Among the Intellectualoids

Optical Allusion

Sarah Palin just keeps rollin' along.

By 8.13.10

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The reason they call it the Web is that it catches more flies-by-night than the aluminum siding business. Some image, poignant in its charisma or its grotesquerie, captivates the public imagination and suddenly millions of otherwise productive citizens must stop whatever they are doing and see the kitty trampoline unto the roof or the pea which sprouted in a man's lung. Some of these buzz arts are followed by buzzards, as 30-year careers are crushed by 30 seconds of crassness. This week's target was Sarah Palin, the former governess of Alaska, if that's the correct way to say female governor.

What Palin did to cash in the wroth ire of retiring liberals nationwide was to roll her eyes. It wasn't what she said, it wasn't even how she said it, it was that she turned and gave a knowing look that amounted to a rolling of the eyes. Well, in the 1990s Bill Clinton promised us a revolution in optics and I guess we finally got one.

The story, in case you have been occupying yourself with more momentous matters like Wall Street and Tiger Woods going down, is as follows. A lady, if that's the word I'm looking for, was protesting the filming of Sarah's documentary series. Her idea of a political banner was a horizontal horror about 100 feet wide (serving as a new sort of picket fence) bearing the legend: WORST GOVERNOR EVER. Sarah respectfully asked for a breakdown on the forensic method used to calibrate the degrees of worseness in the gubernatorial sweepstakes. The woman responded: "You walked out on your responsibility to serve your term when cash was waved in front of your face, and you left to become a celebrity."

Quoth Sarah in an excellent comeback, both witty riposte and logical rejoinder: "Oh, you wanted me to be your governor! I'm honored! Thank you!" That is as quick-on-your-political-feet as anyone this side of Dennis Miller, although Democrats dismiss it as a dumb broadside.

Then she asked Our Lady of the Presumption what she did for a livelihood when she wasn't stirring up a lively 'hood.

"A teacher."

At this point, Sarah makes a turn-to-the-right to glance toward someone off-camera. The left wing of the blogosphere has been ululating in outrage over the perception that her turn was not dexterous but sinister. She rolled her eyes at a teacher! At the whole teaching profession! What if she becomes a roll model?! Why, the optic nerve of that woman! It's bad enough that she turns heads, now she's rolling eyes!

Sarah herself lost no time twittering back to these twits with the standard line about how my grandparents were teachers, my father was a teacher, ladidah. (Well, my grandfather was an eye-roller, so there. He used to roll those eyes up a hill one by one in 100-degree weather back during the Depression.) I would have just answered that all this cash-waving made my eyes roll as I tried to keep them on the prize. And immediately started selling T-shirts: "Eye roll my own!" "Eye roll with the punches!"

TRUTH BE TOLD, if truth is a meaningful element in such discussions, I join Sarah in rolling my eyes at teachers. The profession of teaching is an honorable one, but the leftist teachers who dominate schools today are dishonoring it by much of what they profess. Look at this woman herself. First, her conclusion that Sarah left office just to cash in her celebrity sounds like one she reached via a long jump, hardly the stuff of judicious analysis. Second, her bestowal of the Worst Governor Ever lifetime achievement award based on that critique smacks of the hyperbolic rhetoric students are supposed to unlearn in school.

My own children, despite attending Jewish parochial schools, are constantly subjected to this brand of haranguing by the teachers in the secular department. One daughter had an entire test in science period devoted to global warming. A class play about forests (in 3rd grade!) included speaking birds who advocated for killing the woodchopper for his desecration of trees.

A different daughter, as a junior in high school, had to write a report on an angry novel about Southern racism in the early 20th Century, where blacks had to wait for whites to go first over the bridge and a host of similar indignities. In her essay, she wrote that such atrocities are a thing of the past. In the margin the teacher commented: "Who says?" In each case, I considered unleashing angry missives but remembered that these activists held my children's grades hostage.

So when these teachers stop being so contentious and tendentious we will begin again to eye them with respect. In the meantime, they should not be surprised to see some rotation of pupils.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.