Dumb as a post, also as stupid

When I taught at the Kennedy School, we used to have a Foreign Service Officer in the one-year mid-career program about every year. We also had two or three New York cops. The cops were, with about one exception every couple of years, street-smart, plain smart, and funny, but in a dozen different personal styles. They were also outside-the-box, frequently wise, and both skeptical and curious. (The occasional exception was obviously someone who had been sent to the program so his desk could be thrown out the window while he was away). The FSO’s, on the other hand, were alike as a row of peas. All men, as I recall, they were gracious, smiled but never guffawed, never raised their voices, and were properly dressed with really nice hair: sports jacket and tie during the day, and a suit in the evening. They sat in the second row, never in the back or the front, and never right in the middle. Every class, toward the end, they would ask one question, elegantly but not pretentiously phrased and in the well-cared-for accents of a Newport yacht club – a question invariably revealing a total cluelessness both broad and profound. I think they came from elite families that had the option of sending the really witless son in each generation either to the trust department of the family bank, or to the State Department, places where they couldn’t do any real damage.

Of course the State Department tradition of stupidity and ignorance, matched as precisely and properly as gray slacks with a navy blazer, is long over.

The exclusion of Nalini Ghuman from the US in August ’06 after a decade of living here and teaching music at Mills College, on the strength of a State Department finding, might seem to be some sort of anachronistic debacle; indeed, one of our faithful readers hipped me to the story all indignant and angry about it.

But I know that reader to be a Democrat, therefore ceaselessly working for the collapse of America, and she’s not fooling me for a minute. Read the story (remembering of course that it’s shot through with the Times‘ lefty defeatist bias), and now I wish to explain why this episode is actually a reassuring occasion for pride in our leadership:

Ghuman is a foreigner. She plays the violin (see her photograph, redhanded with that vile instrument), which is much too hard for anyone not a fanatic, and anyway also foreign. Her scholarly specialty is Edward Elgar, a known, admitted Brit unrepentant to the day he died, who would be ducking out of Basra right now if he were alive and a soldier. In Basra. His Pomp and Circumstance March #1 is played at graduation in universities with liberal pinko treasonous faculties, specifically to corrupt youth by secret mental tricks well known to foreign terrorist musicologists.

It gets worse: not only is Ghuman’s mother British (the British, remember, are foreigners), but her grandfather was a Sikh. Sikh men wear turbans, which means they are Moslems. However, they are Moslems of a peculiarly deceitful and dangerous kind, as certified by their unfailing and exclusive practice of a completely different faith, in private and public. Their commitment to this misdirection is underscored by the many Sikh leaders put to death by Moslem Moghuls as they conquered India and their more recent eviction from Islamic parts of the Punjab during the division of India and Pakistan. None of this can distract your State Department from those turbans, thank God (and you better believe I’m thanking the real God, not one of those fake idols, you betcha).

The DHS goons at the airport pegged her as Hispanic, another kind of foreigner well known to be up to no good, so she’s not only an Islamic terrorist liable to blow stuff up with her violin bomb, but also an arrow aimed at the whole US economy. The tipoff that she combines the menaces of Islamic terrorism, musical subversion, and Mexican perfidy is that by brilliant interrogational technique (they asked her what languages she speaks) the DHS folks wormed it out of her that she knows Welsh, and I tell you, I’m proud to be served by gumshoes who know that ll is a the same consonant in Welsh and Spanish! The Sikh/Welsh/Latino axis of evil is going to have to go some to stay ahead of our team.

But it’s still worse (and if you act now, you also get six genuine Ginsu steak knives!): she has (i) a PhD, which is prima facie evidence that she knows more than you do about something, (ii) from Berkeley, (whose super-lefty faculty cadres arrange to have Pomp and Circumstance played louder than at many schools)!

Fortunately, Dr. Ghuman was nailed in San Francisco coming back from a so-called ‘research trip’ to the UK (of course the idea that anything legitimate can be learned outside the USA ought to be indictable on its face), properly groped and threatened, and sent “back” to the UK. None of your tax money was wasted giving her, or anyone else, any information about the reasons for her exclusion, nor has the Delphic silence of the DHS and State nitwits been broken in the ensuing year.

Let your Secretary of State, and your Secretary of DHS, know you’re behind them and sleeping better because they’ve protected you from this cosmopolitan evil. And one more tip, while you’re writing: the president of Bard College, distinguished musician and scholar Leon Botstein, has been trying to get her readmitted to participate in an Elgar conference, so he needs you to tell him that real Americans know where their security lies. I knew Botstein many years ago as a reasonable fellow, and I’m sure if he understood the evil that has ensnared him he would straighten out and fly right, maybe even arranging to have John Philip Sousa played at Bard graduations in the future. It would also help to confirm his loyalty if he put on conferences about Perry Como, or maybe Benny Goodman, not foreigners that interest scary people like this Ghuman woman.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.