Monday, August 07, 2006

Imagine and Understand

Mary Graber, an English teacher at Clayton State University in Georgia, explains that what really upsets conservative activists about higher education is the uncanny ability of conservative activists to imagine upsetting things about higher education:

Imagine these instructions from a college professor and you will understand what we "conservative activists" object to:

"OK, class, let's look at our worldviews. What do you think of Britney Spears kissing Madonna? What does that act say about gender roles? Write a three-page paper and remember: Papers that do not display an open-mindedness will fail."
Two can play at that game. Imagine this speech from President Bush, and you'll understand why so many liberals distrust him:
"I am Jesus come back to earth. I hate fags and coloreds and poor people. That Hitler guy had the right idea, but he was too selectional. I'm gonna blow up the whole world!"
Kidding aside, I'd love to know what the learned Ms. Graber thinks of Agathon kissing Pausanias, or the antics of Proust's Mlle. Vinteuil and her friend the "practicing and professional Sapphist." Or Hart Crane.

A conscientious conservative, I suppose, would condemn them all as unnatural and inaesthetic (if you'll pardon the redundancy). And rightly so. Why squander your God-given open-mindedness on a bunch of filthy perverts, when you can use it to appreciate "alternative" theories of climatology or evolutionary biology?


AJ said...

That has to be the strangest thing I've ever read in the AJC. It's poorly written, doesn't advance an argument, and just seems to be a Young Fogette ranting about some "librul" media studies classes. It would be one thing if she were to grapple with their implications and course content, but she seems fine stopping at ridiculing their titles.

While addressing porn (someone's got to be buying it in the red states, right?) or Britney-on-Madonna action may seem just titillating per se, examining what boundaries are crossed when and where (and in fact, identifying what those social boundaries are to begin with) is perfectly valid social science. To understand how cultures function, you have to examine the behaviour of individuals and groups, and study their cultural practices and artifacts...and where decoding media artifacts is concerned, there's an entire body of critical theory on the subject that Ms. Gruber seems blissfully unaware of.

She also seems to be unaware that college professors need to get paying students, and attracting them to courses with provocative titles and (gasp) the promise that something interesting will happen is one very good way to do that.

Phila said...

To understand how cultures function, you have to examine the behaviour of individuals and groups, and study their cultural practices and artifacts

Sure. And if memory serves, it was conservatives who spent a week or two dragging us through a vital national debate over Janet jackson's nipple. If anything, they want to talk about these sorts of issues more than anyone else. It's not the subject matter that bothers them, it's the thought that the pronouncement of any non-conservative could be seen as plausible, let alone authoritative.

Aloysius said...

'Appreciate alternative theories of climatology and evolutionary biology'? How do you come up with this stuff. does it take you all day - festering in your tank top and eco-friendly jeans near the trunk of tree? Quite how you managed to get a jibe in at bush just demonstrates your incompetence at forwarding an argument. What's wrong with believing in conservatism? surely it's better to let man determine his own existence as much as he can through low taxation, small government etc etc than the soppy and arrogant liberals view - that governments can coordinate and run peoples lifes for them better than they can themselves; let's take a bit more of your money - re-distribute it in vast 'government plans' and prevent everyone from expressing themselves freely with the humbug of pc. and why do you keep going on about hating coloureds, and fags and talking about 'racism' - a democracy is all about the right to express yourself - if that doesn't cause harm. why do these people feel offended if someone says 'i hate fags'. that's even beside the point - they are saying and thinking it not doing anything about it! the famous crime of 'hate'. all part of the moronic left's attempt to control our minds...forgive me for reserving the right to offend.

Re your steyn article 'human locusts':
Despite your attempt to debunk Steyn's demographic arguments - you have failed. Mark is correct to highlight that the demographics are changing rapidly and that that will have major, cataclysmic effects on our nations 'cultures'. He might be wrong about the exact fertility rate year to year of a nation - as indeed you are right to highlight - these fluctuate. But you unsuccessfully challenge his central point which is this - that 'our' indigenous population across Europe is decreasing, while 'their' population which is no longer subject to the selection pressure of infant death, (there being better health care in Europe than Iran, Lebanon, Egypt etc) is increasing rapidly. It is clearly against your ideology to look rationally at the position across Europe; fatuously you then talk of how Irish, Chinese and Jews were once thought unable to assimilate into the American way of life, and that Steyn is just another of the crazies who thought that. But Mark would never have taken such a position with these groups - because they are not Muslim and have an excellent track-record of adopting their nation’s culture while remembering their traditions. And here is where you are absolutely fundamentally wrong - Muslims do not assimilate well at all - because Islam is more of a way of life than Christianity or secular Judaism. (Both of which under-went 'Enlightenments' and recognised the need to be governed by laws - albeit based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition but not answerable/enforced by a church.)If you don't believe Muslims integrate well look at the ghettoisation of Muslim populations - enforced by a multicultural-loving elite - across Europe. For one reason and another the kids coming out of these ghettoes hate their fellow-nationals and feel a far stronger bond of allegiance to their Muslim brothers. This is because in Islam the primary allegiance is always to one's faith. In Britain a recent poll of a large number of Muslims found that only 7% consider themselves 'British' first - compared to a terrifying 81% who consider themselves 'Muslim' foremost. The figures across Europe are similarly disturbing. Now when you also consider that 60% of Muslims in Britain want sharia law you have a problem. Can you see that - or is it your opinion that a bit of sharia is swell? The problem therefore, without wishing to spell it out for you still further is this - we are democracies and democracies have to recognise groups right - so when in 10-20 years time a certain group is far bigger and more vocal about some certain area of their existence in a nation - let's say (just a far out there hypothesis you understand) that they want all meat to be halal cut - no reasonable politician would deny them. And so you begin to have a nation very different from the one you started with - as Mark would say - death through a thousand piecemeal 'concessions'. It's hard-fought liberties and character become homogenised and you become a semi-muslim state (or worse) unable to act on the international stage because your muslim population holds a veto on your foreign policy for instance, or insists that the Koran is taught side by side with the bible and that Christian traditions like certain state affairs are thrown out because it may cause offence. This is not 'wingnuttery' or racist/fascist crap - only yesterday Muslims in Britain demanded their own bank holidays. A few months ago the ancient symbol of town - a pig - was banned from all local paraphernalia - so as not to cause offence - can't you see our freedom is being eroded by Islam? Two points to finish on (not that you'll be persuaded by any of this - because you're all just a bunch of morose lefties) - Iran’s fertility rate may have gone down 70% but it's still a heck of a lot higher than the replacement rate. And the reason Muslims have (seemingly until recent times) assimilated better in the States is because America makes an effort to ensure people adopt an 'American' identity, that they are patriotic and recognise the American culture and values as great/unique/defining ones. In Europe all we talk of is multi-culturalism where no one culture is better than another and we can all just ride along together. That I’m an afraid is a nullity and nullities get filled by ideologies. that is not racist it's a fact - see the bursting aggressive Dutch muslim population, which the ultimate multi-cult society is now paying for - the slightest mockery or criticism of the muslim faith is met with universal condemnation by the muslim population (around the world - how crazy is that?) and in some cases death - Theo van Gogh is emblematic of the coming trend.

Phila said...

What's wrong with believing in conservatism? surely it's better to let man determine his own existence as much as he can through low taxation, small government etc etc than the soppy and arrogant liberals view - that governments can coordinate and run peoples lifes for them better than they can themselves;

Have you noticed, Aloysius, that in comment after comment you ignore my actual argument in favor of an overwrought attack on your favorite strawmen?

Also, what you consider an "attack" on Bush was simply an example of dishonest rhetoric based on Ms. Graber's little "thought experiment"; in other words, it was a joke, and does not represent the substance of my problems with Bush.

As for "small government" and "low taxation," under Bush, government has grown exponentially. Taxation is lower, for some income brackets. But the shortfall in revenues is made up with higher state and local taxes, and other fees (e.g., healthcare and community colleges). It's a shell game, in other words. People like you, who consider themselves a good deal smarter than they actually are, have always been the favorite target of con men; the same dynamic is at play in the USA, where devotion to allegedly conservative ideology trumps the fact that government spending and bureacracy are spiraling out of control.

It's a cliche, God knows, but the truth hurts. People who are cowardly and insecure will go a very long way to avoid it.