Friday, May 26, 2006

The Poison Ivy League*

(Now updated, edited, and even spell- and grammar-checked!)

I learn a lot from Dennis Prager. Like me, he is considers himself a classical liberal, so he is very hard on the left for their hijacking of liberalism. However, he always emphasizes that his contempt for leftist ideology doesn’t mean that individual leftists can’t be fine, albeit misguided, people. Nor does it mean that all conservatives are somehow good and decent people. Prager always tries to make it clear that when he is talking about leftist thought, he is making generalizations about an ideology, not making judgments about individuals in an ad hominem way. There are liberals whom one would be happy to have as neighbors, and conservatives that one wouldn’t want to touch with a barge poll.

Living in a very blue state near a bluer city, marrying into a blue-blooded family, working in a deep blue profession, I am very used to this idea. The majority of people I deal with on any given day are going to be liberals, and they obviously aren’t monsters. Most conservatives simply believe that liberal thought is rooted in emotion, illogic, hysteria, rebellion, and a lack of wisdom. It doesn't necessarily make you evil, even if the consequences of your ideas would be catastrophic if enacted.

But the reverse doesn’t seem to hold true. Rather, liberals do not believe that conservatives are merely wrong. In fact, they rarely engage conservative ideas at all without first caricaturing them. Instead, they believe that conservatives are evil. I consider this a sort of ironic boomerang effect of rampant secularism. Since the secular left denies real evil, such as Saddam or communism, it locates it in the patently non-evil, such as President Bush.

Wait here just a minute. I’ll go fetch an example from one of them big ol' liberal websites. I’ll be right back.

Perfect. This one is by Philip Slater, former Harvard sociology professor. His brilliant and subtle piece on puffingtonhost is entitled “Understanding Neo-con.” For a neo-con, the word “morality” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Rather, “it is just as likely to embrace hating and killing your neighbors, particularly if they are gay, Arab, or physicians who perform abortions.” Furthermore, “it means the suppression of sexual desire. And since sexual restrictions the world over have invariably been applied primarily to female sexuality, it requires no great leap [no, none at all] to realize that ‘morality’ in Neo-con means the suppression of women. Neo-con ideas about the proper role of women in society vary little from those of the Taliban.”

American conservatives. Taliban. What’s the difference? True, American conservatives and their allies are actually the mortal enemies of the Taliban and their ilk--the only ones actually willing to extinguish their ghoulish existence from the face of the earth and make certain that they tally their awful bans no more. Whatever.

Likewise, “patriotism” for a neo-con means “giving unconditional support to the nation's political leaders even if their policies are undermining the nation's future, plunging it into debt, polluting its land, water, and air, alienating its friends, and multiplying its enemies." In the twisted logic of Neo-conese, "those who died in the bunker with Hitler were more ‘patriotic’ than the generals who tried to save Germany by getting rid of him; Poles who supported the communist leaders in Poland were more ‘patriotic’ than members of Solidarity; Serbs who supported Slobodan Milosevich were more ‘patriotic’ than those who wanted to see him tried for war crimes.”

Bear in mind that this man is a professor who has taught at many of America’s elite looniversity bins. He teaches young adults that American conservatives represent a loathsome combination of Talibanism, nazism and communism. If he were half as clever as Petey, he might call them "totalibanazinarians."

I don't know if any word has fallen further in esteem in my lifetime than "professor." Perhaps "judge." Hard to believe now, but these were once by and large considered to be disinterested and wise people to whom one would look up, not down. Now when you hear the word "professor," the first thought that comes to mind is "fool." There are so many aspects of "the left"; in fact, the "economic left" is almost irrelevant compared to the cultural left, the entertainment left, the judicial left, the media left, the educational establishment left. The incredible damage they have done to our educational system alone is reason enough to oppose them.

Here’s another foolish wackademic, Jan Clausen. She teaches, ahem, creative (as if we can't tell) writing at the New School. She was the proud organizer of the protest by students, faculty, and staff in response to university president Bob Kerrey's choice of Senator John McCain as their commencement speaker. It was an odd choice to begin with. Why a U.S. senator? What, were there no b-list actors available, no heterophobic rappers?

Clausen poignantly describes the compelling reasons for the students' “brave decision to challenge Senator McCain's condescension to the graduates and his championing of an illegal war.”

I suppose creative writing can only be so creative before it falls off the map into mere psychotic babbling, or what we in the psychology biz call "word salad." “Brave decision?” Yes, these students agonized over the implications of obnoxiously disrupting McCain’s speech. Once the decision was made, there would be no turning back. Like Jesus in Gethsemane, they sweated blood and prayed to their pagan god to let this cup pass from their pierced lips.

After all, it wasn’t just about the illegal war. In fact, the war is not illegal anyway, so that’s just stupid. Rather, there was a “range of reasons” for the courageous and difficult decision, “widespread consternation and a sense of helplessness. ‘It's awful--but what can we do?’ seemed to be the dominant sentiment."

A liberal, America-trashing movie star is unavailable to speak at our commencement, and we are rendered helpless with consternation. Yes, we are deeply consterned. What are we to do? How can we even be expected to commence without the proper polemical commencement advice?

The illegal legal war is one thing. But this beast McCain is a man who “hurt the school's queer community [in asking them] to join in honoring a politician who has supported a range of homophobic legislation”--you know, like opposing legislation granting special rights to homosexuals.

All those months McCain spent being tortured by the North Vietnamese? Hello?! That didn't advance the homosexual agenda one iota. That was just his own narrow and selfish will to survive. Perhaps it would have been better if the Vietnamese had succeeded in killing him. At least he wouldn’t be around to hurt the feelings of the New College queer community.

According to Clausen, “The actual speech was, predictably, so lacking in analytic rigor that it would have gotten poor marks from any composition teacher for its weak argumentation, though not its rhetoric.” That is, McCain “wrapped a hard little nugget of violent nationalism in yards of fluffy platitudes that obscure the ugly reality of an invasion based on lies, greed, and disregard for the basic humanity of ordinary Iraqis.”

Professor Clausen? She’s the opposite of McCain. Her creative writing combines yards of fluffy analysis with impenetrably hard little pellets of bombastic rhetoric.

Not brave, you say? Ha! Unlike McCain in Vietnam, many students had their orange protest fliers confiscated. Those were the orange protest fliers, dammit--you know, the ones with the hardest nuggets of fluffy platitudes! "One student was threatened with arrest for trying to enter the building with his fliers[!]" Or maybe he was almost threatened with arrest. Or maybe his fly was open. Whatever. Either way, the threat was real.

Unlike the threat of Islamo-fascism. But the Islamists do get high marks for their little hard nuggets of violent rhetoric. So long as they don’t miss the big picture and hurt the feelings of the New College queer community.


Related: James Taranto's take.

Prelated: Van der Leun's Bad Thoughts.

Incestuously interrelated: Looniversity Memories.


*Elvis Presley - Poison Ivy League lyrics (excerpt)

The ra-ra boys will
go to bed so early tonight
Before exams they need a lot of rest
They gotta make good for dad
They gotta make good so bad
They'll even pay someone to take that test

[Very prescient. This song was written before Ted Kennedy was busted for that.]

Poison ivy league, boys in that ivy league
How can they flunk, they're so full of bunk
That poison ivy league

[It's true. If you regurgitate the leftist bunk, you cannot flunk.]


Connecticut Yankee said...

Hi Bob--

It may be worth noting here that Benedict XVI is another thinker who did an about-face when he saw where the European looniversities were headed after 1968: [the following is from Kenneth Woodward]

Like his predecessor, the new pope is a genuine intellectual. But where John Paul II was a professional philosopher, Benedict XVI is a theologian. And although the two men worked closely together, the differences showed.

John Paul's theology was essentially evangelical: "Christ is the Answer," he often declared; but in his evangelization of cultures he frequently used philosophical arguments to counter the claims of Marxism, materialist evolutionism, and other antireligious systems of thought. As head of the Vatican's office in charge of doctrinal issues, Cardinal Ratzinger's role was to maintain the boundaries of Catholic orthodoxy--a conserving, necessary and often nay-saying responsibility in a church that insists that faith involves truths to be held because life depends upon them. Thus it was not at all out of character when, in his powerful pre-conclave homily, Cardinal Ratzinger called on his fellow cardinals to oppose "the dictatorship of relativisms."

But the question arises: Does the Roman Catholic Church really need another intellectual as pope? Surely, one of the achievements of the previous papacy was the clarifying of church doctrine--which is why many Catholics hoped the next Roman pontiff would be a more "pastoral" pope in the tradition of John XXIII.

Moreover, John Paul II left a huge library of writings that will take decades for church scholars to thoroughly digest. The new pope, of course, will add to that body of papal discourse. But a pope is much more than just defender of the faith, and perhaps the first test Benedict XVI faces is how well he moves mentally from the job of deciding when theologians are off base to the far broader role of expounding Christian truths in ways that excite the faithful to live a more authentically Christian life.

In this respect it is worth remembering that Benedict XVI was not always a conservative theologian. As an adviser to German bishops at Vatican Council II, the young Joseph Ratzinger was a university professor and progressive theologian who urged a more open and accommodating attitude toward the world. He became a conservative in reaction to the student riots in Western Europe in the late 1960s, and to the wild embrace of theological novelties that erupted after the council. If a conservative is a liberal who abhors chaos, then Benedict XVI certainly will be a doctrinally conservative pope.

Link to Woodward's full article:

Steve said...

As a conservative, I awake every morning uttering, "I wanna kill... I wanna kill... I wanna see blood and guts and gore and veins in my teeth. I wanna kill..." (Apologies to Arlo Guthrie)

After I brush my tooth (usually on Saturday), I recite The Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and absorb all the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic literature I can find. (With tobaccy spittle running down my chin)(Gads... I have to clean my keyboard and monitor.)

That might not be so bad, but... then I read the Bible and pray.

jwm said...

Violent nationalism.
Wow, you know, that sounds pretty, you know, like violent. And worse it's, you know, national! Too violent for a creative writing major, that's for sure! No national violents! After all who do those neo-cons think they owe their neoism to, huh? A bunch of national violent guys? Yeah, right- These guys don't know a simile from onomatopoeia, and they think they know about freedom of speech. Yeah like some bunch of gun toting haters are responsible for like freedom and stuff! We should get rid the gun toters and elect creative writers because then, you know, government would be all creative, and creative writing transgender feminist queer studies majors won't have to be forced feel bad anymore which is all like totally unamerican. That's what I say.
no mas tu space brothers!
(apologies to Iowahawk)


Lisa said...

Hey Bob & Bobbleheads- I went to Los Lobos show at the Conga Room last night to see my Whittier homies! Shout out to JWM! It was a great show. Very small and intimate. Music really does transcend all the socio-political nonsense we hear so often. I think I am starting to develop a thicker skin and can completely ignore the whiny liberal drivel present in those circles and enjoy the music. Thank God! It's either thicker skin or tequila, I'll continue my research and get back to you!

ben usn (ret) said...

Sheesh! I had to wipe the virtual frothy spittle from my glasses after reading those rabid excerpts.
If conservatives are so sexually suppressed, why do they have more kids than leftists? Aborted fetuses don't count, since they were targeted for extermination.
And leftists are the one's who want to take away a woman's right to raise children.
That's what villages are for (ever try too find a village in the yellow pages?).
There is so much hate in the village of leftville that I'm glad that so many of them are afraid of guns.

Steve said...

To this point 40% of your commenters expelled oral secretions!

You're HOT, baby!

Judith said...

And conservatives and neo-conservatives aren't even the same thing. There's some overlap, it's true.