Monday, April 11, 2016

Tea Parties and Academic Hoods

Tom and I get together for coffee each Saturday, and sometimes during the week.  Not long ago we talked about my recent article on American Eurocentricity.  He did not think it would go over well with some of the faculty at one of our local colleges because they have climbed into a cupboard reserved for those who have developed a great distaste for anything that bespeaks of white male supremacy, by which they mean all of those dead white males whose words and deeds are the proximate cause of all things bad in American history, and all those living white males who refuse to repudiate them.  It’s a little weird since most of them are white males, or closely related to one.  I suppose they are trying to correct the chauvinistic romanticism attached to stories about how America was settled and the West was won by doing what they can to blot it out through indignant self righteousness, replacing it with other romantic stories that continue to obscure reality.

It strikes me as a case of those who wear the academic hood of intellectual white privilege trying to turn it inside out to look more like a hair shirt as they proudly beat their chests crying mea culpa, hoping to receive absolution for the sins of generations past, while simultaneously condemning anyone who doesn’t join in their chorus.  I trust it’s simply a college fad that will soon pass so that the academy (at least our local version of it) can get on with serious business.  In the meantime, in their bumbling sort of way they may stimulate a needed corrective, so it might turn out OK.

It got me thinking about our region, and how it tends to be conservative on most issues, with a flourishing band of tea party types who, in many ways, are a lot like the several hyper liberal faculty members at the college.  They both love to wallow in their indignation.  It’s their drug of choice.  They both easily take offense at anything that challenges their world view.  They both distrust authority, but behave with authoritarian zeal.  They over simplify every issue, and are fully confident that their view is correct and true regardless of any evidence to the contrary.  The main difference is that the tea partiers quote O’Reilly and Hannity while the academics quote Heidegger (Oops! Not him.  He was a bad white guy).  Let’s start over: Dubois and Malcolm X (Although that doesn’t work very well either when you think about it.)  Oh well, I’m sure they quote somebody. 

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