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Up From Academia

The left-wing country club should revise its admissions policies. Also: American error. Buttered bread. Potter penumbras. And more!

10.27.05

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STRANGLEHOLD
Re: James Bowman's Liberal Obsolescence:

James Bowman cannot seriously believe that the left's stranglehold on the contemporary academy is going to wither away of its own accord, as radical professors grow "bored" with their deconstructionist wordplay and once again engage in a serious, respectful exploration of the great works of Western culture. This view fundamentally misunderstands the leftist educational agenda, which is not about knowledge, but about politics. The left sees its educational role as one of indoctrinating young people to oppose the individualist, capitalist ethos upon which this country was built. They surely will not grow "bored" with their agenda, at least so long as they have not succeeded in turning America into the socialist dystopia of their dreams. Mr. Bowman's hopeful musings strike me as the kind of wishful thinking that many conservative intellectuals engage in, who refuse to admit once and for all that, with very few exceptions, our nation's institutions of higher education are beyond repair. See my article on this subject, "Reclaiming Higher Education From The Left," that was posted on American Thinker and Real Clear Politics last month.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York

If the elite, liberal college professors want to know why there are so few conservatives among their ranks, I think I can explain it in one sentence. "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."

Looking back on my own education, I can tell you that by far, the best undergrad and graduate school professors I ever had were the ones who had prior or parallel careers in the business world. The worst professors I had, and there were plenty of them, were the 'career' academicians, the ones who spent the ten years following high school 'studying,' and had been 'teaching' ever since. Most were pompous windbags who craved the sound of their own voices above anything else and who devoted a whopping 4 to 6 hours per week to classroom instruction. And these are the people who, like Howard Dean, claim that Republicans never work a day in their lives? Amazing.
-- Kevin Cecotti

Reading James Bowman's article brought back memories. Early in my college career I toyed with the idea of majoring in English. Then after sitting through a couple of idiotic classes worth of straining metaphorical gnats to arrive at professors' predetermined leftist conclusions I decided I had had enough.

At that point I switched to engineering, a field where there are discernible, testable, definitive correct answers that cannot be wished away according to the professors' political leanings. I'm referring to the hard engineering disciplines, of course (i.e., structural, mechanical, electrical, chemical, etc.). The soft engineering disciplines (i.e. environmental, transportation, industrial, etc.) are susceptible to monkey business. But anyone who chooses to ignore, say, the laws of gravity or thermodynamics will soon find that their building will not stand up, their engine will not function, their compressor will not compress, their diffuser will not diffuse, and so on. These unforgiving immutable laws care not one whit about engineers' political opinions.

I tip my hat to Mr. Bowman and the rest of your staff who were able to persevere in the literary disciplines long enough to become as proficient at it as you are. I know I didn't have the stomach for it. Your work supports our freedom, a very noble pursuit indeed. The most delicious aspect of it, to me, is that you were probably trained in your craft by flocks of leftist dingbats whose crazy ideas you so adeptly discredit. It is a real testament to your abilities of being able to cavort with fools but not be taken in by their folly.
-- R. Trotter

IRAQ PLANS
Re: Christopher Orlet's What's the Plan, Stan?:

Wow! Outstanding! Every Specator.org reader ought to print this one off, and paste it to a Lib's forehead.
-- C. T. Botkin
Maj. USMC (Ret)
Muncie, Indiana

Thank you for presenting Christopher Orlet's concise recitation of the positive results of our Iraqi Adventure (offered in the positive sense). Here is one positive that it seems many people overlook. I am certainly not privy to any secret plans, nor am I a military planner, however I would be amazed if our military wasn't taking the opportunity to build permanent military bases in the Kurdish and Shiite regions if Iraq. This is in addition to the permanent bases that are being established in Afghanistan. Is it so difficult for the left in this country to see the benefit of having permanent, fully armed (nuclear capable) military installations bracketing Iran, within two hours flight of Syria and looming above Kashmir (in an attempt to keep the Pakistanis and the Indians from launching a full blown nuclear war over some uninhabitable mountains)?

We used to refer to Israel as our aircraft carrier in the Middle East. With a permanent presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to our Israeli friends, our military can essentially leap frog from one Middle East hot spot to the next, all the way to the Indian Ocean.

If you think that your liberal adversaries are incapable of grasping this argument try this; when they ask when we will "get out of Iraq" simply tell them "the first Thursday after we get out of Germany."
-- Keith Iott
Salisbury, Maryland

Chris Orlet makes a good case that, contrary to "popular" understanding, there was indeed a plan for post-war Iraq.

But if you would like to read about a plan that WORKED, take a gander at the U.S. Army WW2 "Green Book" entitled "The Supreme Command," Chapter IV, "The Machinery of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force)." The thirty-two pages of that single chapter sound like a hell of a lot better thinking (and planning) than went into post-war Iraq. Most significantly relevant to the present situation, consider the section on "Press Censorship," pages 90-91:

In general they [the press] were not to release military information that might prove helpful to the enemy, unauthenticated, inaccurate, or false reports, or reports likely to injure the morale of the Allied forces. The following items were among those which could be cleared only by SHAEF censors:

(1) all matters of high policy involving SHAEF or the Supreme Commander;
(2) the release of information on troops of various nationalities taking part in actions;
(3) casualties and troop strength;
(4) cipher work and code words;
(5) civil affairs;
(6) confirmation of enemy allegations, atrocities and the like;
(7) escapes;
(8) gas and chemical warfare;
(9) military equipment;
(10) strength and morale of troops;
(11) high-ranking officers at SHAEF;
(12) changes in command and movement of high-ranking officers;
(13) stories concerning prisoners of war involving harsh treatment;
(14) psychological warfare;
(15) resistance and underground movements;
(16) sabotage and spies; and
(17) naval ships and commanders.

At least half of the items on the above list sounds like the mission statement of the dominant media covering current events in Iraq. How far we have come!

As Lincoln quoted on the eve of hostilities between the States, "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Truly either the division must be ended, or our house will fall.
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

When America is finished, in ashes (it will happen soon), you may get the idea your country was simply WRONG right from 1776.
-- unsigned

OPT-IN TAXATION
Re: W. James Antle III's The Tax Reform Trap:

The IRS should have one more box on the form for those who indeed want to pay more in taxes. This would be great! We would then finally know what percentage of the work force believes that taxes are too low. Then the politicians would be able to change the tax codes accordingly. It would only take one year to find this out. This should make all parties happy. The government gets to collect more in taxes and those who want to pay more will be able to do so and politicians will not have to guess at which point taxes are too high.
-- Jeff Brownell

ONEROUS OWNERSHIP
Re: Lawrence Henry's Danger Street:

As a father who already went through the terrifying years with two teenage sons learning to drive and being out in a car alone, I am now a grandfather facing the thought of having my teenage granddaughters doing the same thing. I am amazed at many of the attitudes of people my sons' ages who are now parents as well as many of my current peers who should know better when it comes to teenage driving. Many see it as a "right," and if truth be told, a relief from having to drive their kids to activities, thereby removing themselves from their kids lives at the tender age of 16! What I have found incredible is the attitudes among even the educational institutions. Their take is that every student who drives, and usually takes one or more friends or siblings as well, is one more or less student who will require the school district to provide busing. What a terrible way to save money in my opinion! As I drive by the high schools, I am struck time and again at the size of the student parking lots, totally filled with cars that range from the traditional heap, but more and more likely, populated with an over-powered late model car like the Eclipse whose ads show off the car's power while hiding the fact that the car is a really a small compact. Both parents and school administrators praise the ownership of cars for teens as they cite the work-school relationship for car ownership. My problem with this is the teens are robbing time from their studies just to work to pay the gas, insurance, etc., of a car that will probably have its maintenance put off for the costs involved. With the additional freedoms that today's teens enjoy, the parties, the trips without parents or guardians, spring break, endless parties, it is no wonder that more and more teens are dying because they really are too young for the freedoms they cannot fully appreciate or handle. Parents, just like with sex, we can either keep ignoring this or we can be ADULTS and become involved and have the strength to say "no" when needed.
-- James F. Fleming Jr.

IT'S THE AGENDA, STUPID
Re: "Crying Cons" letters in Reader Mail's Last Straws:

Here we go again. True conservatives will back Bush no matter what, conservatives are a bunch of cry babies, Bush is best, etc. What a bunch of malarkey. Conservatives are true to their agenda period. We want a SCOTUS nominee that mirrors quite close our beliefs about the Constitution. We want some of the other points in our agenda acted upon, period. We are not going to roll over, play games, and just blindly follow the leader. Ken Shreve and the one from "Cut and Shoot" (is that a real place?) have put into words my thoughts on that. Now I would like to emphasize it. We are not going to just roll over and let Bush do as he pleases. He has disappointed us more than once. His whole administration now is feeling the backlash of his broken promises. He has tried to accommodate the liberals and now they're out for blood. Bush's vote tally was low because of people like Ken (and me) who really never trusted him and supported him reluctantly (quite a few stayed home). We will do what needs to be done to succeed but there comes a point when you can beat a dead horse only so much and then you gotta bury it. For those "conservatives" who will blindly back people like Bush, you are seeing what that gets you. Bush brought this on himself when he strayed off message (just like his father). For those who think Clinton did such a wonderful job, Bush inherited the mess that good ol' boy left, however, Bush was not up to correcting it like he should have and that failure has come home to roost. Ken, you got room in that bunker? Looks like another hard winter up here.
-- Pete Chagnon

CHRISTIAN FRUITS
Re: David Haddon's Child-on-Child Crime, Stuart Koehl's letter ("Children's Book Heresy") in Reader Mail's Going Down in Plames, the "Defending Hogwarts" letters in Flat Truths, the "Proverbial Potter" letters in Those Trojan Horses, the "Dirty Harry" letters in The Devil's Details, the "Potter's Christian Joy" letters in Wie Was Robbed, and the "Pithiness and Potter" letters in Eyes on the Road:

One wonders if there is room in the moral universe of Stuart Koehl for an honest disagreement. Could someone be a fan of Tolkien and Lewis but not of J.K. Rowling? Is it possible that even an Evangelical could grasp the intellectual nuance and symbolism of middle earth, and yet come to another conclusion regarding Potterville? Aside from the straw-man arguments and inventive accusations, I'm entirely put off by the lack of charity and the condescending tone of Harry's defenders.

If indeed it is self-evident to those who claim the Potter series to be Christian in worldview, it is not evident in many of the replies that I have received. If it is true that a tree can be judged by its fruit, this one is sour.
-- Mike Lopke
Boise, Idaho

VOICE OF MODERATION
Re: the "Crying Cons" letters in Reader Mail's Last Straws:

The right-wing kooks are as bad as the left-wing loonies, what do they want, a Gore or Kerry in the White House? They sound like a bunch of spoiled brats, if they don't get their way, they will ruin the game everyone. George Bush is doing a very good job, and the right wing kooks are just making life more difficult for him. I used to think I was a Conservative, but then I realized I am not a spoiled brat, but a mature adult, so now I consider myself a moderate. Thank God for Bush.
-- John Kosarko

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