April 11, 2011

RI Gets a National Chuckle

Justin Katz

I'm behind on all of my reading, so it was just last night that I made it to Mark Steyn's return column in the March 21 National Review and was humored to see that he devoted a large section thereof to characters from the Rhode Island scene. Noting Providence Teachers' Union President Steve Smith's hyperbole comparing Mayor Angel Tavares's teacher termination notices to Pearl Harbor, Steyn expands the topic:

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Reporting for the Providence Journal, Linda Borg, mindful of the fact that most of her readers have been educated by members of Mr. Smith's union, felt obliged to add a more basic clarification: "That was the day the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor."

December 7, 1941: a day that shall live in infamy, but not in Providence.

By the way, that's why America's monodailies are dying. Maybe they'd die anyway, but wouldn’t it be more fun and more dignified to go down in flames like a kamikaze pilot or Charlie Sheen than by self-anesthetizing your prose into utter unreadability? As Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise remarked apropos Ms. Borg's namesakes, resistance is futile. You can try to read on, but the vast J-school-credentialed army of lethal parenthetics will crush you 'neath their feet: December 7, 1941, is the day the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor is a U.S. naval base in the Pacific. The Pacific is a large body of water. Water is what your eyes are beginning to do

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When is Mark S getting his own radio program??? So we don't have to wait for him to fill in for Rush to hear him.

Posted by: Monique at April 11, 2011 8:22 AM

It's also interesting that Steve Smith chose Pearl Harbor instead of September 11th. I think this is an indication that he understood what he was going for but also understood his own people would turn on him for using the more recent event.

It's easy to call it a Pearl Harbor when there are many fewer people living today that were around to experience that than Sept 11. Pearl Harbor is just something in textbooks now, the full understanding of exactly what it was has been lost on many. And using it in this kind of context tremendously cheapens its meaning.

I'm still waiting for Mr. Smith to update us with the body count of how many people Mayor Taveras killed, like at Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: Patrick at April 11, 2011 12:59 PM

Too bad the Providence Teachers union didn't suffer casualties like happened in Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 11, 2011 6:05 PM


Pearl Harbor is very much alive and not forgotten. Annual visitor number count is 1.6 million each year. There are plenty of survivors and at the memorial actual survivors give visitors a living oral history of the events of December 7, 1941 at the naval base.

Actually all of the Island of Oahu was involved due to strafing and bombing of the military airfields all around the island including civilian targets. A great number of civilians lost their life.

Then there was military martial law invoked, barbed-wire strung on the beaches and hotel confiscated and used as barracks. Public buildings were painted in camouflage colors and internment camps setup for people living in Hawaii of Japanese descent. Many lost their homes, businesses everything they owned, families broken up and sent off to mainland internment camps because they were Japanese.

Likewise there is no official count but many tour buses make the daily trip in conjunction with the Pearl Harbor tour to Punchbowl Crater formally known as National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific or better known as the Arlington Cemetery of the Pacific to pay respects to the fallen and the sacrifices made. It is an overwhelming sight on Memorial Day to see each grave decorated with a hand-made lei and American flag placed there by cub scouts and boy scouts who salute each grave.

Oahu is the only place in the world you can see the start and end of United States of America involvement in WW-II in one place.

Posted by: Ken at April 11, 2011 9:49 PM

Mike Cappelli,

I as a military combat veteran would not expect anything less sensitive and degrading as a comment coming from you.

Posted by: Ken at April 11, 2011 9:59 PM

I have a rag soaked with the oil which still rose from the Arizona. When you see old news reels, and hear the original recording of "This is no drill". The recorded voice is Jason Robards, he was in the Navy and a radioman at Pearl Harbor (that is his claim, unverified by me)

Posted by: Warrington Faust at April 11, 2011 10:36 PM

Im a union member and I denounce Mr. Smiths comparison, just as I denounce the same hyperbole I hear from the opposing political standpoint.

As for the remark about explaining Pearl Harbor:

Both Steyn and Borg assumed Pearl Harbor needed to be explained in the first place. Such an assumption doesnt make it true. Im sure neither have any hard data on the subject. I think we all can safely assume that most Americans are acutely aware of what Pearl Harbor is. Especially those interested enough to be reading the newspaper in the first place.

Its the same as watching a segment of "Jaywalking" on Leno and assuming everyones an idiot. What you dont see is the dozen people Leno asked before he found the idiot.

Posted by: Rich at April 12, 2011 1:57 AM

Sorry, Rich, but you can "safely assume" no such thing. Thanks to Leftist union teachers our kids know almost nothing about history, or geography. This has been established by statistically-valid surveys.

Posted by: BobN at April 12, 2011 6:17 AM

Bob, I'm a fairly recent graduate who was educated by your so called "lefty union members." I must tell you my peers and I have been made well aware of Pearl Harbor and hundreds of other important events in American history.

Having been in a student in a public highschool in the last decade, I must say, the opinion many of you dinosaurs hold of public school teachers is downright inaccurate. I found the majority of them to be engaged, caring, ethical and thorough.

The problem is many kids are too distracted and disinterested in school to glean even the most basic of knowledge from it. Many of you will say that its a teachers jobs to get the kids interested and to a certain degree I concur. However, its been said that 90% of success is showing up and doing the work and many kids dont.

Im more inclined to think that our problems with education arent isnt so much as our teachers, its our method of delievery.

School as we know it now is too mundane and slow paced for kids. Its not engaging for the kids. These are kids who relax by playing 4 hours of seizure inducing videogames. We lock them in a classroom for an hr to stare at a teacher writing on a chalkboard and they can barely keep their eyes open its so dull.

Im not saying money isnt an issue, as it takes money to buld state of the art classrooms. Money that is going to teachers now. We can debate the economics all day but when people say public school teachers are disinterested pigs at the trough who dont care about students they might be serving their political argument well with argumentum ad hominem but they arent helping to solve the real problems.

Posted by: Rich at April 12, 2011 10:38 AM

I fully admit, that was a stupid comment on my part.
But, let's not kid each other, that imbecile teacher union pig Smith was the real stupid one for ever making that analogy. But once he did, it's game on!
Just what did he expect?

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at April 12, 2011 10:51 AM

If you've been reading my posts you would know that I apportion blame fairly throughout the public education establishment, beginning with the Leftist egghead professors in college education departments who put these psychobabble methods into the system in the first place. Then the regents who are political hacks, and the superintendents and principals who make Dilbert's boss look like a genius. I've heard plenty of first-hand stories from excellent teachers I know about it. I know a lot of great teachers, but I have met more than that number who themselves are ungrammatical, poorly educated fools, inebriated with union and libtard propaganda. When the superintendent of the Bristol-Warren district proudly said that the only radio station she listens to is NPR, I knew why my local system is such a poor performer.

And of course I don't mean every single teacher is an idiot. But look at the results and try to argue that kids today are learning knowledge and skills as well as they did forty years ago. I say they are not, and worse, many of their heads are filled with political indoctrination. I saw it happen to my own children.

Good teachers use effective methods. It is completely not a matter of money or "state of the art classrooms". Lecturing and writing on the chalkboard (or the equally effective, but fabulously expensive new "smartboard") isn't the right method. Giving the kids a series of challenges to work through is one of the right methods - oddly, a real-world version of those videogames.

I know one science teacher who this month is having her 8th-graders compete to build bridges of balsa wood in different designs. The team whose bridge holds the most weight wins, and all the teams will be ranked on a roster. You bet those kids are motivated.

The union and the bureaucrats want you to think it's all about money. But it isn't.

Posted by: BobN at April 12, 2011 4:35 PM

Mike Cappelli,

Apology accepted.

We who live in Hawaii especially on the Island of Oahu live and breathe December 7, 1941 every day. From most of the island you can see Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial which oil still bubbles up to the surface of the water. When you first land in Hawaii you can see the memorial. Then there are those people that lived through the horror of the day and afterwards telling the oral history of events.

Hawaii is the United States of America’s front line military eyes and ears in the Pacific. If China, Russia, North Korea or some rouge nation attacks U.S.A. from the Pacific they will first have to take out Hawaii. This is why so many military forces are stationed in Hawaii and the missile defense system is being deployed in Hawaii. The Hawaii Air National Guard is the only guard unit in the nation to be equipped with a squadron of the advanced F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The Marine Corps is being upgraded to V-22 Osprey and Navy new P-8A Poseidon aircraft plus for every 3 Virginia class submarines built 2 are being deployed to Hawaii. The Army in Hawaii has been upgraded with striker combat vehicles and 3 high-speed catamarans Navy HSV-X1 Joint Venture roll-on/roll-off will be deployed to Hawaii for rapid force response.

The only other state I’ve been in that shows an unbelievable amount of patriotic attitude to the military is Wisconsin but Hawaii just goes all out for the military. Most all business and restaurants offer military discounts to the service men and women. People here show respect to the flag and applaud military in the parades. All service branches have Rest and Recuperation facilities in Hawaii so service men and women can distress from the rigors of their military duties. There are also plenty of military retirees living in Hawaii.

One thing is for certain, some day in the future there will be another December 7th in Hawaii but we don’t know who that aggressor will be.

Posted by: Ken at April 12, 2011 8:18 PM

What is irritating is Ken's posturing that he is personally responsible for Hawaii's success, or that his residence there somehow makes him a higher order of human than the rest of us.

Posted by: BobN at April 13, 2011 12:17 PM
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