Lifestyle Advice
A Heated Exchange

Elsewhere (203)

Kevin D Williamson on entrepreneurship and its obstacles: 

[Alexandra Scott] launched, with her brother’s help, a lemonade stand, with the intention of using her profits to help other children with cancer. They raised $2,000, which is a fair amount of money for a lemonade stand… Once her story hit the headlines — we do sometimes forget that the press can be an awesome instrument for good — that $2,000 became $1 million, and that $1 million became a movement, with children around the country opening their own summer lemonade stands in tribute to Alex and, later, in tribute to her memory. Alex died of cancer at age eight… As the idea of [children] selling lemonade for charitable purposes caught on, police around the country and the turbocharged bureaucracies behind them found themselves faced with an unexpected public menace: outlaw lemonade

Ed West on classroom indoctrination and the whitewashing of leftist history:

[Dennis Sewell] quotes from the exam board Edexcel “on the subject of Conservative ideology” in its most recent A-level Government and Politics syllabus, which he describes as “downright scandalous.” It defined conservatism as “fear of diversity” and support for “social and state authoritarianism.” Conservatism views people as “limited, dependent and security-seeking creatures” and supports “resurgent nationalism… insularity and xenophobia.” The entry on socialism, however, describes it as defined by “social stability and cohesion, social justice, happiness and personal development” and the worst thing that can be said about it is an allusion to “conflict as a motor of history.” Sewell writes: “The actual marking schemes, used in real exams and deciding students’ real results, are even worse.”

And Rich Lowry on English literature degrees and The Great White Horror: 

In a petition to the English Department, Yale undergraduates declare that a required two-semester seminar on Major English Poets is a danger to their well-being. Never mind that the offending poets — Shakespeare, Chaucer, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, et al. — are the foundational writers in the English language. It is as if chemistry students objected to learning the periodic table of elements or math students rose up against the teaching of differential calculus… The petition’s implicit contention is that the major poets are too circumscribed by their race and gender to speak to today’s socially aware students, when, in fact, it is the students who are too blinkered by race and gender to marvel at great works of art. It takes a deeply impoverished imagination to read Shakespeare and regard him simply as an agent of the patriarchy. 

Via Mr Muldoon, Robby Soave has more on this here. Also this

The protesting students are, they say, “alienated” and “actively harmed” by the fact that a course of study titled Major English Poets actually features major English poets. So acute is the students’ distress at this shocking discovery that some feel obliged to “get up and leave the room.” Because, having chosen to take a degree in English literature - a language originated on a smallish island in the northern hemisphere and developed by the pallid Englishmen who lived there – it is of course outrageous that the key figures in the history of that language should quite often turn out to be pallid Englishmen. Indeed, such is the identitarian trauma of reading Shakespeare - whose work, of course, never, ever touches on such fashionable themes as gender, sexuality, race or disability - that the students are, they say, left “ill-prepared… even to engage with critical theory.” At which point, I can’t help feeling that someone should remind the Yale undergraduates that Angry Studies and “critical theory” are, to borrow a phrase, the lowest difficulty setting on campus. 


In the comments Nate Whilk points us to this piece by Theodore Dalrymple, from which the following seems apposite:

[Historiography of this kind] has become virtually standard in the various branches (feminist, black, gay, and so on) of academic resentment studies, in which history is nothing but the backward projection of current grievances, real or imagined, used to justify and inflame resentment… The object of such historiography is to disconnect everyone from a real sense of a living past and a living culture. Indeed, the underlying theme uniting the two great dystopias of the twentieth century [Huxley’s and Orwell’s] is the need to preserve a sense of history and cultural tradition if life is to be bearable.

As Heather Mac Donald and others have noted, those wishing to “decolonise” English literature (and many other subjects) seem unable to comprehend the purpose of the education they’ve chosen, its aspiration to universality beyond specific centuries and contrived identity groups, and often regard history as something to tut about and denounce as insufficiently in keeping with their own narrow, modish conceits. As exemplified by the Columbia undergraduate, a young black woman, who complained, rather indignantly, “Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” Apparently, listening to the music of this Mozart “upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism.” “Who is this Mozart,” she asked, “this Haydn, these superior white men?”

All while making great efforts not to find out.

And as noted here, despite the students’ bluster and delusions of heroism, the self-imagined radicals are pushing at an open door, and are merely the credulous foot soldiers, the dupes, of their own lecturers, whose arrogant mediocrity they ‘radically’ regurgitate, and whose fiefdom they reinforce.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.