During his first day as a freshman at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Dinaw Mengestu broke from the class tour and vomited in a nearby bathroom.
While his orientation nausea abated, there remained a gut-level discomfort that persisted for the next couple of years. Its primary cause: race. . . . “Most of my freshman year I had students sitting next to me calling me ‘n-----’ in class,” he remembers. “I had students walking down the hallway who yelled, ‘That n----- smells!’”
That, as a Chicago cops are wont to say is " a pretty thin beef." A thin beef (n.)is a charge that will not stand, given closer scrutiny. where I come from, only pussies (mea culpa for this gender neutral sobriquet) and suckers beef (v.). No one cares to hear about your real or imagined whines. Ask any bartender, cabbie, or coach. Why celebrate whiners as geniuses? Lookee here! Rac ism and hygiene-judgmentalism are fused in this libel of Fenwick, n'cest pas? Well, Mike Thomas is a celebrity interviewer and accustomed to bowing to whim and will. 'Play on, Genius, I shan't interrupt.' Jimmy the two-headed boy would have probed deeper, but, then again, Jimmy is no celebrity interviewer.
It could not have been that the now celebrated genius was in fact a notorious pain-in-the ass with BO (sarcasm), as the writer himself offered; Oh, no, race is the place! BO has no race. I taught with an Oxford Educated Englishman of the old school school - he wore his skivvies, socks and shirts until they got hard. Man, the dude would gag a maggot from twenty yards and upwind in a breezy day. He was a math exchange teacher and for year his presence befouled the atmosphere with not only his British tradition of lousy hygiene, but his mendacity and arrogance. He was the whitest man I ever met.
Victim hood and race are twin Menaecmi of Progressive paradigms everywhere -please note that racism embraces sexism, feminism, homophobia and American exceptionalism. Like the twin lads of old Moschus, they are separated at birth and brought together by political fate and necessity. Victimhood can not live without racism and may only be truly fulfilled when recognized as genius.
Higher criticism begins where educational imperatives fail. Someone, at Fenwick should have told young Corinthian Dinaw that a bath, a trip to showers after cross-country and note to mom that his Fenwick uniform could stand on its own and needed a quick vacation out of the locker and into Mr. Swifty Cleaners in Oak Forest, pronto, but obviously did not dare to offer that sage counsel. Instead, we have genius growing out of the befouled Mengestu habiliments and epidermis like the Barnacle Goose of Aristotle.
How's that for a howler? With same political slide-rule governing genius ( lefty, gay, secularist, atheist, angry and isolated) that handed the Mark Twain Humor Award to Ellen Degeneris last night, the MacArthur genius for 2012 in literature Dinaw Mengestu takes the prize! Sun Times writer Thomas chronicles Mengestu's travails at a Catholic high school, though he was non-Catholic, non-white, non-American-born because " Having been torn from the “marvelously eclectic” group of pals — Mexican, Asian, Colombian — he’d grown up with in Forest Park, these occasional violent outbursts were at first the only overt way Mengestu knew of to vent his mounting frustration and despair."
Got That? Young Mengestu was torn from his publicly schooled Diversity buddies and forcibly chained to desks, lockers, and shackled to a fellow non-Catholic (Muslim) on the Fenwick cross country team for whom there are no pep-rallies, public celebrations, crownings, or triumphs staged, in racist deference to football and basketball.
Dinaw was isolated for four years- alone, bohemian, cast-out; yet, the Guidance Department of Fenwick and it must be assumed a few teachers helped the Granta ink-slinger get into Georgetown University and not on a cross-country scholarship.
Cross Country? It is as dull a spectacle as it gets. Nothing happens. Runners run and finish. Marathons are the sure sign of a society in decline. Thousands of people run but only Kenyans and Ethiopians can win. It is a fixed and racist race - the Greek who originated the Marathon, Pheidippides died upon finishing the run.
The Sun Times article is one huge scab-yanking whine of unsubstantiated race-based calumnies. Genius.
I work at Leo, a Catholic high school that is now 85% black, 10% white an 5% Mexican. We celebrate diversity.Our Alumni are largely white and Catholic, growingly black and yet mildly Hispanic. Last Wednesday, at an Alumni meeting at Father Perez Knights of Columbus Hall in Mount Greenwood, I chatted with two of eight African American Alums at the bar with the beefy red-faced ostensibly racists Honkeys who bought the gents their Heineken's about how our ten white boys are getting along. Famously, I answered.
One proud black Alumnus offered this, " Those St. Gabe's guys might have been stone-racists with their words, but they'd give us black brothers their last nickels and stand with us in fights. Sounds like things are flipped, but the same." Facta Non Verba - Deeds not Words. Quite. Leo kids are poor kids from Englewood, Gresham, Chatham, Scottsdale, Garfield Ridge, New City, Back of the Yards and Canaryville - black, white and brown all wearing Orange and Black.
We have had students from Kenya, Uganda and the odd Ethiop. They seemed very happy at Leo, but then there were no white or Hispanic kids in attendance. Our African American kids demanded some diversity, to paraphrase Thomas Phinzey Leo 2011.
Diversity should not be a slide-rule it should just be. The MacArthur Genius for 2012 sounds to me like a whiny, ungrateful, pussified pain in the ass. Many geniuses tend to be like that. B & C students make the world a happy, hard-working and generous school. Most of our biggest financial benefactors were B& C students who went on to be corporate giants, top-flight lawyers and doctors, military men, civic leaders and men of the cloth. They are black and orange.
Fenwick's colors are black and white - the color of the Dominican robes. The Sun Times writer Mike Thomas and the 2012 MacArthur Genius Dinaw Mengestu treated those colors and the robes of St. Dominic with the smears of really crappy calumnies - all hear-say. Fenwick is a wonderful school with whom I have had very close dealings since I became a teacher. Racism was not, is not and shall never be tolerated there. I call BS on Mike Thomas and the genius.
He might be a genius, but Dinaw Mengetsu is a sure enough asshole. Being an anal aperture is not a prerequisite for genius. Steve Allen was a genius and a great guy. Carlo Maria Giulini and Sejii Ozawa wonderful gents. Ed Pashke, a guy the crowd at Keegan's would love to share pints and painting tips.
Celebrate whomever you choose. Celebrate the ingrate, whiny, pussified jerk? Only suckers and pussies beef.
*Born in Addis Ababa in 1978, Mr. Mengestu came to the United States two years later and grew up in Illinois, first in Peoria and then in Forest Park, a Chicago suburb. During the interview he summoned nostalgic memories of those early years: a white Baptist church’s warm embrace of his immigrant family, his father’s job at the headquarters of the Caterpillar tractor company and the hope of rising to middle-class comfort that that newcomer’s luck inspired.Lurking in the background, though, was the trauma that had driven his parents from Ethiopia, namely the revolution that followed the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and, he said, “split the family cleanly down the middle.”http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/books/16mengestu.html?pagewanted=all
Some relatives became high-ranking officials in the new Marxist military government, while others, because of their class background as landowners or their political activities, were arrested or jailed or who even perished, including an especially beloved older brother of his father’s.
“We had no memories in our house,” Mr. Mengestu said. “We were never allowed to, we never spent time talking about it, and yet you’re very aware that it haunts everything. It’s that absence that creates the concern for it. Nothing can be passed on.”
He added, speaking of his own reaction, “You know there is this history that precedes you, but you have no access to it whatsoever.”
At the elite Roman Catholic high school he attended in the Chicago area, his situation grew even more complicated. He was the target of racial epithets from white students, he recalls, but also had to confront “the question of my authenticity” in his dealings with other black students, since “it was always really clear that ‘you are the black kid who sounds white, the black kid who doesn’t seem like he’s black,’ and no one can figure out exactly why.”
Voracious reading provided some relief for the “anger and angst” that Mr. Mengestu