Friday, September 09, 2011

Letter to a Megalomaniac: Stop Writing Letters

Remember our old friend Ellis Washington? The guy who wrote a letter to his pastor complaining that he was being persecuted by not being allowed to debate him at church? The guy who compared environmentalists to jihadists, Nazis, and communists?

Well he's got more to talk about. And this time, he's preaching to the youth. As a young-ish adult myself, I personally can't wait. I bet this will be wicked rad.

What's the dilly, Ellis?
Letter to Generation X
Um... you know that no one in generation X actually refers to themselves as generation X, right? Off to a lame start, fogey.

Ellis' column is truly bizarre. It's probably the only time I've read a political commentary piece framed as a novelization, complete with prologue, "dialogue" and epilogue headers. In the prologue, Ellis informs us that he's had a "recent correspondence" with "a young protégée." Or, as someone who wasn't pretending they just stepped out of Dead Poet's Society or The Emperor's Club might put it, he sent an email. Way to stay current and hip, Ellis.

Things only get more ridiculous and flowery from there. Apparently Ellis' letter had "an enduring leitmotiv" (that's a theme, for those of us who don't spend our free time rubbing our diplomas in other people's faces) discussing the many stages of slavery that black Americans have suffered through-- including, in Ellis' view, the most recent one of "voluntary slavery."

All of this is just in Ellis' prologue. Bring on the "correspondence," young page!

The email is in response to one from a young black man named Marcus saying he doesn't like the Republican party because it keeps the rich rich and the poor poor, and because he doesn't want to be associated with all the baggage of the GOP so he'd rather be a moderate or independent. Sounds reasonable enough, but the great Ellis will not let things stand:
Thanks for writing me, my friend. … Read my blog and follow up what I write with your own research.
That's right, no correspondence from Ellis would be complete without a gratuitous self-endorsement (still, don't you think mentioning it in your second sentence is a little on the nose?)
To help you, examine this simple syllogism below from the own mouths of the forefathers of communism, a totalitarian, atheistic ideology responsible for the brutal genocide of perhaps 150-200 million people in the twentieth century alone: 
...Marx: Democracy is the road to socialism;
Lenin: Democracy is indispensable to socialism. The goal of socialism is communism;
Marx: The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism.
Um... I don't get it. Marx and Lenin are saying that in their views, democracy (power by the people) is required to get to an eventual communist state. So? Suggesting that this damns democracy is like saying John Wayne Gacy ruined clowns forever. Besides, as a conservative, isn't it an article of faith for you that Marx and Lenin were full of crap?

Ellis deftly slaps down Marcus' concern about GOP policy regarding poor people, not by referring to any actual facts or policies, but by simply saying that it's a lie. Well played, I guess? And then he brings out the big guns:
Remember the Democratic Party was the party that gave black people 250 years of slavery, followed by the murderous Klu Klux Klan, racial segregation (de jure and de facto), ghettos, endemic poverty, eugenics (selective breeding), forced sterilization and abortion on demand, which kills millions of black babies every year.
This is a silly if culturally interesting argument which is often repeated on the right, particularly among the Fox News bozos. I am personally fascinated by the intellectual position, "Actions then and now don't matter at all; all that matters is the name of the party they're associated with." It's got a certain ridiculous cleverness to it. Never mind that no matter how often people like Ellis repeat the canard about the contemporary Democratic party somehow being responsible for the KKK, there is nothing more profoundly conservative than the slavery, racism and Jim Crow that was endemic in the Old South. It's particularly funny given that the Fox crowd also likes to crow about how it was Republicans who signed the Civil Rights Act into law over opposition from Dixiecrats. Ellis, of course, can't add this to the list of the Democratic party's evils since he considers the Civil Rights Movement part of "voluntary slavery."

This particular letter ends with Ellis wondering (apparently to himself) whether Generation X will be the saviors of our nation:
Can Generation X save America from voluntary slavery, from the madness of Social Darwinism, which is education atheism, from unsustainable debt and deficits, exploding welfare programs and pensions plans that are purposely causing states to shut down and global socialism?
Tune in for our next episode and find out!

Oh wait, there's more! A few weeks later, we had "Letter to Generation Y," and I'm sure this one's even hipper than ever, right? (Not if the format is any indication; we get the same ridiculous prologue, dialogue, epilogue structure as last time. What is this, a play? Let me guess, Greek tragedy?)

This time Ellis is writing to... a middle-aged college professor? Oh, but apparently he's recycling some of the same arguments he used to "rescue" the guy's college freshman son who had fallen in with the wrong crowd. Go for it, Ellis, what's your advice?
The problem with this young generation is that they have no moral code nor intellectual foundation other than hedonism; no knowledge of history or war strategies of the past like those outlined in Sun Tzu's classic treatise "Art of War."
Wow. I can honestly say that of all the things you might blame young people for, this is definitely not how I thought this was going to go.
Perhaps you can have your son do what I ask my college students to do, which is to read my WND articles or my blog and type a 2-3 page summary and opinion essay of each work.
HOLY CRAP, Ellis. Not everything is about you saving everyone's mind from the evils of... everyone else. Please, for the love of God, dial your ego down a bit before it blocks out the sun and all the trees die. Also, you have some balls to complain about schools brainwashing kids when you require your college students to read your blog and write summaries of everything you post. What's next, have them study your grocery lists so they know how a great and disciplined man stays on budget? Maybe they should be examining your Kindergarten finger painting, too? I'm sure there's something useful there.
This intellectual project will achieve several objectives almost instantaneously for your son, namely to:
1-Regularly follow directions from an authority figure;
2-Develop critical thinking and writing skills;
3-Get his intellect, body, soul, spirit ready to re-enter college again and this time to be successful;
4-Improve his writing/typing/computer skills.
You know, it's funny, Ellis, this kid could accomplish any or all of these things without having to read a single thing you've written. If all he needs to do to get back in the college mindset, he could do book reports on the Twilight series or write reviews of Star Trek episodes and it would essentially get him to the exact same place. What is it about your psyche in which you're convinced you're the antidote to a disease no one seems to be suffering from?
Results: By the end of the summer Rashaan will have a folder full of essays on diverse subjects that your son can then take to the dean, university officials and his professors to demonstrate his seriousness to high intellectual pursuits.
Wait, so your plan is to have him write mini-essays based on your random ideas and screeds, and then collate them into a manifesto portfolio, and that's supposed to impress the dean and his professors enough to let him back into class? I mean, I guess there's some merit there, but why on earth would you suggest that he write nothing but responses to your essays? Isn't there some issue of intellectual property involved? What are the professors supposed to make of his response to that time you said your pastor was a jerk because he wouldn't read your books? And again, are you so self-important that you think the only good writing this kid could create would be in response to something you wrote?
My son, Stone Washington, is 14 and will be entering high school this fall. Since he was about 8 I've had him read the great works of literature and book summaries of the classics and write his own summary analyses of those works in addition to reading them to me, correcting his sentence structure, and most importantly making him defend his thesis and arguments.
Three thoughts:

1- You seem like the most overbearing and obnoxious parent in the world.
2- There are "great works" besides your own master oeuvre? Lies, I tell you! I won't believe it!
3- You named your kid Stone? Why, was "Awesome" already taken? What about "Genius?" Then again, given how self-absorbed you are, I'm surprised you didn't name him after your blog.

Ellis says his son just finished writing 100 essays from an anthology of great books (see #1). He says his son needed to know that he needed to have an informed opinion before anyone would take his opinion seriously. True, of course, though again it begs the question of why Ellis only assigns random troubled youth and his college students his stuff to read.

Ellis concludes with a heart-warming anecdote about young Stone:
To demonstrate how knowledge is power and character is destiny, a few months ago when Stone was in the eighth grade he was chosen to be part of a special writing group. When the essays were written and collected, the teacher (Ms. Currier) by chance chose Stone's essay to read to the entire class and was stunned at his level of clarity, sentence structure and intellectual depth. She stated his writing was at the level of a 20-year-old, a college junior. 
Overnight Stone's reputation for writing and intellectualism spread across the school campus, including to the principal's office. I told Stone in addition to the bad letters in his file for being repeatedly tardy and bullying that little boy ("Jimmy") in the seventh grade, now you have a good paper in your permanent file to showcase your literary and philosophical side. Stone was visibly proud of this achievement, which made my fighting with him all that time in writing those 100 essays (772 days) worth every word, every sentence … every effort.
Ellis, I think I speak for everyone under 30 when I say, truly, you are the least cool person I know. I'm sure you consider it a compliment.

No comments: