I was driving to my gainful employment as a Latin teacher when I heard Rush Limbaugh discussing how worthless a degree in Classical Studies is. I normally listen to Rush while driving between my private tutoring clients (I own a successful small business) and my duties as a part-time Latin teacher at a preparatory high school.
I feel compelled to comment on this because, as an alumna of Hillsdale College with a degree in Classical Studies from their first-rate department, I have managed to be a small business owner, author, editor, and teacher in my chosen field. What prompted Rush to embark on his rant was the incoherent scribbling of a Classical Studies major in the "We are the 99%" notebook. The author of this gaseous emission was complaining of his/her lack of job prospects and future student loan burden. Rush is right to scoff at the proliferation of degree programs with the dreadful appendage "studies." He is even right to suspect the credentials of a graduate with a degree in Classical Studies from a large, public university, as the leadership of most of these departments have utterly abandoned their posts as guardians of the Western tradition and have rushed to give aid and comfort to the barbarians at the gates. The target of Rush's criticism – a loathsome loser unworthy of calling him/herself a student of the Classics – does indeed deserve the scorn which Rush generously piled on.
But the study of the Western Heritage (including in the original, classical languages) does not deserve that derision. It is what Hillsdale College exists to defend, along with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Why does it matter? Because Rush Limbaugh's endorsement of and frequent on-air commercials for Hillsdale College have been perhaps the most successful marketing campaign that my alma mater has ever attempted.
It was embarrassing for me to listen to Rush's uninformed and utterly juvenile assault on the study of the very thing that he purports to esteem -- Western Civilization. Granted that many students of Classical Studies are lazy whiners who don't really learn much Latin or Greek; granted that many professors of Classical Studies in this country are liberal shills. These facts are chronologically relative and are irrelevant to the question of whether the study of the pillars of Western Civilization is worthy of great minds. I shall not make a list of all the founding fathers who, along with Karl Marx, studied the classics. The study of the Classics and its role in the education of the founders has been well defended and documented in (former Hillsdale faculty member) Tracy Lee Simmons' Climbing Parnassus.
When Latin lost its place in the curriculum of public schools, there was a corresponding collapse in verbal SAT scores. When did this occur? Beginning in 1962. In fact, one could even argue that the exit of Latin from the schools corresponded to the dreaded social and political upheavals of the 1960's. I won't make that argument, but it's at least worth considering, along with other factors. There is a utilitarian argument for Latin. But to make it misses the deeper point about the nature of the mind, its proper cultivation, and the resulting effect on the ability of citizens to be self-governing.
So, Dr. Arnn: are you going to respond? You are one of the most articulate defenders of the Classical and Judeo-Christian foundations of this nation. You are a great and beloved teacher. I think Mr. Limbaugh needs a lesson.