Professor David Gelernter would seem to be an unusual candidate to have written this book … a duck out of water, but still very much stirring up the pond.
David Gelernter is a professor at Yale, a Computer Science professor at Yale, yet writes on, among other things, cultural and political things as well as on computer stuff, and is an artist as well.
Gelernter lives close to New Haven CT (where I live), whose voter demographics are: 70% Democrat, 4% Republican and the rest Undeclared, and whose city government is 100% (yes 100%) Democrat.
Gelernter is a man of faith.
Gelernter is a conservative.
I came across this book and its author while groggily listening to a radio talk show interview in the wee hours of an early morning pee break. When I was more fully awake later in the morning, and after coffee, I sought out the Hugh Hewitt show web site to check out what I thought was an interview with a scientist of some sort. That’s when I found the Professor. This was the day before we were embarking on a trip to the west coast, and I went to the Yale bookstore to see if the book was there. It was. Even buying the book was interesting. The lady in the store said she was familiar with the book and had seen it just the day before on the shelves. She directed me to the current events section, and sure enough there were 2 copies of the brand new book. As I was at the counter buying the book, the young man seemed to be taking his time in examining the book; the back of the book has some prominent bullet points and the young man said “ he’s right, he has a point.”
There are some authors whose works I can not read without a highlighter pen in hand, and I was in this book just a short distance before I went looking for my pen; I was hooked! So now I have no excuse to not share this book with you, it’s all marked up, and I’m starting a second read-thru. So let the review begin, but how? Probably the best way for me to review this book is to let it speak for itself with few interruptions on my part.
From the flyleaf:
America-Lite (where we all live) is just like America, only turned into an amusement park or a video game or a supersized Pinkberry, where the past and future are blank and there is only a big NOW. How did we come to expect no virtue and so much cynicism from our culture, our leaders—and each other?
In this refreshingly judgmental book, David Gelernter connects the historical dots to reveal a stealth revolution carried out by post-religious globalist intellectuals who, by and large, “can’t run their own universities or scholarly fields, but are very sure they can run you.” These imperial academics have deployed their students into the top echelon of professions once monopolized by staid and steady WASPs. In this simple way, they have installed themselves as the new designated drivers of American culture.
Imperial academics live in a world of theory; they preach disdain for mere facts and for old-fashioned fact-based judgments like true or false. Schoolchildren are routinely taught theories about history instead of actual history—they learn, for example, that all nations are equally nice except for America, which is nearly always nasty.
With academic experts to do our thinking for us, we’ve politely shut up and let second-raters take the wheel. In fact, we have handed the keys to the star pupil and teacher’s pet of the post-religious globalist intellectuals, whose election to the presidency of the United States constituted the ultimate global group hug.
Selected quotes from selected chapters:
- Prologue: Before & After
“EVERYONE KNOWS THAT AMERICAN CIVILIZATION CHANGED IN THE 1960S and ’70s.”
“Before the cultural revolution, it was taken for granted that instilling patriotism was a duty of every U.S. public school. After the revolution, ROTC disappeared entirely from the Ivy League, not to return until 2011.”
- Chapter 1: Intellectuals and the Cultural Revolution
“In 1957, Americans were pleased with America and proud of it. They had problems and knew it, but were undismayed.”
“Less than twenty years later, that proud confidence was gone, crumbled like mud-bricks into flyblown clouds of dust. ‘No one knows which way to turn and which way to go, … ‘Patriotism is unfashionable, … A man is not expected to love his country, lest he make an ass out of himself.”
“The United States,” said the French minister of culture, “is the first nation to become the most powerful in the world without having sought to be so …”
“ … the New Left picked up speed at Berkley in the Free Speech Movement of 1964 and 1965, before the explosion of Vietnam. Bitterness toward America was an evil spirit shopping for a body when Vietnam started to throb during 1965.”
“There is no more radical a cultural division in all of history than that between the attachment ordinary people have for the family and the hostility intellectuals display towards it.”
“When young people learn left-liberal theories at school instead of facts, they can’t see America no matter how hard they try. They see only the ridiculous, grotesque masks that intellectuals have fashioned: Western civilization is distinguished mainly by awfulness, likewise the United States; there is no great literature,there are no heroes (or none who are white males); Judeo-Christian religion is a curse, patriotism is absurd, there is no high culture; there are no ethical absolutes; no one has the right to be”judgmental”; and so on. … “
“President Obama calls himself a “student of history.” But he has studied Masked America as we will see.”
“ … WASPS were replaced at the helm of American culture by PORGIs – post religious, globalist intellectuals. The PORGIs are followed by the PORGI Airheads, or intellectualizers, who who have passed through the schools and colleges, and come out seeing the world just as they are supposed to.”
“ the sacralization of homosexuality …”
- Chapter 3: The Great Reform
“Today there are a few conservatives at each elite American college, and they live in protected habitats … “
- Chapter 7: Today: Airheads and Obamacrats
“Everyone agrees that President Obama is not only a man but a symbol. He is a symbol of America’s decisive victory over bigotry. But he is also a symbol, a living embodiment of the failure of American education and its ongoing replacement by political indoctrination . He is a symbol of the new American elite, the new establishment, where left-liberal politics is no longer a conviction, no longer a way of thinking: it is built-in mind furniture you take for granted without needing to think.”
“ … This president is not an ideologue; he does not reach that level. He is a PORGI Airhead: smart, educated, ignorant.“
“… Obama is no ideologue; he does not rise to that level. He merely applies the theories he has dutifully learned. “
- Chapter 8: Asymmetry and Balance
“When you are programmed rather than inspired, when you have dogma instead of ideas, theories instead of facts, you need something to keep you going. Hatred is powerful fuel.”
I live just a short bus ride from Yale where someday soon I hope to meet this man.
Some additional references for your viewing/reading pleasure.
- Glenn Beck and David Gelernter tackle the future of education
- Hugh Hewitt interviews the author of America-lite
- David Gelernter: What keeps this failed president above water?
- David Gelernter: A modest proposal
Don Johnson – September 2012