Friday, August 12, 2016

President of Ripon College Urges All Ripon Professors To Criticize Trump In Class

   I was watching CNN last night. One of Trump's "surrogates" was on. He was utterly incoherent. When challenged, he just dumped a load of incoherent verbiage that had nothing going for it beyond that fact that about 80% of it was grammatical, and some of the words were relevant. 
   Wow, I thought. This would actually make great fodder for critical thinking class...
   Thing is, it's obviously extremely important not to slant classes politically. (This seems to be contrary to the prevailing wisdom...) And, bad as the Clinton people can be, they're simply not as nuts as the Trump people. Their job is much easier. They're only about as full of shit as average politicos. Trump is off the scale, his people are paid to defend him, so their bullshit is off the scale. Even Kayleigh McEnany, for whom I have a soft spot--she really is damn sharp--descended into madness trying to defend this "founder of ISIS" business.
   So what to do. Here's good, relevant, interesting fodder for discussion. But it's hard to try to balance it out. Furthermore, pretending that there's equivalence where there is none is a massive and massively harmful error. College students are already very susceptible to the fallacy of false equivalence. Anything that has the cache of intellectual sophistication calls to them irresistibly.
   So: I understand approximately where Messitte is coming from.
   If I might articulate arguments on the other side. Academia should not aim at immediate political goals. And academic objectivity is more important even than this very important election. There are a million good examples of things to discuss in classes. Discuss general principles. Equip students to reason. Arm them with information. Let current events play out as they will. 
   What Messitte is talking about is not exactly indoctrination, but it's not exactly not indoctrination. And the fact that he's written what he's written is a sign of the decline and decay of the university in America: short-term--and always leftward--political ends have taken center stage, elbowing the real ends of education out of the way. 
   Can anyone imagine anything that the left might do to elicit this kind of reaction from academia? Is there any lefty lunacy so loony that there would be this kind of call to mobilize against it?'s just one guy, I suppose... But my guess is that his attitude is not all that unrepresentative... But what's such a guess worth?
   I think we're in crisis because of such attitudes... I report, you decide...  I mean, consider:
Understanding Trump and his supporters means having a deep knowledge of words like “empathy,” “tolerance,” “power” and “narcissism.”
   This tells you something about contemporary academia, I think. First: understanding Trump "means having a deep knowledge of" certain words??? Jesus, there's the downfall of the freaking humanities in a nutshell. It's not that knowledge of language is's that it's been so radically people who deal only with words. But maybe it's just infelicitous expression of the idea. Look at the words, though. These are the obsessions of the contemporary humanities and social sciences, brought to you by very bad French literary theory and Continental philosophy. These are some of the all-purpose obsessions of the academic left, applied to Trump. Maybe not 'narcissism.' That's not such a standard component of the list. But whatever.
   I'm done.
   I've got no ending here.
   tl;dr: everybody pisses me off


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