1. The Roots of Liberal Condescension.
John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin to be his running mate set off a fiercely contemptuous reaction. The chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party said Palin’s sole qualification for high office was that she had never had an abortion. The comedian Bill Maher scoffed at the idea that “this stewardess” would be first in the line of succession. The scorn moved the Atlantic Monthly’s Clive Crook to write that “the metropolitan liberal, in my experience, regards overt religious identity as vulgar, and evangelical Christianity as an infallible marker of mental retardation. Flag-waving patriotism is seen as a joke and an embarrassment.”
The denunciation of Palin took place 45 years after William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote: “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” From Richard Nixon’s invoking the “silent majority” to Palin’s campaigning as a devout, plain-spoken hockey mom, conservatives have claimed that they share the common sense of the common man. Liberals-from Adlai Stevenson to Barack Obama to innumerable writers, artists, and academics-have often been willing foils in this drama, unable to stop themselves from disparaging the very people whose votes are indispensable to the liberal cause. The elephant-in-the-room irony is that the liberal cause is supposed to be about improving the prospects and economic security of ordinary Americans, whose beliefs and intelligence liberals so often enjoy deriding.
Buckley’s identification of the political fault-line running beneath the campus quadrangle was confirmed by “UD,” a blogger for “Inside Higher Ed.” Belittling Palin’s degree in communications from the University of Idaho, UD concluded, “A lot of Americans don’t seem to likehighly educated people, and they don’t want them running the country.” He continued:
“We need to encourage everyone to be in college for as many years as they possibly can, in the hope that somewhere along the line they might get some exposure to the world outside their town, and to moral ideas not exclusively derived from their parents’ religion. If they don’t get this in college, they’re not going to get it anywhere else.”
Thus, higher education is remedial education, and the affliction it remedies is an American upbringing.
2. No Chivalry Justice–at least in this instance. Judge rips into enabling mother who allowed her kids to be molested.
3. Film Recommendation: The Filth and the Fury. I just saw this the other day and it’s an outstanding documentary concerning The Sex Pistols. It also is a pretty amazing cultural document concerning England in the seventies. The release date is 2000 and all the band members are blacked out during the interviews. Of note is Johnny Rotten’s kindly view of platonic friendships–particularly with “The Johns,” a bunch of guys he ran with all named John. Simon John “Sid Vicious” was one of them and you hear (and feel) the lead singer’s pain over his buddy’s torment and death. It’s a testament to male brotherhood even if Vicious was a whackjob.
4. Tea Party Confidential
To some extent, the recent jury verdict holding that the University of Colorado had wrongly fired Ward Churchill was correct: political pressures did inspire the investigation leading to his termination for academic misconduct. It doesn’t follow, though, that Churchill was fired for his political views, which notoriously included comparing 9/11 victims to “Little Eichmanns.” Plagiarism and falsification of evidence aren’t covered under any definition of academic freedom.
The Churchill verdict makes an appropriate moment for the appearance of David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin’s new book, One-Party Classroom. The authors note that several of the fraud charges against Churchill “had apparently been well known by scholars in the field, although perhaps not by responsible University personnel, for years before the University took any action whatsoever concerning them, and it did so only after the controversy over Professor Churchill’s essays became national news.” Churchill was an academic provocateur who made his career in the politicized world of ethnic-studies departments, where he was easily hired, promoted, and tenured despite not having a doctorate and the growing doubts about the veracity of his work. His peers even voted him department chair.