiteracy and misery of others.
Sure, there are non-Western countries that give their people a decent life. Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, increasingly Thailand and Malaysia and Indonesia, and even India begins to show signs of hope. More power to them. Most of them will make it. But they’ll make it by adopting Western medicine, industry, agriculture, communications. They understand this perfectly, and they’re adopting as hard as they can.
The worst problem that unsuccessful cultures have with the West is not oppression, but an inability to adopt Western methods. The West isn’t oppressing black Africa, for example. Africa for whatever reason can’t industrialize. The people there and elsewhere have precious little doubt about how they want to live. Check with the Haitians who head for Florida in foundering rafts. Or Cubans doing the same thing. Do Americans swim the Rio Grande going south, or do Mexicans swim it coming north? Perhaps there’s a reason.
I know: Maybe Hispanics just have a poor sense of direction.
The academics will tell you that third-worlders want to come here because the capitalist system has corrupted them, and eroded their Authenticity. See, if only we had left them in their pure state, they would revel in hookworm and illiteracy. Right. Any day now. What it comes to, methinks, is that life on campus is boring, and its insignificance is hard on small egos. So they grouse at whatever is within reach. Us.
Give me a break. For three centuries just about everything that makes life almost tolerable has come from the West. I know it, you know it, the whole world knows it. And so do the academic diaperoids. They just don’t like it.
Which brings us back to the concrete truck. I’m going to hold a raffle to see who gets to pull the handle when I get to the faculty lounge. I bet I get lots of takers.
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