The Best Quotes From “What’s The Matter With California?”

I just finished up Jack Cashill’s What’s the Matter with California?: Cultural Rumbles from the Golden State and Why the Rest of Us Should Be Shaking and found it to be an intriguing read. The book focuses on California’s history and culture in an effort to try to figure out how it became such a degenerate, dysfunctional basket case of a state. It’s good reading and although the book wasn’t exactly loaded with quotes, it had more than a few that merited a further look.

The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings. — Cassius, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, P.4

This little history helps put the “reconquista” dreams of today’s radical Latino movement in some perspective…In 1846, one set of largely European descendants, namely Americans, removed another set of largely European descendents, namely the Mexicans, from control of what would soon come to be the state of California. The Mexican Republic had governed California for only twenty-five misbegotten years. Hispanics had been there only seventy-five. At the time, there were fewer people of Hispanic descent living in all of California — twelve thousand max — than there are Eskimos living in California today. — P.28

In 1962, forward-thinking people throughout the state were in no more mood for shackles than they were for rainy days. The more forward of them saw shackles everywhere, even in traditional notions like state, nation family, and faith. So these thinkers started to hammer away, unaware that they had nothing to replace them with but walls, fences, gates, and prisons. — P.37

By century’s end, the film community had so lost touch with the workings of a normal, happy family that it began to treat such a family as a myth, a hoax even… — P.63

(Stanley “Tookie”) Williams lied about a lot of things, not the least of which was his innocence. He also took credit for having founded the notorious confederacy of street gangs known as the Crips. He did not. That dubious honor belongs to one Raymond Washington… – P.70

An African-American in California is nearly four times more likely to be in prison than a Hispanic and nearly seven times more likely than a white. — P.72

The argument for some vestigal bias against nonwhites would make more sense were it not for the fact that a black Californian male is a mind-boggling twenty times more likely to be incarcerated than a yellow one. Even if the ACLU could spring half the blacks from the state’s prisons, they would still house proportionately ten times more black males than males of Asian descent. Besides, there is no longer a “majority” population in California to serve as an oppressor. Non-Hispanic whites make up less than 45 percent of the state population, a percentage that drops by the day. — P.73

On April 19, 1993, seventy-four members of Jaime (Castillo’s) adopted family died following a federal assault on their makeshift community. Among the dead was Jaime’s surrogate father, David Koresh. If it seems unusual for a Latino to have found safe harbor among the presumed rednecks at Waco, a look at the roster suggests otherwise. In fact, more than half of those killed that dark April day were racial minorities, twenty-seven of them black, six Hispanic, and six of Asian descent.

Although usually eggshell-sensitive to the concerns of racial minorities, the American media turned a strategically blind eye to their very presence at Waco. As intended, scarcely a black person in American knows the hell visited on his brethren in those early uncertain months of the Clinton era. — P.81

The reforms of the 1960s targeted black families and hit them the hardest. In 1950, five out of every six black children were born to married parents. By 1990 that number had plummeted to a woeful two out of six nationwide. — P.86

…A well mobilized middle class plate will prevail in just about any seismic showdown, even if the media and legal/political establishment stands in the way. — P.149

Hollywood would willingly go to war only if the enemy were the paparazzi… — P.153

A public opinion survey of Hollywood’s creative leaders at about this time revealed than an astonishingly high 93 percent of them seldom or never attended religious services of any king, this in a nation where nearly half the population went weekly. — P.156

For all its vaguely socialist talk, sustainability is an indulgence of the affluent. — P.173

Those who disregard the obvious often compensate with a blind acceptance of the unproven or the unlikely or the untestable or, if one’s faith is deep enough, the untrue. — P.176

We all love the environment, but we have placed creatures above people. A rat is a rat. — Sonny Bono, P.197

The right errs in thinking that environmentalists form one big happy left-wing family. They’re not a family, and they’re never happy. — P.199

For the past forty years whites in power have treated blacks the way divorced dads do their children — sporadically, guiltily, indulgently. While denying blacks their larger faiths — in God, in country, in family — they have tried to fill the void with material things. It hasn’t worked. — P.250

Culture is a job for the parents, said (Jorge) Lopez (Principal of Oakland Charter school). “My job is to educate the kids. — P.258

…The state’s otherwise secular public schools serve as Islamic propagada mills. In the absurdly ambitious seventh-grade world history and geography course mandated by the California State Board of Education, students are treated to several weeks of uncritical Islam. The are required to “trace the origins of Islam and the life and teachings of Muhammad” and to “explain the significance of the Qur’an and Sunnah as the primary souces of Islamic beliefs, practices, and law.” If this Islamic enthusiasm was offset by some comparable study of Christianity, it might be more comprehendible. Is is not. Although the students study Rome and medieval Europe, there is no mention of either Christ or the Bible in the state’s content standard. — P.268

“In this town,” he thought, “The Love That Dares Not Speak Its Name almost never shuts up.” — Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City — P.278

In the 1970s that habitat had indeed been pretty wild. As Shilts observes, “Promiscuity was practically an article of faith among the new gays of Castro Street.” Shilts would himself later die of AIDS. Beyond the human tragedy of it all, AIDS and HIV have turned gays from a net plus to the city’s tax base to a net minus. As of 2006, it cost an estimated $18,600 a year in medical care for each HIV patient. Roughly 14,000 out of San Francisco’s estimated 58,000 gay men live with HIV. Astonishingly, given twenty-five years’ worth of warnings and 18,000 AIDS deaths in the city alone, nearly 1,000 new HIV cases are diagnosed each year in San Francisco, some 87 percent of these among gay men. — P.292

San Francisco has only fourteen children under eighteen per hundred people, the lowest such figure in the nation for a major city. This kind of demographic hara-kiri would impress even a European — if there are any left by the time this book comes out. — P.295

Wherever the creative class prevails, the whole notion of diversity grows legalistic and oppressive. Citizens are no longer asked to tolerate their neighbors. They are compelled to “celebrate” them, often with consequences if they don’t. — P.298

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