Acting White

Back in the days before “Black Lives Matter” there was a phenomenon called “acting white” that applied to black kids who tried to study and do well in school. Quite a few succeeded in spite of it. It has been replaced by a new theme of “White Supremacy” that attributes certain behavior to “Whiteness.” An example is “Whiteness as a problem.” This is actually a college course.

A class to be taught next semester at the University of Wisconsin Madison called “The Problem of Whiteness” aims to “understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy,” the course description states.

“Whites rarely or never questioned what it is to be white,” Assistant Professor Damon Sajnani, who will teach the course, told The College Fix in a telephone interview last week. “So you go through life taking it for granted without ever questioning or critically interrogating it.”

For Sajnani, one way to solve this is to offer “The Problem of Whiteness,” an analysis of what it means to be white and how to deal with it as a “problem.”

Now, what is the problem of “Whiteness?”

One example is Stanford’s new program of Physics for “people of color.”

Is there a branch of Physics restricted to those “of color?”

How are students of color at a disadvantage in the science classroom in particular?

For one thing, we know that scientific concepts are learned and solidified when students have an opportunity to explain them. The more you talk about something, the more you understand it. But in many schools, especially urban ones, teachers are the ones doing the explaining.

Then we have “woke math.”

Teaching that math is ‘racist’ will taint the field for everyone, including those who need it most.

Math proficiency is white supremacy, proclaims Deborah Lowenberg Ball, a mathematics professor and former dean of the University of Michigan School of Education.

In the latest episode of the EdFix Podcast, Ball complains that math is a “harbor for whiteness” and “the very nature of the knowledge and who’s produced it, and what has counted as mathematics is itself dominated by whiteness and racism.” She groans that considering math proficiency to be a sign of intelligence is “raced.”

A high school teacher explains
Teacher claims that encouraging students to behave is white supremacy. See for yourself.

The very complaints of blacks about “white privilege” contain two contradictions. First they assume that blacks do not show behavior differences in such areas as school discipline and crime. There are objective measurements of both, including what happens when such differences are ignored. There are several experiments going on at present. One is the “Defund the Police” political movement that has resulted in spikes in violent crime as police withdraw from law enforcement. Another is the decision by certain leftists prosecutors to accept crime that results in lower amounts of loss, such as decriminalizing shoplifting in cities like San Francisco. Then there is the decision by certain school districts to ignore student discipline problems.

St Paul Minnesota tried a new policy

St. Paul’s efforts grew out of a series of problems familiar to many cities. The number of school-age children in St. Paul had been declining. The percentage of those kids who attended traditional public school was dropping, too: Families were choosing private or charter schools instead. Children who did go to public school were needier.

One of the consequences was a growing racial achievement gap. White children consistently scored better on tests and were more likely to make it to graduation than kids of color. Minnesota had one of the worst achievement gaps in the country, and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had the worst disparities in the state.

A new superintendent decided to change policy.

The number of suspensions and expulsions in St. Paul went down the first year of the new policy; from 4,830 to 4,130 according to the Minnesota Department of Education. Then it started to climb back up: 4,418 in 2012; 5,130 in 2013, 6,269 in 2014.

Violence in school started making headlines. At the beginning of the 2015 school year, sprawling fights were reported at three Saint Paul high schools. In October a loaded gun was found in a student’s backpack at another high school. In December a student choked a teacher who was breaking up a fight during school lunch. In March cell phone video showed two students fighting with a teacher in a hallway. An editorial headline in the Star Tribune from March 2016 read “If Teachers Aren’t Safe, Students aren’t Safe.”

And so it goes with the new “White Supremacy” policies.

81 thoughts on “Acting White”

  1. This is all a smoke screen. Or maybe it’s laser pointers for cats.

    Teachers and academics all know what the data says – kids from traditional, married, 2-parent families do well and kids from “alternative” families do poorly. The mechanics of the outcome are simple. You can’t produce the same quality product with half the labor and half the resources.

    The focus on race is a diversion so we never talk about traditional families because that would imply traditional sexual morality. All of this pretzel-logic is nothing more than an effort to protect our degeneracy.

  2. The SJW’s are saying that freedom is slavery and that ignorance is strength. Just need one more for free brimstone.

  3. The sad thing is, Africans used to be tops at math:

    White folks was in the caves while we was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.
    Reverend Al Sharpton (1994)

  4. “An example is “Whiteness as a problem.” This is actually a college course.”

    The mechanics of this class puzzle me. Would getting an A be an example of “white” behavior, which therefore merits an F?

    Any student who runs up college debt paying for this class has a real problem. And that problem would not be “whiteness”, it would be stupidity.

  5. The real problem is that academia itself has lost its fscking mind, across the board. And, most of that comes from having begun the process by internally delegitimizing itself in its own mind… Witness the various English departments that have now determined that grammer and other such fripperies are unnecessary and “colonizing”, whatever the hell that means.

    I once had respect for a college degree. I come from an educated background–Most of my immediate family were teachers, nearly all had college and university diplomas. However, comma… They all got them back when that actually meant something, like prior to WWII. My parents both had degrees, but I’m here to tell you, my grandparent’s generation were both better educated and far more “grounded” in Western Civ than they were. I first experienced “modern” academia as a small child, while serving as my Mom’s subject for her child psychology classes. She wasn’t really that influenced by the idiocy, remaining fairly common-sensical, but dear God… The witless wonders of that professorate, who left me profoundly suspicious of anyone terming themselves an “expert”. I was a precocious little snot, and I warn anyone against taking such a child into that environment, because they’re going to learn things through the experience that you’re not going to like them knowing, in later life.

    Interesting point, here: The specific credentialed and esteemed dolt that I’m thinking of, here? The “expert” on child psychology? Middle-aged male, childless by choice, and who never, ever spent any period of his life exposed to children on a 24/7 basis. That’s who the academics acclaimed as “the best of the best”, and who was teaching future teachers about children and their behaviors…

    Now that I think about it, that’s probably where I started developing my suspicion and disdain for the credentialed.

    It’s really no surprise that the people who have no respect for Western Civ, who don’t even really know it that well, who find it too challenging and entirely too difficult to understand… Well, it’s no surprise to find them as the wreckers, tearing it down first in their own institution, and then in society in general. What they don’t understand makes them feel inferior, so they have to tear it down in order to make themselves feel better about their inferiority.

    The funny thing is, much of what they feel inferior about is stuff that they themselves (or, others of their ilk…) first made overly complex and impossible to understand through sheer idiocies like deconstruction and all the rest. When you set out to make everything mean anything, of course the point of it all eludes you. The real problem is this: It’s actually pretty damn simple. The rules for success are not that hard, they just require, y’know… Work. They don’t like work, and they don’t like successful people who do work, so they instead honor the scammers, the sycophants, and the manipulative. Which is no basis for a civilization–At least, one that’s successful.

    The one thing I’ve noticed is that there are no successful “Marxists” out there, outside academia. That should tell you two things: One, that Marxism is bullshit in the real world, and that academia itself is mostly bullshit, because it allows that BS theory to flourish, never subjecting it to actual use. Of course, a lot of the peripheral stuff around Marxism has been implemented, and of course, we’re watching the effects, namely an implosion of academia and its works.

    I think the whole problem we’ve got, as a civilization, is that we got the bright idea of letting the academics loose to run it, after they gave us a spiel about how much better they’d be at doing it. Reality? Look at the performance, from Wilson up until now. Has there been an academic-class leader that hasn’t screwed it up by the numbers? I can’t think of one. They’re all products of the same system, one which I’ve grown increasingly contemptuous of, the more I see of its works.

    I don’t think you should be allowed to teach or take up a position inside academia unless you’ve got real-world experience actually doing the things you’re supposed to be instructing upon. Yet, that’s all you’ve got–Generations of ed-school taught teachers taught by pure theorists who’ve never set foot in a real classroom with real students, or who’ve been held to an objective standard for success at that task. If you can’t teach a kid to read, write, and do basic arithmetic, you should not be a professor at a “School of Education”, and that’s exactly who those institutions signally do not have running them.

  6. This justification for fighting white supremacy just guarantees a generation of poor minorities that they are going to be functionally unemployable. White math is what makes bridges stand up and airplanes fly. And enables cashiers to make correct change. Maybe you can be a school teacher or a college professor, but much of the rest of the economy is off limits if you cannot add and subtract accurately using White math.

    It’s bad enough that a generation of esp Blacks is being taught that acting White is bad, when the traits being denigrated are precisely those required for many jobs. You very often can’t successfully run a business when your employees show up sporadically, dress slovenly, insult the customers, etc. These White values aren’t just because White people like them, but more because they work. This is cultural relativism at its worse. Not all cultures are equally effective. Many are dysfunctional, in trying to deal with the modern world. White Jude-Christian culture is dominant because it deals best, so far, with our complex culture. White math is superior because it is the basis for our technology (and business).

  7. }}} The mechanics of the outcome are simple. You can’t produce the same quality product with half the labor and half the resources.

    I think you can, but it’s tougher, and requires the parent (unfortunately, usually the female, who is, by nature, often less likely to be able to do it) to supply adequate discipline to the child being raised.

  8. }}} like deconstruction and all the rest…

    aka, “PostModernism”

    }}} …When you set out to make everything mean anything…

    …You make everything mean nothing.

    As I have asserted in other posts.

    PostModernism is a social cancer. It attacks everything that make Wester Civilization work, and work well.

    Until people Get This, and realize it’s destroying our civilization, we’re doomed.

    It might be too late, already. :-/

  9. }}} These White values aren’t just because White people like them, but more because they work. This is cultural relativism at its worse. Not all cultures are equally effective. Many are dysfunctional, in trying to deal with the modern world. White Jude-Christian culture is dominant because it deals best, so far, with our complex culture. White math is superior because it is the basis for our technology (and business).

    Exactly. This isn’t actually about race. It’s about destroying the foundations for Western Civ.

    “Whiteness” in this overall context has nothing to do with “race”. It is merely time tested techniques which have made whites, above all others, successful, repeatedly and consistently. They are race-independent, because they can be adopted and used by anyone, regardless of race, and they will make that individual, that group, consistently far far more successful than other known techniques. Yes, “whites” may have/gain more benefits early on, because whites as a group gain benefits, and we are a very large group using these techniques, but the fact that “asians” — e.g., those from “The Orient” as well as from India — aka “white adjacent” (YEESH!) — actually succeed even better than “whites” using these “white” techniques more than amply demonstrates that they are not about race, and have nothing to do with race at all.

  10. “It’s bad enough that a generation of esp Blacks is being taught that acting White is bad,”
    More like 3 or 4 generations by now. Doing well in school was “acting white” was an old cliche in the 80s.

    “requires the parent (unfortunately, usually the female, who is, by nature, often less likely to be able to do it) to supply adequate discipline to the child being raised.”
    I have a family member who taught in “alternative school” (i.e., where you go when you’re kicked out of regular school) in TX, and of course nearly every kid there had a single mother, and when the kid acted up enough there that they had to call in the parents, either the mother was clearly terrified of her own kid, or was aggressively defensive of them.

    I don’t know what the answers are, but urban schools should be considered a national disgrace. There’s no way any rational observer can say anything other than that their embarrassing state serves the purposes of the Democrat party. Honestly what’s needed is something like a non-government organization of black men that become teachers, and that forces black men to marry women they impregnate. And I mean force, like with violence.

  11. I yield to no one in my disdain for Ed Schools, but demanding that professors have experience in the subject they teach is going to be hard on historians.

  12. @Cousin Eddie,

    Well, I’ll say this much about historians: Most of what I read that is written by those who aren’t actually at least vaguely familiar with the reality of it all within the span of their writing…? Useless. Bloody useless.

    Particularly military history. You rarely find a guy who knows the nuts and bolts writing about it all, so what you wind up with is a whole lot of drivel talking about the things that were written about by the people who were there and yet who did not know how things were actually managed. The guys who knew, for example, whether or not the Roman legions marched in step, how they kept in step, and all the rest of that “unimportant” information? Nobody ever talked to them, which was why the erudite elites like Vegetius are utterly silent on the issue. He either knew and did not think it of import to relate to us, or he didn’t know, and blithely assumed that a lot of what he was describing in the way of maneuver just happened by way of magic. Or, something…

    The more I read of history, and compare it to the things I have observed over the course of my life, the less and less I trust it. The root problem is that the usual historian is coming to the history from an entirely theoretical background. Nobody with an academic background in military history is troubled by that “little” detail about whether or not the Romans marched in step, but the raw fact is, anybody who has actually, y’know… Done massed formations of men out on the parade ground? We can’t casually dismiss that issue; a practitioner can see no way of maneuvering men the way they did without such a thing, but… The records and histories are silent.

    So… Yeah, it’d cut down on the historical work, demanding that they actually did something in their chosen field of study, but it’d also cut down on the bullshit and ensure that they at least asked the right questions.

    Hell, even within the last century or so, we’ve lost a lot because the idiots doing the work never did it in real life, so they never asked the questions in the first place, let alone the right ones–I can trace out a thread for you from the Eastern Front rear area issues with partisans and mining through Korea, Vietnam, and the various colonial wars in Africa, directly to what we dealt with in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, there’s not a fscking word on that anywhere to be found, outside of Soviet and now Russian hoarded documentation. Nobody here in the West is even cognizant that there was a doctrine, let alone how it was used and taught, yet the techniques are there to be observed, the continuity inescapable. A military historian that had the background of actually being one of the poor schmucks tasked with dealing with that? He might well have, y’know… Noticed. So far, none of the academically-trained have, and here we are.

  13. Something resembling the ‘acting white’ accusation, in the form of ‘getting above your station’, or ‘thinking you’re better than the rest of us’, is by no means unknown among white people.

    When my father was young, he worked for a while as a ranch hand–I guess you could say he was an actual cowboy. He said a lot of the other guys were giving him a hard time about his intention to go to college (this was back when going to college and graduating meant a lot more than it does today.) But an older cowboy took him aside and said, “Kid, don’t pay any attention to those people, they just don’t want anybody to rise any higher than they have.”

  14. @David Foster,

    Yeah, I think that a lot of what’s been going on in academia can be interpreted as the product of second- and third-class minds confronted with things that they recognize are beyond them, so they’ve done their best to tear it all down in order to feel superior. A lot of it is ego, ego that has been challenged by things that they can’t hack, know they can’t hack, and so they turn to things that they can do. Like, gnaw away at the roots of everything…

    That whole “English rules of grammar” thing strikes me as a bunch of actual morons educated far past their intelligence, and who are turning on the institution that fostered them in order to address deeply felt anxieties and feelings of inferiority. If they can discredit the “old rules” and old thinkers, then they’ll be effectively raising themselves up.

    Spread that syndrome out across academia, and here we are. I have grown dubious of the proposition that channeling everyone into college and university has been a good thing, overall. It has led to a lot of inferior minds taking up positions within academia, grade inflation, and a whole host of scholarly vices. I think we’d have been better off focusing on improving and fixing general education below college, and then letting people learn necessary skills on the job. After dealing with a lot of these academically-trained yuckleheads, I think that “education” is vastly over-rated, and that we’d be better off doing what would amount to apprenticeships in the professions and executive offices. You’d certainly cut down on the number of young architects who think that providing for a building’s mechanicals are exercises for the contractor doing the construction, so long as he doesn’t interfere with the “vision” he’s worked out with the client…

    Don’t ask. Just… Don’t ask.

  15. To David Foster’s comment, pretty much the entire history of Europe from about 900 AD to 1945 AD is one group of white people coming up with reasons to kill another group of people that look pretty much exactly like them as measured by the BIPOC spectrum.

  16. @Christopher B,

    It is also of value to note specifically which groups of “whites” were the ones getting killed, and why.

    Many of the wars were on non-conformists, specifically the ones who weren’t toeing the line with the Church. Ask the Cathars, the Bohemians, or the Huguenots all about that, and then contemplate the reasons they all wound up on the various losing sides of the conflicts. Also, what lessons were learned, along the way–Europe was both a charnel house and an institution of learning, one that was unleashed on the rest of the world during the Age of Exploration. European adaptability and skill-at-arms were only ever really countered effectively in one or two locales… Japan comes to mind, where they developed infantry drill and musket tactics independently and without the earlier example of the Roman legions, which the Dutch mined without remorse to bring about the “Revolution in Military Affairs” that they wrought, the one that destroyed the Spanish Tercio, which was still “good enough” to go out and wipe the floor with just about anything else around the world.

    Absent all those whites killing other whites, world history would look a lot different. It was only because the rest of the world was militarily incompetent that things like India and the Spanish Empire got built…

  17. When my father was young, he worked for a while as a ranch hand–I guess you could say he was an actual cowboy. He said a lot of the other guys were giving him a hard time about his intention to go to college

    My bunkmate in basic training was a farm worker from a wheat farm in Idaho. He told me that he knew that college was no good because college boys that worked on the ranch in summer did not even know how to stack hay bales.

    He also smelled and did not bathe until one night after lights out a bunch of us dragged him to the showers and scrubbed him with brushes. We all took turns making his bunk and shining his boots. Think of the most stupid guy in old war movies and he exceeded it.

  18. @Mike K,

    I’ve got a host of stories like that, but from the other side of the coin.

    If you remember how the military breaks down the results from the ASVAB, there’s CAT I, II, IIIa, IIIb, and then IV. CAT I being those in the 93rd percentile and up, and CAT IIIa being those above 50.

    We took only CAT IIIa types for most of my time on active duty, with occasional dips into IIIb territory.

    Most of my problem children? Almost all were CAT I-II types, and the kind of crap they’d come up with? Mind-boggling. We had a few real dummies, on the test, but surprisingly, they were not usually disciplinary problems, and you could always count on them being there, just plugging away at the job they were given. You grew to appreciate that, whenever you had to deal with the results of some jackass that thought they were smarter than their boss, and did something outrageously different than they were instructed, ‘cos “…that was a better idea…”.

    I come by my suspicion of tested “smart people” very naturally. I’m one myself, and I can identify a lot of the pathologies because I once exhibited and typified them. I think, too, that there’s a very strong cultural thread encouraging all this crap with these kids, because all they’re ever taught is that they’re the smartest ones in the room, and that rules don’t apply to the smart. They grow up getting away with murder in our schools and other institutions because of how well they do on tests, and how they perform in the classrooms that are tailored to their specific sort of “intelligence”. Never mind that they really aren’t all that “smart” in a lot of key and essential ways, they think they are, and because of that…? They’re abysmal team players, and divisive beyond belief, because they’ve been taught and have internalized the idea that anyone who isn’t as “smart” as they are is automatically not a legitimate authority.

    The whole thing is part and parcel of what I’ve been saying for years–The IQ test really doesn’t measure what we think it does, and the uses and misuses that the ideas behind that concept have been put to are entirely inimical to our civilization. Instead of trying for some form of level playing field, what we’ve actually tried to set up is some sort of aristocracy-by-test, never paying attention to the effect it has on people who “don’t test well”, or to the actual results produced by this class of autistic savants. Most of which are, looking around us, ruinous.

    Not to say that IQ testing is invalid or inherently bad, either–The uses we’ve put it to, however? Insanely out of sync with what those tests are actually measuring, which most assuredly is not the quality of “wisdom”.

  19. That’s quite a broadside against egghead historians, Kirk, but maybe you don’t know about Romans marching in step, and calling cadence, because you haven’t looked in the right places, or read the right historians.

    US Army veteran and noted historian William McNeill wrote “Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History” which investigates what he dubs “muscular bonding” found in all human societies–coordinated and disciplined efforts used by workers , soldiers, and sailors to accomplish their tasks.

    If the Romans didn’t actually march in step, then Maurice’s reforms were a happy misunderstanding, one that made European and European-style armies the best in the world at pitched battle.

    For myself, I spent two years in high school JROTC learning (among other things) manual of arms and drill in a 400-man cadet battalion, and also some larger combined meets. It has helped me understand the military history I read.

    OTOH I have no experience with ships; or for that matter with commanding and maneuvering large masses of horsemen, which is a definite liability when studying pre-modern warfare.

    I can’t speak to your assertions about the partisans and mining, etc.

    We have no choice but to read historians, if we want to know anything at all about the past.

  20. I can’t help but wonder if there is a certain coterie among the black community which is deliberate sabotaging their community by disposing them towards failure in condemning “whiteness”. Success in school at a job, in personal lives, with a family – why would successful, prosperous black citizens have need of rabble-rousers like Patrisse Cullors, Al Sharpton, or Mad Maxine Walters?
    The black rabble-rousers need a large enough community of the dumb, poor, credulous and readily-led to maintain their very profitable graft.

  21. The University of Wisconsin system is headed by Tommy Thompson, former GOP Governor of Wisconsin and HEW Secretary under Bush. He famously on CSPAN wanted to release thousands of criminals, placing all of them in Racine County and giving them jobs at Foxconn, a private business. Those jobs were mostly signed away by Governor Evers who opposed the Foxconn deal made by Scott Walker and Trump. Both parties are guilty.

  22. I was watching Arthur Hiller’s the Hospital, written by Chaveysky, in 1971, and we have much of the same dynamic now, diane rigg is the woke daughter of a eccentric, george c scott is the chief of surgery, the hospital administrator is being mau maued by black latino feminist militants,

  23. I used to show that movie to my medical students once a year. Scott plays the Chief of Medicine/ medical director. It is a black comedy but illustrates the absurdity of so much modern medicine.

  24. Y’know… I just wasted twenty bucks on your say-so, in order to go back and re-read a book I first read 25 years ago to see if I’d missed anything, and what did I find? The exact same thing I stated: We don’t know what the hell the Romans did. Everything about them “marching in step” is from men like Maurice of Nassau who looked at what they did, as I did, and said “They had to be in step to do this…”.

    And, don’t go citing Vegetius as a source, either–That useless ponce never spent a day in a Roman legion, never served in any capacity, and indeed, was writing some 500 years after the heydey of the infantry-based legions. Most of what he describes is from “tradition”, not experience. And, of course, he’s the number-one reason I decry that sort of historian: The bastard didn’t know what was important. He never actually did any of that stuff he describes so authoritatively.

    Primary sources? Jack and shit, still. Nobody recorded it at the time, and nobody knows, for sure, to this day. It’s all supposition and theorizing, with zero actual documented knowledge, because the guys who should have been recording it? Didn’t know any better.

    Which is the point I’m making. History isn’t written by the actual practitioners–It’s written by third parties who’re mostly ignorant of the realities and the significance of those “unimportant little details”, and who often have an agenda.

    We don’t know whether the Romans stepped off from the left, as we do, or from the right; one might speculate that with their “dexter” and “sinister”, that they might have preferred to start their evolutions and journeys from the right step, but… We manifestly don’t know. To my knowledge, and I’ve studied this very issue with a certain degree of interest and rigor, there isn’t a single reference to this issue, anywhere in classical sources. Yet… Without it, making sense of Roman minor tactics and battle drill is almost impossible. We also still don’t know quite how they rotated troops through the maniple, even though there’s copious evidence that they did so. Not a word on “how”…

    There are all sorts of “recreations” out there, based on how we did things starting in the early 1600s, but there’s no clearly delineated sources describing exactly what the Romans did. It’s all reconstruction, supposition, and projection.

    That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about, there–The usual run of historian will discuss, ad nauseum, the brilliant maneuvers directed by men like Caesar and Pompey, but they’ll never bother to record what the hell the centurions were doing to make those maneuvers happen–Because, they’re oblivious to the importance of such things.

    There’s a little thing that they term the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, championed by writer Michael Crichton, and that’s the idea that if you pick out a subject that you’re knowledgeable about, then read the newspaper where they discuss that subject, you’ll almost always find that the newspaper is full of crap on that issue. Then, when you turn the page, and read about something that you really don’t know that well, all of a sudden that newspaper is an authoritative source and got everything right…

    How likely is that, do you suppose? Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a pretty good principle to follow, I’ve found. After having been on-scene for several “historic occasions” that have already been enshrined in the history books, I’m here to tell you, things did not go down the way they were recorded, from where I was observing from.

    Thus, my cynicism. Few historians are worth the match to light their books on fire with, along with their supporting “scholarship”–Which often amounts to cherry-picking whatever they could find to support the thesis they set out to “prove”.

    The book you cite? Utterly useless drivel, written to support an idea that the author has about “rythmic movement” and the human mind. Some of it is reasonable, but the factual basis behind it is about as useful as anything written by S.L.A. Marshall, another famous fabulist with zero actual basis for most of his writing.

    I’ve got all kinds of respect for real scholarship, the sort of thing that admits up front that it’s a survey of sources, not actual reality. Very few “scholars” bother to say that clearly–They want to be seen as “truthtellers”, when the reality is that they’re merely parrots digging through the writings and reports of others. Sometimes that’s a valuable service, but when you run into the usual very one-sided picking and choosing of what they tell you, it’s utterly useless.

    You think you know history? No, you really don’t–What you know is what someone chose to write down, and what someone else chose from all the various people who wrote about it. How true is any of it? How accurate? You can only tell when you can find physical corroboration in the archaeological record, and even then, you have to wonder if the guys doing the digging weren’t influenced by the folks who did the writing…

    I still want to know where the hell all those pre-colonial stone structures in New England came from, but I’m assured by all the historians that those don’t exist, even though I’ve seen some of them, and I’ve seen the geological reports saying that those apparently worked stones had been exposed to air for at least a thousand years, pre-dating colonial times.

    The thing you have to set aside, I’ve found, is that idea that authority is automatically right. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are the Channeled Scablands. Guy back in the early 20th looked at those and said “Man, there were some huge floods that came through here…”, to attain instant ridicule and censure from the “authorities” of the time. Now? Now they teach that in high school, as though it was always known, always believed. Same as with continental drift.

    Authority and consensus don’t mean shit in the face of truth, and it’s about time more of us recognized that fact. This inability to accept new ideas that better explain things is a vice, not a virtue. What you were taught at your mother’s knee, or in high school? How much of that has been superseded several times, already?

    Good Christ, how many times have they flip-flopped over “Coffee good/Coffee bad” in our lifetimes? And, you automatically accept every other work product from the same sources in academia, without first verifying it all, or thinking through it?

  25. The above comment is directed at Cousin Eddie… I started writing it when he was the last comment in here, and for some reason it didn’t post where I thought it would.

  26. Sgt. Mom said:
    “I can’t help but wonder if there is a certain coterie among the black community which is deliberate sabotaging their community by disposing them towards failure in condemning “whiteness”. Success in school at a job, in personal lives, with a family – why would successful, prosperous black citizens have need of rabble-rousers like Patrisse Cullors, Al Sharpton, or Mad Maxine Walters?
    The black rabble-rousers need a large enough community of the dumb, poor, credulous and readily-led to maintain their very profitable graft.”

    I’ve often pointed out that there’s a hell of a lot of modern life that sure looks as though people were trying to bring into reality all of the old, hoary stereotypes of the bigots… Examples abound, everywhere:

    Racists said that blacks were inherently criminal, and incapable of participating in a modern society… Back then, it was a blatant lie; today? WTF? Look at the FBI crime stats, or live next to a majority black neighborhood, otherwise known as “the hood”. You’ll learn, to your dismay, that those old-timey bigots might have had a point.

    Nazis said that jazz was the result of Jewish profiteers in the music business trying to tear down civilization through use of “jungle rhythms… Today, you have music industry executives with identifiably Jewish names partnered with “gangsta rappers” that are making billions off exploiting said rappers to flood the world with “bitches be ho’s…” and the like.

    Remember what Margaret Sanger said about employing black figures of authority to popularize abortion in black communities…? How they’d do it for money…? Look at the abortion rates, and where Planned Parenthood has its clinics.

    Look at the majority of women in politics… Most of the canards hurled their way by the anti-suffragette types were based on the idea that women could not think rationally, and were too emotionally fraught to vote on issues with sweet, pure reason. Yet, what do you see with most female politicians? They proudly boast, today, that they don’t vote on issues for reasons, but because “feels”. It’s all the language of emotion, when they campaign and when they explain their votes to the constituencies. I’ve seen very few modern female politicians like Dixy Lee Ray, who was probably a high-testosterone baby if there ever was one, anyway…

    Swear to God, if it isn’t outright conspiracy, it’s an odd sort of coincidence to see all these hoary stereotypes and canards being brought to life by the very people they were thrown at. It’s like the opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy, one you’re compelled to act out because someone else said it about you.

  27. The “acting white” accusation is a conscious rejection of assimilation into American society.

    But if they carry that to its logical conclusion, you get a typical African sh*thole country.

  28. one of the mau mauers is a premature kendi type, attacking people like his middle class parents, and did you ever have microscopes stolen from the hospital

  29. Thanks, Kirk, I never would have figured out you were addressing me.

    Your assumption of superiority shows itself in large and small matters. You lecture me on difficulties of sources as if no historians had ever had the slightest notion to question anything received from the past. The late John Lukacs said history isn’t everything that happened in the past, it is the remembered past. Remembering takes effort, search, and re-search and all conclusions are subject to revision, but has to start somewhere.

    Your main complaint doesn’t even make much logical sense. Those that choose to write about the past are dependent on what evidences have been left, good or bad. You act as if Vegetius (since you bring him up) could or should have interviewed people long dead but perversely chose not to.

    You demand certain knowledge about which foot the Romans stepped out on, but if the sources don’t allow certainty it’s OK to settle for understanding. If common sense suggests that marching and maneuvering could only work given standardized drills, then there must have been standardized drills.

    Goldsworthy, FWIW, describes legionary basic as starting much like modern basic, including unit drill. Can he cite the field manual? Not that I can tell.

    John Guilmartin never cast a cannon or commanded a galleon, but he helps us understand how some very important developments took place—if we let him.

    Anyway, that’s one end of the telescope. At the other lie your grand sweeping statements about, say, the history of Chinese – Western trade, which, you informed us, were not understood by most of us. OK, if historians who weren’t there and never did anything in the real world and can’t be trusted are wrong, then how do YOU know the truth?

    Have you mastered the languages in which the records are kept? Are you an expert in international and intercontinental trade over a span of many centuries? An expert in finance?

    Surprise me, and name a historian whose work you respect–say a historian who is also a veteran of combat, who understands his subject matter and the sources. Or do all fall short?

    You set a high bar, like Moliere’s misanthrope, whose intellect never stooped to praise.

  30. I’ve seen very few modern female politicians like Dixy Lee Ray, who was probably a high-testosterone baby if there ever was one, anyway…

    I would suggest Margaret Thatcher who not only did a good job of fighting a war but had her own children. I grant she is a rare example.

  31. I just watched this little primer on Botswana.

    My God, if you look at the policies and how the country is run, the educational establishment would think everyone was wearing white robes. All joking aside, if you just list the policies described in this video without telling a current academic which country it is, I’m sure they would guess some eastern European country that’s nearly all white.

  32. That ‘professor of mathematics’ looks like an education major, not one of the types of faculty who put effort into teaching university students higher level mathematics.

    My feeling is that most of the ‘mathematics is not for blacks’ faculty are critical theory researchers, as opposed to being folks who are invested in actually teaching math to people.

    I also think that critical theory and mathematics are incompatible. My understanding is that critical theory has this elaborate explanation for evaluating the truth of statements depending on who says them. Applying this to mathematics would seem to break mathematics in strange and unpredictable ways. A mathematician might conclude that critical theory is disproven by contradiction.

    This might be a motivation for critical theorists to attempt to discredit mathematics.

    Being an effective mathematics teacher seems to require a certain amount of finding out what students have learned incorrectly in the previous material, telling them what is wrong, and working them through fixing it. ie, work. If someone does not want to be held accountable for refusing to do the work, “blacks just cannot learn math” is something they might say.

  33. Math isn’t one of those things that are amenable to the cookie-cutter techniques so beloved of our pedagological “elites”. In all my years of undergoing their ministrations, I only ever ran into one or two of them who were able to actually teach math… The rest were of two sorts: Those that could mouth the things they’d had force-fed to them, yet who didn’t really know how to “math” themselves, and those whou could math, but had no earthly idea how to teach someone else what they knew how to do themselves.

    If you’ve ever had a teacher inscribe the board with a series of interminable steps that make no sense whatsoever to you, and then finish it all with a flourished “…and, so…”, you know what I’m talking about.

    The other problem is that most of our math instruction treats it the way so many teachers try to teach reading–It’s a series of fussy little puzzles, taught in total obliviousness to what you can do with it, the mathematical equivalent of those “find a word” puzzles they’re so enamored of. Math is a tool for understanding the universe, and as such, an ever-fascinating treasure trove of a tool-box; but, they never actually demonstrate that fact to the students. They do their level best to teach it as a pointless exercise in number manipulation, never showing anyone how it is used, or what you can do with it. It’s all abstract bullshit on a piece of paper.

    Frankly, had one of my grade-school or high school teachers ever bothered to take me out into the real world, and then show me how all that abstract crap actually worked in real life…? I’d have been one hell of a lot more motivated and understanding of the things they were trying to teach me. It’s one thing to have them yammer on incessantly about Pythagoras and his theorem, and another entirely to have someone show you how to work out how much rope you’ll need to get to the top of a cliff using that as a tool with some sort of inclinometer and a tape measure. Same-same with trigonometry…

    Most of the black guys I knew in the service who were supposedly “poorly educated and ineducable” were nothing of the sort–The problem was, I came to conclude, that they’d never encountered anyone who could teach them effectively in a manner they’d understand and respond to. Classrooms for those guys were anathema; keep them up on their feet, moving around and doing, you had a willing audience that relished doing things with math. The problem isn’t the students; it’s mostly the freaking incompetent and essentially useless teachers and instructors.

    It’s more grist in my mill for the misuses of IQ testing, to my mind; it’s not that people who “don’t do well on the test” are necessarily stupid, as we are wont to think of that term, it’s more that they have less abstract minds, and are more adapted to thinking on their feet, so to speak. They live more in the moment, creatures of the concrete reality they experience, less amenable to creating and operating within a conceptualized framework of the real world vice the reality of it itself.

    Some people that do poorly on formal tests really are that stupid; a considerable number of them simply don’t have minds that function along that narrow slice of the reality continuum. It’s a mistake to think that they’re stupid, or unintelligent just because they don’t delight in doing abstract math on a piece of paper hidden away in a classroom. The same guy who can’t manage that is sometimes the guy who can look at the inaccessible underside of a bridge structure, and immediately see a solution to how to get the measurements you need from sixty feet below…

    Even though I’m one of those characters that “tests really, really well…”, I’ve learned over the course of my life a certain wisdom, namely that “doing well on the test” doesn’t me jack diddly-squat when it comes to dealing with the real world outside the classroom. If anything, I’ve grown to the belief that there are a lot of very good reasons to react with suspicion and derision to anyone whose credentials consist solely of “doing well on the tests”, and other suchlike academic flim-flammery. Scholarship is a wonderful thing, and to be respected, but when it’s the self-referential sort that only includes scholarly works untrammeled by contact with base reality? Be very, very careful in accepting the premise.

    From military history, we have ample examples–Key one of which would be one S.L.A. Marshall, he of the “only 15 of soldiers fire their weapons in battle” canard. You’ll look long and hard to find any of the raw data that bit of detail is based on; he did nothing in the way of actual documentation; there are no surveys, no actual statistics derived from any real data anywhere in his records. He created it all out of thin air, his very own little happy theory with no real basis underneath. I’m embarrassed to admit that I took “Men Against Fire” at face value, for years and years–Even went so far as to query actual WWII combat veterans about that famed work. I would like to say that experience wasn’t at all embarrassing, but it was–I got several earfuls, one of which came from a guy who’d actually been in one of Marshall’s WWII “post-combat interviews”, and could recall not a damn thing about Marshall every asking any questions along those lines. In fact, had he done so, he’d have likely gotten a violently opposed reaction to the entire idea–The guy I talked to ended the war as a Staff Sergeant, and it was his question that crystallized the issue for me: “Just what did that asshole think all of us NCOs were doing during all this supposed “non-participation”, anyway? How’d he think we wouldn’t know, or why we’d just ignore it…?”.

    Marshall is a reason why I don’t trust a lot of what I read, when it comes to this sort of crap. Dude made his living telling lies, some of which were sweet-smelling and reasonable, and some of which were base attacks on dead men who couldn’t defend themselves. He was an utter creep, maligning good men and raising bad men up in many of his later works. David Hackworth had a good deal to say, having observed him during one of his Vietnam “tours”, when he was tasked as an escort officer.

  34. The late Neptunus Lex remarked that he had not done terribly well at math in high school and the first two years of college:

    “It was not until my junior year at the Naval Academy, when we started to do differential equations, that the light came on. Eureka! Drop a wrench from orbit, and over time it would accelerate at a determinable pace, up until the moment when it entered the atmosphere, where friction would impede the rate of acceleration at an increasingly greater rate (based on air density, interpolated over a changing altitude) and that wrench struck someone’s head at a certain velocity, that any of this applied in the real word. By then it was too late, I was too far gone, and an opportunity was lost.”

  35. The incident at Arizona State U is interesting. Two white male students were studying in the “Multicultural Center” of the campus. One had a “Police Lives Matter” sticker on his laptop. A black student aggressively approached them while taking video and ordered them out of the center. They were finally ordered out by a black staff member.

    Teddy White attributed his interest in China to the fact that he studied in the “Oriental Studies” library at Harvard, which was usually deserted. This incident suggests that the “Multicultural Center’ is equally under utilized.

  36. I came late to SLAM and his thesis, which contradicted most of what I read and heard, and was suspicious. The Dupuy Bros and their mathematical proofs of German battlefield superiority are a similar case–authoritative sounding but pretty hollow when studied closely.

    Let me stipulate that I tested high also, but higher on verbal than math, and avoided math as much as I could; my IQ is high enough that by the time I was in college I was aware that high test scores are only that, and mean little without other traits to operationalize them. (I know everybody here tests high, and many have made better use of their gifts than I have;
    when I’ve had to use basic math or statistics in work or life, I’ve managed.)

    As for historians whose bloom has faded, I recall being a big fan of John Keegan’s at first, but the more read and learned the less impressed I became. I had the pleasure of meeting him back in the mid-80s, and also the late H.P. Wilmot, a much better historian.

    The ASU incident is a portent, and bodes not well.

  37. Dupuy and his ilk have the virtue of showing their work, at least. I think they’ve gone a little far off into the zone of irrational worship of the numbers, but… It’s hard to argue, when you look at the difference in casualty rates generated, particularly on the Eastern Front. There are lot of things that we did utterly wrong, in terms of managing manpower and low-level tactics, which the Germans got right. Thankfully, the Germans were strategic and industrial dunces, which got us the victory through other means than the incredibly wasteful focus on pure infantry–Which, amazingly, got them to their high-water mark almost on its own. One of the things I think a lot of people miss is that the Germans did damage far out of proportion to their resources and actual capabilities, and we should have had them contained in about ’41 or ’42 at the latest. It was just that the Allies were really that bad, and that far behind the power curve when it came to utilizing the new technologies.

    The thing that annoys me most about the whole thing is how little attention is paid to the things that made the Germans so damn lethal, and how little effort has been put into digesting and using that information. I mean, for the love of God, look at the way the US military does manpower–If you actually set out to design a system intended to minimize unit cohesion and resiliency, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. Individual replacements? Breaking up units immediately after return from deployments? WTF? I mean, seriously… The US Army routinely deploys combat units and then swaps commanders out in mid-tour; units are virtually dissolved upon return from overseas, with no real time given for either the cadre or the troops to decompress and process things together. If you wanted to maximize anomie and combat stress, what would you do differently?

    I talked to a company-grade German Wehrmacht officer back during the late 1980s, a guy who’d gone on to serve in the Bundeswehr, and one comment he made stuck with me: If he’d ever so much as suggested, seriously, doing the things that the US Army did routinely with its manpower, he’d have been court-martialed and put in front of a firing squad. He thought it inhumane and criminal that they’d fed brand-new inexperienced replacements directly into engaged combat units. His unit had captured a couple of them in the Hurtgenwald, and he was still outraged on their behalf decades later… Apparently, one of them had literally been in the US undergoing training some few weeks prior to them being captured, and he’d never even gotten a chance to fire his rifle for zero or clean it properly before being deposited on the front lines in direct contact with German forces.

    You’re doing it wrong when a committed Nazi Hitlerjugend-type thinks you’re a depraved war criminal for how you manage your replacement system… That’s all I’m sayin’, and I haven’t yet seen any signs that the idiots in charge of our military have managed to figure that crap out, yet. “Oh, it’s way more important that we keep to our command schedules than provide continuity of leadership to combat soldiers under high stress…”.

    Assholes. There’s a reason you read military history, and talk to veterans, and none of these people have ever bothered to contemplate that fact.

  38. I’m largely in agreement with you, Kirk. The Germans clearly did some things better than other armies did, pretty consistently. Partly, being first to do something means you set the standard, and they certainly set a high one in the early years.

    But the quality differential changed a lot by late 1944, and as the US Army got better the Heer got worse. (I also recall the story of the crusty old Red Army colonel who had been a Tsarist noncom–“I have fought the fathers and I have fought the sons. The fathers were better soldiers.”)

    For a wargamer and lay student of the topic, the quality debate is inescapable. I know that since the 60s the pendulum among professional historians (I know some) has swung away from what is called The Wehrmacht Myth of general German superiority–an assumption built into many wargames. Perhaps too far–the usual milhist trump card of “They Lost” is box-score stuff, not analysis. Bonn and Mansoor are good examples of attempts at analysis, I think.

    I sometimes challenge the “He/They Lost” argument with this: the measure of Napoleon’s genius is not that he was wrestled into the loser’s box eventually, but the amount of effort it took to put him there.

  39. Much of the discussion above about acting white is premised on the false assumption that the schools in large, Democrat run (Are there any not?) cities have educating the students entrusted to them as a goal. This is simply wrong.

    Their primary and virtually only purpose is to distribute political patronage to those who consider themselves above collecting garbage or fixing pot holes. A side benefit is warehousing their pupils until they are old enough for the most violent and stupid to be taken in charge by the criminal justice establishment, another notable purveyor of patronage. What we are witnessing is not the beginning or even a mid point but the end of that process. Bill de Blasio has definitively proved the unified theory of Democrat politics: There aren’t enough voters that care about the schools or crime to keep you from being re-elected.

    The selective High Schools of NYC appeased those parents that payed close enough attention to their children to realize that the general public schools were completely worthless yet unable to afford private school. That fig leaf has been eliminated in the name of equality. The police have stopped any pretense of proactively preventing crime in favor of daily deployments to react to whatever has bubbled to the top of the latest news cycle.

    The same scenario is playing out in San Fransisco and L.A. They all will soon take their place with Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago. Detroit would seem to some to provide a cautionary example. To the contrary, your Democratic pol sees opportunity, that there is still plenty of money to be had while the declining curve representing FBI agents that are both competent and honest means ever less chance of being caught, not that there’s anyone around to notice or care anymore.

    What this latest tranche may not be counting on is that the cheap bandwidth that makes remote work for office drones possible may convert the gentle, decades long, decline of Detroit and Cleveland into a meteoric decent for them.

  40. The opposite of discriminating by race is, obviously, *not* discriminating by race.
    But to these moral idiots, the opposite of discriminating against black people is discriminating against white people.

    They really are that dense.

  41. @LS,

    You miss the point of it all. The point is not to “take down the white man”, but to enrage him to the point where he finally takes advantage of the fact that the blacks are true minorities. That’s the end-goal; destroy blacks. The means is simply more obtuse than you realize; most sane whites and blacks do not want race war, but the forces manipulating the scene from the left are the ones who do, and they just want the chaos so they can grab power. It’s a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

    It’s the same theory in Marighela’s urban warfare; you set the conditions for a successful revolution by first delegitimizing the existing state and the forces supporting that state. You force that state to over-react, and then when that over-reaction motivates the masses to take action, you grab control of the resultant chaos. It’s precisely what the Bolsheviks did in Russia, and it’s precisely what the Argentinean urban revolutionaries tried to do during the so-called “Dirty War”.

    Most of the left is so ‘effing racist that it would boggle your mind, were you to actually hear them speak about it. They despise blacks, at a root level, and think of them as feckless and foolish tools to be used, then discarded. This is coming out of the very same classes as Wilson did, left-wing elites who were enraged at losing the Civil War to a bunch of working-class types and armed Negroes. They’ve never forgiven those types for not bending to their will and putting pure socialism in place during the early 20th Century, and have been looking to destroy middle-class America ever since it rose up and destroyed the slave culture of the old South.

    Follow the line–Eugenics? Wilson’s policies? Continuous thread, all the way through to LBJ and the present. All that’s changed is that they’ve grown more cunning and far more deceptive in their actions.

  42. @Cousin Eddie,

    We’re in pretty solid agreement. I think that the Germans got a lot more “right” than we did, down at the tactical/operational level. Strategy and industrial level? LOL… Not. Even. Close.

    Even so, the problem is that we, particularly here in the US, took victory as an excuse to continue “what worked”, failing to recognize that an awful lot of what we were doing didn’t actually work out all that well. My favorite hobby-horse is the small arms question–The US plumped their money down on the ultimate individual weapon for the era, a semi-automatic rifle. The Germans lay their money on the real firepower for a small unit, a GPMG, expending considerable effort and monies on creating the best that they could. Which worked better? I think the casualty stats show the results–Every time the Allies went up against Germans absent their impressive supporting arms, they got their asses handed to them in detail. The Germans simply had a better functional understanding of what combat in that era entailed, and that was sheer, brutal firepower. There’s a reason they deliberately designed for 1200rpm weapons in the MG42, and that’s something that the Allies deliberately ignored, saying that the MG42 was an inferior weapon with a “too-high rate of fire”.

    Same with the assault rifle concept. The US chose to force NATO down the 7.62X51 NATO path, and we suffered so badly under that premise that the resultant M-14 turned out to be the shortest-lived issue rifle in modern history, leading to the longest-lived “interim solution” M-16. We simply did not understand what was going on in combat during the mid-20th, and our small arms choices showed that. We had to learn the hard way, and what is really aggravating is that we’ve seemingly institutionalized failure on this issue as standard operating procedure–Nobody came out of Vietnam saying that the M-16 was perfect, if only someone would make it longer, heavier, and inflict an overly-complex sight that nobody would use in actual combat on the troops. Yet, that’s exactly what we did, leading to the M-16A2 being another one of the shortest service lives for an individual weapon in history, ‘cos as soon as the Infantry saw those half-ass M4 carbines, they glommed on to them with an embarrassing quickness. The support troops never did get theirs, in most cases… Which does not actually show much for the guys who were behind the A2 version of the M-16: They created a weapon that was abandoned wholesale for an inferior solution that was never really validated for combat, ‘cos it was intended as a self-defense weapon for “support troops”, which was why the ammo issued for it was never fixed until sometime in the early 2010s… The whole thing is embarrassingly incompetent.

  43. Boy! Lots of “smart” people obsessing over bright, shiney bits.

    The Leftists hold that all people are the same and can be trained to anything,therefore they use “guilt” to argue the “Critical Race Theory” that the African Americans have been held back by “White Supremacy”. The theory isn’t about “race”, it is about “populations”. They ignore, and want others to ignore, the fact that the vast majority of the West Africans sold into slavery were “defectives” who were non-productive, lazy, too dim to learn the tribal dialect/language of their masters, or hostile. Recent immigrants from Africa seem to do OK in education and jobs. I am not referring to triple digit “IQ”, since most people hold a job, raise a family, develope a career, are good neighbors & friends without having the mental horsepower to be a physician, physicist, or lawyer. The population that ended up on the slave ships could not get along. It is no surprise that the descendants of that population have alot of problems adapting to the modern world.

    Regression to the population mean. It is an old concept in genetics. Successful, effective parents have successful, effective children who, on average, aree not quite as effective. I assume that other personality traits are similarly inherited independent of “intelligence”. We have a number of African American areas nearby that have virtually no violent crime, and where the population forms a friendly, cooperative community. I don’t know if these people were from a different population (The Akan Empire/Kingdom, Ashante, mostly) had a thing about kidnapping nearby people for fun and profit. Possibly, the “communities” that I have noticed were the descendants of kidnapped normies. Possibly, the “communities” had individuals who hit the genetic jackpot and chose to live with other “normals’. The “ghetto” is a mixed bag. Lots of anti-social “dewfectives”. A long time friend chose to live “down in the city” to be near older relatives, childhood friends, his office and his clients. A visit for dinner was a real thrill.

    The African American population is not merely defined by “race”, but by the selection criteria that brought them to the Western Hemisphere. The early slave population was not made up of the best, brightest and most ambitious. The problem is not “White Supremacy”. I doubt if the problem is not having a “Father in the Home”, but is the expected outcome of children of a negligent father who would abandon his children and their mother. “Like Father, Like Son”.

    Genetics matters. Your physician doesn’t inquire about your family’s medical history, just to make small talk. It isn’t “privilege”. Screw-up adults usuallly have screw-up children. Pick your parents carefully.

    The neighborhood, government actions, outside intervention might have some effect at the margin, but I don’t expect much from the descendants of “culls”. The current society provide opportunity for success and prison for failure. The failures are not the result of this society.

    Maybe some specially targeted “education” would help children have a better future.

    “We” used to have decent jobs for “functional illiterates” and/or those with “issues”. Many of those “opportunities” have been off-shored or automated. We may be harvesting the result of those economic decisions.

  44. Is there any better example of acting white than wonky discussions of the Wehrmacht?

    I’m agnostic on any actual overall superiority of the Germans (over US); like Rick Atkinson, I think it may be true that battalion for battalion and regiment for regiment they had an edge but obviously not a decisive one. To complicate the picture you present of how small engagements w/o much support usually went their way, consider the fact that when the battles of NWE were over the US formations occupied the ground and could count heads (and talk to SLAM’s guys ;-)), while many German units were simply gone with no one left to tell the tale.

    Just a theory or perspective based on extensive reading of memoirs and personal papers as well as the English language standard histories.

    Plainly you are 100% correct on the Kraut strategic idiocy, which proved again that tactical and operational finesse can’t overcome bad strategy– as someone has said, the Germans didn’t make many -small- mistakes.

    When it comes to discussion of small arms and MG’s I throw my hands in the air and shout, “Kamerad!” Just recently I saw James Holland on CSpan at the WWII Museum in New Orleans, and he brought up his experience with an armaments curator at some army museum in the UK. He said he (Holland) started pontificating about the wondrous MG42 only to get an earful of alternative viewpoint, starting with that ROF. All I know is what I read in the books and see on the tubes . . .

    I’ve been working on a little project (for myself!) regarding the US divisions in NWE. I’m looking at the relationships between and among the numbers for things like Days in Combat, unit and individual awards, casualties, etc etc.

    The numbers vary widely, even given that many of them arrived in ’45. In some divs they were stingy with the medals, in others lavish. One division may have given twice the number of bronze stars per silver star, the next division a much higher ratio and so on through DSC’s and MH’s etc.

    The numbers of reported POWs taken is the most context-bound. Some of the latest divs to arrive saw little combat but rounded up a lot of surrendering supermen.

    Which reminds me. If you do have a taste for US military memoir like I do, you must read William S. Triplet’s two volumes edited by Robert Farrell (sp?). Triplet was a noncom in WWI, went to West Point after, and ended as a colonel with a combat command in the 7th Armored in 1945. “A Youth in the Meuse-Argonne” and “With the Armored Divisions in WWII.” (Denied a star by Ike–Triplet saw the file.)

    Enough, and more than I started out to say. Good night.

  45. Eddie — Thanks for the intellectual challenge of trying to work out what all your alphabet soup acronyms were intended to mean. Better than a crossword puzzle!

  46. while many German units were simply gone with no one left to tell the tale.

    There is a pretty good book called “D-Day through German eyes,” which is written by a German whose grandfather had done interviews for the German military magazine “Signal” in 1944. The author took those interviews and found many of the same men and interviewed them again. I recommend it.

  47. The Germans simply had a better functional understanding of what combat in that era entailed, and that was sheer, brutal firepower.

    Agreed but the small unit tactics were better and the noncoms were the heart of German small units. The ratio of junior officers between German and American units told the tale. Artillery and air power won the war for us.

  48. @Mike K,

    Wasn’t just the numbers of the junior officers; it was the quality. The German equivalent of our Basic was longer, the selection process was stricter, and all of their training schools were longer and went into more depth. The whole “shake and bake” philosophy we used was anathema; you didn’t get into an NCO or officer training course without first proving yourself, and when you went there, corners were not cut. The Germans had fewer junior officers, but they were also more rigorously selected and much more time was spent on their training. I’ve got a breakdown on it somewhere in my papers, but the differences in length of time spent in training were significant, depending on which branch you were talking about.

    There was a bunch of stuff that the Germans did which was purely nuts, but the sad fact is, they produced much more effective soldiers and primary groups than we did, and they did not casually break them apart the way we did. Once you formed a solid team in the German army, it was not broken up for “parts” unless the unit was destroyed in combat or something else happened requiring it. US Army? LOL… The mentality is “people is parts”, and all you need to do is slot the parts where they’re supposed to go in the Tables of Organization, and you’re all good. We still think that way, and it’s deadly for cohesion, morale, and good leadership. Not to mention, it also vastly increases the odds for people developing PTSD…

    The thing that absolutely enrages me about a lot of this is the fact that we got a lot of people killed to learn these things, going up against the Germans. Yet, we’ve learned nothing from the experience, and never thought to go looking at why the Germans did so much better in the crucible of combat than we did. We still pay the price to this day–Afghanistan stripped our infantry of much of the supporting arms it relied on to dominate the fight, reducing them to small arms and some really restricted indirect fire support. We then got our asses handed to us in detail, because we deliberately gave the advantage to the enemy doing this–And, we never paused to consider that maybe, just maybe, we ought to examine how the Germans dominated the fight with small arms and some light mortars. I would lay you long odds that a German Alpenjager unit from about ’42-’43 would eat the Taliban’s lunch, anywhere in Afghanistan, and do it with ease. Why? Because they had the proper sort of supporting equipment and training for their machine gun teams, being able to deliver massive volumes of effective fire out to nearly two kilometers at the drop of a hat. They did that because they carried the tripods, rangefinders, and binoculars necessary, trained on them, and their equipment was that much better–Sixty years ago. If you look at the embarrassment that is our MG doctrine/training, what you’ll find is a system wherein the only tripod on issue is suited solely for defensive operations from a fixed prepared position, no rangefinders, no binoculars issued to the gun teams, and a host of other problems stemming from training that envisions the MG being a defensive weapon fired from a prepared position, a la WWI or the late Korean War. All the qualification ranges envision firing from a defense; there are virtually no dynamic ranges where you use your MG in the attack, or out on a patrol. We simply don’t train that way, and because of it, we sent our guys out to hump the Hindu Kush with a set of weapons whose max range was around 800 meters, opposing guys who were firing Soviet PK machine guns off tripods at us from around 1200 meters. The supposed “overmatch” that Milley the Moron has been using to justify the NGSW program is an artifact of lousy doctrine and training, not the weapons. We took an Army designed for mechanized warfare in Northern Europe into a pure Infantry fight in the mountains of Afghanistan, and then didn’t modify a damn thing about how we fought or what we trained to do with our weapons.

    Which, to repeat myself, is an artifact of our failure to comprehend what happened back in the 1940s, or to consciously adapt to changed conditions. Our military is filled with idiots like Milley, who think that the way you solve a problem is throw money at buying new, fancier equipment–Which, in the case of the NGSW program, ain’t actually going to fix the fundamental issue, which is that a machine gun fired off a bipod and a human shoulder maxes out at about 800m, while a machine gun fired off a tripod with a good traverse & elevation mechanism is good out to around 1800m. We’ve been leaving our tripods behind in the bases, ‘cos they’re utterly useless out on open terrain, not being adaptable enough to get into useful positions rapidly enough to matter during fleeting engagements.

    It’s all inside-baseball stuff, but it is of a piece with all too many other institutional failures across the board. Just like with the way we could and should have had mine-resistant vehicles ready to go before Iraq, all of this stuff was out there, and parts of the force were advocating for it. But… And this is the important bit: None of the institutional gatekeepers bothered to listen. Which you can then take to indicate that they’re useless and ineffective…

  49. Also @ Mike K,

    I should point out that there are some questions about the authenticity of that book, and the reliability of the author. I read it when it first came out, and one of the bulletin boards where they were discussing it, a German poster described trying to get the author to share the supposed source material with him… Which he supposedly refused to do. Not sure what the reality is, here, but… It’s worth reading with a grain of salt. Some of the stuff he writes about being said are simply things you’d have to pry out of a combat soldier with thumbscrews, because ain’t nobody telling an outsider, particularly some rear-echelon swine, about how their friends died screaming. Not saying it’s a pack of lies, but… There’s a bunch of stuff in those books that simply is suspiciously detailed about things most of us won’t talk about with outsiders. Good friend of mine spent a morning in Iraq pulling bodies of his guys out of a burned-out Stryker, some of whom were still technically alive. He has never once talked about that with anyone outside his unit, aside from me, and his wife. Even the doctors treating him for PTSD didn’t get that out of him; they had to hear it from his wife, who had to swear them to silence about her even telling her that stuff. Death, in that context? Simply way too personal to discuss, far too sacred a thing. You don’t tell outsiders, for fear that next-of-kin might find out their husband/son/lover didn’t die clean, but died screaming in fear and pain as they tried to get them out of a burning armored vehicle whose frame has been so warped by the blast that none of the hatches could open, and nobody on-scene had the tools to get at them. You don’t talk to people about that shit–You take it to your grave, out of respect for the guys who died while you tried and failed to get them out while under fire. You also don’t talk about it because you blame yourself for failing at the impossible, and because you took them there like a Judas Goat.

    No, most of those books really do not ring true. Can’t prove it, but… I would take everything with a grain of salt. I’m almost certain that they are significantly embellished, at a minimum.

  50. Good practice from Kirk– take everything with salt. If you’ve seen the elephant you have a personal baseline to judge others’ stories; lacking that, as most of us do, you have to read a lot to get any sense of the realities. (My wargaming friends–many of whom are veterans themselves–know well that the most “realistic” game simulation of a Civil War battle is about as realistic as a Currier and Ives print of the same.)

    Kirk’s description of the low-level mistakes in gear and doctrine are illustrative and depressing–if the Heer suffered from bad strategy, it seems our forces do it wrong all the way down.

    I grew up around WWII veterans–both American and German (and a German who spent a year in the Kaiser’s army but was too young for the front) and listened and paid attention on the occasions they spoke about their service. Since then I’ve worked with individuals and groups to preserve their memories and their personal papers from the time–a real privilege.

  51. @Gavin,

    Eddie and I are guilty of discussing esoterica without providing context for those not similarly afflicted… I will attempt to elucidate:

    NWE–Refers to the Northwestern European Theater.

    SLAM–Refers to one S.L.A. Marshall, a notorious fabulist who was once widely respected without real basis. Still used as a source by those that know no better, and who take his work at face value. I was once among that number, but I’m now a bit less trusting of “authority”.

    MG42–Refers to the controversial WWII-issue German machine gun, a widely misunderstood weapon whose primary characteristics were disparaged by the Allies for what they thought were good reasons, but which really were the artifacts of their failure to comprehend what the Germans were doing with their machine guns.

    ROF–Refers to Rate of Fire, which was the big thing that the Allies held against the MG42. On the Allied side, the thinking was that the ideal ROF was around 600 rounds per minute. The MG42, on the other hand, had a much higher rate of fire, around 1200-1400 rounds per minute. This was a deliberate design choice, increased over the earlier GPMG they put on issue, the MG34–Both of which were interchangeable throughout the war, in terms of issue to the troops.

    The German reasoning was that they wanted that high rate of fire for the fact that it saturated the beaten zone for each burst with as many projectiles as possible, as quickly as possible. If you are firing a nine-to-fifteen round burst at a squad-size target out around a thousand meters, when you’re doing that with a weapon whose ROF is 600rpm, the first bullet hits and there’s still time for most of that squad to get down under grazing fire or find effective cover. When you’re shooting at that same target with a weapon whose ROF is what the MG42 had, then that first bullet hits and before anyone in that target zone can react, the entire burst has arrived and they’re unable to get down or get to cover… The idea is, kill as many as you can, as far from the gun as you can manage. And, so you can maximize the amount of damage you do on those fleeting targets you are able to see.

    The other thing about the Germans is that they envisioned infantry combat as being about the machine gun team, the firepower. They maneuvered their guns, the firepower… That’s why they spent all their money on the MG systems that they did. Our concept was based on the individual rifleman, which was why we spent all our money on the semi-auto rifle, the Garand. Our idea was, maneuver the individual rifleman, and he’d win the fight. Germans, on the other hand, meant to maneuver the guns, the firepower. In German use, the point of a rifle squad was to protect, supply, and enable the movement of their machine gun. Our concept of machine gun usage was that it was a supporting weapon that enabled the maneuver of the riflemen…

    Which worked better? Well, in the absence of the copious amounts of supporting arms and fires, the Germans typically wrought havoc with their infantry on ours; the casualty rates on the Eastern Front speak for themselves. All that prevented similar rates in the West were the supporting arms we emphasized and provided, creating much more effective and widespread “combined arms” effects than the Germans could manage with their comparatively smaller and less efficient industrial base.

    None of the Allies ever “got” the German machine gun doctrinal and employment differences. They kept looking at those rates of fire and the required ammunition to support them, and thinking “That’s stupid…”, never looking for the “why” explaining German decisions to do that. Which were, actually, based on careful reasoning and observation going back to WWI. The Germans determined two things that drove their choices for their machine gun design decisions–One, that they lacked the crucial mass of highly trained reserves they’d had in WWI, and two, that crew-served weapons were more effective in combat due to psychological reasons. The reserve issue drove one line of thinking, in that they wanted to maximize the effect of what trained manpower they did have, soooo… Put them in MG crews, and supervising those crews. Maximization of available trained manpower, and the enablement of economy-of-training in that they didn’t need to lavish all that much time on masses of infantry, just their gun crews. The psychological issues were carefully reasoned, as well–From observation, they knew that a bunch of single riflemen, isolated and alone, were all too likely to go to ground and fail to provide sufficient firepower for the fight, simply due to human psychology. Put those same men together in a machine gun crew, where they’ve got a tool to spew literally thousands of rounds per minute at the enemy, and…? Well, for one thing, they’re gonna feel better about their odds of actually doing damage to the enemy, and they’re going to stay in the fight because the potential of displaying cowardice in front of another soldier, their buddy? Much higher, dissuading the average gun crewman from doing what he can so easily do as a lone rifleman operating by himself. There are witnesses to what they do, close supervision by an NCO, in a gun crew. Thus, the German decision to put all their emphasis on the machine gun, pre-WWII. Much better use of their manpower and money, totally logical. Also, a lot more effective in actual combat… Allies never, to this day, understood any of that. Which is why we still run riflemen as our primary maneuver element, not the guns…

    The underlying conditions for that choice may have changed, but at the mid-20th Century? The Germans had it right.

    DSC–Distinguished Service Cross

    MH–Medal of Honor

    I think that’s all the “inside baseball” stuff we left undefined…

  52. @Kirk

    I googled NGSW because I had no idea what you were talking about. This is the first sentence from the website that came up:

    The Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW) Program is an iterative, prototyping effort, using Middle Tier Acquisition Authority, to develop operationally relevant, squad-level lethality to combat proliferating threats, informed by Soldiers feedback.

    I’m glad it’s “informed by Soldiers feedback” but what jumps out at me- aside from the buzzword bingo- is that it appears to have taken twenty years for the army to get around to noticing the problem you’ve been writing about and attempting to find a solution.

    Now I have flat zero qualifications to evaluate anything you or have to say on this topic- in fact I should just delete this comment and get on with my day- but I don’t need to to be an architect to notice that a building is burning down. I further note that I am not attempting to express disagreement with anything you said, or expecting you to disagree with anything I said, or even notice that I have made this comment at all.

    But as an American taxpayer and military veteran I find it incandescently infuriating that the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on the military and our various foreign adventures hasn’t bestowed upon us literally the best small arms and small arms doctrine possible in this universe.

    When I read that we’re being out-ranged by our enemies, despite the vast sums expended- people need to go to prison for that failure. It is utterly unforgivable and inexcusable. Rant mode off.

    Also, I’ve read that book Mike K mentioned. It struck me as an entertaining read, but also a little too…Truthy? Specific?

    I wasn’t surprised to later read that people questioned the authenticity. I do also.

  53. @Xennady,

    My friend, you have no idea. None. I’m not the only person who has been railing about this crap, for years.

    The whole NGSW issue is wrapped around a set of assumptions that I really find maddening, which is that a.) we’re outranged and outfought because of the weapons, and that b.) a new caliber and new weapons will enable us to win.

    The reality, as I see it, is that we’ve screwed the pooch for decades with our small arms choices. Firstly, I’m not convinced that we really have a good handle on what the hell is going on down at the rifleman and fire team level, mainly because we don’t bother to research it and get solid numbers about what is going on. Instead, we rely on purely subjective observations from the “end-user”, who really doesn’t know much beyond “Hey, I shot at something, and they quit shooting back at me… Musta worked, huh?”.

    The one major takeaway I had from my time at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin was that combat is confusing as fsck, and if you rely on eyewitness information from the combatants on your side alone…? You’re smoking crack, if you think you’re getting anything accurate. Most of the time, you wander through an After-Action Review down there, and ask the player unit questions about what they just went through, they’re going to tell you things that are simply not supported by the reality as it was recorded by all the instrumentation. Even as an Observer/Controller for the exercises, unless you’ve got the real-time eye-in-the-sky overview from the instrumentation, it’s all too easy to misattribute things and completely misunderstand what was going on. I’ve seen it happen, time and time again–You’re with a unit of tanks, they observe and fire upon an enemy unit, and when those tanks have their gear triggered, the lights flash and the commander of the unit you’re with says “Hey, we done good… We killed ’em!!!”. Then, you get to the AAR, and the instrumentation shows… Those enemy tanks were taken down by another unit firing Anti-Tank missiles from terrain you couldn’t see, and that you never actually hit squat. Without instrumentation, you’d never know any better, because… Subjective observation. Which never, in the course of things in “real combat”, actually gets verified. That’s how the RAF shot down so many German aircraft in the Battle of Britain, while the Germans were reporting a tenth of those losses not actually returning to base… Wasn’t that anyone was lying, they just didn’t know any better.

    I’ve watched that play out in real war, too–I was sitting in the 101st Division HQ one night, when an Infantry platoon made contact. They vectored a drone in for overhead observation, and we could plainly see where the platoon was taking fire from, and returning it. They were being fired on from a totally different place than they thought they were, and communications issues prevented any of us watching the drone feed telling them. No fear, however–Somewhere in there, a machine gun fired on the location that was firing on our guys, and totally destroyed that element. The platoon leader from our guys thought he’d totally won the fight, and reported it as such, when he never once directed fire at where he was being shot at from… What it turned out to be, we later determined, was that the machine gun fire that destroyed the enemy was their own guys, firing on them in the heat of battle–Or, at least, to be more accurate, it was red tracer MG fire, which would indicate that it was either insurgents or friendly troops with Soviet-style weapons. None of which were in the area…

    Basically, odds are that the enemy destroyed themselves with their own friendly fire, and that American lieutenant still thinks he won his fight, no doubt reporting it as such for the history books.

    This is why I’m a total cynic about what we supposedly “know” about combat; it’s all highly subjective observation, reported by very unreliable sources, among which I include myself, because I’ll be bluntly honest: Ninety percent of the time in training, I’m pretty sure that what I thought was going on in a firefight…? Wasn’t. At the time, I thought I knew, but… After more and wider experience, I have my doubts.

    This all feeds into the whole NGSW travesty: We don’t really know if our small arms suite is working, or not. The fact that we don’t take rapidly adaptable tripods, rangefinders, and binoculars with us in our MG teams? Relegating them to firing at the enemy off the bipod, which is really only good out to about 800 meters? That’s the problem, not the guns or the ammo; it’s the fact that to deliver good, consistent fire beyond 800m, you need to be firing off a steady, stable, and locked-down shooting platform, not somebody’s shoulder and a bipod bouncing around in the dust and dirt. Our M192 “modern” tripod is simply an updated M122, made in titanium–And, the M122 is essentially the same tripod we were putting under the M1919 .30 caliber Browning back during the 1930s. This is a tripod that is really only effective when you’re using it off of a prepared firing table, as in a prepared defensive position–You cannot change the command height (distance from gun to ground), you cannot adjust the tripod legs, and unless you’ve got a level surface available, you’re looking at having to create one. A German WWII-era Lafette tripod, like the one they put under the MG34/42 family? It’s infinitely adjustable, in moments–You can have one of those deployed and level in less than a minute, under all sorts of wildly variant terrain. You can have it firing out of a window, without having to build a damn table to put it on; you can basically do a thousand things with it that you’ll never manage to do without hours of work if you’re stuck with the primitive and essentially useless M122/192.

    Another point? Optics–The Lafette/MG34/42 system had a periscopic sight, which allowed for you to have the gun positioned up where it could hit, and the gunner down behind cover. Our primitive junk? We put the optic on top of the gun, where the gunner has to have his head up and visible in order to fire… At least one of the young men I trained over the years died in Afghanistan specifically because of this; he was returning fire, as trained, and took a round right through his forehead below the helmet line.

    Other issues? The M4 carbine was never meant to be the basic infantry weapon; it was supposed to serve as a self-defense tool for support troops, a lighter, smaller M16 that wouldn’t get in the way while they worked. Instead, they did such a magnificent job of designing the M16A2 that when the Infantry guys saw the M4, they abandoned the A2, glommed onto the M4, and that’s been what we’ve been fighting with since Mogadishu–Where you can find documentation showing questionable results from the 14.5″ barrels that weren’t designed ballistically, but because that’s what worked with the off-the-shelf gas systems from the XM-177 carbines dating back to Vietnam, and the bayonets. Oh, and also, it was the shortest barrel length they could get to work with the M203 40mm grenade launcher…

    They never really validated that combination of barrel, gas system, and all the rest for real combat work. The M4 was “just good enough” to issue support troops like Engineers and Artillery, and that was all they cared about. Then, the Infantry guys found them, loved them, and that’s all she wrote. We support types never saw our M4s; we got stuck with the “musket” A2 series… Which, ironically, actually worked out to 600m or so with the issued ammo. The M4s, we knew, had issues past about 200m with regards to actual, y’know… Killing the targets. Velocity with a 5.56mm round is critical, and the shorter barrel took it down way too low, until they created the M855A1 in the late 2000s… Some ten years into the War on Terror, and twenty-plus past the first identified problems with the M4/M855 combination in Somalia.

    So… Overall? I think NGSW is a waste of money, and what they need to do is go back and rework training and design on the existing weapons. The M240 is heavy, maybe too heavy for dismount operations, but it does work. Put the right tripod under it, issue out rangefinders and binoculars, train the troops properly? You’d solve about 90% of what they’ve identified as justifications for the NGSW thing, and for a hell of a lot less money. I’ve talked to more than a few gun crews coming back from Afghanistan, and you’d be shocked to find out how few have the tools they need, like rangefinders and binoculars with reticles in them. Not to mention, most of them do not know the basics of advanced machine gunnery, like how to control fires using those binos-with-reticles, along with the tripods. It’s not a complicated art, but the number of people who’re actually trained on it? LOL… See, it’s not an item on the current checklist, so it’s not trained, officially. You go looking in the current manuals for it, and what do you find? Jack-and-shit in the Army version of the manual, and in the Marine manual? Oh. My. Gawd. I was doing some research on this issue for a friend still on active duty, not that long ago, and I went looking for the “oofeshul guidance” on how to do it all; in the Army manual, not a damn word on what was once routine training when I was a private during the early 1980s; in the Marine manual? I discovered that they were still using, word-for-fscking-word, the manual verbiage from the M1919 manual printed at the end of WWII, and, oh-by-the-way, the illustration still showed the WWI-era bino reticle that went obsolete before Korea…

    Wanna know why we’re so fscked up with regards to this? Having found that issue in the Marine M240 manual, I took it upon myself to call up the agency that wrote the damn thing, and tell them “Hey, uh… Guys? Your manual is massively out of date…”. What did I get? A run-around, total disinterest, and nobody cared that they had printed a manual for current use that was so out of date that the reticle in their illustrations had been declared obsolete before the Korean War.

    To my knowledge, this still hasn’t been corrected, and it’s been over a year-plus since I tried bringing it to their attention. I think that particular error has been in the manuals since at least the 1980s, too… Hasn’t been caught, in all that time.

    So… Yeah. There ya go… It’s actually worse than you think. And, way more “inside baseball” than you probably wanted, but there ya go… If I don’t vent, I’m probably going to implode at some point, so thank you for the opportunity to rail at the sky, yet again.

  54. In German use, the point of a rifle squad was to protect, supply, and enable the movement of their machine gun. Our concept of machine gun usage was that it was a supporting weapon that enabled the maneuver of the riflemen…

    Have you ever read a book called “Misfire?” I’m not sure that is the same book I used to have but the point was that the US Army was opposed to automatic weapons because they “wasted” ammo. The Army did not issue the BAR in WWI, for example, because they did not want the Germans to get one. Interesting book.

    Also, rifle ranges changes after I qualified because accuracy was not emphasized. Pop up targets were adopted instead of fixed targets with bullseyes. I was never a combat troop and did not go to Vietnam as I had already had enough active duty to avoid the doctor draft. Still, I have read about these subjects, more Civil War than more recent.

  55. @ Mike K,

    They changed the ranges not because of accuracy issues, but because the determination was made that a reason why people weren’t shooting at the enemy was that they were looking for nice, clear bullseye targets like they’d trained on… The E-type silhouettes came in because they finally figured out that if they wanted to condition people to reflexively shoot at man-type targets they only glimpsed fleetingly, they’d better be training them that way from the get-go. That was why they brought in what was termed Trainfire, not anything remotely resembling Marshall’s supposed “reluctance to kill”. The problem was, they were training the troops on abstract targets, and not what they’d actually observe and experience in combat. It’s all well and good to be a great marksman, shooting at paper targets, but if your skills are reliant on clearly being able to see the target in the first place…? Like as not, you’ll miss your shots because you’re simply waiting too long for them to become clear. The new qualification and training ranges better replicated combat, so they trained people to actually fire more effectively under combat conditions. They may not have been as great at shooting at cardboard, but they were exponentially better about actually firing at the enemy under fire than they’d been with classical fixed-range bullseye targetry.

    I had a number of former Marines under me that had the full-meal deal with Marine marksmanship, which stuck to the old-school known distance and bullseye targets. Put them on an Army range for qualification? Dear God, but did the poor bastards have issues. Great shooters, sure, but actually hitting the targets on an Army qual range in a timely manner? Fuhgeddaboudit… Some of them never did quite adapt–One guy was always a high Expert in the Marine Corps, but routinely barely qualified on Army ranges. He was just taking too long to refine his shots, and the target would go down before he fired. First time he hit that range, he came back off the firing line with about thirty unexpended rounds and was almost in tears from the frustration of it all. Hadn’t helped that he’d spent the previous three or four days boasting about how good a shot he was, and how he’d ace the lousy, unchallenging Army ranges… Didn’t quite work that way, in the event.

    The old-school bullseye shooting skills are relevant, but not as much as you’d think. It’s way more important to be able to identify the damn target and hit it before they disappear or get to cover, and if you’re taught to only shoot at that which you see clearly and are conditioned to be looking for a big, black ball on a white background…? Yeah; you’re gonna have issues coping on the live-fire two-way range that is combat.

  56. The practice range issues remind me of Black Jack Pershing’s insistence on old-fashioned marksmanship and open field combat, rather than modern training for the realities of the Western Front.

  57. Almost forgot–Kirk’s breakdown of the basic differences in infantry doctrine and practice reminds me very much of van Creveld’s “Fighting Power.” I don’t recall how much he stressed weaponry as making a big difference to what he considered German superiority.

  58. @Cousin Eddie,

    See, right there? That’s the issue with it all… The usual Allied-centric view of the issue kinda-sorta presupposes that the weapons “just happened”, as opposed to them being direct outgrowths of the tactical and operational decision-making.

    The Allies basically designed their weapons, and then decided to try to figure out how best to use them. The Germans decided how they wanted to fight, and then designed the weapons around that whole tactical/operational concept. You go back and trace out the antecedents to the MG34/42, then the successor weapon that never made it into production, and it becomes really clear what they were doing and why they wanted the firepower they could generate with that massive ROF.

    You look at it, and it is really easy to make out the problems with how we do things–The Garand is a classic example, where they looked at WWI combat and said “What we need is the ultimate rifleman’s rifle…”, which played right into the whole Camp Perry NRA National Match mindset. The thing is, they had no real concept of just how they were going to use that semi-auto rifle to win fights, and had they actually tested it out, they’d have found that it wasn’t really the game-changer they thought it was. The German approach was “Well, we need something like the MG08/15, but one we can actually move around with…”, and all the precursors to the MG34/42 got developed and experimented with. The individual weapon, the rifle? They concluded that the bolt-action 1898 was “good enough”, and economized on that by simply updating it to be shorter, lighter, and handier to carry. They wanted a semi-auto, but they didn’t have the resources, and committed to what they felt was important, the MG.

    Germany designed a weapon to match their doctrine; the US designed a weapon, and then tried to figure out how to use it. The Brits kinda did the same thing with the BREN, but I think they did a better job of figuring out how war was actually working. An interesting “might-have-been” would be the idea of an intermediate-caliber Garand and the BREN as an automatic rifle-roled weapon, with some overlap into LMG territory. You could have done it in full-caliber, or maintained commonality with the individual weapon.

    The root problem with US small arms procurement is that they keep treating everything as “We gotta buy the best, the ultimate X…”, never stopping to work out just how that “X” is going to be fought. Along with that, we keep treating small arms purchases as though they’re gonna be the last ones we ever make, so they gotta be the bestest evah’… Which leads to nothing ever getting out of development, ever. You want 100% improvement in some metric you pull out of the air and term “Lethality”? All I can do is laugh; at this state of the art, you’re not getting that sort of exponential improvement, no way, no how. You’d need a new paradigm in propellants, new materials, and new production technology to make such things affordable. Which you’re not getting at this point… Small arms are mostly a mature technology, and to expect the sort of difference you got when they went from black powder to smokeless? Ain’t. Happening.

    If you want a really good example of someone designing an individual weapon to meet doctrinal requirements, look no further than the Swiss StG57 and all of its associated integrated technology. Not to say the Swiss got everything right, but that rifle and its accessories are in incredibly close alignment with how the Swiss intended to fight… Something we just kinda left hanging out there, twisting in the wind, with our equivalent weapon from that era, the M-14. Which we never really got fully into service, before having to replace it…

    Interestingly enough, the Italians managed to convert their Garands over into a box-magazine fed 7.62mm NATO rifle in about a tenth the time we took on the M-14, got it for about a tenth the budget, and had it in full-scale production before we threw in the towel. It also stayed in service longer… The BM-59 was a pretty successful weapon, compared to the M-14.

    And, of course, we replaced the M-14 with the longest-serving “interim weapon” ever, the M-16, which I expect will be on issue into the 2050s. At least.

  59. I just finished the autobiography of Alvin York. Almost his entire shooting before the Army was with percussion muzzle loaders either at game for food or the head of a turkey tied behind a log at around 60 yards, for fun and also for food at so much a shot. They also shot at formal targets in the form of an X or cross carved on a board. Closest won with usually a beef or pig on the line.

    It’s definitely a different sort of book. It includes the collected statements of the survivors of his unit as well as York’s diary verbatim. The movie stays pretty close to the truth as well.

    Imagine the outcry from PETA if we did this today.

  60. Great exposition, Kirk.

    I’m so old that in JROTC one of our activities was, wait for it . . . field-stripping and reassembling, in the dark, M1 Garands. Some of the older instructors had used them in combat.

    We also had an M60 to study, but the only functional weapons we had were .22s for plinking in the indoor range.

  61. @ Mike K,

    They changed the ranges not because of accuracy issues, but because the determination was made that a reason why people weren’t shooting at the enemy was that they were looking for nice, clear bullseye targets like they’d trained on…

    I brought it up because the pop up ranges added to the short range emphasis. I grant it was appropriate in Vietnam jungle conditions but I’m not so sure about Afghanistan, which is hardly jungle.

  62. Xennady: “When I read that we’re being out-ranged by our enemies, despite the vast sums expended- people need to go to prison for that failure.”

    Not prison. The people who make the decisions need to know they are going to be on point, at the very front of the front lines, when things get serious. The decisions need to be real — personally, for them!

    There was something to be said for those distant days when the King was expected to lead his troops into battle. Certainly helped to concentrate the decision-maker’s mind. Would Milley the Magnificent be feeding operational info to his Chinese opposite number if Milley knew he was going to be the first person to hit the beach when things went kinetic?

    Thanks to Kirk et al. for this discussion, by the way. We may have drifted a little from the original topic, but it has been fascinating and informative.

  63. @Mike K,

    I have the opinion that the individual weapons are there for the close-in fights, even in Afghanistan, and if you spot something out past about 600m, the appropriate weapon for engaging that target is probably, at a minimum, a machine gun. Preferably with mortars supplementing. If you’re only ever shooting at individual identified targets at those ranges with your individual weapons, you’re gonna lose your battles, over the long haul. Why? Because it’s like deer; you see one, there are ten more in its vicinity that you didn’t spot–And, that’s why you dump several bursts of MG fire on the target and supplement by bracketing that with a few impolite mortar rounds. Playing Alvin York with a rifle at those ranges is a chump’s game–You aren’t actually engaging the one guy you can see, you’re engaging the other ten with him who’ve managed to find good concealment.

    Or, you’re just scaring the crap out of the local wildlife and vegetation.

    No matter what, though, you’re effectively dissuading any of the enemy from even thinking about moving around within range of your weapons and your field of view.

    I have my doubts about the whole “Yeah, every man a sniper…” mentality. That’s all cool, and sounds impressive as hell. But, it’s not the point–The point is, kill the enemy. The idea of “One man, one bullet…” is the modern-day equivalent of some poncey swordsman making all the flourishes and embellishments while he’s waving his blade around, making it look good for the audience. What you want to do is just kill him as quickly and brutally as possible, get it over with, and go on to the next guy. It ain’t pretty, but it does work, and it does reduce your own losses.

    I fear that a lot of folks are wrapped up in the elegance of it all, and have failed to grasp the brute facts of life. It is an ugly thing, but there you go… Just like the majority of modern combat, it’s murder minus any romance, elegance, or beauty.

    An additional related opinion of mine is that the really major issue is target acquisition, identification, and managing fires. None of which will really be improved by the main thrust of the NGSW program; if you can’t spot the enemy, identify that he needs to be shot, and then effectively engage him with what you’ve got, you’re losing the battle. Doesn’t matter what you’re shooting at him. Period. The low-hanging fruit out there to get is stuff that isn’t being addressed by NGSW, and which also isn’t amenable to being solved by anything remotely related to it. You need better training, better observation equipment, and better means of communicating down at the fire team and squad level that we just don’t have. Yet. We should be developing it, though, and I don’t see that happening.

    Gavin thinks we’ve gotten a ways off our subject, but I’d like to disagree. We’re examining the original problem, but through a different lens, from a different perspective. The root of all this is a failure to recognize reality–In the America of today, acting rationally and behaving with an eye on succeeding in life is “acting white” to some, and denigrated. Somehow, we’ve elevated and made a virtue of failure–Which is insane. Yet, you look at all too many sectors of our society, and that’s precisely what we’re doing with everything. I fear for SpaceX, and I wonder if Elon Musk isn’t doomed to the role played by Xheng Ho to the Chinese Imperial court of his time. Will we be remembered mostly because we shut down our space efforts for “reasons”, and went into self-willed decline because “reasons”? The lack of clarity and general obtuseness demonstrated in the small arms realm is but a marker, a symptom of what has gone wrong, and what is going wrong. And, in order to deal with the disease, you first have to diagnose it clearly and forthrightly, recognizing what’s going wrong with the body. You can’t hem and haw, concealing things from the doctor, not telling him about things you’re embarrassed by.

    I think there’s a strong chance we’ll pull through all this, but it’s going to be an ugly process that will leave a bunch of people paying a huge price for it all.

  64. “Somehow, we’ve elevated and made a virtue of failure…”
    You know the old saying, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”? Well, what do you call a million times?
    “…Which is insane”
    What’s insane is refusing to accept we’re seeing what we’re seeing. The “force the contradictions” crazies from the 60s are in charge of every institution now. They’re not well-intentioned, they’re actively malignantly destructive, and they have all the power.
    “I think there’s a strong chance we’ll pull through all this”
    If by “we” you mean humanity, then I suppose that’s true, but if by “we” you mean the USA as anything resembling what any of us knew as kids, then not a chance.

  65. @Brian,

    Point I think you’re missing: The USA we “knew as kids” fostered and grew these assholes.

    People like to blame the Boomer generation for a lot of things, but I think you need to step back and ask a question: Just who the hell raised the Boomers? Don’t the parents deserve some of the hate, for the way they brought them up?

    The US is a nation that has classically allowed for near-continuous re-invention, a thing that does not obtain elsewhere in the world. In Germany, if you’re a bankrupt, you and your kids are marked for generations. We’re shameless about it, and indeed, even respect it. You tell someone here in the US that you went bankrupt a few times with your business, and they’ll mostly shrug their shoulders and say “Well, at least you were trying…”. In much of Europe, you’d never get a second chance.

    I think there’s a potential for redemption. We’re adaptable, and we keep trying–Where others give up, we persevere. That’s how we got here, and what most of the migrants coming here now recognize. We’ve winnowed the chaff from the human race, and what we got were all the ungovernables and the rebels, which is a fact that the current lot of dipshit wannabe aristos seem to have forgotten. You think you’d be hearing “Fuck Joe Biden” anywhere else in the world, shouted with impunity in the stadiums?

    They’ve tied down the release valves, and the resultant explosion is likely to be a paroxysm of corrective reaction that’s going to take our breath away. I think that all of us who’re sitting here thinking it’s all over, that the bad guys won? We need to recognize that this is a fever spike, and that this needs to happen in order to bring all of this to a head, get it into the open to where the corruption and malfeasancies are undeniable. Then, they can be dealt with.

    Thing I’m coming to recognize is that the reaction of the “Deep State” to Trump isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness, weakness that they recognize. They didn’t dare make the attempt at rolling and co-opting him, for fear that he might do what they fear the most, bringing this crap out into the open. If they were as strong as you all think, Trump would have vanished into the maw the way Biden has, and they’d have been running Trump the way they are Biden. Which, I’m here to tell you, more and more people are noting, acknowledging, and becoming enraged by.

    We’ll see what we’ll see, I suppose. The next decades are going to be entertaining, if nothing else. I’m not seeing Milley as the Julius Caeser in our tale of woe, so wherever Augustus is coming from? No clue.

    History may not repeat, but it does have a tendency to rhyme.

  66. One of my prized possessions is a “handy volume” set of the 11th Edition Encyclopedia Britannica. The so-called scholars edition, endorsed by both King George and President Taft in 1911.

    It is the official record of the most dynamic civilization on the globe, a compendium of very often self-satisfied and often racist scholarship but also an honest attempt to gather the basics of useful knowledge from all fields and all parts of the globe.

    What’s really striking is the way they treat military topics and technology. Under “Rifles”, besides a lot of technical specs, there’s a section on “Riflery.” It’s a long essay with some graphs and basic math on the art of musketry as it was practiced then, and assumes massed fires with well-trained troops, not marksmanship. Kirk mentioned the beaten zone, there is also the catchpoint (don’t waste fire shooting too high–all bullets should graze low)
    and several other terms of art.

    Just to show how fluid the situation was before 1914, there’s a long discussion–with technical data–of the different lances being issued to the cavalries. All the powers had concluded that lances were going to be needed by all well-equipped horsemen the next time.

    My point being, there was a whole practice (or at least theory) of getting the most per bullet before the MG was integrated into the line by experience a few years later. The three-volume update issued in 1922 is a first-sweep history of the war with some amazing technical data, and discussion of the enormous deployment of MGs–from a few dozen per division in the first months to dozens per battalion very quickly.

    Anyway, there’s a through-line of “acting white” from Galileo and his ballistics to the learned soldiers of imperial Europe, and the triumph of European ideas wouldn’t have happened without it.

    Who runs with it next, or whether it survives at all, is anybody’s guess.

    I appreciate everyone’s comments, and especially Kirk’s deep knowledge. I was a regular on the old soc. and alt. wwii newsgroups and enjoyed many similar discussions.

  67. “If they were as strong as you all think”
    I’ve said repeatedly that they are morons with stupid ideas that can never “work”. So what? That just says that the system that allows pitiful non-entities the likes of Comey, and Milley, and Schiff and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Biden, to rise to the top, is hopelessly corrupted, and the people are paralyzed with reverence for the way we think the system is, rather than the way it actually is. Read about The Pilgrimage of Grace, for instance–the people were *this* close to stopping Henry and his cronies, they had the power to do so, but their reverence for the idea of The King stopped them, so they slunk back home, their leaders were taken out one by one at the regime’s leisure, and their culture was completely destroyed. Similarly We bleat about The Constitution, but since about 1964 we’ve been living under a completely unrecognizable system.

  68. The decisions need to be real — personally, for them!

    I agree, but sending them to prison would be huge improvement over the golden parachutes they get now, even if they actually deserve to hang.

    Kirk, great commentary. The fact that we don’t even have a decent machine gun tripod- despite having the German example to copy- says a lot about how thorough the failure of the present regime has managed to be. It’s infuriating and inexcusable but also entirely typical. I can reel off a list of programs that wasted billions of dollars and produced nothing of value, and yet heads do not roll, even figuratively.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, I think that’s a key problem. The people in charge never pay for their failure and incompetence. Examples are legion, including the legions of idiots who claim to be teachers yet are unwilling to actually teach. The most recent I read about was that the Feds have decided to charge a test pilot for the 737-Max fiasco, which killed hundreds of people and effectively bankrupted Boeing. The CEO and other execs responsible walked away long ago, free as a swarm of birds.

    No society can survive forever ruled by idiots- even very clever idiots who arrange to enrich their bank accounts and avoid responsibility for failure. But having arranged things to their liking, they aren’t voluntarily going to give up power.

    The 2020 election proved that.

  69. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I was able to see enough of van Creveld’s “Fighting Power” online to be reminded that he’s very much a Dupuyan. Dupuyite?

    But my memory apparently was better when it came to the weapons themselves. Kirk’s explanation shows the interrelation between weapons and tactics very clearly. Not sure whether van Creveld scanted or skipped the issue.

  70. @Xennady,

    The thing with the tripod and the rest of the attendant things you need for effective MG fire delivery isn’t really a major issue, for the “way we fight” circa 1990-2001. It became one the minute the idiot class took us into a pure infantry/small arms fight in the mountains after 2001, and the problem is that they failed to recognize and adapt to that situation effectively.

    Bluntly put, you don’t need good dismount MG teams when you’re fighting in Northern European cityscapes mounted in Infantry Fighting Vehicles and tanks. So, I can’t honestly fault the dumbasses for not being fully prepared for what they needed to do in Afghanistan. You can’t train everything, and some tasks do go “obsolete” over time, as things change.

    What I can fault is the fact that the system failed to recognize the reality they’d created through ROE and austere deployment at the end of a global supply chain, demonstrating an unwillingness or outright inability to recognize reality and adapt to it. All of this stuff is in the old manuals; we could be doing it, and answering Taliban machine gun fire at least as effectively as German Alpenjager were dealing with Soviet mountain troops and guerrillas in the Pamir mountains above the oilfields they were reaching for.

    We didn’t, however.

    One of my “epiphany moments” came to me while talking to a British exchange NCO at the Engineer School, while discussing some issues about the Advanced NCO Course Program of Instruction. Somehow we’d gotten on to talking about route clearance and so forth, and it came around to a conversation about what the Army proudly describes as the “Center for Army Lessons Learned” at Fort Leavenworth. The comment he made was along the lines of “…well, you can’t very well call it the Center for Lessons Learnt if you don’t bloody well ever actually learn anything from it… Your lot really ought to call the place the Center for Army Lessons Identified and then Bloody Well Ignored…”.

    Bastard was right. The Army (and, most of the other governance in the US…) is most assuredly not what they like to call themselves, “Learning Organizations”, mostly because they don’t ever seem to actually learn.

    I wouldn’t mind the corruption, if only it were competent corruption. It isn’t, however.

  71. @Cousin Eddie,

    From my memories of van Creveld and Dupuy, both of them were entirely dissatisfactory to me as any sort of guide to combat reality, in that they focused on the numbers more than they focused on the things that made the numbers what they were.

    I think there are at least two major sorts of minds, when it comes to these sorts of things–There are the abstractionists, the guys like Dupuy and van Creveld, who reduce everything to numerical analysis from data, and then there are the practically-minded sorts like me, who don’t think in terms like that at all. I want to know the how, the why, and the best way to go about emulating what works. The guys who have to reduce everything to numbers in order to understand it and argue the case for it with other similarly-minded people bore the crap out of me, because in the final analysis, they can’t tell me how to go about duplicating the results attained by the Germans in creating an MG team in an Alpenjager unit from about 1941-42.

    There are two approaches to these things–One is like a cookbook author who tries to reduce the art and craft of fine cookery to a recipe, a numerical formula. The other is the one taken by a seasoned kitchen professional, who cooks by feel and produces masterworks on the fly, with different inputs every time, and exquisite results flowing forth without any form of recipe whatsoever. Some things simply aren’t amenable to being reduced to mere numbers and sequences; you have to have the art itself.

    I used to read all the sources I could, seeking enlightenment. What I found was that the enlightenment doesn’t exist in what we can describe in mere prose and enumeration; you have to have the living thing, the organic minds and bodies making up the gestalt and the zeitgeist of the thing far more than you need the dry documentation and analysis. You can sometimes drape new flesh over the bare bones of the numbers, but it is damn hard to do, absent the tribal knowledge that never seems to get recorded anywhere, but which is seemingly passed on via osmosis.

  72. If “Acting White” is meant to imply looking at the evidence and acting rationally, then the big issue about “Acting White” has to be that apparently so few “White” people do it. That could be taken as a summary of Kirk’s views on infantry weapons & tactics. And it seems to be supported by the news every day.

    One source says that 45% of the US population supports Resident Biden* — despite the evidence. Another source notes that yet another “University” is setting up segregated housing for “Black” students — though the “White” administrators probably would not like to describe that housing as separate but equal. And Muffin Milley walks the streets, as free as Hillary! Clinton.

    The nation could benefit if a lot more “White” people would start “Acting White”.

  73. Not the Pamirs. I only say that because you made me look, and I won’t have many opportunities to correct you ;-)

    “Against human stupidity, the Gods themselves struggle in vain,” as Schiller or some other wiseguy put it.

  74. @Cousin Eddie,

    Damnation… I knew I should have checked that reference instead of doing it from memory. Alpenkorps was the WWI designation; Gebirgsjager was what they were in WWII and the present. Not to mention, I cross-connected the mountain ranges because I just got done reading a book about Russian mountaineering… Caucasus.

    This is the trouble with having a mind like a garbage heap; I really need freakin’ footnotes for my memory, because it’s all in there together and the cites are nonexistent. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve been in discussions/arguments and been unable to back up my facts without a couple weeks worth of further research, to try and figure out where the hell some factoid popped out from underneath in my memory while I’m in the midst of it all.

    My apologies for that. I usually try to do better, but I thought I had it. Where the hell did “Alpenjager” even come from? Did I conflate Alpini with Gebirgsjager because they were in the same campaigns on the Eastern Front…?

  75. Kirk, you got me on the Alpen- and Gebirgs- question. I certainly make some statements that I haven’t double-checked, and a lot that fall under the vague-but-true category, or are just imprecise.

    I try very hard to have a fairly clear idea of my sources (not always with success), and try never to assert something that I haven’t made some study of, and that’s all I can ask of others.

    Your comments about lost, forgotten, or ignored tradecraft are well taken, and one reason it may be easier for us to study, imagine or understand (or imagine we understand) war at levels above the firing line than on it.

  76. the Germans came late to the imperial game, tsientsin in china, (why they were targeted in the outbreak) namibia in southern africa, tanzania in the east, they had their hopes set on Egypt and later mesopotamia, (this is why they allied with the turks initially) Nasser gave some germans an entree in his war with Israel and Yemen, (a whole subplot of the Odessa files) now 70 years after the last war, they effectively run Europe,

  77. “[N]ow 70 years after the last war, they [Germans] effectively run Europe.” Or not so effectively, as the case may be.

    If the EU is Germania redux, then I say, “not.”

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