Is “ho”—the rapper slang for the slur “whore”—a bad word? Always, sometimes, or just when an obnoxious white male like Don Imus says it? But not when the equally obnoxious Snoop Dogg serially employs it?But clearly, what Hanson is saying is that the Left do believe in one eternal truth: that truth is a reflection of power and authority, and conversely of those whom power victimizes (when, in fact, truth is really something that transcends self-interested calculation because truth is what belongs to an open-ended politics whose collective logic cannot be reduced to privileged interests, or to victimization, but only to shared needs and possibilities for keeping our politics and people alive, free and open - and this is what we need a disinterested academy to explain and explore).
Is the Iraq war, as we are often told, the “greatest mistake” in our nation’s history?
Because Israel and the United States have a bomb, is it then O.K. for theocratic Iran to have one too?
Americans increasingly cannot seem to answer questions like these adequately because they are blissfully uneducated. They have not acquired a broad knowledge of language, literature, philosophy, and history.
Sometime in the 1960s—perhaps due to frustration over the Vietnam War, perhaps as a manifestation of the cultural transformations of the age—the university jettisoned the classical approach [to education] and adopted the therapeutic.Instead, our youth for a generation have been fed a “Studies” curriculum. Fill in the blanks: Women’s Studies, Gay Studies, Environmental Studies, Peace Studies, Chicano Studies, Film Studies, and so on. These courses aim to indoctrinate students about perceived pathologies in contemporary American culture—specifically, race, class, gender, and environmental oppression.
Such courses are by design deductive. The student is expected to arrive at the instructor’s own preconceived conclusions. The courses are also captives of the present—hostages of the contemporary media and popular culture from which they draw their information and earn their relevance.
The theme of all such therapeutic curricula is relativism. There are no eternal truths, only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority. Once students understand how gender, race, and class distinctions are used to oppress others, they are then free to ignore absolute “truth,” since it is only a reflection of one’s own privilege.
In other words, when it comes to fingering the bad guys, to promoting their party line, the Left is anything but relativistic. Bush is evil and that's really all you need to know, just like Israel is bad. So, the flipside of the kind of shiftless thinking that Hanson describes, the product of an academic humanities culture that is now more devoted to networking than to amassing real knowledge (what now matters in building an academic career is who you know, not what you know), is the production of young people who are increasingly reliant on scapegoats and victims to describe the world in which they live. See www.beyondrobson.com for examples. And they hold to these scapegoats and victimary figures, not only in a spirit of relativism, but increasingly of religious certainty. That is why we apparently now have supposedly educated elites convincing themselves that the kind of antisemitic cartoons discussed in our previous post, are somehow cutting and daring, speaking to truths about power and privilege that no one previously dared emit.
The smarmy, faux-intellectual, endless irony of the academy pretends to be all so worldy wise (see, e.g., Simon Schama's presently-running, on PBS, tv progam on Art). Yet today's academy, despite (or because of) the origins and home of many of its performers, is structurally antisemitic and anti-American; the irony and relativism becomes, when fully played out, just obeisance to so much sacrificial violence.