Liberal conspiracy to hijack higher education

Have you noticed that conservatives often complain about a so called liberal conspiracy to hijack higher education? One such wag recently informed me that taking over the education system was one of the Soviets’ primary goals.

When I pressed him by saying I failed to notice a liberal conspiracy when I went to college and grad school, he explained, “You fail to see the tentacles of Marxism, they are long and entwined. They are not bound by geography but by ideology. Whittaker Chambers wrote that in the ’30s the Soviets had three main objectives here in the USA: Education, Media, Government. They have succeeded in infiltrating and takeover all of those.”

Let’s hold aside the media and government for another day. Let’s even suppose the Soviet Union succeeded. Guess what? The Soviet Union no longer exists. Just ask any supporter of Ronald Regan: the commies lost the Cold War.

With the Soviet Union gone and Communism having exited the world stage, to what are these “tentacles of Marxism” attached? What sustains them? And for what purpose?

According to the aforementioned Facebook wag, they seemed to have become a self-sustaining and decentralized global entity (rather like Al Qaeda, I suppose). Evidently there is a secret international conspiracy comprised of whom? Former Soviet, Chinese, and Cuban ideologues? Apostate Westerners who long for the good old days of Stalin and Chairman Mao?

He offered as proof of their success the observation that college campuses are bastions of liberal thinking. I wonder if he has it ass backwards.

Where are these agents provocateur? How are they organized? Do they convene in grubby student apartments in college towns throughout the west? Are they gray men hiding in plain sight? Biding their time? Whispering in the ears of academia bound Ph.D. students? Are they lying in wait for the right moment in history to seize the opportunity to create a second global Communist/Socialist government? That would make for a wonderful William F. Buckley novel but otherwise strains credulity.

Maybe tolerance and compassion and liberal mindedness are the natural products of an education? After all, kids move out of their childhood homes, they meet people who are different from them and have to learn how to amicably co-exist, and they spend four years intensively acquiring knowledge and developing their minds.

Now you know why closing down universities and killing or threaten the academics are on any new repressive regime’s short list upon taking power–right after taking over the media and killing and/or jailing the officials from the previous government.

Just a thought.

America, Imagine a World Without Her

Recently, an old friend, who has become an arch conservative in his middle-age posted a review of Dinesh D’Souza’s film “America, Imagine a World Without Her” on his Facebook timeline. The piece was published on the conservative web site Frontpage Mag and written by Arnold Ahlert.

I don’t know about you, But I can’t imagine a world without America. On the other hand I find myself struggling with imagining an America that isn’t willing to contemplate all of our past. We’ve accumulated a great deal of bad karma. I’m not talking about self-loathing. But I do think it’s important to understand how we got to this place, whom we’ve hurt, what we’ve destroyed to get here, and to endeavor to be better human beings today and in the future.

I also find myself puzzled by my friend’s news sources. He was an intelligent and gentle boy. He married his high school sweetheart. He is a very accomplished musician. I cannot understand how he can take a web site seriously that bears the subtitle, “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Waiting to Get Out.”

“America, Imagine a World Without Her” calls to mind the old silent film Birth of a Nation. Sorry but myopic ultra-nationalist apologia give me the willies. And Ahlert’s review was nothing more than a poorly reasoned screed against liberals. Both are quite beside the point.

The community of people who respond to my friend’s posts are the real point. There are a number of us middle-aged types of varying political persuasions who regularly post on his Facebook links. Aside from being Americans, we are all musicians.

The conversations start off polite. We seldom agree. After a while the words get more pointed. I don’t think we change each others’ minds. I do think we respect one another. I hope we give each other food for thought. I know it has done so for me.

In any event, the conversation meandered away from the D’Souza’s film (no surprise there) and the insults flew.

K***: I could never get tenure because I’m too politically incorrect.

T***: a radical leftist denied tenure at an university because of his politics… someone notify Ward Churchill…BWAHAHAHAHAHA

K***: Well T***, perhaps if you had read my entire comment you’d see that I am not, in fact, a “radical leftist,” since I criticized the radical left in several specific areas. But then reading doesn’t seem to be your strong area.

Bob: Oh boy. Another house of weak arguments, furnished with innuendos and prejudice, built upon on a foundation of wrongheaded assumptions which rest on footings dug into the quicksand of stereotype. Anyone who takes this at face value is a fool.

T***:I love it when radical leftists suddenly claim to be “centrist” when it becomes convenient…

Bob: Please define your terms T. What is a radical leftist? And and who in this discussion qualifies?

T***: I already have, ad nauseum… “

T*** shared a link to Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change and left the question about who among us was a radical leftist unanswered, though I’m pretty sure he meant K*** and  me.

One of the things I like about discussing politics with this group is that we are well read, intelligent and that we agree on little. In as much as their ideas and insults often infuriate me, I cherish the opportunity to ask how they arrive at their ideas. I have read more far right “literature” in the last year than ever before.

I followed T***’s link and downloaded Goldberg’s book. I know I risk sounding like a Kool-Aid slugging liberal, a characterization which I deny, but Goldberg’s arguments torture the point and in the end do nothing more than inflame people’s prejudices rather than provide a useful way to contemplate differences of opinion.

Let’s say for the sake of our discussion Goldberg’s basic premiss, is true. The word fascism encompasses more than turn of the 20th century meaning. That liberals are self-deluded crypto-fascists (and therefore aligned with the worst actors of the 20th century) because early in the 20th century “liberal thinkers” and policy makers were enamored by European fascism and because some of that thought influenced Progressive/Liberal thought.

So what.

Political ideas are like everything else. They come in and out of fashion. People wear the ideas for a season and move on to the next great thing. What’s more, when it counted, the “liberals” stood up against the Nazis and the Italians and came to view fascism as a fundamentally evil political movement.

Goldberg argues that fascist ideas/ideals permeate the liberal DNA and therefore they are the bad guys. In the time honored propaganda trope, he conflates progressives and liberals with the most evil leaders of western civilization: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Napoleon, and Robespierre.

That some of the ideas persisted from one era to another and from one political ideology to another speaks to the reality that our ideas do not exist in a vacuum, that there is nothing new under the sun. Rather we recycle, deconstruct, reassemble, and repackage as oppose to innovate. We can trace the roots of everything in the present to something from the past.

From what I can tell, LIBERAL FASCISM’s true purpose is to say “I’m rubber, you’re glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks on to you,” and in so doing attempts to affix a universally pejorative term, fascism, upon the chest of the so called “left”.

First of all the left/right thing is reductio ad absurdum. Very few people can distill their world views to such find points.

What’s more, I’m still left with lingering questions about the core issues and whether these discussions are anything more than vanilla is better than chocolate. Why? Because I like vanilla better than chocolate. No chocolate is better than vanilla. Why? Because I like chocolate.

Help me understand why anyone has to write a 500 page book calling liberals fascists except as an attempt to demonize them? Help me understand why people have to reduce the world down to such absurdities and then use minute differences to fuel their hatred.

Ann Coulter on Soccer: Part Deux

Ann Coulter on Soccer: Part Deux? C’mon Ann Coulter, Soccer? You really want to waste your valuable print space and attention bandwidth on soccer? Wasn’t la première partie, a/k/a “Part One” one column too many? Right, right, soccer is the front lines in the culture wars between conservatives and liberals. I forgot. What I have not forgotten is that you do not really care about issues. You are polemicist. Your living depends on your ability to instigate fights between “conservatives” and “liberals”.

The sad part is you succeed. Shame on your readers (lovers AND haters) for allowing themselves to be baited and manipulated  by a pundit who is far more interested in self-aggrandizement than the real issues.

Here’s my take on a few of your points from your soccer screed:

  • Who cares if you find soccer “excruciatingly boring.”  So, don’t watch.
  • “Soccer is a game for girls.” Because? Girls are less capable than boys? They are weaker? Less interesting to watch? Self-loathing much?
  • “A guy from the Paraguay team (Uruguay? Who cares?) was caught biting an opponent in a match. Not punching. Not a cross-body block. BITING! How long can it be until we see hair-pulling in soccer? “ Way to stereotype. Does that make Mike Tyson a girl? Is that how you fight?
  • So in a 100-minute game, something happened two times and nothing happened 98 times. “ Apparently you have the attention span of the average NFL fan. How long is the average play? 5 to 15 seconds? There’s a total of about 11 minutes of actual “action” in an NFL game. That leaves plenty of time for commercials, gorging yourself on snacks and beer, and sticking your fingers down your throat to purge yourself from those healthy “football snacks.”
  • “I believe we are witnessing the implementation of that favorite rule of soccer moms: ‘Everybody’s a winner!!!'” Even you. Apparently you have never spent a nanosecond on a soccer pitch in a competitive league.
  • “The reason there are so many fights among spectators at soccer games is to compensate for the tedium.” As opposed to NFL, NHL, or MLB fans, who riot and destroy their hometowns whether their teams win or not.
  • “Being in France does expose me to a way of life that illustrates why foreigners like soccer so much.” It must be nice to afford a trip to France. I take it you only eat at McDonalds and other American-style restaurants. Lord knows you wouldn’t want to let all that socialist food sully your All-American taste buds.
  • “Another crucial role of the refs is to stop the games for a “heat rest.” Tell that to NFL players in New Orleans or Miami, where regular-season games have reached temperatures of over 100 degrees” As opposed to approximately 11 minutes of action over three hours, the extended breaks for TV commercials or the fact that NFL plays last frequently last less than five seconds before the players, reset, catch their breath, suck on oxygen on the sidelines, get replaced by substitutes, and do it again.
  • “Among the least obscenity-laced attacks on my soccer column was one written by two twits who work for the Huffington Post, Nick Wing and Paige Lavender.”  In other words, Nick and Paige, please, please be very offended and respond to this screed in print so people will talk about me.

Sheesh Ann Coulter. Why not use your platform, such as it is, to discuss the actual issues? Perhaps that’s because you do not care? It’s abundantly clear the only things that matter to you are instigating fights and people talking about you. So there you go. You accomplished your goal. I’m talking about you. I hope the bad karma will be worth it.