John Derbyshire: Can MacArthur Awards Go Lower Than Genius T. Coates? Meet Cristina (Jiménez?) Moreta! etc.
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Adapted from the October 13 Radio Derb, available exclusively on

The weirdest aspect of the Open-Borders ideology is the sanctification of illegal aliens. They are holy objects, radiating a sublime, ethereal glow to those sufficiently spiritually refined to see it.

We're all more or less used to this where blacks are concerned. They dwell on a moral plane far above ours, and any negativity about them is a form of blasphemy. Tell me about it.

That's longstanding, though; and as I said, we're used to it. How did illegal aliens acquire their halos? When did they get put up there with blacks in the GoodWhite pantheon?

Cristina Jiménez Moreta,

Whatever, that's where they are. Not very surprising, therefore, to see that the latest recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" is Cristina Jiménez Moreta, 33 years old, an illegal alien from Ecuador.

What did Ms. Moreta do for her $625,000 grant? Yes, you heard that right: $625,000, no strings attached. That's a lot of chalupas.

So what did the lady do? Quote from the award:

Jiménez … is a co-founder (in 2008) and executive director of United We Dream (UWD), a nationwide network of affiliated groups, organizations, and individuals focused on addressing the needs of immigrant youth and families. Through her leadership acumen and strategic vision, UWD united disparate groups around a common identity that has shifted public perceptions of undocumented youth and focused attention on policy issues that affect them.

[Cristina Jiménez Moreta—Social Justice Organizer | Class of 2017]

In short, another worthless parasite on the American body politic. And a prime candidate for Strategic Deportation. Over to you, Attorney General Jeff Sessions!

Ms. Moreta–I know: the MacArthur site calls her "Jiménez": I don't know why and can't be bothered to find out–Ms. Moreta holds an M.P.A. degree from Baruch College, where I used to teach Visual Basic programming. Perhaps, all unknowing, I passed her in the hallway. Brushed with greatness! Why didn't I spot that sublime glow? My spirit's too murky, I guess. What's an M.P.A., though? It was new to me, I had to look it up. "Master of Public Administration," says the Baruch website.

There you go; although in these hypersensitive times, shouldn't it be "Mistress" Or "Mixture"? Or something?

[ note: If you don’t know why Ms. Jimenez Moreta uses two last names, see here, but don’t bother emailing Derb to explain—he doesn’t want to know on principle].

News of Ms. Moreta's “genius grant” stirred my curiosity about these MacArthur awards. The previous one that came to my attention was Ta-Nehisi Coates, two years ago. Coates is the guy who writes about how black he is, and how mean white people are, and blackety-blackety-blackety black. He is at least an American, though, not a foreign scofflaw. How's it goin', Ta?

So what are these awards? Well, John D. MacArthur was a business mogul–insurance, real estate–in the middle decades of the last century. He died in 1978, his wife Catherine died in 1981, and there's a philanthropic foundation named after them and funded from their estates.

MacArthur doesn't seem to have been much of a Lefty. From what one can glean of his character from bits and pieces on the internet, I'd guess he would have regarded the diversity-obsessed Cultural Marxists of today with baffled scorn.

Concerning his Foundation, he famously told one of the trustees shortly before he died that "I figured out how to make the money. You fellows will have to figure out how to spend it" ['Charitable Patronage' Still Gets Foundation's Work Done, by Douglas Frantz, Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1985]

Robert Conquest's Second Law kicked in soon afterwards. That's the one that says any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

So here are the MacArthur genius grants for this year. There are twenty-four of them altogether, including Ms. Moreta, whom I've already told you about.

Some of them actually sound quite worthy. Immunologist Gabriel Victora, for example, who got his award for, quote: "Investigating acquired, or adaptive, immunity and clarifying the mechanisms by which organisms' responses to infection are improved." Good luck to Dr Victora; that sounds like $625,000 well disbursed.

Likewise to mathematician Emmanuel Candès at Stanford, doing useful work, so far as I can judge, in Information Theory. Likewise again to computer scientist Stefan Savage of U. Cal. San Diego, working on internet security and cyber-crime. Good luck to them all. The MacArthur awards are not all gibberish.

Outside the scattering of hard scientists, though, the center of gravity of this year's 24 awardees is well over in the CultMarx zone. The lone representative from the academic Humanities, historian Derek Peterson [email him] of Ann Arbor, leans left. He is "reshaping our understanding of African colonialism and nationalism in studies that foreground East African intellectual production."

Academics aside, the awardees are wall-to-wall CultMarx. The word "community" and its plural occur five times on the awardees page. That's a sure tell.

  • Dawoud BeyDawoud Bey(right) photographer and educator in Chicago is "Using an expansive approach to photography that creates new spaces of engagement within cultural institutions, making them more meaningful to and representative of the communities in which they are situated."
  • Taylor Mac (a white guy) theater artist in New York, is "Engaging audiences as active participants in works that dramatize the power of theater as a space for building community."
  • Jesmyn Ward,Jesmyn Ward(right) fiction writer in New Orleans, is "Exploring the enduring bonds of community and familial love among poor African Americans of the rural South against a landscape of circumscribed possibilities and lost potential."
  • Rami NashashibiRami Nashashibi(right) a “community leader,” also in Chicago, is "Confronting the challenges of poverty and disinvestment in urban communities through a Muslim-led civic engagement effort that bridges race, class, and religion." And so on. That's the MacArthur genius grants: an odd mix of parasites, poseurs, white academics working fashionable topics–i.e. anything to do with Africa–and genuine geniuses, or at least serious researchers in worthwhile hard-science fields.
I wonder what old John D. would have made of it.

A final example of the MacArthur’s genius grants, the kind of thing that makes me increasingly feel that the world going off its rocker—some genius music.

The composer and performer here is Tyshawn Sorey, recipient of one of this year's MacArthur "genius grants." Concerning Mr. Sorey's œuvre, the MacArthur website tells us that he is “assimilating and transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of musical idioms and defying distinctions between genres, composition, and improvisation in a singular expression of contemporary music." Enjoy!


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 Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com:FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge.His writings are archived at

Readers who wish to donate (tax deductible) funds specifically earmarked for John Derbyshire's writings at can do so here.

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