My Photo


David Thompson
Blog powered by Typepad

« Friday Ephemera | Main | The Agonies of the Left Are Not To Be Laughed At »

January 05, 2014

Comments

Joan

the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students... to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

Isn't the market value of an English major already in minus figures?

rjmadden

Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory;

I predict an intellectually rewarding career serving coffee.

David

I’ve no strong personal view on the value of an English degree or what its content should be. What struck me, though, was the nature of the changes and the kind of arguments being made for dispensing with traditional staples. For all the obligatory blather about “diversity,” there’s an air of political narrowness. As Ms Mac Donald says,

The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilisation of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.[…]

[Consider] the resentment of a Columbia University undergraduate, who had been required by the school’s core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, “across gender, sexuality, race and class.” “Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused… “My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of colour.” These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.

Yes, what could the music of Mozart possibly have to offer a black woman, any black woman? After all, he was a composer of pallor, and male, and therefore, apparently, in the service of evil. Mozart ain’t for dark folk. Nothing to learn or enjoy there.

[ Added to main post. ]

Watcher

I don't wanna study 'coz it's hard, innit. I wanna have opinions about fings. I wanna hate fings I dunt understand. Like the rich and capitalists and people wot wanna do fings for themselves.

See, that was easy. I feel a degree coming on.

Anna

“Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused

The sound of brain cells dying.

“My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men?”

Maybe she should listen and find out.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Yes, what could the music of Mozart possibly have to offer a black woman, any black woman?

There's also the unstated assumption that of course all those non white male writers have something to offer white people, but no, there's no possible way those white guys from centuries ago have anything valid to say.

ajf

If you are relatively wealthy (say, top 10% in terms of income) and you have kids, and you want your kids to have successful lives (however you chose to define successful), then the apparent descent of the university humanities departments is an unmitigated 'good thing'. All these entitled yet ignorant undergraduates may well find employment, but there will be a lot of employers able to see through the bullshit pretty easily. This makes your kids, assuming they haven't become one of the bullshitters themselves, relatively far more attractive. It's almost as if it's a conspiracy by the ruling class to keep the strivers dumb and unsuccessful ;)

Sam Duncan

If I were of a malicious frame of mind, I'd say there was scope for an alternative “narrative” in all that, David: that the Amercican Democrats didn't see the light and abandon their racism in the 1960s, they simply figured out a way to get black people to embrace it. But that would be to sink to their level. It is fascinating though to watch people voluntarily, enthusiastically even, narrowing their intellectual horizons. Then claiming the high ground.

David

Sam,

It is fascinating though to watch people voluntarily, enthusiastically even, narrowing their intellectual horizons. Then claiming the high ground.

It reminds me of leftist race hustlers like Dr Caprice Hollins, whose pseudo-educational efforts seem designed to perpetuate ignorance, failure and resentment. Though I suppose failure and resentment can be a kind of fuel for leftist ideologues, perpetuating as they do a captive voting block.

pst314

"Yes, what could the music of Mozart possibly have to offer a black woman, any black woman?"

Let's all make a practice of taunting these black racists with such rejoinders as "what could the music of Duke Ellington have to offer a white man?"

Let's never lose an opportunity to mock and humiliate these "progressive" fascists.

pst314

Sam Duncan "If I were of a malicious frame of mind, I'd say there was scope for an alternative 'narrative' in all that, David: that the Amercican Democrats didn't see the light and abandon their racism in the 1960s, they simply figured out a way to get black people to embrace it."

Go ahead. There is no sin in saying such things about the left. After all, turnabout is fair play and the left is engaged in a war to utterly destroy us.

pst314

"a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics"

David, this relentless reduction of all areas of learning to political indoctrination reminds me of some selections from Nazi schoolbooks that I saw many years ago. Even the math word problems were written to reinforce hatred of Jews and other inferior races.

Of course, today's progressive left would be outraged to be compared to the Nazis, but that is only because today's left still refuses to openly admit what it is.

Anon

There's quite a bit of music now that means a great deal to a lot of black people, even though some of it does call for the murder of others, the sexual degradation of women and the free use of drugs.

Perhaps if Mozart and his kind had done that, their music would be more relevant today.

Rafi

Damn it. Left the Heather M. D. article before I'd finished and can't get it back thanks to the WSJ subscription block.

David

Rafi,

If you copy a sentence from the article into Google and follow the relevant search result, you’ll get past the subscription block and back to the full article.

Rafi

Aha! Thanks, David.

Nik White

With reference to MacDonald's description of a revolt of the junior faculty and R.S. McCain's comment that the alleged high-minded idealism of radical leaders is always exposed as a hypocritical mask for selfishness I wonder if visitors to this site might like to spend a few minutes trying to work out the identity of the political party I have cunningly concealed from the following extracts from a text I came across recently. The answer is in the link below.

    The confining of political discussion [to] a small group [results in] the tendency for [the party leadership] to change only by the addition of people very much like itself.
    More recently, we’ve seen key posts being filled entirely on the basis of cronyism and nepotism
    It is well known that [there is] an endemic culture of bullying … I immediately think of one [senior member] whose idea of fun is to bellow “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” in the faces of [party members] half his age and size.
    [A senior party member] may be a bullying, thuggish oaf, but he did build up some support in the party’s rank and file. People respected him …

Can you tell what it is yet? Here are a few other choice quotes:

    … one of the party’s chronic conditions, [a] Bullshit Syndrome, where the … full-timer tells the [the party leadership] what he thinks it wants to hear … which only benefit[s] the most extravagant liars
    It was just that you didn’t get up in a meeting and say that the great [senior party member] was wrong, even on a fairly trivial issue. Some people would have taken that as a sign of disloyalty; even asking an awkward question would have rubbed some people up the wrong way … So we learned to bite our tongues and police our conversations

I'm assuming you're getting warmer, but here’s one more:

    … if they want to expel you they will, often on extremely flimsy (or no) evidence … [senior party members] were actually taught to expel people for sexual harassment (as opposed to, say, ideological offences) as a deliberate tactic

Answer, along with the full text, can be found here

rjmadden

I wonder if visitors to this site might like to spend a few minutes trying to work out the identity of the political party I have cunningly concealed

Who would have guessed the SWP is basically a cult for creeps and bullies?

Nik White

Who would have guessed the SWP is basically a cult for creeps and bullies?

Who indeed? ; - )

David

basically a cult for creeps and bullies

The dim and belated realisation of certain members as to what they’d gotten into is almost endearing. From the outside, the kinds of personalities attracted to such groups, and what that implies about their psychology and how they might behave, does seem rather obvious. Though I suppose if you’re actually a paid-up member of said group then you’re probably someone not overly gifted with insight of that kind. Or indeed any other. And these, remember, are people who consider themselves enlightened and who wish to impose their beliefs – and their egos - on everyone else.

[ Edited. ]

Steve 2

Let's hope the STEM subjects follow suit. For too long, science, technology and engineering have been dominated by the study of the accomplishments of dead white males. What do Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein have to teach women of colour?

How about:

Afrophysics - the study of black holes and dark energy

Femistry - a safe space for female molecules

Engiqueering - because LGBT bridges and motorways are underrepresented in the UK

Post-colonial robotics - overcoming the Western hegemony of Asimov's three laws

Homeopathic maths - proving that the smaller the number, the closer it is to infinity

Transgender geology - focusing on the struggle for acceptance by metamorphic rocks

Climate science

pst314

"There's quite a bit of music now that means a great deal to a lot of black people, even though some of it does call for the murder of others"

Sort of like a Nazi songbook, eh?

pst314

Steve2 "afrophysics, transgender geology..."

I regret to report that reality has outstripped your joke. Check out such books as "Higher Superstition" and "The Flight from Science and Reason". Many gems of utter lunacy from the pseudo-scholars of today's decadent academia.

T.K. Tortch

This “descent into madness” was the logical destination of the Friedrichshof for pretty much the same reason that sexual assault plagued the encampments of Occupy Wall Street.

"Occupy". So militant. Maybe the textual analysts at UCLA might look into this tendency of peace-loving radicals to use the language of militaristic aggression.

I had a buddy in Atlanta who did criminal defense work; he checked out the first "Occupy" encampment there. He told me a couple of the participants were ex-clients he had represented when he did indigent defense work. Nothing serious, small-time felony drug possession with maybe misdemeanor trespass or battery charges. He doubted they had the resolve to be deeply involved in anything ('cept drugs) and didn't know if they stuck around, but he noticed that they seemed to fit right in.

A whiff of the clown-car rather than the sinister seemed to follow the Atlanta Occupy folks. They were conspicuously rude to a local Congressman who had been a real hero in the early '60s Civil Rights movement. He had tried to engage them in a rational discourse. Then the Mayor (a Black man, and thus irresistible) encouraged them to re-locate their encampment.

I think they went on to "Liberate" a vacant foreclosed home from a bank. But there was something awkward about that; maybe that the mortgage was in default, the mortgagor absent, but the bank hadn't foreclosed. Then the mortgagor showed up, surprised to find helpful radicals living there.

tempdog

"There's quite a bit of music now that means a great deal to a lot of black people, even though some of it does call for the murder of others"

Art doesn't depend on the message conveyed by that art. While I'm not a fan of Gansta Rap, I recently purchased Dr Dre's _The Chronic_ and it is art, even if the message is rather pathetic. _The Chronic_ it a sad parody of masculinity and, in "Lil' Ghetto Boy", Dre seems to understand that the life of a G is likely to be brutal and short. But listing to track one merge into track two, and listing to tracks five and two ("Nuthin' But a 'G' Thing" and "[deleted] Wit Dre Day") convinced me that this is real art, regardless of content.

My point here is that a bad idea, presented in a fun and engaging way, is still art. My problem with vaginal knitting and global vaginas isn't that they're bad ideas, it's that they are are lame.

sk60

The fact that 93% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks (often with an illegal gun) is a hatefact, and hate is not to be tolerated in any form.

I'm officially stealing the word hatefact.

pst314

"My problem with vaginal knitting and global vaginas isn't that they're bad ideas, it's that they are are lame."

Okay, evil art is still art. But one should object not only to art that is lame, but I also to art that is evil or harmful.

Spiny Norman

pst314,

this relentless reduction of all areas of learning to political indoctrination reminds me of some selections from Nazi schoolbooks that I saw many years ago. Even the math word problems were written to reinforce hatred of Jews and other inferior races.

It's now official policy in the US. Google "Common Core" and be amazed (or horrified, as the case may be). You'll find links where math word problems do exactly the same thing, only to "capitalists" and "white privilege."

Kevin B

Mozart responds with a laugh.

Spiny Norman

T.K. Tortch,

I think they went on to "Liberate" a vacant foreclosed home from a bank. But there was something awkward about that; maybe that the mortgage was in default, the mortgagor absent, but the bank hadn't foreclosed. Then the mortgagor showed up, surprised to find helpful radicals living there.

Who had "helpfully" all but destroyed his home while they were at it, as I recall.

pst314

Spiny Norman, I'm already horrified by what little I've seen about Common Core.

The fact that almost no liberals are horrified reinforces my conviction that extremely few liberals are not closet Stalinists and fascists pretending to be moderate and reasonable friends of freedom.

tempdog

But one should object not only to art that is lame, but I also to art that is evil or harmful.

Depending on how you define "object", I don't necessarily disagree, though you shouldn't have to agree with an artist's ideas to take what good there is in a piece of art. Art that disturbs can be worth experiencing even though all that disturbs is not art.

Also, even evil ideas can be worthy of study. Mein Kamph, for instance, is still studied by folks who have no aspiration to be Nazis.

With regard to vaginal knitting, I should have said never even get to what the idea behind the presentation is because the presentation is so lame. AFAICT, the Kids in the Hall had the idea first and presented it better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppuMaQ4hZE4

tempdog

Sorry to follow up my own post, but it occurs to me I should have mentioned "The Taming of the Shrew" and "How to Murder Your Wife" (1965, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058212/ ) as examples of art that contains objectionable content, but is still worth experiencing.

TimT

"Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing."

The first two would inevitably be lefty focused; the third sounds like it would be intended as a general theoretical course - training for the slightly boring but worthy analysis that academics have to concentrate on; the fourth really doesn't belong in university (and arguably has no need to be taught anyway) but it's incredibly popular with students, who are willing to part with large amounts of money to make themselves bona fide 'writers'. I get the feel someone in the department or in the university felt it was time for a big change to course structure and so this happened - and though McDonald inevitably focuses on the most outrageous aspect of the changes it may be that if we knew about them in more detail we might have less cause for outrage. Certainly a course solely based around Shakespeare and Milton and Chaucer would seem to be deficient in several respects (no English essayists, no Charles Lamb or Samuel Johnson, no Romantics, no Wordsworth or Shelley or Keats or Blake or Burns or Scott, no focus on the English renaissance as a whole, no Spenser, no Donne, no Augustinian poets, etc, etc....)

B Moe

It just occurred to me that I once was considered radical and hip because I didn't care what color someone was or what their sexual habits were.

Now that makes me a reactionary hater.

Hal

It just occurred to me that I once was considered radical and hip because I didn't care what color someone was or what their sexual habits were.

You horrible, foul, monstrous left wing liberal monster that must be eradicated!!!!!!!

Now that makes me a reactionary hater.

You horrible, foul, monstrous right wing liberal monster that must be eradicated!!!!!!!


Ayup. Such is being conservative.

The conservative movement, to which I subscribe, has as one of its basic tenets the belief that government should stay out of people's private lives. Government governs best when it governs least - and stays out of the impossible task of legislating morality. But legislating someone's version of morality is exactly what we do by perpetuating discrimination against gays.

---Barry Goldwater

Hal

Racism! Squirrel!

Ayup.

The answer I've come up with is And how do you pronounce it/How is it pronounced locally?

On the American east coast there is at least one school with a name spelled Dubois, which the staff matter of factly refers to as "Do Boys"

Somewhere in the American upper Midwest there is a town called "Rye-oh Grandee", where someone further south is much more likely to pronounce Rio Grande as "Ree-oh Grand"

And then there is the story that a Californian friend tells of getting directions in Texas one day, where he was told to go way down the local highway, and then turn off at Pervue.

So he goes way down the road . . . Um . . . and . . Um . . . and the map has no Pervue. So he finally pulls in to a gas station and states that he's working from someone else's directions, and could someone point out On The Map where to find Pervue.

"Pervue? Lessee . . . that'd be raht here", and the finger very particularly pointed at Prairie View.

Greg

"Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men?"

Ask the magnificent Wynton Marsalis, my dear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKQvXB44ueU

sackcloth and ashes

'“My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of colour.”'

Willard White, Jessye Norman, Martina Arroyo etc - you are all race traitors according to this great sage.

Patrick Chester

Oh, we're supposed to consider the ethnicity/gender/whatever of the composer and not what their compositions sound like? Then reject it if it's not of your own ethnicity/gender/whatever?

Hm. No. I'll keep my CDs of music by Yoko Kanno, thank you.

Steve 2

Re: Racism! Squirrel!

Of course Santa is racist. Would people be happy to allow a black man to sneak into their home on a dark winter night? No, they'd be waiting by the fireplace with a shotgun.

And don't even get me started on the whole "he sees you when you're sleeping" business. Apparently it's ok if pink-cheeked Kris Kringle does it, but not when Michael Jackson did it.

Santa is also sexist. Mrs. Claus stays at home trapped in his heterocage while he goes off gallivanting across the world. And have you noticed how he tends to give horribly gender-biased toys to girls and boys? The so-called jolly old elf might pretend it's because girls tend to want dollies while boys prefer toy cars, but we know better.

Santa hates the poor. That's why children with rich parents get more and better toys.

Santa uses non-unionised sweatshop elf labour, and is even more secretive about conditions at his factory than top-hatted child obesity profiteer Willy Wonka. He's also cunningly situated his base of operations at the North Pole to avoid tax.

Santa is cruel to animals. Do you think reindeer *want* to fly around the world? The poor beasts are terrified.

It's time we held this "Father Christmas" character to account. He can jingle all the way to jail.

David

“Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men?”

Maybe she should listen and find out.

You have to wonder what the student quoted above would make of Joseph Boulogne, the “black Mozart” of 18th century Paris, who was of African descent and pretty nifty at European classical composition. And a virtuoso violinist. And not at all bad at sword fighting and horse riding too.

Nik White

You have to wonder what the student quoted above would make of Joseph Boulogne, the “black Mozart” of 18th century Paris,

An active curiosity about times, places and people, quite different from those of her own life is very likely absent from that particular student's mind (and those of her comrades).

It must be a full time job, blunting your mind, day in, day out, into unassailable ignorance.

Henry

The Most Racist Year Ever

I always think the scales are just about to fall from everyone's eyes on this one. We're all about to collectively realise how ridiculous this is.

Either that or some entertaining logical absurdities are on the cards. We're going to have to go through a tiresome phase where one is never allowed to mention that different racial groups exist, while at the same time showing superhuman awareness of them.

As a white man I will need to be constantly mindful of my vast privilege, which will mainly consist of not being allowed to express a contrary opinion or mention anything positive about any member of my race (which doesn't exist of course)

Pellegri

Either that or some entertaining logical absurdities are on the cards. We're going to have to go through a tiresome phase where one is never allowed to mention that different racial groups exist, while at the same time showing superhuman awareness of them.

I'm pretty sure it will follow the course mainstream feminism has already taken, where it's wrong to notice that someone is a woman unless of course she's doing something incredible and brave in which case how dare you not notice her.

Ditto the active denial that actual physiological differences exist between the sexes except the ones that make women better people by dint of being female, like testosterone being linked to violent and/or antisocial behavior.

Dr Cromarty

Ditto the active denial that actual physiological differences exist between the sexes except the ones that make women better people by dint of being female, like testosterone being linked to violent and/or antisocial behavior.

Oh, the sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice/snips-and-snails-and-puppydogs-tails' dichotomy.

I call it that because it boils down to adults spouting a nursery myth.

Henry

Ditto the active denial that actual physiological differences exist between the sexes except the ones that make women better people by dint of being female, like testosterone being linked to violent and/or antisocial behavior

Possibly my number 1 pet hate: that scientific method has to be halted in it's march every time a feminist doesn't like the results of an experiment.

And yes the Steinem-Dworkin testosterone uncertainty principle, the curious quantum effect whereby testosterone is linked to "Male violence" one minute, yet in the next all the research showing psychological differences between genders is "unproven" and has been "shown to be flawed" (somewhere). This all depends on whether we are currrently trying to prove a) that women are better than men, or b) that men and women are equally suited to all types of work (except when a) applies)

If the two conversations come too close together an infinite citation loop can occur.

ErisGuy

My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism

A new culture (or Culture, if you prefer) needs its own moral standards, standards of excellence, and standard bearers. It’s a joy to witness the birth of wholly new Culture that will replace the Christian West. Of course, a Culture as alienated from reality as that founded by the finest universities of the (former) West will also supply great joy as to its enemies as it crashes and burns, taking much of the world with it.

Minnow

"You have to wonder what the student quoted above would make of Joseph Boulogne, the “black Mozart” of 18th century Paris, who was of African descent and pretty nifty at European classical composition. And a virtuoso violinist. And not at all bad at sword fighting and horse riding too."

I can't speak for the student but I hate the flashy bastard already.

David

Jeff Goldstein on the minimum wage:

Forcing companies to pay more for what are supposed to be entry level jobs means they are less likely to hire entry level employees to take those jobs… In every instance, the young, inexperienced, lesser-educated, and — statistically speaking, minority populations — suffer most. While labour unions, pretending to push for the little guy, continue to price out the competition — the young, those looking for first time jobs — while increasing their own wages, which are tied oftentimes to the contracts that increase union wages by percentage equal to minimum wage increases.

David Gillies

My degrees are in physics and electronic engineering and yet I feel confident in saying that I have a better grounding in the humanities simply through reading than the average UCLA or Columbia graduate of recent vintage. On the other hand, I would bet that said graduates' knowledge of science or engineering or higher mathematics is indistinguishable from zero.

dicentra

If the two conversations come too close together an infinite citation loop can occur.

It already has. Why else do you think your head is spinning?

dicentra

Minimum wage was first instituted by the Progressives about 100 years ago to price "undesirables" out of the job market.

IOW, they were trying to make sure blacks couldn't get jobs. Because what employer is going to pay a black man that much when that money would be better spent on a white man.

Oh yes, that's where it started: with eugenics. And lookie lookie: it's still doing what it was intended plus more.

Steve

Dicentra,

"Minimum wage was first instituted by the Progressives about 100 years ago to price "undesirables" out of the job market."

Do you have a source for that? I would love to send it to my brother-in-law with whom I had a recent falling out over the minimum wage. He is something of a prodigy and, as such, fits neatly into the category of 'Intellectual good at one thing (quantum physics & computing) who consequently believes himself to be infallible on all subjects' that Thomas Sowell's 'Intellects & Society' tackles. It would be great to wind him up.

David

This podcast features Heather Mac Donald being interviewed about her piece on the humanities. You may want to skip the first five minutes of introduction.

Patrick Kelly

UCLA English faculty you say! Sounds very much like the NSW HSC English curriculum to me.

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll