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San Francisco School Board Leader Resembles Bullying Ideologue From Russian Novel ‘Heart of a Dog’

San Francisco School Board Leader Resembles Bullying Ideologue From Russian Novel ‘Heart of a Dog’

Any Russian speaker knows what Gabriela Lopez is: she is a Shvonder, the semi-literate, bullying ideologue from Mihkail Bulgakov’s 1925 novella ‘Heart of a Dog.’

San Franciscans may think they are the smartest people in the world, but look who they put in charge of educating their kids. The city’s Board of Education drew nationwide attention when it decided to rename its 44 schools, including those honoring Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Paul Revere — the world historic figures and beloved personalities whose biographies shaped our understanding of the American experience.

As the scandal was brewing, The New Yorker dispatched Isaac Chotiner to interview the Head of the Board Gabriela Lopez. The conversation, “edited for length and clarity,” went viral as soon as it posted. In that edited version Lopez came across as so incoherent, and dumb, one can only imagine what an unedited version looks like.

Any Russian speaker knows what Lopez is: she is a Shvonder, the semi-literate, bullying ideologue from Mihkail Bulgakov’s 1925 novella Heart of a Dog. As a newly-elected head of the housing committee in the building in which the book’s protagonist Professor Preobrazhensky lives, Shvonder occupies a position of minor importance that allows him to pursue a Marxist vendetta against Preobrazhensky.

Soviet subjects recognized Shvonder in the nasty lowly bureaucrats whose influence was considerable, and zeal — real. Although there was no point in arguing with a Shvonder because he already has a theory that explains everything, he could be persuaded by an exercise of power.

Gabriela Lopez is a foot soldier of the woke revolution in Shvonder’s mode. The Head of the Board of Education is so assured of her own righteousness, — she is, after all, fighting “white-supremacy” — it’s only fair that on occasion she put her constituents in their proper place. For instance, she once proudly flipped off a concerned San Franciscan, a brazen move even in California where elected officials are notoriously indifferent to the plight of voters.

Then there is the monumental shvonderian ignorance revealed in The New Yorker interview. Despite boasting credentials like a Master’s in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, most of her sentences are formed incorrectly, and she seems mistaken about the meaning of certain words. Here is one of the passages that drew a great deal of attention:

“There’s this idea that because we’re removing the names we’re somehow removing the stories in what we’re learning, and that in fact is not the case. It’s really just sharing in our schools what is and isn’t uplifted. And that’s part of my work as a school-board member. That’s been my work as a teacher. What are we highlighting in our classes? And what are we teaching our students? And what isn’t being uplifted in our time and our public-school system that we’ve seen throughout history?”

Not being a native English speaker, I was confused when, following the interviewees’ cue, Chotiner used “uplift” in place of “honor,” so I consulted Merriam-Webster. No surprise, to uplift means to elevate, or “to improve the spiritual, social, or intellectual condition of.” It’s her, not me.

Is the UCLA-credentialed educator tongue-tied, but smart? Well, no. It’s not that she can’t express herself clearly, the real problem is that there isn’t much to express. Her inability to formulate a coherent statement about appropriate approaches to teaching American history is tied to the methodology — if that can be called methodology — adopted by the Board. Its members poked around Wikipedia in lieu of researching historical figures they want to erase, misreading some details of their biographies and taking others out of context.

They seemed to be deeply uninterested in the subject matter. In the case of Roosevelt middle school, the Board wasn’t sure whether it was celebrating Theodore, or Franklin Delano. The namesake could have been Eleanor for all we know; in the name of fighting “white-supremacy culture,” San Francisco apparatchiks would cancel it all the same.

Social justice warriors at San Francisco Unified already know that America is racist, and they are so certain of it that, from their point of view, looking at historic figures in the context of their time is pointless, and no amount of new information would persuade them to change their mind. So why bother with research or consulting experts? This type of person used to be called a “bigot,” and putting them in a position of power was considered unwise.

That said, I almost felt sorry for Lopez, who became a target of ridicule second only to the Gorilla Glue lady. The underlying cause of her shvonderism is easy to infer: America did not live up to its promise.

The future public servant was born thirty years ago in LA to a working-class Spanish-speaking family. She may have heard little English at home and was coddled in ESL programs in grade school — California public schools fail spectacularly in educating the children of immigrants. Nonetheless, she was funneled into the California State University system, from which she went on to UCLA graduate school.

Here is someone who would benefit from reading the English language canon but was instead spoonfed racially-charged gibberish which she dutifully absorbed. She was never introduced to diverse ideas or works of literature from which multiple generations derived meaning, or even trained to use the instrument, language, that would put her in the position to understand ideas and read books.

The saddest part about Lopez’s education is that she likely didn’t learn proper Spanish either. I know how it works because I’m familiar with language woes of the Russian American families. Children of immigrants, including those born to most sophisticated parents, learn what we call “kitchen Russian.” They can watch TV, ask grandmother to make kholodets, and maybe sound out words written in Cyrillic. Home life gave them a foundation on which a good teacher can build literacy, but in and of itself this type of casual command of language is insufficient for proper thinking and effective communication.

Unfortunately, institutional failures of the United States prepared her for shvonderism only. And in shvonderism she excelled, showing great ambition, becoming at the age of thirty, the Head of the School Board in California’s most politically significant city.  In her new position of authority she promptly moved to lay her mark on most of the schools in the District. The fact that Lopez is a girl-Shvonder adds a proper American flavor to her persona. Whereas the original character was a man, the Bay Area version is the daughter of immigrants shattering that glass ceiling on behalf of low level, power-mad dogmatists of female “gender identity.”

Bulgakov’s character is important, among other reasons, because he raises out of chaos, and decay of the Bolshevik Revolution. Preobrazhensky captured the origin of Shvonder’s native environment in the book’s most memorable quip: “Hence the rack and ruin are not in the bathrooms, but in the heads,” meaning that mentality creates living conditions and that Bolsheviks complained about depravity which Shvonder aims to eradicate, but they themselves created it by fostering certain doggish attitudes.

For San Francisco, the city notorious for being an open air bathroom-slash-shooting gallery, Professor’s observation is doubly relevant. Lopez is the product of the culture responsible for the sprawling homeless encampments and anti-Asian hate crimes, including murder. People in Red America might think that fentanyl addiction is the most pressing issue here, but over the last four years, the voters were laser-focused on an “Orange Man Racist” narrative. This is the electorate California public servants are catering to.

If the ruling class was at all concerned with mundane issues of governing, including, in the School District’s case, resuming in-person instruction, we would live in a completely different region. As it happens, Bay Area politicians are uninterested in finding solutions to pressing practical problems. Even with the City of San Francisco suing its own School Board to reopen schools, classes will continue to be held remotely for the rest of the school year. Scanning Wikipedia is easier, and more fun, than governing, so the city’s residents, unwilling to demand accountability from people they elect, find themselves in a toilet.

If competence is a concept wholly alien to Shvonder, excellence is what he despises most. An idea that a human being might distinguish himself or live better than his neighbors drives him nuts. Bulgakov’s grotesque villain didn’t think anyone, “not even Isadora Duncan,” should have a dining room when eating in the bedroom is an option. Why should some people have it so good? Having absorbed this kind of mentality, many ordinary Soviet people regularly turned on each other: “What are you, better than everyone else?”

San Francisco educrats are made out of the same cloth. Citing a sudden mysterious outbreak of racism at the elite Lowell High, they voted to switch from test-based admissions to the preparatory public academy to lottery, a move certain to erode educational excellence. From the point of view of a woman who is unable to form a complete sentence and who sees society through the prism of racial grievances, achievement itself is problematic. To wit, the Board Commissioner Alison Collins is on record saying that merit is racist and the “antithesis of fair.” Everyone should be equally miserable, and equally dumb.

The Board of Education can take care of the latter. Shvonder’s most notable accomplishment was bringing the worst out of Sharikov, the man Professor Preobrazhensky desperately tried to uplift. Judging from some of the news stories coming out of the San Francisco Unified, there is no shortage of newly-minted Sharikovs sitting in its Zoom classes, spewing racism, and hoarding the power afforded to them by wokeness.

With this new generation coming of age, there will be more homelessness in the future, more power outages, forest fires, as well as other of man-made calamities that are guaranteed to befall our perpetually mismanaged state.

As Bulgakov knows, the rack and ruin is in the head.


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Sounds like a true case of jealousy of achievement by merit.

AOC west.

Why do our republican leaders have such a hard time dealing with opposition like this? Where is the common sense attack on her stupid ideas. Are they that afraid?

    henrybowman in reply to VaGentleman. | February 14, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Did you see Kim Klacik’s kick-ass ads?
    Did you see Kim Klacik’s $6.4M budget?
    Did you see Kim Klacik’s returns?
    28%-72% against a Democratic Socialist who spent $184K.
    The only way a Republican will ever attract this caliber of voter is to switch parties.
    You’re talking about people who dismiss Republican contenders out of hand, in order to re-elect a convicted embezzler, crackhead, wife-torturer, or serial batterer as their mayor.

    Arminius in reply to VaGentleman. | February 14, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    Yes, the GOP invertebrates are in fact that afraid. The truth is the new hate speech, so they’ve abandoned the field to Marxist liars. Particularly, BIPOC (to use the new buzz term Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) Marxist liars of “gender/gender identity.”

    Things like “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “mass incarceration” (of minorities, of course), are in fact provable Marxist lies. As is the notion that talent, work ethic, respect for the law, etc., are evenly divided among all races.

    Therefore, if 14% of the population of the country is black, if more than 14% of the prison population is black it can only be due to racism. If less than 14% of the incoming class is black, it can only be due to racism (and really, when viewed through the American Cultural Marxist prism the only races that really matter are white and black; let’s ignore those uppity Asians who somehow benefit from “white privilege” more than whites).

    So whatever formerly elite Lowell High in SF is doing can only be “systemic racism” and therefore a lottery will result in a student population just as talented and with levels of achievement just as high as whatever racist selection process they’re using now.

    And of course if it doesn’t it’s only because the teachers are racists and grade like racists. So we simply need “grade equity” to ensure that grades are distributed in a racially conscious manner.

    Because, like math, standards are racist.

    And, no, I’m not the one saying blacks are too stupid and too lazy to do the work. Listen carefully to a 2020s American Democrat and they are saying exactly what a Jim Crow southern Democrat in the 1920s was saying. They just use a different vocabulary now.

      Arminus, it’s not that the GOP invertebrates are in fact afraid. They’re part of the scam on this nation, and they just have to quickly adapt to the marching order of their payers.

      Nikki Haley, for instance.

      We all need to understand how bastardized the GOP has become since it was formed. If only it was a corrupt, useless, waste of a political party. But it is far worse: they are in every scam perpetrated against our nation, foreign or domestic. As long as they get paid.

      Former Squeaker of the House John Boehner Stands to Make Millions Off Marijuana:

        No, they really are afraid to speak up, particularly when it comes to the subject of race and gender. They’ve been intimidated into silence. In Fact, that’s the subject of Charles Murray’s upcoming book.

        “…The charges of white privilege and systemic racism that are tearing the country apart fIoat free of reality. Two known facts, long since documented beyond reasonable doubt, need to be brought into the open and incorporated into the way we think about public policy: American whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians have 1) different violent crime rates and 2) different means and distributions of cognitive ability. The allegations of racism in policing, college admissions, segregation in housing, and hiring and promotions in the workplace ignore the ways in which the problems that prompt the allegations of systemic racism are driven by these two realities.

        What good can come of bringing them into the open? America’s most precious ideal is what used to be known as the American Creed: People are not to be judged by where they came from, what social class they come from, or by race, color, or creed. They must be judged as individuals. The prevailing Progressive ideology repudiates that ideal, demanding instead that the state should judge people by their race, social origins, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

        We on the center left and center right who are the American Creed’s natural defenders have painted ourselves into a corner. WE HAVE BEEN UNWILLING TO SAY OPENLY that different groups have significant group differences. Since we have not been willing to say that, we have been left defenseless against the claims that racism is to blame. What else could it be? WE HAVE BEEN AFRAID TO ANSWER. We must. Facing Reality is a step in that direction.”

        That’s on the subject of race. They’ve been equally cowardly on the subject of gender. For instance, one of the lies that comes from the gender grievance studies department is that there are no significant differences between human male and female brains. This does not come from medical researchers, clinical psychiatrists, biologists, etc., who actually study human brains. The chemical differences alone due to the different hormones that influence how people think are enough to debunk the gender grievance political studies department canard. But beyond the physical size difference (male brains tend to be bigger because men tend to be bigger than women their are significant structural differences. I won’t go into all of them, but suffice to say among researchers who actually study human brains they can simply look at them and tell whether they’re male or female. They’re right over 80 percent of the time.

        That means they’re not guessing. They really can tell. Men and women really are wired differently.

        Forcing the politically correct lie upon society has real world consequences; it causes real world harm. Since women tend to dominate the field of early education, and they’re told there are no differences between male and female brains, they tend to think of boys as misbehaving girls who need to be drugged to act more like girls. When in fact they act differently because they are different.

        Some researchers who realize entire fields of study are threatened by this coerced conformity to P.C. falsehoods have spoken up. But they’ve been drowned out by the much more numerous voices of leftist academics who think in terms of “gender equity” and “educational justice” (i.e. Marxist horseshit) and enforce the notion that there is no such thing as objective reality anyway.

        As an aside, it’s comical that Trump is accused of being a “liar” by a crowd that is wedded to the idea that anyone who believes in the “false” notion of objective truth is a bigot, misogynist, and a white supremacist. Anyone who is on a kamikaze mission to kill off the very idea of objective truth has killed off their own credibility to call anyone else a liar instead.

          henrybowman in reply to Arminius. | February 15, 2021 at 9:09 pm

          “suffice to say among researchers who actually study human brains they can simply look at them and tell whether they’re male or female. They’re right over 80 percent of the time. That means they’re not guessing. They really can tell. Men and women really are wired differently.”

          I, and a surprising number of other untutored people, can do this same trick by looking at crotches. A smaller number, but still significantly large, can do it with hipbones. So the fact that it can be done with brains is not particularly surprising. The failure of this particular “proof” lies in the conflation of brain with mind. I have two wildly distinct computers on my desktop, but since their contents have been cloned, they have exactly the same “minds.”

          I don’t dispute that men and women are “wired” differently, but proving it via phrenology is the wrong approach.

          Arminius in reply to Arminius. | February 16, 2021 at 12:42 pm

          “I, and a surprising number of other untutored people, can do this same trick by looking at crotches. A smaller number, but still significantly large, can do it with hipbones. So the fact that it can be done with brains is not particularly surprising. The failure of this particular “proof” lies in the conflation of brain with mind…”

          I have no idea what you’re talking about, Mr. Bowman. Perhaps you don’t either, or if you do you can clarify.

          So you’re saying that the size of the hippocampus, center of memory of the human brain, and density of the neural connections between it and the emotive centers of the brain have no effect on behavior? The fact that during development in the womb male and female brains develop different “divisions of labor” between the hemispheres (female brains have for instance speech centers in both hemispheres, male brains only in the left hemisphere, have no effect on behavior?

          I take it then you are on the side of the gender studies professional grievance crowd, who insist that differences in behavior is all a “social construct.” The male hippocampus, again the memory center of the human brain, tending to be smaller than the human female hippocampus with fewer neural connectors to emotive centers has nothing to do with the fact that men tend not to recall emotions attached to events. And has nothing to do with the fact that men tend not to be very interested in analyzing the emotions they can recall. And the fact that men have fewer verbal centers, located in only in the left hemisphere of the brain, has nothing to do with the fact that men tend not to be interested in verbalizing those emotions.

          So you agree with the gender studies crowd that these differences are all just “social constructs” that have nothing to do with brain structure, which they deny exists anyway. And that “society” is somehow forcing men to “suppress” their emotions? All societies, everywhere?

          And the fact that there are chemical differences between male and female brains have nothing to do with the fact that boys and girls exhibit different play behaviors. Boys with more testosterone tend to play more aggressively and more physically than girls. In all societies. And the fact that these play differences can be observed in all higher primates is irrelevant. It’s all a social construct (and the structural differences in the female brain already discussed along with higher estrogen levels which tends to influence girls to focus more on interpersonal relationships has nothing to do with the fact that females in all the higher primates tend to hold grudges far longer than males; it’s all a social construct, too).

          After all, the fault with my theory (note: it’s not just my theory) is that I conflate the structural and chemical differences (don’t forget I make the same mistake with the processing and blood flow differences between the human male and female brains) with the mind. And the proof? You have wildly different computers but since you can clone the contents they both have the same “mind.”

          The human brain and computers being the perfect analogy, of course.

          Well, congratulations. Those physical differences you can see between male and female crotches? Those are social constructs, too.

          “…It started out that SJWs said you were born with a sex and your gender was learned. Now, a lecturer at the University of Toronto is making the case that there is no such thing as men and women, and your penis or vagina are just a social construct.

          “Basically, it’s not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex,” Nick Matte, a lecturer of TRANSGENDER STUDIES Studies at the University of Toronto, said on the Canadian program The Agenda earlier this month…”

          Don’t ask a biologist about sex differences. Take it from a TRANSGENDER STUDIES LECTURER, who of course has no political agenda, there is no such thing as biological sex.

          Therefore like the penis and vagina, which can’t be sexual organs since there’s no such thing as biological sex (like Abraham Lincoln the whole capitalist, imperialist, transphobic, homophobic, and Christofascist patriarchal lie known as biology needs to be cancelled; not I didn’t call it misogynistic since nothing can be misogynistic because there’s no such thing as women so therefore what’s the big deal about “women’s sports”) then the pelvic bone differences you see are simply the physical manifestation of CENTURIES OF CAPITALIST OPPRESSSION.

          Only Marxism/Leninism/Stalinism/Maoism can free us from this oppression and then all human pelvic bones will look exactly the same. Because since there’s no such thing as biology there’s no such thing as nature. No such thing certainly as human nature. Just ask any computer scientist. We can clone the same “mind” on any computer no matter how it it’s wired.


    Redteez in reply to VaGentleman. | February 15, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Consider how easy it is for the mob to ruin their life, the spouses life, children’s lives, parents lives etc etc

What is all this dog-slandering? Cats! It’s cats we abuse here on LI!

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to henrybowman. | February 14, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    If you read Bulgakov, he specifically says that the dog was a fine dog. It’s the people with their experiments who are the problem.

Very well written commentary !

Thank you for the review of Nested Dolls. I read it a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. I was just a bit disappointed that it skipped directly from 1941 to 1971, thus omitting the part of Soviet history that I know the least about, the 50s and 60s. I know a lot about what it was like to live in the USSR under Lenin and Stalin, and a fair bit about the 70s when emigration became a realistic option, but the part in the middle, from Stalin’s death until the early 70s, is a blank and I would have liked to read of this family’s experience then. Particularly how Balissa grew up and married her soldier so she could go home to Odessa.

    alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    When Stephen Kotkin’s third volume on Stalin is published this will fill in the blanks from 2941 to his death. Kotkin’s “Armageddon Averted” fills some blanks from 1970 to collapse of the USSR. Without Stalin, the USSR was an echo of Stalinist times. I would also suggest “Lenin’s Tomb”. Since Stalin WAS the Soviet Union, the transition in 50s and 60s is important. With the winning of The Great Patriotic War a rise of true pride in Soviet Power was evident.

    My college courses included Soviet history through the then recent Prague Spring demise…as well as my limited studies there. The Professor would have a better suggestion for appropriate history texts.

    Katya Rapoport Sedgwick in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Adams skipped two out of five generations. She went from the GULAG’s to dissidents.