Sunday, December 12, 2004


Glad I went to college in the '70s

From The Poorman:
Because You Are Idiots

Jonathan Chait has a superb editorial on why so few academics are wingnuts:
But the rise of fashionable left-wing scholarship can be blamed for only a tiny part of the GOP's problem. The studies showing that academics prefer Democrats to Republicans also show that this preference holds in hard sciences as well as social sciences. Are we to believe that higher education has fallen prey to trendy multiculturalist engineering, or that physics departments everywhere suppress conservative quantum theorists?
Second, professors don't particularly want to be Republicans. In recent years, and especially under George W. Bush, Republicans have cultivated anti-intellectualism. Remember how Bush in 2000 ridiculed Al Gore for using all them big numbers?

That's not just a campaign ploy. It's how Republicans govern these days. Last summer, my colleague Frank Foer wrote a cover story in the New Republic detailing the way the Bush administration had disdained the advice of experts. And not liberal experts, either. These were Republican-appointed wonks whose know-how on topics such as global warming, the national debt and occupying Iraq were systematically ignored. Bush prefers to follow his gut.

In the world of academia, that's about the nastiest thing you can say about somebody. Bush's supporters consider it a compliment. "Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn't have to be book smart," wrote conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks a week before the election. "Democrats, on the other hand, are more apt to emphasize … being knowledgeable and thoughtful. They value leaders who see complexities, who possess the virtues of the well-educated."

It so happens that, in other columns, Brooks has blamed the dearth of conservative professors on ideological discrimination. In fact, the GOP is just being rejected by those who not only prefer their leaders to think complexly but are complex thinkers themselves. There's a problem with this picture, all right, but it doesn't lie with academia.
How can it be that, after only a year with the Times, David Brooks has already written the definitive example of every wingnut talking point there is? What horrors does the future hold?

This "problem" will be dealt with the way every other left-wing conspiracy has been dealt with. First, it will be whined about incessantly, and anyone who tells them to pipe down will be accused of hating America. This can be kept up indefinitely, because, if there is one thing conservatives are good at, it is whining about how oppressed they are by nebulous crypto-commie cabals. (The other thing they are good at is gloating about how they control everything. Both can be done at the same time without any discomfort.) Peter Beinart will assume that there's something to this, and write about how the Democrats need to abandon their unmanly intellectual elitism and embrace the proud Democratic tradition of Wavy Gravy. Gregg Easterbrook will mount his 600 cubic hectare gravity bong and write a column about how the theories of evolution and relativity are only theories, maaaan, and as such are no better than his theory that there is an infinitely wise and kind and just spirit controlling the universe who allows the creatures he loves unconditionally to suffer the many arbitrary cruelties of this world, such as Gregg Easterbrook columns. Principled liberals and moderates will roll over, and public universities will create Departments of Conservative Studies, where you can earn a Doctorate in Wingnuttery for your dissertation on how the Dixie Chicks made us lose Vietnam.

Simultaneously, fringe religious cults and billionaire right-wing hermits will fund pantomine universities, based on the highly successful Fox Nooz model of "if he's sitting behind an anchor desk wearing a titanium-alloy hairdo, he must be a real journalist". Here, oppressed conservatives will be able to do serious research into what fun slavery was, free from the oppressive influence of people who know what they are talking about. After completing the rigorous 6-week correspondance curriculum, graduates will be presented with a diploma, awards will be handed for examplary achievement (the Nobbell Prize for Near-Perfect Attendance, the Poolitzer Award for Adequate Personal Hygiene, the Congressional Metal of Freedom for Distinguished Valor In Having Your Tuition Check Clear, etc.), and the Career Center will work to get you steady employment as a guest on cable talk shows.
As with everything else, the right wing abandons its deeply held principles as soon as those principles produce a result they don't like. They love the free market until it leads to a porn store on every corner. They love meritocracy until evil lib'ruls crowd out wingnuts from Harvard and Yale. Morality is for Massachusetts, not Texas. Soldiers are great until they criticize Rumsfeld. Affirmative action is fine for white guys.

Fucking hypocrites.

(Thanks to Atrios for this.)
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