Leftism Is the New Flyover

They are the yahoos they hate.

Like many of you, I foolishly thought the election of Donald Trump would cause at least some on the left to dial back some of their caterwauling. Instead, they turned up the volume, going so far as to hire celebs to lecture the electoral college and generally hoping against hope that “something” would prevent Trump from making it to inauguration day. When the day came and went, I thought maybe, just maybe, they would at least accept the reality of Trump’s victory, forgetting of course that lefties don’t accept reality of any kind. And since January 20? Forget it — they have cranked up their hysteria to eleven.

Forget the Berkeley riot and the protests and the 9th circuit — all of that was fairly predictable and made for TV. What’s troublesome to me is the behavior on social media, particularly from educated adults who should know better. Prior to the election, the anti-Trump posts on Facebook were largely attempts at humor: jabs at his haircut, silly memes, re-posts of SNL skits, etc. This was back when there was “no way” he could win. Between the election and inauguration, the tone changed to one of mild panic peppered with giddy excitement at every fake news story (“golden showers”) they hoped would somehow block Trump from being sworn in. Since Inauguration Day, every Trump appointee is Satan, Armageddon is on the horizon, and — worse yet — anyone who disagrees is fair game for heavy doses of arrogance and condescension.

I’ll spare you the many examples of this that have oozed down my feed the past three weeks. No doubt you’ve seen plenty enough already. One post from a former higher-ed colleague of mine will suffice:

We need to resist not only for ourselves but for those who disagree with us as well.

Whom the left hates most is their fellow citizens who don’t think as they do because, at its root, leftism is anti-human; hence the constant war they wage on individual rights and their hatred of capitalism. Anyone who likes the 2nd Amendment, private property, or keeping his money is a tobacco chewin’ yahoo who “votes against his self-interest.” The environmental/climate change movement demonstrates, more clearly than anything else, that not only do lefties have contempt for their fellow humans, they feel guilty about being humans themselves.

Many of these “resistors” on my wall are actual — not just virtual — friends. They are intelligent in many respects and well-versed in a variety of subjects (excluding American political history). You’d think some of them would practice what they get paid to preach and actually research the facts on gun crime, race relations, or climate change in an effort to have a fair debate. But the left does not use the internet to educate themselves, they use it to lecture the rest of us.

For those of you who don’t work in higher education or know many people who do, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You know all those oh-so-erudite and sophisticated lefty professors who routinely thumb their noses at “the flyover?” Well, that’s where most of them are from. In the quarter-century I spent in academe, I could count on one hand the number of fellow students and colleagues who are of the Northeast-corridor, Oak Park, Napa Valley, blue-blood Ivy-League variety. The vast majority are from the center of Illinois, the hills of West Virginia, the Arkansas Delta… Their parents are factory workers, carpenters, farmers… And that’s perhaps the saddest thing of all — minus the degrees, they are the yahoos they hate.

Thanks in large part to the non-stop lecturing, arrogance, and condescension from the left, the Democrat party got taken to the woodshed in November. If they keep it up, they’ll live there for a generation.

I Live

A lot has happened since my last post. After twenty-five years in higher education, I no longer have to think about how many more years I can bear it. The state of Illinois, in part, made the decision for me through decades of (mostly liberal democrat) mismanagement and a budget crisis now in its third year. The results have been an exodus of those seeking better economic opportunity, rapidly shrinking enrollment at several of the state’s universities, and a concerted effort to recruit anyone with a pulse to stem the bleeding. It wasn’t enough, however, so last summer I was politely informed that my services would no longer be required.

While the prospect of packing a truck and finding a new career at this point in my life was somewhat daunting, I now feel relieved. A quarter century ago, I taught college-level research and professional writing. The last few years, it was remedial sentence writing and ESL.

Same course.

I am now living in the last best place (some call it “Montana”), and while I’m slinging beer, wine and food like a college student, I haven’t missed academia for one second.

More to come, and soon.

 

Dear Bill Maher,

I’d like to address something you said recently during your New Rules segment:

Conservatives…don’t care about anyone who isn’t white.

One of the fundamental differences between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives don’t care about people as political identities; we care about people as individuals. Liberals are the ones who categorize everyone for the purpose of using them as political soccer balls.

To a liberal, Barack Obama is black first and Barack Obama second. To a conservative, Barack Obama is Barack Obama. To a liberal, Lena Dunham is a woman/victim of the patriarchy/rape-culturalista. To a conservative, she’s just some dumpy broad with a show.

As a result, it’s easy to claim conservatives are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., because the vast majority of us honestly, genuinely, truthfully, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die DON’T CARE about your race, gender, or sexual orientation. All we really care about is whether or not you’re an asshole. So please, enough with the conservative-equals-bigot trope. It’s hackneyed, it’s untrue, and it bombs in Peoria.

Sincerely,
XL

 

Department of Ignorance

Every two or three years, my department asks us to review and vote on a new slew of textbooks for our introductory composition courses. There are two categories: readers and grammar/style guides. The overwhelming majority of these texts are thick, ugly, bloated monstrosities that run anywhere from 600 to 1000+ pages (for a 15-week course). Remember the good ol’ Elements of Style, which covered everything you need to know about clear sentences and paragraphs in 52 pages? It’s still in print, but I haven’t seen one on the review table in more than two decades.

The worst of the readers are encyclopedias of leftism, many of them openly organized around themes like “diversity” and “social justice” (the sample sentences/texts in the grammar guides also increasingly lean this way). Even that old standby, The Norton Reader, has become skewed. For years it included opposing arguments on subjects like torture, animal testing, and gun control. In the most recent edition, the pro-2nd Amendment essay is gone. The best of them are a bit more inclusive, but conservative points of view are woefully outnumbered.

I mention all this as prelude to something that happened recently. As I walked into the department office for coffee, a colleague was flipping through the texts on the review table. Flustered, she asked me if I had seen the reader with “not one, but two pieces by Charles Krauthammer? You know, that nazi guy from Fox?” Rather than confront her with the fact that Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Jew from Canada, I just shook my head no and said something about the worthlessness of most textbooks generally. “I mean jeez,” she continued, “when are we going to get a more liberal view?”

Really.

 

 

Higher Ed’s Excellent Adventure (2)

As an instructor of 20+ years, I have been fortunate in that my small college has been relatively free of national news-worthy student protests like those at Mizzou, Harvard, Duke, and — well — just about everywhere else. A “Slut Walk” marched past my building once, briefly disrupting my class, but most of the “social justice” activism here has been limited to “awareness” booths and diversity-themed talent shows.

That is, until the state failed to pass an education budget, resulting in layoffs and a reduction in basic services. Now students are routinely hopping on buses to the state capital and other campuses to demand something that actually does affect them — money. The booths and the talent shows continue, but they have been shoved off the front page of the student paper to make room for the one thing students should genuinely care about: what their government is doing.

Funny how quickly cash-flow, or lack thereof, can rearrange one’s priorities.

It’s a lesson the protesters at Duke in particular could stand to learn. What are they protesting, exactly? Oh, the usual… alleged racism (a single incident between the Vice President and an employee from a year and a half ago that spawned a lawsuit), and whatever else they can tack on, including a minimum-wage increase for campus workers and, of course, academic immunity for themselves while they skip class to pursue the important work of doing coloring-books and making air-fists.

Duke

While the administration has so far refused to fully cooperate (short of not having them arrested), others in the Duke community have provided encouragement. These are the usual suspects, like Michael Hardt, professor of literature and — shocker! — director of the Marxism & Society certificate program.

Tuition-and-fees at Duke is currently $67,399 per year. I wonder how quickly they would get back to class if their parents threatened to cut them off, or if they could time travel ahead a few years to see how well Michael Hardt’s classes prepared them to pay off their student loans.

As I mentioned in my previous post, reality hasn’t kept some of my colleagues from continuing to prioritize the wrong things in an effort to move students “from awareness to activism.” They day after that post, I had to endure a few minutes of a conversation between a professor and a student — a white professor talking to a white student about “white privilege.” The professor had apparently assigned a paper on the subject. It was also apparent that the existence of white privilege itself was not debatable; the assignment was simply to respond to it. While the professor was not exactly bullying the student in any direct way, it was clear the student was either confused by the subject or parroting the professor in order to get along.

Young people enter college, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, under the assumption that a degree will improve their chances at life, help them achieve their goals, and — say it ain’t so, Karl! — make money. And what do many professors tell them when they show up? That their being there at all is unfair; that it’s the result of centuries of oppression; that they should probably feel guilty about it. End of lesson; your paper is due Thursday.

This is abuse, plain and simple. The kids on that balcony are victims — not of racism or homophobia or the patriarchy — but of pedagogical malpractice at the hands of those we pay to educate and mentor them, and like too many who suffer abuse in youth, what they’re learning is how to abuse.

Bye-bye, Academe

Apologies for the lengthy hiatus, but I’ve been job new career hunting. My state is in a budget crisis, and my institution has already gone through two rounds of layoffs — mostly people who cut the grass, take out the recycling, and clean the toilets. Some administrative positions have been cut, others have been furloughed, and pay deferrals for faculty are on the way.

Meanwhile, in addition to the daily stream of emails from the union reps telling me whom to blame and how to vote, I continue to receive regular emails like this one:

Still seeking more resources on ways to implement social justice into your courses? Still excited to move from awareness to activism, but not quite sure how? Please join us for the second Social Justice [blah blah blah]…

It’s bad enough that individual faculty members use their classrooms to indoctrinate students, but to collaborate on how best to do that is a dereliction of duty. It’s also evidence of just how insular and detached from reality humanities departments have become, when encouraging “social justice” activism seems so logical that they openly advertise their efforts via spam.

What’s worse is that all of this nonsense continues apace while people who do real work — like keep the place clean and running — are sent to unemployment line, and others like me who teach things of actual value like economics, writing, and critical thinking get to have some of their wages deferred. When the administration met with the various departments to discuss cost-cutting measures in an attempt to avert wholesale disaster, did anyone suggest that maybe, just maybe, the lights and heat didn’t need to be turned on for yet another activism workshop? Dream on.

State budget issues aside, I’m convinced the “education bubble” is real and that it will burst sooner rather than later. The downside, at least in the short term, is that I will likely have to find a new career. The upside is that so will many of the SJPs (social justice profs). Maybe then, when forced to make a living in the real world, they will realize what so many of us have always known: that their “skills” have little — if any — practical value.

 

 

 

Introducing the Wh.D (Doctorate in Whining)

Yet another group of students — this time at the University of Illinois — is claiming racism on campus and issuing demands. You know the drill: claim a few (unverifiable) events as acts of oppression, huddle up in front of the administration building with signs, and wait for the cameras to show up.

To illustrate the vacuousness of their claims, here are a few choice quotes from two of its members:

We daily go through such experiences on this campus that we are dying socially. — Pasha Trotter

Are you waiting for us to physically be killed? Because that’s one of the remedies that appears on the page. –Porshe Garner

And my personal favorite:

Our last demand was that, whatever the collective group of black students on this campus ask for, the university simply meet those demands. — Pasha Trotter

Just out of curiosity, and to practice my sleuthing skills a bit, I went looking for any info/background I could find on Ms. Trotter. First, her bio:

PASHA TROTTER is a PhD student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign whose research takes shape through an assemblage of interests – critical race studies, state violence, biopolitics, and performances of resistance mediated by social media. Pasha examines a range of locations and resources: schools, policy documents, and social media sites to make sense of how neoliberal logics construct Black death. Pasha’s social and community engagement practices, which span working alongside activist collectives to teaching hip hop and religion, guides her overall academic scholarship. [link]

That’s three sentences, all of them bad. If you ever wondered what exactly is going on in the education departments of our flagship institutions, there it is.

More interesting to me, however, is the fact that in September of 2014, Ms. Trotter filed a FOIA request with the U of I’s Records Officer asking for RNUA (Report of Non-University Activities) information on 12 of her professors in the Education Department. RNUAs are standard requirements at many universities. Essentially, any university employee who is involved in political activities or is otherwise employed elsewhere, even part-time, is required to file an RNUA so that the university can assess whether there is any potential conflict of interest.

I could not find what — if anything — Ms. Trotter found out, but the real question is why she was interested in keeping tabs on what her own professors are doing on their own time. Did she want to out faculty she suspected were involved in political activities she didn’t like? Did she know about such activities and want to “nail them” for not filing an RNUA? I don’t know, but I can’t think of a reason for filing such a request that would be motivated by benevolence or admiration.

If her more public activities are any indication, I’m willing to bet Ms. Trotter, and others like her on campuses nationwide, are less interested in becoming professors than in being professional agitators.