Friday, September 4, 2009

The New Yorker & other horrors

Not long ago I commented here that I've slighted the New Yorker, which deserves ranting against every bit as much as the New York Times Book Review. Maybe more, since the NYTBR and its Buckley-lovin' editor Sam Tanenhaus make no bones about their right-wing stance, while the New Yorker more or less epitomizes bourgeois liberalism. Those darn liberals think they're so lovable but really, no, they're not so much. It's their casual clueless racism, their invariable if sometimes guilty support of the boss class, and most of all the way their every expression reeks of the bourgeois consciousness in whose sway they are utterly, by whose light they unswervingly navigate.

Gimme an example, you say? OK, here are two.

The first is from the Aug. 10 issue. It's that week's "Shouts and Murmurs" entry. The humor piece, in other words. "A Guide to Summer Sun Protection" by Zev Borow. Go read it if you think you can stomach it after ... no, wait. I was going to include an excerpt here, but I think I won't. It's disgustingly racist, which is my point, but I don't want this blog to ever house such writing, even in quotes. There's lots that's wrong about this piece, but check out the entry for "SPF 175" if you want to see for yourself what I'm talking about. This is the sort of thing these folks think is funny.

Then, in last week's (Aug. 31) issue, came this frontal attack on NYC teachers, their union, and, really, public education by Steven Brill. I became apoplectic reading it, sentence by sentence just about every one of which is in its essence a lie. As no doubt did every teacher who read it, every trade unionist, every NYC parent whose child has not been provided a desk, a chair, textbooks but is subjected to an ongoing reign of testing terror, every supporter of public education which means everyone who knows that public education, that most basic of rights under bourgeois democracy, is under relentless assault in this country (in no small part thanks to the sainted Ted Kennedy and his support of the atrocity that is the No Child Left Behind Act). I've been wanting to post a thorough analysis and rebuttal but I'm sorry to say that I just don't have the time.

Short the evisceration to which I ought to subject this Brill character and his Bloombergian allegiance to the destruction of the NYC schools, here's the digest version: he's a boss, he's a shill for the bosses, he's written a boss's manifesto against school workers and school unions. In the bizarro world of the New Yorker, what's wrong with this city's public schools? Not that they get no funding--no, Brill asserts, citing one study by a reactionary think tank, oh no, funding isn't the issue at all.* What's wrong with the schools, this business journalist explains, is that (1) they haven't yet been entirely and officially privatized and handed over to Wall Street; (2) the millionaires and their minions who nevertheless are now basically in charge are still subject to some slight restraints like, oh bummer, due process clauses in the union contract; and (3) teachers can't be booted out based on their pupils' low test scores, which are, again, caused not by all the horrors of the underfunded, overcrowded schools but simply by bad teachers.

*Note to the bankers and their mouthpieces who say, surprise surprise, that the problems of the city's schools wouldn't be solved by, uh, funding them, that money isn't the issue: um, yes, it largely is. Kindly refer as always to the body of work of the brilliant, devoted and tireless advocate of working-class children and their right to a decent education, Jonathan Kozol. Especially his latest book, The Shame of the Nation: the Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, much of which is about the NYC schools and reading all of which would be an education to those in thrall to the Brill/New Yorker School of Boss Journalism.