Doing My Bit

Oh come on, Todd, tell us what you really think.

Truly this is a bizarre time for the life of the mind in America. The airwaves and best-seller lists are noisy with anti-intellectual jeers. The ruling party embraces the nostrums of “No Child Left Behind” while tossing the teaching of all subjects besides reading and math to the winds. Many of its leaders declare that the Republic was founded not in the name of enlightenment but as a “Christian nation.” When the topics of evolution, climate change, stem cells, and contraception arise, the president of the United States blithely jettisons scientific judgments. On the evidence of his dialogue with reporters, and his behavior toward underlings…his interest in and capacity for reason are impaired.

Yeah, so? You got a problem with that? You a Naleetest or something?

In this perverse climate, dissenting intellectuals might gain some traction by standing for reason. They might begin by asking how it came to pass, over recent decades, that reason in America was defeated. They might explore the subject of public ignorance, its origins, tactics, and prospects. They might also study contrary tendencies, including scientists’ resistance to ignorance. They might investigate how it happened that the academic left retreated from off-campus politics.

Hey Todd! [jumps up and down, waves, whistles] Over here! One dissenting intellectual* doing her best to stand for reason and asking how it came to pass and exploring the subject and studying contrary tendencies. That’s me, you’re describing me.** I just thought you’d like to know – there are some like that.

Among the topics they might explore: the academic left’s ignorance of main currents of American life, their positive tropism for foreign saviors, their reliance on intricate jargon, their commitment to keeping up with post-everything hotshots of “theory” from more advanced continents. Instead, in a time-honored ritual of the left, a number of academic polemicists choose this moment to pump up rites of purification.

Nope, not me, I do that other thing you said: I explore the tropism for foreign saviors, the reliance on intricate jargon, the commitment to keeping up with post-everything hotshots of “theory”. That’s what I do – down the nights and down the days, that’s what I do. Little children flee from me, because I try to tell them about the hybridity of the subaltern, and it makes them cry.

It don’t pay well, but it’s steady work.

*or pseudo-intellectual, or would-be intellectual, or crawling toadying lickspittle, or pathetic pretentious ignorant Shakespeare-reading snob.

**except probably for the intellectual part, on account of I’m not qualified.

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