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Muslims to the Rescue? (!!) Ebola and the Can’t-Do Nation
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The country that could do this would have little trouble dealing with Ebola, but are we still that country?

Whether Ebola represents a major threat to the U.S.A. I’ll leave to the experts. (At least one of them, whose opinion I highly respect, says not [Come on in, the Plague Is Fine, by Gregory Cochran, TakiMag, October 8, 2014]). What is not in doubt, however, is that the response of our public health authorities has been disgracefully shambolic.

Public health is one of those things you really want your government to do well, however much of a small-government proponent you are. I bet even anarchists draw the line at overflowing sewers or chancrous beggars brushing up against us in the subway.

Yet here we are, with all our wealth and expertise, watching our elected and appointed health administrators making a pig’s ear of their highly-paid professional responsibilities and speaking incoherent nonsense to TV interviewers and Congressional committees.

Thus Director of the Center for Disease Control Tom Frieden [Email him] testified

[Tennessee Rep. Marsha] Blackburn: I want to be sure I heard you right. You just said to Chairman Upton that we cannot have flight restrictions because of a porous border. So do we need to worry about having an unsecure southern and northern border? Is that a big part of the problem?

[CDC Director] Frieden: I was referring to the border of the three countries in Africa.

Rep. Blackburn: Oh, referring to that border, not our porous border.

CDC Director Concerned About ‘Porous’ Borders… In Africa, By Alex Griswold , Daily Caller, October 16, 2014

Watching the squirming and writhing of these guardians of the nation’s health, I am always reminded of the time in my teen years when, having read some pop-math article about topology, I attempted to take off my undershirt without removing my shirt.

My friend and fellow Dissident Right blogger Dennis Mangan expressed the other day what a lot of us are thinking. Key quote from Dennis:

Just as the United States of America can no longer get a man on the moon, it can no longer fight an epidemic. The two situations are, I believe, remarkably similar.

In the first case, we likely still have the technical capability to get men to the moon, or could get them back relatively quickly. The fault is not in our technologies, but in ourselves. We no longer have the willpower to do it; and even assuming that we made it a priority, so many other social priorities would need to go out the window that we would find it that much more difficult, or even impossible.

Evolutionary psychologist Bruce Charlton has worked the same theme, although casting his net wider, across all of civilization:

I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75—at the time of the Apollo moon landings—and has been declining ever since.

This may sound bizarre or just plain false, but the argument is simple. That landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achievement of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans. Forty years ago we could do it—repeatedly—but since then we have notbeen to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability …

It was around the 1970s that the human spirit began to be overwhelmed by bureaucracy (although the trend had been growing for many decades).

Human capability peaked before 1975 and has since declined ,Charlton’s Miscellany, June 22, 2010

Let me first deal with the objection that turned up a couple of times in the comment thread to Dennis’ piece: that the Apollo program was a pointless extravaganza, a waste of national resources.

Apollo was a glorious achievement, as glorious as Christopher Columbus’ landing in the New World, which we have been commemorating this week—those of us whose brains have not been addled by Political Correctness.

Glory may not be your cup of tea, but most of us in the Western tradition disagree with you.

What happened on July 20th 1969 will be remembered for as long as the human race survives—long after Barack Obama and George W. Bush, let alone you and me, have been utterly forgotten.

And if you still want to carp about Apollo being pointless, just check the company you’re in. I don’t recall Al Sharpton addressing the topic, but I know what he’d say if he did.

On the other side, the people who made the Moon landings happen were motivated by patriotism, by pride in their country and its flag, symbolized by that actual flag Neil Armstrong planted on the lunar surface, and by the red, white, and blue vest that Flight Director Gene Krantz wore in the control room.

We Came in Peace for All Mankind said the plaque on the Lunar Lander: but it was Old Glory the astronauts saluted.

Can you imagine such a thing nowadays?

The Stars and Stripes—that symbol of racist, patriarchal, cis-sexual oppression? Man-kind? Excuse me?

From inception to the Moon landing, Apollo ran nine years. Nowadays it would take nine years just to get the diversity quotas figured out.

Dennis is right: We can’t do stuff anymore. Go to the Moon, fight an epidemic: These things are beyond our capability now. Fifty years ago we were a nation of engineers and adventurers; now we’re a nation of lawyers and sociologists.

Don’t take my word for it. The current (first black—of course) head of NASA appointed by Barack Obama, told an interviewer four years ago that:

When I became the NASA administrator, [President Obama] charged me with three things. One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.

[NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World,, July 05, 2010]

Let me repeat that again S-L-O-W-L-Y:

engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.

Got that.

It’s been a sad decline, doubly sad for people who lived through it and can remember the days of glory, sadder yet for those of us who grew up in foreign parts admiring America from afar.

The U.S.A. used to be admired around the world as the Can-Do nation. Join two oceans; fill a city with skyscrapers; tame a wilderness; win a war; there seemed to be nothing Americans couldn’t do.

The archetype here, at least so far as my own juvenile reading was concerned, is Jules Verne’s 1874 novel The Mysterious Island.


In that novel, an assortment of American men from the Union side in the Civil War are prisoners in Richmond, Virginia. They escape by balloon, but the balloon gets swept far out to sea in a storm and makes landfall at last on an uncharted island.

We get the usual inventory of possessions; but the balloonists threw most everything overboard to stay airborne, so all they have is the clothes they are wearing, one match, two watches, a metal collar on the dog they brought along, and one grain of wheat.

These were Americans, though, one of them an engineer. They have that island shipshape in no time, with a forge, a brickworks, a pottery kiln, and a glassworks up and running. When they need to remove a rock barrier to lower the water level of a lake, the engineer manufactures nitroglycerin, quote, “by means of the minerals which nature had placed at his disposal.”

That was America as seen by a Frenchman 140 years ago: the Can-Do nation.

What a falling-off there has been! Nowadays those castaways would have starved to death trying to get a Gender Studies program going.

When did we stop being the Can-Do nation? It went on for a few years after the Apollo program. I wrote in Taki’s Magazine recently about visiting the Alaska pipeline, built in the mid-1970s. Not really up there with the Apollo program, but a tremendous engineering achievement none the less. By private enterprise, too, not a government project.

That was still the Can-Do nation. Nowadays we’re well on our way to being the Can’t-Do nation, as our response to Ebola illustrates. Our spectacles are all fogged up with bogus social theories; our intelligence is compromised by willed ignorance about human nature; our hands and feet are tied by lawyers, accountants, and consultants; our patriotism is corroded by phony guilt and xenophilia.

As I said on Radio Derb last week, I’m not losing sleep over an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.A. As best I understand the science of the disease, at worst a few hundred, maybe a few thousand, Americans will get infected, and a quarter or a third of them will die. We should have prevented that happening, and could easily have done so—but it’s not an existential catastrophe in a nation where 30,000 people die in traffic accidents annually.

However, with the next new pathogen, or the next, or the next, we may run out of luck. Without luck, we have only competence to fall back on.

That’s where I lose sleep. Do we still have the competence to deal with a major health catastrophe? Perhaps we’ll have to send for help from the Muslim nations, with—what’s the quote?—“their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Yeah, they’ll save the day for us.

So, no worries then.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimismand several other books. His most recent book, published by com is FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle).His writings are archived at

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Ebola, Space Program 
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  1. Aside from Columbus being a slaver, which caused no end of problems to this day, including ones the Derb regularly moans about, the unmanned flights and rover landings to Mars are an incredible technological achievement that surpasses the Apollo flights by far.

  2. KA says:

    One wonders why the white rural areas are so meth infested ?
    Why the school are so much lagging in technical and science education? These schools are white by every measures- administrators,teachers,and students . What is poisoning their beautiful Colombian and Apollian minds with leads leading to low achievements ? May be it is lead. Why the suburban NewYork schools in Long Island or Chester or White Plains can’t produce good students? They are white,go to church,and sing national anthem ,and adore Colombus and Apollo journey .
    Your argument of the NASA chief being delegated to the foolish task of reaching out to Muslim remind me of those foolish aids that US supplies to Africa and Asia and Latin America. The money goes out of the taxpayers pocket. Foreigners are told how they can spend the money – on buying military gadgets and goods not to build schools or roads or water supply . Take a look at Afghanistan. Soviet built much more in 2 yrs than US built in last 13 yrs . Spviet faced the resistance from whole west and Muslim world . What did West face ? These Talibans or Al Quoda are not supported by China or Russia . Still US can’t win while it keeps on sending money that don’t go towards building anything but are recycled back to white US through contractors,advisors,lobbyist,and salesmen who are white .
    Multiculturalism is used by the elite white . Worries of porous borders of Africa is entertained by elite white . Doing gods work for the savages ( Muslim, blacks, Latinos) around the world is a myth fabricated by the elite white to create illusion ,false perception, and fake reality by the elite white . This serves the purpose of misplacing the anger and hatred on those savages . This serves the purpose of hiding the looting . This protects the overwhelmingly white bankers,defense contractors,defense manufacturer ,and white politicians who won’t have a job if the opportunity of lecturing the world were taken away or eliminated from the job description. This country is not being destroyed by the porous borders in the south. It is being destroyed by the elite through age old method of systemic corruption . The corruption is too complex. Most recent one was just 4 days ago when QE saved the moneylenders known as wealth producers in the jargon popularized by the white media,white Fed,white Wall Street.
    The war on terror is the best one .
    If white Americans told the truth to the white middle class about NAFTA and about the the willingness of Saddam to do business with US along with lack of any links to the terrorism , Americans would have remained a dynamic rich healthy industrial country with those trillions dollars still in the hand of the white middle class Americans and no one would be pouring from across southern borders. It is called the chicken coming home to roost .

  3. K. says:

    “the unmanned flights and rover landings to Mars are an incredible technological achievement”
    ^ sooth ^

  4. Harold says:

    And if you still want to carp about Apollo being pointless, just check the company you’re in. I don’t recall Al Sharpton addressing the topic, but I know what he’d say if he did.

    Reductio ad Al Sharpton.

  5. Yes, having competent public health is a nice feature of modern nation states.

    And yet, it’s worth considering some of the unintended consequences of the declining mortality rates made possible by the advent of modern public health and socialized medicine.

    Whites have by and large adjusted their fertility to compensate for the fact that most children survive into adulthood and that it may be better off for your progeny in the long run to invest more resources in fewer children.

    But whites have shared their public health technologies with nonwhites all over the globe, who have by and large continued to pump out babies as if there were no antibiotics and sanitation measures to prevent infection and disease mortalities.

    What’s the problem with exponential, historically unprecedented population growth? I used to think.

    Then I began to read about what we do to intelligent, sentient farm animals in order to feed 7 billion people. A longtime atheist, I’m now convinced that human growth is evil in an Old Testament kind of way. I’m disappointed, for the elephants’ sake, that Ebola isn’t have more of a run of it in Africa.

    • Replies: @TWS
  6. I loved the Mysterious Island as a child – it was my absolute favorite book. When I gave it to my own child to read, I re-read it and was immediately struck by the respect the author had for America, for our engineering capabilities, for our aggressiveness. I am certain the book would not be allowed on any reading lists today. They killed dangerous wild animals and spoke openly of exterminating them, introduced an invasive species (wheat), changed the natural landscape, trained an ape to be a house servant. Pure evil today.

    Completely agree that there is no way we could reach the moon now. We lack the organizational capability and competence.

    As for public health, who did Obama pick to lead the charge? A lawyer. A lobbyist for Fannie Mae. Not a military doctor, not even a doctor, not even someone who plays a doctor on TV – but a fixer, a lobbyist. Heaven help us.

  7. Michelle says:

    Here is a fabulous story from NPR’s series, Story Corps, in which an African-American man who took a job as a test dummy for our space program talks about his experiences. He had the right stuff before the right stuff. He is nothing but elegant, gracious, patriotic and humble.

  8. TWS says:
    @Uptown Resident

    Then I began to read about what we do to intelligent, sentient farm animals in order to feed 7 billion people. A longtime atheist, I’m now convinced that human growth is evil in an Old Testament kind of way. I’m disappointed, for the elephants’ sake, that Ebola isn’t have more of a run of it in Africa.

    Good gravy! Have you ever worked on a farm, herded sheep, pushed cows? What parallel universe are you from where the farm animals are intelligent? You know George Orwell was writing about Stalinism not describing an actual farm? Charlotte’s Web was not a documentary.

  9. matt says:

    Is derby willing to give credit to Stalinist Russia for their monumental achievement of being the first nation to break the Earth’s atmosphere? Come on, derby, don’t be afraid to sing along.

  10. dan says:

    A few trips to the Moon are not the same as a path to space let alone spreading our civilization there.

    My dad thought that the Apollo program was the modern equivalent of the pyramids. I remember feeling very annoyed and secretly hurt by his opinion. But now that i’m approaching his age i’m forced to agree.

    How could anybody think that a transportation system where you literally throw away most of the hardware gets you somewhere has any future?

    So i have to think that the Apollo program was at best a boondoggle and at worst (and probably) a spectacular waste of the talent of von Braun and others (who knew a better path) as well as a rare chance to do something.

    (I.e., maybe the 1960s were as bad as today.)

  11. Melendwyr says: • Website

    Most people do not understand the basic principles of space travel – the most important of which is that the more propellant you carry, the more propellant you need to move that propellant around. The difficulty of moving a mass increases exponentially as it does. The mass of human beings, and the resources needed to keep them alive, is a major burden. And there is very little that they can do that remote-controlled probes couldn’t do as least as well.

    The Pyramids were believed to have a useful function that would benefit the society they were built by – the spirit of the entombed Pharaoh would intercede with the Gods and bring blessings and protection to Egypt. That is, of course, nonsense, but they didn’t know that. Manned space missions are of no value at all, and we know that. But we divert precious resources to them regardless. Whether they’re expensive compared to the total budget isn’t relevant. What matters is that they suck up major portions of the tiny amount of money we allot to space.

    I do not understand why you are so impressed by a mere publicity stunt, Mr. Derbyshire.

  12. AnAnon says:

    Our world beating aerospace program came out of the space program, and that alone justified the cost.

    • Replies: @Melendwyr
  13. Melendwyr says: • Website

    We could have spent the money directly on aerospace research and development and gotten far more.

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