Among the Intellectualoids

Snakes On Board

Talibani Yale flies in its own airspace. See for yourself in this special screening of "Snakes on Yale's Plane."

By 4.27.06

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I've had difficulty explaining exactly how bizarre Yale's behavior has been regarding its admission of Taliban bigshot Sayed Rahamatullah Hashemi, the Boola Boola Mullah. Despite all the outrage from alumni, columnists, bloggers, and letter-writers, Yale has barely even acknowledged that it has a problem, and by failing to do so has managed to make itself look even more arrogant, out of touch, and abysmally clueless.

It's like...it's like their house is on fire but nobody cares, since they say the fire marshal has inspected them and found nothing wrong. Or it's like a bear is loose in their dorms, but they don't mind because they let him in...but not quite a bear, since the Taliban's envoy is much smoother and less alarming than a bear.

Now news breaks that Yale is blithely taking aim at its other foot, and considering hiring a history professor named Juan Cole, whose notoriety comes chiefly from his anti-war, anti-Bush screeds on his blog, and from his vehement opposition to Israel's attempts to defend itself. And the perfect analogy hit me.

By now you've probably heard of this corny Snakes on a Plane movie, in which an assassin sets a crateful of poisonous vipers loose on an airliner and Samuel L. Jackson has to fight them off, armed with little more than a potty-mouth catchphrase. The movie's not out yet, but all this buzz about it has got me thinking about what a great allegory it is for the Yale Taliban story.

If you haven't been following the story of Yale's Talib, just click the links as you go and you'll be up to speed. If you have kept up, you ought to recognize some of Yale's tactics in this little parable -- in which the pilot is Yale's President Levin, the Tower controller is the media and bloggers, and Samuel L. Jackson represents the unsuspecting alumni and students who boarded Yale Airlines long ago, and have found themselves taken for a ride.

Finally, I should remind the reader that I don't think Mr. Hashemi is a terrorist, or a physical danger to anyone. But this is an allegory, and there are other reasons that the idea of serpents and their poison is especially apt: see, e.g., Genesis 3.

SNAKES ON YALE'S PLANE

PILOT: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude here on Yale Airlines Fight 009, so feel free to walk about the cabin. You'll notice we have some very special passengers aboard. They don't have any legs or arms, but they're very huggy...

TOWER: Umm, attention Yale flight 009. We're getting some reports here that you've got...snakes loose on your plane. That can't be right...can you confirm?

PILOT: Roger, Tower, we copy.

TOWER: You want to do something about that? Can you get rid of the snakes?

PILOT: Now, why would we want to do that?

TOWER: Wait, Yale 009, you wanted these things on board?

PILOT: (chuckles) Well, we couldn't let Harvard Airlines get 'em! Besides, who wouldn't want a chance to learn from our sinuous, scaly friends, Tower?

MEANWHILE, BACK IN COACH...

FOX NEWS REPORTER: Hey, anybody seen my puppy? What's this in the overhead compartment? Is that...a snake? AIEEE!

SNAKE: SSSSSSSS! (note: watch that video!)

SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Man, those co-ed bathrooms are creepy. Hey, did somebody say there are snakes on this plane?

OTHER COACH PASSENGERS: Snakes! On our plane! We're never giving this airline any money for the rest of our liveswhile these snakes are here!

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: That's the most hateful thing I've ever heard a passenger say! Are you retarded?

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