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Monday, August 25, 2014


NEW ORLEANS JAZZ (Images of America, Series)
(Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2014)
By Edward J. Branley
Rev. by Hugh Murray
            How can a picture book be disappointing?  Most of this volume consists of 2 photographs on each page with captions.  However, many of the captions provide little information beyond a list of the musicians pictured.  Branley does include information on the New Orleans Jazz Museum, founded by Doc Edmond Souchon in 1961 (p. 78), but neglects the older Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane U., established in 1958.  The Hogan Archive not only contains recordings and oral histories by the musicians, but it has a large collection of related photographs.    Branley does mention the institution, but only in passing: “Quint Davis was working as an intern at the Hogan Jazz Archive…when he was recommended …to produce the 1970 Jazz Fest.”(p. 120)  While Branley cites the Netherlands National Archives(6), he apparently never consulted the Hogan Archive in New Orleans!
            More disappointing is the text.  Though Branley in separate captions notes that “Dixieland” jazz – the word – has fallen into disuse in some circles for they deem it “racist,” he avoids all discussion of another controversial word in this music.  Early words to describe the music evolving in New Orleans were ragtime, jass, and jazz, but what did they mean?  In the 21s century I was shopping at a supermarket near Beijing, and was struck by the title of an item on sale in the aisles, Jizbon – condoms.  I laughed to myself, for I was not accustomed to see condoms on the lower shelves of supermarkets in America.  Then I recalled that a woman on a witness stand in the famous Scottsboro cases of the 1930s asserted that several young men had jazzed her, meaning had had sexual intercourse with her.  Though the early jazz bands may not have played inside the bordellos of Storyville, the red light district of New Orleans, they played in many of the saloons down the block and elsewhere in that neighborhood.  This is substantiated by some of the photos and captions in Branley’s book.  But he never bothers to suggest a connection between the name of the new music that flourished in the bordello neighborhood, and a slang word for the activities flourishing in those cat houses.   While the music, and the word jazz, became more accepted and respectable over time, Dixieland, certainly a proper word in 1900, has become suspect by the late 20th century.  While music of the choir and gospel music may have been born in the churches, jazz has an association of a different kind.
            I recall a radio interview some decades ago in which a musician stated that New Orleans was one of the few places where many in the audience would clap on the up-beat rather than the down.  Was a New Orleans audience different from those in other locales?  Certainly, in early jazz one heard of syncopation.  Was this an essential part of some early jazz?  Is it used today?  Merely listing some of the different types of jazz is insufficient.  Branley should have attempted short descriptions of some of the evolution of the music.
            Finally, he mentions the birth of Preservation Hall in New Orleans in 1960, and even uses a picture outside the entrance for his book’s cover.  Founded at a low point for jazz in New Orleans, this was to be a place where old-timers could play for a new generation to appreciate their artistry.  But Branley fails to mention how unique Preservation Hall, located just off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, was in its early years: for 1) the music, 2) one could not purchase any liquor there, not even a beer.  If a drink was desired, there was only a Coke machine inside – a non-alcoholic entertainment spot in the French Quarter!, and 3) before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Preservation Hall was perhaps the only place in the Quarter where both Blacks and whites could go and sit together without fear of arrest.  Branley includes a photograph of a band playing at Preservation Hall with a child at the piano – a very young Harry Connick, Jr.(89)  Branley might have added that Connick’s father had defeated the nationally-known Jim Garrison to become elected to the post of District Attorney for Orleans Parish.

Branley's volume is too much like a high-school year book, where one searches the photos and list of names for your favorites, but then has little impetus to view further. But the high-school book, placing the photos in alphabetical order, requires no index. Unfortunately, Branley's book ought to have one.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Was Putin right about Syria?      

Article by Ishaan Tharoor,  22 August 2014    WASHINGTON POST

What a difference a year makes. Around this time last year, the West wasgearing up for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was accused of carrying out chemical weapons attacks on his own people. That intervention never came to pass, not least because domestic public opinion in countries such as Britain and the United States was opposed to further entanglements in the Middle East.
Now, the U.S. is contemplating extending airstrikes on Islamic State militants operating in Iraq in Syria — fighters belonging to a terrorist organization that is leading the war against Assad. The Islamic State's territorial gains in Iraq and continued repression and slaughter of religious minorities there and in Syria have rightly triggered global condemnation. "I am no apologist for the Assad regime," Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, told NPR. "But in terms of our security, [the Islamic State] is by far the greatest threat."
The irony of the moment is tragic. But to some, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. Many cautioned against the earlier insistence of the Obama administration (as well as other governments) that Assad must go, fearing what would take hold in the vacuum.
One of those critics happened to be Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned against U.S. intervention in Syria in a New York Times op-ed last September. He wrote:
A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Some of the crises Putin catalogs have worsened anyway, no matter American action or inaction. But Putin's insistence was couched in a reading of the conflict in Syria that's more cold-blooded than the view initially held by some in Washington. "Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country," Putin wrote, suggesting that the nominally secular Assad regime, despite its misdeeds, was a stabilizing force preferable to what could possibly replace it.
Putin decried the growing Islamist cadres in the Syrian rebels' ranks:
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria?
That's a concern very publicly shared now by U.S. and European officials, who are alarmed by the considerable presence of European nationals among the Islamic State's forces. A British jihadist who spoke with a London accent is believed to have carried out the shocking execution of American journalist James Foley this week.....
    The comments of Hugh Murray:  While Democrat Obama and Republicans like McCain were demanding that the US intervene on the side of the rebels, we now discover that the leading faction of those rebels has morphed into the ISIS - the fanatical Islamic State where American Foley was just beheaded before one of the cameras of the new regime there.  It is noteworthy that an influential liberal newspaper,  like the Washington Post will run such an article, but we must recall how right Putin was.  He chided Obama at the time for supporting cannibals, and there were videos of these Islamists literally eating the innards of a pro-Assad supporter.  Our leaders were urging us to support cannibals, and those who shoot heretics in the back of the head, and behead the American Foley. They wanted us to give greater support to those who now reveal themselves at the total enemy of the West and of all Civilization.  Putin was right.
   And it is time to rethink the situation in the Ukraine/East Ukraine.  Many want out of the Ukraine.  They want to rejoin Russia.  Why prevent that?That is not an ancient border; but one that fails to account the changed population of the recent era, and the loyalties of those people.  America and Europe should stay out of the quarrel, and let the Russians of East Ukraine have their freedom.  America, Russia, China, and India all have a threat in Islam.  (As well as much of Europe).  The US should join with the other 3 large nations in trying to smooth over differences and aim at the real enemy of civilization, militant Islam. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Before presenting my review of the book, I included a number of editorial comments that were posted about this work on amazon books.  It is clear that most found Marsden's new book powerful and stimulating.  I did not. For the contrast in views, I first present excerpts from the reviews by others.  Following will be my review - part 1.--Hugh Murray

Washington Post  “[A] fascinating and unusual book.... [Marsden is] one of the most esteemed intellectual historians of his generation.... Marsden’s book shines as a clear...introduction to the dominant intellectual voices of the era.”    Wall Street Journal  "[Marsden’s] critique of the consensus culture of the 1950s is original and persuasive,…”    Christianity Today  “[A] compelling study.... [The Twilight of the American Enlightenment] is short, elegantly interpretative, and strongly argued. Marsden writes for an audience of ordinary, thoughtful readers. The prose is a treat: consistently clear, sprightly, and filled with memorable stories.... The legendary Marsden wit sparkles throughout, as do the one liners....”    The Nation  “Persuasive.... Marsden is, more than any other living scholar of our religious history, a vital and engaged chronicler of the often-tangled byways of dissenting Protestant faith and the ur-American quest for a higher cosmic purpose.”    Foreign Affairs  “Marsden has the rare ability to describe complex controversies in clear and concise prose...."    Los Angeles Review of Books  “A brilliant little book.”    Choice  “Marsden provides a tightly woven narrative that explains both the promises of the enlightenment project and its limitations in navigating within a rapidly growing religiously pluralistic framework.”    Democracy Journal  “[Marsden’s] book cuts through the rhetoric of the culture wars to identify some of the basic intellectual problems that divide conservatives and liberals.”    The Weekly Standard  “[A] thoughtful new book....”    Touchstone  “Few...can account for the changes as lucidly, or with such lightly worn but impressive scholarship as Marsden exhibits in this book.... I cannot capture in a short review the breadth of Marsden’s sweep, or the authority with which he weaves many threads of evidence into an unmistakable pattern of meaning.”    Christian Century  “[A] brief, highly readable treatise.”    Books and Culture  "George Marsden’s latest book has about it the deceptive simplicity of a master at work.”    Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought  “If you’ve read Marsden before, you’ll recognize him here: careful, generous, modest in his claims and earnest in his convictions.... Marsden deserves a lot of credit for trying to write history for a wider public, narrating a past for useful guidance for serious moral and civic reflection today.... We need more of this kind of work, not less.”    Post and Courier  “The inability to accommodate diversity among religions, and between religion and secularism, is the issue that Marsden engages. He does so with erudition and profundity.... [I]t is an important book written by one of the significant intellects of our day and it is worth reading, even twice.”    City Journal  "Marsden rightly argues in his new book that American political culture has been shaped by an alliance between Protestant Christianity and Enlightenment rationality.”    Historical Conversations  “Throughout, the writing is done gracefully, and complex issues are treated clearly. This is an engaging and accessible book for anyone willing to think through important issues.”    BreakPoint  “[T]he history that unfolds in The Twilight of the American Enlightenment is wonderfully illuminating for our present day. Understanding the processes by which our present world came to be can only assist current leaders in finding equitable solutions to our national problems.”    Publishers Weekly  “[A] penetrating study of post-war intellectual ferment.... Marsden provocatively diagnoses the decay of a liberal ideology unmoored from philosophical foundations, a decay, he contends, that set the stage for the cultural revolution of the 1960s and a resurgent religious right in the 1970s. Marsden’s erudite, sophisticated, but very accessible study reveals the suppressed spiritual hunger of a secular age.”    Darren Dochuk, author of From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism  “Piercing and succinct yet astonishingly elegant,…”    Barry Hankins, Professor of History, Baylor University, and author Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma  "In this compact but powerful analysis of American life and thought in the years since the Second World War,…”    
Grant Wacker, Duke University, author of Heaven Below  “Another masterpiece.”

By George M. Marsden (New York: Basic Books, 2014)
Review by Hugh Murray
            Insipid and evasive!  Marsden’s book described the American Enlightenment of the 1950s, which was essentially a blending of mainstream Protestantism with a scientific rationality fused to form the intellectual consensus of the post-WWII era.  I contend the “consensus” was forced, the Protestant dominance questionable, the “science” often ideological, and his choice of the intellectual figures debatable.  Worse, Marsden fails entirely to discuss convulsions that shook some of the most powerful international institutions of that time.  Even one of his points, could the American consensus continue after people ceased to accept “natural law,” is a rehash of Nietzsche’s 19th century critique of socialism – that socialism was Christianity without faith.  And without that faith in Christianity, why have any interest in improving the lot of mankind?  Of course, Nietzsche’s question went unanswered in the 19th century, and remains so today.
Subtitled: “The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief,” Marsden omits all mention of the volcanic eruptions of the era that was to change liberalism and its opponents.  Nowhere does Marsden mention the election of Pope John XXIII in October 1958 or the Second Vatican Conference he convened in the early 1960s and how this would alter the Catholic Church, American protest, and liberalism.  The objection that Vatican II lies outside the book’s scope is answered by Marsden himself: “I use ‘the 1950s’ as a term that is synonymous with this broader midcentury culture, although the vast majority of my examples come from within the decade.”(pp. xiv-xv)
            Let me illustrate my objection.  One day in the 1950s I was chatting with a friend of my age when she blurted out, “Oh, I met a Protestant today!”  As I attended public school, I encountered Protestants every day and for me, it was literally unremarkable.  But my friend was enrolled in Catholic school (as were about a third of all pupils in my city of New Orleans in the 1950s.)  After school, perhaps she and her friends played basketball with the local Catholic Youth Organization.  If she didn’t, there were many other appropriate activities for young Catholics.  She and I lost contact for 5 decades.  In the present century, I  lunched with her, her sister, and her brother.  They had recently returned from their first tour of Ireland, where they had an enjoyable time.  They did inform me, however, that many of the Irish were quite angry with the Church resulting from the sexual scandals of some priests.  My friends, themselves, had been shocked when those allegations surfaced in the media.  I asked, when we were all young in the 1950s, hadn’t they heard of rumors and jokes about priests?  No, they had not.  To them, it was all a new, horrible shock.  To me, it was more like old news, new only in that it was discussed in the media and not in whispers or in bemused gossip.  In the 1950s they lived in a bubble, - a protective bubble, but a bubble none the less.
            I do not maintain that Catholics were the only people in such bubbles – far from it.  I recall reading of a left-winger drafted into the army in WWII, where he learned that for most Americans a “party line” referred to a shared telephone number, and not the latest pronouncement of Stalin in the Daily Worker.  Indeed, one can argue that most organizations and institutions, including the family, seek to insulate its members from outside influences and “dangers” by means of a bubble.  For most of us, the family is the primary bubble.
            The bubble not only protected, it encumbered upon members certain responsibilities.  In graduate school at Tulane U. in the early 1960s I had a friend, another grad student, from Missouri.  He was a fan of the Cardinals (baseball) and had studied as an undergrad at Rockhurst U. (Jesuit) in St. Louis.  In New Orleans he met and became engaged to an attractive young woman.  One problem, however – she was Protestant.  The marriage could go forward when she agreed to raise the children as Catholics; a precondition for a Catholic wedding.  Then, she had 2nd thoughts about raising her children as Catholics.  Result: they had none; the engagement was broken and the wedding called off.  He would not marry someone who refused to raise his children as Catholics.  He soon found a Catholic girl whom he married.  (In those days, one could still use the term “girl” for adult women, even for some in their 60s, and most would have been flattered by the usage.)
            One consequence of John XXIII and Vatican II was the erosion of the Catholic bubble.  Long-accepted rules of the Church were abandoned, bringing greater freedom, but also causing confusion, and sometimes anger.  Catholics questioned more as their ancient, and rock-like Church seemed to be rocking amid the change swirling around them.  Some of these changes were related to the election of Roman Catholic John Kennedy to the American Presidency.  While Catholics had long been activists in labor unions, now some expanded their social activism.  Marsden quotes historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. about the New Deal, but fitting for the Kennedy era as well: The whole point…lay in its belief in activism, its faith in gradualness, its indifference to ideologies…”(59)  Some young Catholics would soon be joining with Black Protestants and white Jews in civil rights and later anti-war protests.  In the 1950s it would have been inconceivable for nuns to march alongside Black integrationists, or for priests to break into draft boards and spill blood on files.  Lay people were now active too, like Viola Liuzo, who was killed in Alabama for her protest against segregation.  Unthinkable in the 1950s, but televised in the 60s.  Thus, the turmoil in the Church, that began at the top, would have ramifications on the ground in the US as the left-liberal elements were strengthened with new energy, new recruits, and new approaches from the Catholic fold.  Although Marsden discusses at length the religious right of the 1970s and 80s, he utterly ignores the storms that followed the loosening of the reins by John XXIII.
            The Catholic Church was not the only powerful, international organization that tried to reinvent itself during this period.  In February 1956, two years before the election of Pope John XXIII, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a secret speech to leading Communists from throughout the world, charged his predecessor, Josef Stalin and the Party he led, with crimes including murder.  When news spread, the Communist Parties lost large percentages of their memberships in some countries, including the CPUSA.  (But in terms of influence, the CPUSA was already but a fragment of its former self.)  Nevertheless, the revelations that the Party could commit murderous “errors,” must have caused many of the few who remained to ask, “Should I always obey Party directives?”  Later that same year Khrushchev answered that question.  If some thought that the Communist International movement was to undergo a major “reset,” Khrushchev responded with Soviet troops and tanks when a rebellion against the Communist government erupted in Hungary.  The window for questioning the Party leadership slammed shut in Budapest.  And just a few years later, with Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church was stirring confusion and self-doubt among many of its flock, opening the doors to protest in the US and Liberation Theology later in Latin America.  And Khrushchev’s speech would contribute to the causes of a major rift in the Communist world; the split between Moscow and Beijing.  There is little reason for Marsden to mention Khrushchev’s speech, but he certainly should have discussed the events in the Catholic earthquake that was shaking bubbles.
            Marsden concedes that “this historical analysis [in this book] has concentrated on the legacy of Protestantism as the most influential group shaping American culture…”(171)  Was this true in the 1950s?  I admit, my home city was unusual in the number of businesses closed on Good Friday and All Saints’ Day.  And perhaps, nowhere else in America could priests and nuns, attired in clerical garb, ride the city buses and streetcars for free.  Indeed, Protestant ministers would fume against the city’s pro-Catholic policy, because wearing the everyday attire of businessmen; they had to pay the 7-cent fare.  Of course, turn on the radio any Sunday, and one could hear the Protestant ministers’ revenge: New Orleans was Sodom, Gomorrah, Babylon all rolled into one.  New Orleans was a Catholic enclave surrounded by the Protestant Bible Belt of blue laws, laws requiring closings on Sundays, and prohibiting sales of alcohol in many counties until well into the 1960s.  In most of the South, Marsden is correct – the dominant culture was Protestant.
            However, was Protestant culture still dominant for America as a whole?  Although losing ground to television, theaters still attracted million to movies in color, in Panavision, and even in 3-D.  Actors may still encounter trouble for saying it, but clearly it is not Protestants who dominate Hollywood.  Jews made Hollywood the “dream factory” where the aspirations and ideals of America, and even the world are portrayed and created.  Since the early 1900s it has been predominantly the invention of and dominated by Jews.  In the 1920s and early 30s, when Biblical epics displayed too much flesh, demands for censorship grew.  The Democrats, busy repealing Prohibition, caved and permitted censorship of the film industry.  The Catholic Legion of Decency would threaten to boycott films that did not meet their standards, so American films became tamer from the early 1930s until the mid1960s.  Marsden notes that during this era, priests were invariable portrayed as kind, strong, righteous men.  He notes how some Protestants denounced Burt Lancaster in the 1960 film “Elmer Gantry,” which was a most unflattering portrait of a minister.  Much later, Hollywood would disparagingly depict priests and ministers.  Yet, when is the last time you saw a film mock a rabbi?
            Marsden assumes that Protestantism was still dominant in American culture in the 1950s.  Was it?  Writing in 1969 sociologist and the later Democratic Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote that the public schools of New York “had transformed two generations of Jewish immigrants into the intellectual elite of the world’s most powerful nation.”(Hugh Graham Davis, The Civil Rights Era, pp. 310-11)  He did not mean that they became the intellectual elite in 1969.  Who was moving up the ladder in academia, entertainment, publishing, films; who chaired the Radio Corp. of America, which established NBC and its off-spring ABC, but Col. Robert Sarnoff; who founded CBS but William Paley?  The academedia complex was coalescing, and most prominent in this matrix were Jews.
            There was a major setback.  In the 1930s Jews had been far more likely to drift from hatred of Nazism and fascism toward the Left and Communism.  Probably no other ethnic group in the US had supplied so many recruits to the CPUSA than had the Jews.  Of course, not all Communists were Jews, and certainly, not all Jews were Communists, but Jews were disproportionately involved in the CP and its front groups.  It was “The Way We Were” for many Barbara Streisands, if not for their Robert Redfords (the film of 1973 about the earlier decades).  Joining the CP had consequences following WWII as the Cold War began and Communist spies were identified.  The Rosenbergs were executed as traitors, and there was fear that many more Communists had infiltrated government and were using their positions to aid and abet the international threat.  It was not merely the loss of A-bomb secrets (which  was bad enough), but the suspicion that Communist agents in the State Dept. or other govt. agencies had blocked aid to Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalists in their war against Mao and the Communists.  Republicans asked, “Who lost China?” implying it was lost by  foreign agents inside the American govt.  While many in the liberal establishment then, as Marsden does now, dismiss the efforts of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, was McCarthy the villain depicted by Hollywood and academia?  Showing blinders even further, Marsden writes: “Catholics,…, only rarely gained a voice in the cultural mainstream prior to the eve of the Kennedy era.”(xviii)  Wrong.  Catholics had voices, like that of Sen. McCarthy, and the liberal establishment clearly knew his voice.  But they hated it, mocked it, sought to destroy it; destroyed it.  He was as welcome among liberals then as Rush Limbaugh is today.  Catholics had a voice then; conservatives have a voice now.  Liberals know it and seek to silence it.
            In effect, Marsden agrees with historian Richard Hofstadter that McCarthy exemplified the “paranoid style” in American politics.  Was McCarthy paranoid?  In early 2012 Russian leader Vladimir Putin thanked the Western scientists who supplied the Soviet Union with atomic secrets at the beginning of the Cold War.  He assured his audience, it was not just microfilm, it was suitcases of material.  And we know now it was not merely Gold, Greenglass, the Rosenbergs, and Fuchs (he was gentile), but Theodore Hall (born Holtzberg) was a most important spy for the Soviets, - one who was never caught.  Furthermore, the leader of the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, had in the 1930s contributed money to the CP, his wife, brother, and one mistress were all members of the CP, and there was suspicion that he had divulged secrets to the Soviets.  In 1954 Oppenheimer lost his security clearance, though he was never found guilty of spying.  On the conservapedia website, it is alleged Oppenheimer was a secret member of the CP during the Manhattan Project and was helpful to the Soviets.  If Putin was speaking the truth in 2012, who was filling the suitcases?  Paranoia?  Or another failure of liberals to take proper precautions?
            Catholics did have a cultural and political voice before John Kennedy was elected President, and that voice sounded a lot like Sen. McCarthy.  He did go after Communists. He did go after people whom he thought might provide information to the Soviets.  JFK’s younger brother, Robert worked for the McCarthy committee from Dec. 1952 to July 1953, when he was replaced as chief counsel by Roy Cohn.  McCarthy’s choice of Cohn may have been a way to deflect the left-wing charges that McCarthy was an anti-Semite.  Because many of those called before his committee were Jews (who may have been members of the CP), it was harder to make the leftist smear stick when Cohn was his chief counsel.  But the Left cares little about facts when it can mobilize huge protests.  Thus, masses rallied in Paris against the “anti-Semitism” in America illustrated by the executions of the A-bomb spies, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, but the Paris plazas were devoid of protests against Stalin when he was in the process of purging Jews from the CP leaderships in the new “People’s Democracies” of Eastern Europe in the late 1940s.
McCarthy’s accusations angered the liberal elite sufficiently that President Eisenhower, a Protestant liberal Republican, threw his political weight with the liberals in the US Senate, so that the majority voted to censure Sen. McCarthy.  That vote is usually considered the turning point, the punch from which he never recovered.  There were other issues besides the Communist past or present of those subpoenaed before his committee, including firing homosexuals as security risks, an investigation of a military base in the Alabama about such “unnatural” activities, and then the rumors concerning Cohn and his close buddy, David Schine.  But the Left never forgave them for exposing Communist activities in government, and to this day McCarthyism is a dirty word in the academedia complex.  But the chief reason for McCarthy’s fall was his insistence on resurrecting the past, often the Communist past (and possibly CP present), of some called before his committee.  Many liberals in the 1930s had sympathized with the Soviet “experiment,” and wanted no reminders.  The left and liberals  were determined to discredit McCarthy by portraying him as paranoid.
Catholics had a voice besides McCarthy’s, - that of one of the best orators in the country in the 20th century, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.  (Two other great orators of the century were the Protestant Rev. Billy Graham, and the actor turned politician, Ronald Reagan.)  Sheen’s weekly television sermon. “Life is Worth Living,” which ran nationally from 1952 until 1968, was one of the nation’s most popular shows, and viewed by many who were not Catholics.  Sheen’s charismatic presence, his use of the pause and logic, made powerful television without color, without special effects, without canned laughter.  Sheen, Graham, and Reagan would rouse Americans as few have since.
But before Bishop Sheen appeared on television, Catholics had had another powerful voice, the “radio priest,” Father Charles Coughlin.  Turning a weekly local broadcast on WJR in Detroit into a national program in 1930, Coughlin was clearly moved by the Depression, and sought the get the government to improve conditions.  He was a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt in his run for the Presidency in 1932, and was heard by up to 30 million listeners each week.  Though he certainly appealed to Irish Catholics, his appeal extended far beyond them, and he received some 80,000 letters a week.  By 1934 Coughlin was dismayed by the slow progress of FDR’s New Deal, and its granting so much power to the Federal Reserve.  Coughlin began to condemn FDR and support instead maverick Louisiana Democratic Sen. Huey Long.  However, when that populist reformer was assassinated in the Louisiana capitol building, the rising 3rd party was suddenly bereft of its natural leader.  Coughlin had also created the National Union for Social Justice (Obama is probably envious that this title was taken before he could use it.) and supported the Union Party of 1936, which received fewer than a million votes.
When Coughlin returned to the radio, the Spanish Civil War raged between the left-wing Republic and the rebellious fascists led by Gen. Francisco Franco.  Unlike Hemingway and the left-wing elite, Coughlin supported the anti-Communist Franco.  (Those who admire Gaudi’s Sacred Family Cathedral in Barcelona might recall that the Spanish “Republicans” destroyed many of his plans for this masterpiece.)  Even some of the foreigners who fought for the Republican cause in Spain, like George Orwell, came to believe the Republican government was a Communist-dominated regime. 
When in November 1938 news arrived of Kristallnacht and the intensified Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany, Coughlin reminded his audience that it was the Christians who had first been persecuted by the Communists in the Soviet Union.  He also railed against the international Jews and published in his weekly Social Justice, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”  Coughlin began to support policies similar to those of Hitler and Mussolini, so when America entered WWII against those dictators, the National Assn. of Broadcasters set new requirements that effectively banned him from the airways.  Then pressure on the church forced him to confine his duties to that of a local parish priest – and no more.
Before America’s entry into WWII, many, if not most Americans preferred to remain neutral during the conflict.  Because Poland had been ravaged by Hitler’s Blitzkrieg on its western border, and followed by Stalin’s attack in 1939 from the east, many Poles in the US were committed to the victory of the Allies, led by Britain.  However, in the US, most ethnic Catholics came from nations that by 1939-40 had leaders who were pro-fascist.  Marshall Petain’s France, Italy, the new Croatia, Austria (absorbed into Germany), Hungary, the new Slovakia, the remnants of Bohemia-Moravia, Spain, Portugal, and later Argentina, were all Catholic.  And none of them were democracies.  Of course, many Irish-Americans would oppose the English, and many German-Americans were also Catholic.  The Catholic ethnics from these nations may not have supported the policies of their homelands, but they did not want war against those homelands either.  Col. Lindbergh and the America First Committee had much support, until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Once the US was at war, these ethnics were drafted and fought against the Axis, doing their duty, even if with less enthusiasm than some of the recruits from the coasts.
When the war ended, their stifled voices began to rise.  Strangely missing from Marsden’s book is any mention of the highly influential The Future of American Politics (1952) by Samuel Lubell.  Lubell stressed that the ethnics whose loyalty had been questioned during WWII were now eager to prove their patriotism by exposing the Communists who led America into war; who insured that lend-lease materials had a higher priority for the USSR rather than for American or British troops; who provided Stalin’s scientists with secrets so they could quickly develop the A- and H- bombs; and who prevented American aid from reaching anti-Axis, but anti-Communist leaders like Chiang in China and Mihailovic in Yugoslavia.  Most of these ethnics were working class and some in trade unions, yet many deserted the Democrats and voted for Eisenhower because of what they deemed as Democratic treason.  The suppression of the Catholic and other churches behind the Iron Curtain simply encouraged these ethnics to stick with the Republicans and many found McCarthy refreshing.  They wanted strong action against the Communist governments.  While the liberal establishment preferred George Kennan’s proposal of “containing” the Soviet empire, the Catholic ethnics often preferred those who urged rolling it back.  As President, Eisenhower governed as part of the liberal establishment.  He accepted a divided peninsula to end the Korean War; he did not intervene when the East Berlin workers rose against their Communist regime in 1953; and though American shortwave radio encouraged it, America stood idly by when the Hungarian rebels against the Communists in 1956 were crushed by Soviet troops.  In other parts of the world, Eisenhower actively engaged in rolling back perceived threats to the US, overturning left-wing governments in Iran and Guatemala, helping more conservative governments combat and suppress guerrilla operations in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and parts of Africa.  But in Europe, Ike was content with containment.
In 1960 Catholics hoped for a larger voice in national affairs when Irish Catholic Sen. John Kennedy ran for the Presidency against a Quaker, Republican Vice-President, Richard Nixon.  The only other time a major party had nominated a Catholic for the highest office in the land, was in 1928 when New York Gov. Al Smith ran against the first Quaker to run for President on a major ticket, Herbert Hoover.  That was a nasty campaign, with considerable anti-Catholic emotional appeals, and even renewed strength of the Ku Klux Klan (whose threats prompted Father Coughlin to begin his radio career).  While Smith carried Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he lost the rest of the North, and even some of the “solid” Democratic South, like North Carolina which had not gone Republican since Reconstruction.  Hoover won in a landslide.  In an effort to prevent a recurrence of the anti-Catholic bias in 1960, Kennedy assured Americans that if elected he would retain the strong wall of separation between church and state in America.  The Pope would not reside in the White House.  Despite such reassurances, many remained skeptical about electing a Catholic.  For example, as late as summer 1960 the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was still supporting Nixon the Protestant for President rather than a Catholic.   But in October 1960, after Martin L. King, Jr, was arrested in a sit-in, John Kennedy’s brother Robert telephoned the authorities to get King released.  With that, King, Sr. endorsed the Catholic Kennedy.  Kennedy defeated Nixon by a slim margin.   
How would the first Catholic President conduct America’s foreign policy?  Kennedy decided to continue with a roll-back effort initially developed for Nixon on the presumption that he would win the White House.  Nixon didn’t, but Kennedy okayed the project anyway.  Just months after his inauguration, in spring 1961 at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, American backed Cuban exile forces fought to topple Fidel Castro.  When it quickly became evident the small force did not have the massive support of the Cuban people promised by the US intelligence agency, and when Kennedy refused to up the ante, the invasion failed.  This raised Castro’s popularity, and made Kennedy a hated man among many of the Cuban exiles.  Kennedy also failed to act when the East German government chose to halt immigration to the West by erecting a secure border, including a wall through the center of Berlin.
Kennedy’s failure to eliminate the Castro regime in Cuba would cause further problems for America, the Soviets, and the world.  In the Western Hemisphere, suddenly it was no longer roll-back, under Kennedy, but containment of Communism only 90 miles from Miami.  Meanwhile, there was strong Catholic support for the Catholic dominated government in South Vietnam, and Kennedy increased the US military presence there from 900 to 15,000 “military advisors,” but there is still debate whether he was preparing to withdraw them in late 1963.  As it was, on 2 November 1963 the Catholic President of South Vietnam and his brother, head of the armed forces, were both assassinated, with CIA foreknowledge.  On 22 November 1963 Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Marsden discusses the crisis of liberal belief.  He fails to understand that the crisis of belief occurred when liberal policies, once implemented, failed.
Communists had been quite active in the American labor movement, and its members were some of the most successful in organizing the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).  Sometimes overlooked, the Communists were also extremely important in the civil rights movement(CRM), beginning around 1931 when they struggled against the liberal NAACP for control of the Scottsboro rape defense.  Hiring top attorneys, investigating the case thoroughly, even building a toy-train replica of the freight upon which, allegedly, many rapes occurred, the Communists held mass rallies and sent the mother of two defendants to Europe where she spoke about her innocent children and the attempt of the racist Alabama judicial system to railroad her boys to the electric chair.  The CP and its front groups persuaded many leftist intellectuals of the day, like Albert Einstein and theologian Martin Buber, to sign petitions to free the Scottsboro boys.  There were trials and retrials – one of the white women “victims” changed her story, to deny that the Blacks had raped her or even had sex with her.  The other white woman stuck to her story of rape, but whenever the Communist-hired defense attorney tried to catch her in a contradiction, she suddenly “disremembered” precisely what happened.  In one final appeal to the jury, the prosecutor summed up his case, “Don’t sell Alabama justice to Jew money from New York!”  At another point, a court official called a Black about to sit in the witness chair “a thing.”  The all-white juries found the Black defendants guilty with each new trial, and the then conservative US Supreme Court twice heard appeals and ruled for the defense, so that Communists gained Constitutional guarantees for all with the right to counsel and that race might not be used to exclude Blacks the jury rolls.
Building on this and other cases, Communists in the South gained a reputation as courageous and knowledgeable opponents of racism.  They were active, through their front groups in numerous local causes, but their struggle against Southern segregation reached a peak during the 1948 election campaign which featured former Vice President under FDR. Henry Wallace running for President on the new Progressive Party ticket against another former VP also under FDR, Democrat Harry Truman.  The other major contenders were New York Republican Gov. Thomas Dewey, and States’ Rights Democrat (Dixiecrat) South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond.  Truman, who earlier in his career may have been a member of the KKK, now sought the Black vote and was portrayed as a champion of civil rights.  Truman was the first US President to address the convention of the NAACP, and in effect won the endorsement of that “non-partisan” organization.  To make the policy even clearer, when one of the founders of the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois endorsed the Progressive Wallace rather than Truman, Du Bois was promptly fired from the liberal organization.
Yet, those Southerners most inspired by the ideal of racial equality, who may have joined with Communists and certainly supported the Progressive Party of 1948, expressed their hopes in the Wallace Progressive movement.  The new Progressive group, not only had the support of many CIO unions, it also had the endorsement of Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC, the first snick, which had hosted the famous Black actor, singer Paul Robeson), the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, the National Negro Congress, the Civil Rights Congress, and the Council on African Affairs.  When Paul Robeson, an official of the Progressive Party by then, toured the South for Wallace, young men in New Orleans had to sit on the stoops with baseball bats to defend the home where he stayed.  In Baton Rouge, when the landlady discovered Robeson was staying in a house she owned, she demanded the tenants vacate immediately.  Police intervened, and said the tenants could remain till the end of the month.  Wallace’s running mate, Democratic Sen. Glen Taylor from Idaho also campaigned in the South where he was scheduled to address a SNYC gathering in Birmingham.  The US Senator was then arrested by Police Commissioner Bull Connor because he entered through the Black entrance to the building.  Taylor had intentionally defied Birmingham’s segregation ordinance.  SNYC, Bull Connor, integration, arrests.  Does it sound familiar?  In the 1960s, it would be SNCC, Bull Connor, integration, arrests.  And in October 1948 Wallace himself embarked on a Southern campaign tour.  In “liberal” North Carolina threatening mobs rocked his car (Nixon would have a similar, terrorizing experience when he visited South America in 1960).  Sometimes Wallace got out and tried to speak, and was pelted in the face  with rotten eggs and tomatoes  There was at least one stabbing, and battles with anti-left picketers who used their sticks in the scuffles.  At some ball parks, Blacks and whites could gather and listen to Wallace and then join in as Pete Seeger led in singing political anthems.  Because Wallace refused to address segregated audiences, in some places, he chose not to speak.  He was invited to speak on some local radio programs, and depending on the hostility of the crowd en route, he might ignore his prepared speech to talk in simple terms, how segregation was a “sin.”  This tour is overlooked by historians for political reasons – it embarrasses those who are committed to the Democratic Party.  Ignored or not, the Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign was in reality the beginning of the larger civil rights movement.  Wallace and his supporters displayed enormous courage at that time.  On the other hand, for the militant integrationists, their hopes of 1948 were dashed when Wallace received only 2.4% of the national vote.  Wallace was a very courageous politician.  He was not a Communist.  However, if Wallace had won the election, the man whom he most likely would have chosen as US Secretary of State was also likely on the Soviet payroll. 
Truman won, and he was determined to destroy the agitators.  Truman had his Attorney General issue a list of subversive organizations (belonging to one might get you fired).  Many of these groups in the South were front-groups, a coalition of Communists and non-Communists working for specific goals in each organization.  And these were often the only militant integration organizations.  They had supported Wallace, and Truman was out to destroy them.  And destroy them he did, the SNYC, the SCHW, the NNNC, the CRC, and the CAA, etc..  All of these integration organizations would cease to exist by the mid1950s.  And for emphasis, Truman had the 82 year-old Du Bois handcuffed and arrested as a foreign agent.  (Eventually, the charges were dismissed.)
   In the South persecutions of the Commie n-s and n-loving integrationists increased.  Even the anti-Communist, liberal NAACP was tainted in the atmosphere.  Many now called it the National Assn. for the Advancement of the Communist Party.  By the late 1950s, even the liberal NAACP was made illegal in Louisiana.  SNYC, Bull Connor, integration, arrests.  But with the defeat of the Progressive Party, with Truman’s destruction of SNYC and the other integration organizations, Bull Connor could rest easy by the mid-50s.  The Commies had been defeated.
For contrast, I recall attending a Billy Graham rally in Pelican (baseball) Stadium in New Orleans in the mid1950s.  His sermon was quite moving, and many in the audience rose at the end to “accept Christ.”  There were Blacks in the audience, but they all sat on the side in a segregated section.  The superb orator Graham was not going to disrupt his main message by raising the race issue like Henry Wallace and the Progressives.  Of course, New Orleans was Catholic, with a large Catholic school system, which was segregated.  While most Protestant churches were completely segregated, all white or all Black, Catholic churches were not.  But Blacks sat in the back pews and received communion only after all the whites had taken theirs.  And when in New Orleans some Jesuits spoke up against segregation, they were reminded that before the (Civil) war, the Jesuits had owned slaves too.
After WWII Hollywood and the radio-television networks agreed to a blacklist barring accused Leftists and Communists from the media.  Among the more famous were the Black one-time all-American football player, turned singer/actor Paul Robeson, and the Weavers, a singing group whose hits included “Good Night Irene,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” and “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena.”  Pete Seeger was one of the Weavers, and he watched their records disappear from the juke boxes and record stores.  The Hollywood 10 openly defied the Congress and refused to answer questions about their possible connections to the CP, and they lost jobs, and some had to move to other countries to find work.  Some of the writers wrote screenplays under pseudonyms.  Decades later, Hollywood and TV would generally portray these Communists as persecuted heroes.  But some, like actor Burt Parks, who reluctantly cooperated with the un-American activities committee, naming the names of Communists, also suffered at the box-office for ever having been mixed up with the radicals.  Others, like Elia Kazan, defied the Communists, named members of Communist cells, and Kazan went on to direct some of the most poignant films to come from Hollywood, like “On the Waterfront,” (1954) in which one of the big questions is should one become an informer.  Yet, the Left never forgave Kazan for “snitching,” and decades later in 1999 when Kazan received an honorary award from the Academy Awards, many of the Leftist members literally stood and turned their backs at the ceremony when Kazan was called to the stage.  Not all who had been on the Left suffered during this period.  Lucille Ball in California in the 1930s had registered to vote as a Communist.  Some have alleged that she was quite active in the Party.  The CP was strongly anti-racist, and undoubtedly for many reasons, Ball married an Hispanic from Cuba, band leader Desi Arnez.  Somehow, in 1951, Ball managed to get both of them on a television series as a married couple.  This was the closest to a mixed marriage on TV at the time.  It was also hilarious, and the series soared to number one in 1950s television.
There were some anti-Communist dramatic series, but they generally differed little from the b-crime programs.  Same with the movies.  One exception was the 1955 film, “Trial,” about an alleged rape of a white girl by an Hispanic in California.  The Communists quickly move in to handle the defense, hiring liberal good-guy Glenn Ford as an innocent  front man for their cause.  The Party cynically manipulates the race issue, raising money by using the mother of the boy at rallies, and in the end sabotaging the defense so the youth will die.  That will prove to the world the injustice of the American legal system.  One television series was interesting, “I Led 3 Lives,” in which a normal American man seemingly living a normal American life is secretly a member of the CP, and beyond that, is secretly an informer for the FBI.  The program’s layers of deception provided many plot twists, and it was akin to a political version of “The Fugitive.”  Strangely, one of the most effective anti-Communist movies of the era never mentioned the Party – it was the sci-fi favorite, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”  The fear aroused in the audience was about someone close, a co-worker, a friend, a lover, looks the same but is suddenly very different, not himself.  In the film, the danger was alien body snatchers; in America of the era, the danger was alien “mind” snatchers, infecting minds with Marxism.
Perhaps the most subversive popular film of the era was overtly apolitical.  Not rebel with a red cause with a Barbara Streisand carrying a picket sign, but “Rebel without a Cause,” (1955) the story of 3 teens from middle-class families.  But each had conflicts; for all of their families were dysfunctional.  At one point, all 3 (James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo) found refuge in an empty mansion for a few hours to form their own early mid-50s commune.  Also most unusual for that era, it was clear that Mineo was homosexual and attracted to Dean.  The film was subversive in depicting the middle-class family as oppressive and suggesting an alternative.  Seeds of the 60s were laid in the 50s.
Although CP influence had been curtailed in Hollywood, there were undoubtedly still some who opposed the Cold War and hoped for peace with Stalin’s empire.  In addition to sci-fi programs on TV and in films, in which peace could be stressed as a better alternative to continued re-armament and nuclear “chicken” (chicken was the one word that turned the teens in Rebel into homicidal brutes), that might end with annihilation of all.
A similar theme present in American culture following WWII was pacifism: “Should one fight?”  One great and one good film exemplified this modified challenge to the continued Cold War arms race.  It was not shown in the obvious contest of the Reds vs. the West, but rather in the terms of a traditional American minor religion, the Quakers or Friends.  In these films the Quakers sought to uphold a long-held principle of some smaller religions that war was wrong and one should abstain.  The 1952 film “High Noon” is set in the old West.  The town marshal, Gary Cooper, has just married a Quakeress (Grace Kelly), resigns his post, and leaves town with her to become a storekeeper.  He turns back when he learns that a criminal whom he captured was released on a technicality, and will arrive in town on the train at high noon.  The criminal is a good shot, has a small gang, and has vowed revenge on Cooper.  Cooper recovers his badge and seeks to round up a posse to defend the town before the train arrives.  Meanwhile, Grace has decided she is leaving on that train, and hopes that he joins her and avoids the looming gunfight.  If they depart together, she thinks they can avoid violence.  As noon and the train approach, Cooper has been unable to convince anyone to help against the gun-toting gang.  Cooper is alone.  He has some shoot-outs with the group, killing a few but he too is wounded.  When Cooper seems lost, Grace unexpectedly shoots one of the villains.  In the end the bad guys are all killed, Cooper throws away his badge in disgust, and the newlyweds depart the town.  The Quaker view is presented, not as bad, but as impractical.  And in the end, the wife uses a weapon too.
The 1956 film, “Friendly Persuasion” also concerned Quaker attitudes toward war.  Again, Gary Cooper plays, this time as the father of a Quaker family, this time located in the southern part of Indiana in 1862, when Confederate forces invade the area.  The family opposes slavery, but does not believe in killing for that or any other cause.  The father Cooper, waivers, but the bigger issue in the film concerns his son, Anthony Perkins.  Perkins does not join the Union Army, but when Confederate troops come to his farm, Perkins too takes up the gun and shoots against the invaders.  I do not mean that the pacifist position was shown as the winning one, but it was presented with respect as an alternative.
Most Americans did not seek a Cold War; many Americans retained an ideal of peace.  But in the crunch, Americans would fight against the Communists or any other aggressor.  War films and TV of the era showed the enemy to be North Koreans, Soviets, sometimes Chinese, and more frequently the Axis powers of WWII.
I do not mean that the pacifist position was shown as the winning one, but it was presented with respect as an alternative.  Meanwhile, the Communist and Progressive leadership of the civil rights movement of the late 1940s had burnt out with persecution.  Some pondered a new approach.  When war loomed in the late 1930s a non-religious pacifist group was organized, the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  In the early 1940s, an off-shoot of FOR was begun to specialize in trying to apply non-violent methods to reduce or end racial discrimination, and so the Congress of Racial Equality was born.  Both FOR and CORE were tiny, pacifist sects trying to survive in America during WWII.  By the mid-50s, some of the Progressives were thinking of applying creatively some of the methods of non-violence.  One center where these methods could be explored was the Left-wing camp in Tennessee, Highlander Folk School.  In 1955 that is where a seamstress from Montgomery was trained, and when she returned home, and applied the lessons learned, the Montgomery boycott began.  And so with Rosa Parks began the next phase of what is normally called the Civil Rights Movement.  This was the meeting, the new coalition of the former Progressives (and CP folk) applying Gandhian, Quakerish methods to change race relations in the South, along with younger people who had no direct connections to “subversive” organizations, and also some very religious people.  Churches provided sanctuary for many CR activities, and some houses of worship paid the price by being burnt to the ground.  But my purpose here is not to recount the history of the CRM, but note one aspect consciously omitted back then so as to play down any links to the CP, as that would have made it more difficult to gain popular support.  Today those links are downplayed or forgotten because it is assumed that most people prefer the myths, and legends, instead of the reality.  This is probably one reason the govt. files on Martin Luther King, Jr. are still kept from the public (like many of the files on the John Kennedy assassination, and on King’s assassination).
Finally, Marsden envisioned the American Enlightenment of the 1950s as still a combination of Protestant culture and scientific humanism.  Just how scientific was this Enlightenment? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I took the following article by Dr. Thomas Sowell from frontpage.com, the website of David Horowitz.  Sowell is a researcher and thinker, and a man of courage willing to challenge the dominant ideology in the field of education.---Hugh Murray

De Blasio’s War on Achievement

Bill De Blasio Holds Campaign Rally In BrooklynNew York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, like so many others who call themselves “progressive,” is gung-ho to solve social problems. In fact, he is currently on a crusade to solve an educational problem that doesn’t exist, even though there are plenty of other educational problems that definitely do exist.
The non-existent problem is the use of tests to determine who gets admitted to the city’s three most outstanding public high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. These admissions tests have been used for generations, and the students in these schools have had spectacular achievements for generations.
These achievements include many Westinghouse Science awards, Intel Science awards and — in later life — Pulitzer Prizes and multiple Nobel Prizes. Graduates of Bronx Science alone have gone on to win five Nobel Prizes in physics alone. There are Nobel Prize winners from Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech as well.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a motto that Mayor de Blasio and many other activist politicians pay no attention to. He is also out to curtail charter schools, which include schools that have achieved outstanding education results for poor minority students, who cannot get even adequate results in all too many of the other public schools.
What is wrong with charter schools and with elite high schools like Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech? Despite their educational achievements, they have political problems.
The biggest political problem is that the teachers’ unions don’t like them — and the teachers’ unions are the 800-pound gorilla among the special interests in Bill de Blasio’s Democratic Party.
The next biggest political problem is that people who don’t pass the tests for the elite public high schools don’t want to have to pass tests to get in.
Their politicians have been denouncing these admissions tests for decades, and so have various other ethnic community “leaders.” These include spokesmen for “civil rights” organizations, who think their civil rights include getting into these elite schools, whether they qualify or not.
Finally, there are the intelligentsia, who all too often equate achievement with privilege.
In times past, such people called Stuyvesant “a free prep school for Jews” and “a privileged little ivory tower.”
That was clever, but cleverness is not wisdom. Back in those days, Jewish youngsters were over-represented among the students at all three elite public high schools. Today it is Asian students who are a majority at those same schools — more than twice as many Asians as whites in all three schools.
Black and Hispanic students are rare at all three elite public high schools, and becoming rarer.
Many among the intelligentsia and politicians express astonishment that the ethnic makeup of these schools is so different from the demographic makeup of the city.
But such differences between groups are common in countries around the world. But in each country there are people who say that it is strange — and demand a “solution” to this “problem.”
In Malaysia, for example, before group quotas were established at the country’s universities, students from the Chinese minority earned more than 400 engineering degrees in the 1960s, while students from the Malay majority earned just 4.
When a university was established in 19th century Romania, there were more German students than Romanian students, and most of the professors were German. The same was true for most of the 19th century when a university was established in Estonia.
In none of these cases did the group that was over-represented have any power to discriminate against groups that were under-represented.
If racism is the reason why there are so few blacks in Stuyvesant High School, why were blacks a far higher proportion in Stuyvesant in earlier times, as far back as 1938? Was there less racism in 1938? Was there less poverty among blacks in 1938?
We know that there were far fewer black children raised in single-parent homes back then and there was far less social degeneracy represented by things like gangsta rap. If Mayor de Blasio wants to solve real problems, let him take these on.