The Spectacle Blog

Paglia Joins The Academic Counterrevolution

By on 3.6.06 | 12:57PM

The Opinionator was fascinated enough with my supposedly oddball ideas about what we need by way of education in America to write:

Perhaps the most unusual conservative criticism of Bush comes from James G. Poulos at the American Spectator blog, who faults the president's plan to improve math and science education: "Our culture is not doomed but it is unraveling," he writes. "Building a professional army of scientists and mathematicians is precisely the wrong kind of educational emphasis required" to change that.

Now cometh Camille Paglia, joining Alan Dershowitz in dressing down the ivory tower generally and Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences in particular. She's worth quoting at length. I could not have said it better myself:

"Will its members acknowledge their own insularity and excesses, or will they continue down the path of smug self-congratulation and vanity? Harvard's reputation for disinterested scholarship has been severely gored by the shadowy manipulations of the self-serving cabal who forced Mr. Summers's premature resignation. That so few of the ostensibly aggrieved faculty members deigned to speak on the record to The Crimson, the student newspaper, illustrates the cagey hypocrisy that permeates fashionable campus leftism, which worships diversity in all things except diversity of thought.

"If Harvard cannot correct itself in this crisis, it will signal that academe cannot be trusted to reform itself from within. There is a rising tide of off-campus discontent with the monolithic orthodoxies of humanities departments. David Horowitz, a 1960's radical turned conservative, has researched the lopsided party registration of humanities professors (who tend to be Democrats like me) and proposed an "academic bill of rights" to guarantee fairness and political balance in the classroom. The conservative radio host Sean Hannity regularly broadcasts students' justifiable complaints about biased teachers and urges students to take recording devices to class to gather evidence. [...]

"Over the last three decades of trendy poststructuralism and postmodernism, American humanities professors fell under the sway of a ruthless guild mentality. Corruption and cronyism became systemic, spread by the ostentatious conference circuit and the new humanities centers of the 1980's. Harvard did not begin that blight but became an extreme example of it. Amid the ruins of the Summers presidency, there is a tremendous opportunity for recovery and renewal of the humanities."

Paglia name-checking Hannity! In the New York Times! "Justifiable" indeed: this is another hideous portait of why our ignorance of the fatuous and disgraceful self-abasement of the humanities -- guardian and teacher discipline of our very culture -- in favor of an all-out push for technocrats to operate the World of Tomorrow is a grievous, unforgiveable error. How dare we seek "competetiveness" at the expense of civilization?

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