Dear Michael,

I hasten to stand aside for Wesleyan’s geared-up walking sandwich board of “a gauche” clichés.  Of thee I sing; you’re off to the races:

“All around the country people are speaking out against the outrageous injustices that people of color face on a regular basis…. (There’s) the police brutality and systemic racism that led to the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other people of color in recent times.”

“Our desire to live in a world without racism, without prejudice and brutal bigotry, shouldn’t blind us to the realities of oppression all around us.” – Roth on Wesleyan, Dec. 4 & 7

It must be true, what the grizzled old panhandler, deep in his cups, his crock of grog, had told me: “Thar’s gold in them thar skills!” – the practiced wails of the coloratura hustler.  Practice makes perfect the vocal clank of the chains, an echo of an earlier self-promoter’s “Have Manifesto, will travel.”

Hustler, meet former hustlee Star Parker, ex-welfare brat turned author: “Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats”; “Uncle Sam’s Plantation”; “White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner-City Decay”; and her latest, “Blind Conceit, Policy, and Race Polarization” – a must-read, I’d say, for social-fabric-fraying Mike the Ripper.

He speaks of “systemic racism.”  Well, dear Michael, you don’t have far to look: the office you hold has always been the white man’s burden.  Give place to Star Parker.  Fat chance – I might as well be whistling Dixie in Wesleyan’s crowded theater.  I’d be read the riot act, the statute regarding faded stars whose mirror magically highlights the features that cutting-edge Wes (the Slasher) has solemnly sworn to obliterate: Yesterday.

Yesterday, before the Great Society wreaked more havoc upon the black family, declares economist Walter Williams, than the Klan had ever done.  Williams’ colleague economist Thomas Sowell notes that before the Great Society, the black divorce rate was lower than the white.

Sowell also notes that, even as Jim Crow ruled the roost below the Mason-Dixon Line, the generation of blacks coming just before the Great Society, had made far greater economic strides than the generation coming just after.  And the Harlem-raised Hoover Institution’s Senior Fellow, author of forty-plus hokum-dispellers, thanks his lucky stars he’d come of age BEFORE the Civil Rights Revolution and Affirmative Action.

Said Action was also disparaged by Star Parker’s fellow educator Frederick Douglass – a fact you neglected to mention in “Beyond the University,” your Rx for Fundamental Transformation beyond the university.  The Education Departmentariat on steroids is your prescription for America’s ills as well as Old Wes’s, for “FT” (for short) is financial TB (consumption).  You figger on making the taxpayer-funded ED ailing Alma Mater’s Obamacare (and from the alums you’ll be “Free at last!”).

On Jim Crow, that era’s bigots (we called them) your Party prefers to call “racists,” the better to fuse them in the public mind with the Nazis’ far-right furor (“Zeke, he’s punning ag’in!” “Shoot ’im ag’in; dang penster!”), the better to let the likes of your fellow progressive Woodrow Wilson off the hook: Saint Woodrow, no backwoodsman, was a front-of-the-line, professing, chalk-on-the-blackboard racist.  (“Zeke, what’s chalk on the blackboard?”  “What the varmint what wrote it is.”  “Oh, a megasore.”)

Your Party, the Party of slavery, “Segregation now and forever!”, fiery crosses, and worse.  That’s a heavy load of baggage for any one Party to have to carry, so it was off-loaded onto the back of a scapegoat ideally cast for the role: goateed and ever uncomplaining Uncle Sam.

In his behalf I’ll cop a plea: we tolerated our Woodrow Wilsons (and William Fulbrights), we being a tolerant people.  And now we are being imposed upon to tolerate policies clearly-designed to block every effort by blacks to break their dependence upon the man you call “O Bwana!”  Economic independence?  No chance, the race is fixed.  That is the Oil of Snake your Man is selling: his fortunes ascend on the backs of masses of blacks as theirs descend (his policies are working).

You gave his ambitions a boost early on when you called upon him to speak at Commencement ’08.  You couldn’t resist; his virtuous circle was a virtual Rolodex of fundamental transformers.  Quel surpris!  DesPOTUS went on to repeal our system of checks and balances.  Your reaction: “That’s my Man!”

 Why do you and your Party insist on throwing wide open this “oppressive” hostel’s jaws to border-crossers?  Should you not be leading the Exodus out of this Land of Bondage?   (Alas, a fellow can never find a walking sandwich board where he really is needed: on the border, standing athwart the incoming traffic, plastered: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!”)

Humanistically speaking, you were horrified by the sight of Eric Garner’s takedown.  Humanistically speaking, were you horrified by the sight of a single mom on a window ledge on 9/11 leaping to her death because her only option was to remain on the ledge and be broiled alive?  Rhetorical question; 9/11 is your “unperson” (the term is that of Comrade Stalin you recall).  But 9/11 won’t be forgotten.  Far sooner, like an old boil baining the student body’s bottom until unsaddled, YOU will.

Garner was killed by a chokehold?  You need to apprize the medical examiner; SHE determined he’d died of a heart attack.  Eric had a heart condition, obesity, asthma, and other health issues.  If I had all that going for ME, I’m sure I’d think twice before resisting five arresting officers.  You should think twice too – your rush to judgment is showing.  Too rushed were you, a scholar of the “collar,” to acknowledge its having been fastened upon as a far less often fatal subduer than the hallowed “crowning.”  Where were the officers’ nightsticks?  Back in their lockers.

I tell you what: the next time your wife opines, “I could strangle you!”, if the hold is good and tight (let’s hope it is), you won’t breathe a word.  Yet, while “choked,” arrestee Garner emitted eleven cries of “I can’t breathe!”

Bottom line, your reportage is most clearly viewed in the light of revered Andy Warhol’s view of the art you delight in: it’s “what you can get away with.”

Will you be relaxing your choke hold on the student body anytime soon?  The low-hanging fruit – the mental sloths who hang on your every word of cranky hurdy-gurdy – feel perfectly free to speak your mind.  Those are your sheep.

These are your goats: your truly oppressive Culture Wars’s POWs, the women ashamed to confess their desire that continence not be dishonored (“Well, let me see, there’s North and South America, Europe and Asia…”) here in Satyricon on High.  More goats: two doughty anti-affirmative-action bake-salers, a singular pair of lasses whom a smarting gang of 34 professors had publicly keel-hauled for “race-baiting.”  That being the gang’s plank, I sharply appointed  them to walk it.  Did they?  They haven’t been heard from (nary a ripple).

And when the schoolyard bully (Michael, you’re blushing) tried to brand the searing “R” upon a HOLI lass for sticking NO COLORED PEOPLE ALLOWED upon the door of the student union – a wholly tongue-in-cheek touch of humoresque designed to reduce racial friction, and taken in that spirit until the bully, right well inclined to make an example of one “pour encourager les autres,” turned the wording into a burning cross on the crest of Foss – he too got took to the woodshed.

For all those bull’s eyed and more (your hidebound surface has barely been scratched) this bent old galley slave is bound to pull his polished oar.  But where would he be without you?  Ay, THERE’S the rub.  So hark to old “Shark-bait” (the honorific bestowed upon him by his shanghai-minded masters whose names are whittled high up on the mast): continue to spin your wild and woolly yawn.

Martin Benjamin is a member of the Class of 1957

  • alex

    How the fuck did this get published.

    • Again

      All wespeaks get published, w/o editing

  • k.d. lang’s mangina

    Reading this gave me ebola.

    Rambling bombast and barely coherent references does not a critical essay make.