A Strange New Respect for the Right? Part One

 

shutterstock_118040215Elections have consequences — above all, presidential elections, especially presidential elections that produce majorities in the House and the Senate for the party of the President-elect. Donald Trump’s election should have produced a bit of rethinking on the part of the Democrats in Congress. So far, however, there is little evidence for that. Instead, the Democrats appear to be circling the wagons and devoting their attention to what the feminists forty years ago called “consciousness-raising.” In the House, they re-elected as their leader the superannuated woman who drove them into a ditch, and there is a move afoot within the party, supported by the minority leader in the Senate, to select as chairman of the Democratic National Committee the most radical member of the House — an admirer of the Muslim Brotherhood who for a time flirted with Louis Farrakhan and who once compared 9/11 with the Reichstag Fire. In the mainstream press, what one reads from liberal commentators these days is mostly rant; and, on the campuses, there has been a descent into childishness, and temper tantrums seem the norm. With his tweets, Donald Trump seems to be playing the hysterical Left like a piano. Where, one is sorely tempted to ask, is the adult wing of the Democratic Party?

Here and there one finds a hint that there might still be adults in that hoary institution and that they suspect that it might be a good idea to stop demonizing their opponents and to begin examining their thinking. This is not happening anywhere on the campuses of our major universities, as far as I can tell. There, as never before, the wagons are being circled, and consciousness-raising has been mainstreamed. It is easy to demonize those who dissent — Barack Obama legitimized the practice by showing how it is done — and there is next to no one on any of these campuses capable of fighting back. For a very long time, the leading institutions of higher learning have been reluctant to hire, much less tenure, known conservatives. At a conference held at Harvard three years ago, one faculty member remarked to me that what he called “the entire Republican caucus of Harvard College” was in the room. They were three in number. At Yale, these days, there is, I believe, only one conservative on the faculty, and he is a computer scientist. When it comes to opening up minds and considering the arguments articulated by those who strongly disagree with current fashion, our universities will be last in line (if they get in line at all).

Where there is a hint, strangely enough, is in the press. Pravda-on-the-Potomac — which sports 50 columnists, not a single one of whom voted for Trump — is said to be looking for a pro-Trump columnist or two. Don Surber is not impressed:

Being all-in for Hillary is now a problem for a newspaper that wants to be a power in a nation where 62,904,682 voted for Trump — where Trump carried thirty states. But the problem cannot be fixed by hiring me or anyone else as a token Trumpkin.

We saw what happened when the paper hired Kathleen Parker and Jennifer Rubin. They became the go-to conservatives to bash other conservatives for daring to act conservative.

The Washington Post and every other newspaper in the country is in trouble because they DEMANDED readers vote for Hillary, and readers in thirty states flipped them the bird. The credibility of Trump-bashing newspapers is gone for at least a generation.

Nor should Surber be impressed.

In another quarter, however, something more interesting is going on. On December 3, in Pravda-on-the-Hudson, Molly Worthen published a column pointing to something that should have been obvious to liberals long ago: the young conservatives in this country are much better educated than their liberal rivals. As she observes,

A small but growing number of young conservatives see themselves not only as engaged citizens, but as guardians of an ancient intellectual tradition. The members of [one such group] were alumni of a seven-week crash course in political theory offered by the Hertog Foundation, the family foundation of the Wall Street financier Roger Hertog. Attendees discuss authors like Aristotle, James Madison and Leo Strauss and hear lectures by scholars and policy experts. “Our curriculum represents what we think ought to be a high-level introduction to politics, one you rarely find in any political science department,” Peter Berkowitz, the program’s dean, told me.

The Hertog course is one of more than a dozen similar seminars sponsored by conservative and libertarian organizations around the country. Some last for months, others just a few days. Some recruit older participants, but most target college students and 20-somethings.

The syllabuses and faculty range from say, the secular Jewish milieu of Hertog to the libertarian Cato Institute to the Christian traditionalism of the John Jay Institute. But all these programs seek to correct the defects they see in mainstream higher education by stressing principles over pluralism, immersing students in the wisdom of old books and encouraging them to apply that wisdom to contemporary politics.

There is, as Worthen notes, no liberal analogue to any of this, and she rightly thinks ignorance a defect: “Liberals … can’t afford to dismiss Great Books as tools of white supremacy, or to disdain ideological training as the sort of unsavory thing that only conservatives and communists do. These are powerful tools for preparing the next generation of activists to succeed in the bewildering ideological landscape of the country that just elected Mr. Trump.” One example she offers is Brittany Corona. Since, Worthen observes, she:

graduated from Colorado Christian University in 2012, she has enrolled in several conservative study programs — the John Jay Institute’s Fellows Program, the Claremont Institute’s Publius Fellowship and the Young Conservatives Coalition Fellowship — and has attended conferences hosted by the Liberty Fund. All helped her see that “you can engage with the left in an academic way, to understand the roots of philosophical differences,” she told me. “So much of the problem with Fox and MSNBC is that everyone is talking past each other, and they don’t understand their own philosophical positions.”

The only objection that I would make to these observations is to Worthen’s phrase “ideological training.” I have taught off and on for decades at these gatherings, and I can testify that Worthen is wrong to call them “ideological echo chambers.” The great writers of the past agree on the questions; they are at odds with regard to the answers; and the aim of these institutes is nearly always education, not indoctrination. Worthen seems to sense this but not to understand it, and she rightly mourns the fact that, “at most universities, studying political philosophy has become a form of countercultural rebellion, a discipline marginalized by courses in supposedly practical subjects like business and communications. Campus activists may learn organizing strategies and the argot of identity politics, but few study the history of their own ideas.”

Damon Linker — whom I got to know a couple of years ago at a Liberty Fund conference — picks up, in a column for The Week, where Worthen left off. He asks the proper question: “So why don’t liberals follow the lead of their conservative counterparts in reading classic texts?” And he knows the answer:

Though Worthen never says so explicitly, the germ of an explanation can be found in her essay when she writes, somewhat defensively, that liberals “can’t afford to dismiss Great Books as tools of white supremacy.” And why would they be tempted to do that? Because most so-called liberals today aren’t liberals at all. They’re progressives — and progressivism is an ideology that has little if any interest in learning from the greatest books, ideas, and thinkers of the past. And that’s because, as the name implies, progressivism is a theory of historical progress. It doesn’t see itself as an ideological project with premises and goals that had to be established against alternative views. Rather, at any given moment it identifies itself with empiricism, pragmatism, and the supposedly neutral, incontestable examination of facts and data, which it marshals for the sake of building a future that is always self-evidently superior (in a moral sense) to everything that came before.

The past, for a progressive, is something to be sloughed off, jettisoned, moved beyond, transcended. That doesn’t mean progressive-minded scholars don’t study the past. Many do. But when they do, it is often in a spirit of antiquarian curiosity about how the oppressor classes and benighted masses of past ages managed to defend the indefensible — the atavistic prejudices about race, gender, and other forms of identity that permeated the past and that “we” have now come to see as obviously, indisputably repulsive.

Whereas conservatives look to the past in search of wisdom, inclined as they are to presume that the greatest writers of past ages may well have been wiser than we are — and displayed greater understanding about morality and politics than we do — progressives tend to see that same past as a graveyard packed with justly dead ideas.

No wonder they don’t spend time reading Great Books.

Damon does not think that much of anything will happen until his fellow liberals “separate themselves and their ideas from the powerful but pernicious ideology of progressivism,” and he is surely right.

Progressivism is a blind faith. Instead of believing in revelation, one believes in . . . progress. In this regard, progressivism resembles communism, fascism, and national socialism — all of which presumed that they were on the right side of history. Such a conviction relieves one of the need to think prudentially. Indeed, it relieves one from the need to think at all: one need only surrender to the Zeitgeist and go with the flow — which is why today’s liberalism is essentially, as both columnists imply, brain dead. Ask a progressive why he or she believes in progress, and you will get in return an astonished stare. Things are, you see, getting better all the time, and that is all there is to it.

This conviction also explains why liberals sneer at their opponents, demonize them, denounce them as “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” and refuse to engage their arguments. They descend to insults because they have no real idea why they stand where they stand. They have attitudes but they are bereft of ideas. In consequence, when they discover that they have been digging themselves into a hole, they respond by digging deeper, as they are doing right now.

The programs that Molly Worthen identifies were established — some of them decades ago — because conservatives became convinced that our universities were to an ever increasing degree abandoning liberal education, and students were graduating from our leading schools of higher education with virtually no familiarity with the long history of argument in the West concerning justice, institutions of self-government, the dictates of morality, and the like.

I can testify that their concerns were apt. For something like a quarter of a century, I served on the Oklahoma Committee of Selection for the Rhodes Scholarships. I did two stints as its secretary, and I served also a couple of times on the district committee that made the final selections. Early on, we made it a practice to end interviews by asking candidates to identify 20-or-so individuals, institutions, or events from a list we drew up — items such as Isaiah, Odysseus, Xerxes, Themistocles, Caligula, Constantine, Averroes, St. Jerome, Charlemagne, Abelard and Heloise, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Thomas Aquinas, Magna Carta, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Louis XIV, Robespierre, Immanuel Kant, Otto von Bismarck, George Marshall, Marlene Dietrich, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, the European Coal and Steel Community. The list was long and varied, and in the 1980s and early 1990s the candidates — especially, those from elite schools — did pretty well. Then, suddenly, it ceased to be worthwhile to ask questions of this sort. For the new crop was almost to a woman and man culturally illiterate. If Molly Worthen and Damon Linker were to dig deeper, I suspect that they would discover that the problem they identify is rooted in curricular decisions made at our great universities.

Forty years ago, when I was in my last year as a graduate student at Yale, I taught in a program called Directed Studies. It was a one-year boot camp for the very best entering freshmen. It consisted of three year-long courses: History and Politics One, Literature One, and Philosophy One. In each class, the students started at the beginning — with, say, Herodotus, the Jewish Bible, and the pre-Socratics — and ended in the 20th century — with, say, Heidegger, T. S. Eliot, and Wittgenstein. Twenty years ago, I returned as a visiting professor to teach History and Politics One in the same program. I was by no means the only visitor. The director could not find in the Yale faculty enough instructors ready and willing to do the job. Teaching the very best students in the college a survey of the tradition of political rumination was beyond the capacity of all but a handful of those on the Yale University teaching staff. The old liberal arts curriculum, which is still intact here at Hillsdale, produced citizens with a broad range of knowledge and a general familiarity with our cultural tradition. Today you cannot assume such knowledge on the part of a distinguished university’s faculty. As Damon acknowledged, progressivism really is pernicious. It is the ideology of the brain dead.

There is, let me add, one more indicator that there are some on the liberal left who are beginning to entertain the possibility that there might be something amiss with our institutions of higher education. This past Wednesday, I had a guest in the seminar I teach here at Hillsdale once every four years on Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Tocqueville under the rubric Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift (which is the title I gave a book I published shortly after Barack Obama came to power). He had been sent by Pravda-on-the-Hudson to take a look at Hillsdale College. He was an interesting man. He was now retired, but he had done a lengthy stint as that paper’s bureau chief in Beijing, and he knew a thing or two. I had dinner with him on Thursday night. Whether he was sent to do a hit job on the college or to explore an institution which still attempts to instill in its students a close familiarity with the Western tradition I could not discern. Perhaps someone at Pravda is genuinely curious. I certainly hope so. But, of course, it is possible that the editors of that rag merely want to demonize those whom they regard as deplorable and irredeemable.

Stay tuned. I am off on Monday to the National Institutes of Health for another round of bladder cancer surgery. By the time I get back on Wednesday night, the feature article this gentleman was assigned to produce may have appeared. If so, I will write a sequel to this piece. There needs to be an intellectual reawakening on the Left. I doubt that Donald Trump’s election will produce it. But, if he were to succeed and if the Republican Party were to become for a time the natural governing party of the nation, . . . Dream on, you say, dream on — and I do. I do.

Published in Education
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 50 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Profile photo of MRK Member
    MRK

    Prayers for you.

    • #1
    • December 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm
  2. Profile photo of Chuck Enfield Thatcher

    Good luck and get well Dr. Rahe.

    • #2
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:02 pm
  3. Profile photo of tigerlily Member

    MRK:Prayers for you.

    Yes.

    • #3
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:20 pm
  4. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    My prayers join the others, Dr. Rahe.

    Engineers keep notebooks. These contain critical data, future plans, and results. The results don’t merely include that which worked. Failures are tracked too, because knowing what has been unsuccessfully tried before can save a lot of frustration later.

    A lot of progressives can’t be bothered to look into what has gone before. In part this is because it is hard work. In part it is because they care. If you don’t agree to whatever scheme they have cooked up, you don’t care, and your concerns and objections can therefore be ignored.

    They really should all sit down and read “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

    • #4
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm
  5. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Percival:My prayers join the others, Dr. Rahe.

    Engineers keep notebooks. These contain critical data, future plans, and results. The results don’t merely include that which worked. Failures are tracked too, because knowing what has been unsuccessfully tried before can save a lot of frustration later.

    A lot of progressives can’t be bothered to look into what has gone before. In part this is because it is hard work. In part it is because they care. If you don’t agree to whatever scheme they have cooked up, you don’t care, and your concerns and objections can therefore be ignored.

    They really should all sit down and read “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

    Amen.

    • #5
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm
  6. Profile photo of James Gawron Thatcher

    Dr. Rahe,

    First, our prayers are for your continued good health. Second, isn’t it odd that we are seeing a possibility of change in the culture. Nothing was possible until they were cut off from their source of power, the absolute control of the federal government. If we can continue to solidify and strengthen we may very well see an enlightenment of the progressive mind. By the way, I’m not using the word enlightenment euphemistically. I think socialism/progressivism is structurally very similar to feudalism. It is a place to hide for minds that can’t quite accept freedom & rights. Only by denying them their safe spaces, the whole university system itself, will they be forced out of their feudal superstitions and once again have respect for reason.

    In Churchill’s great phrase, “It may not be the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning.” We’ve have a very great distance to go. Maybe we can safely say we’ve taken the first step.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm
  7. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    James Gawron:Dr. Rahe,

    First, our prayers are for your continued good health. Second, isn’t it odd that we are seeing a possibility of change in the culture. Nothing was possible until they were cut off from their source of power, the absolute control of the federal government. If we can continue to solidify and strengthen we may very well see an enlightenment of the progressive mind. By the way, I’m not using the word enlightenment euphemistically. I think socialism/progressivism is structurally very similar to feudalism. It is a place to hide for minds that can’t quite accept freedom & rights. Only by denying them their safe spaces, the whole university system itself, will they be forced out of their feudal superstitions and once again have respect for reason.

    In Churchill’s great phrase, “It may not be the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning.” We’ve have a very great distance to go. Maybe we can safely say we’ve taken the first step.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I hope.

    • #7
    • December 11, 2016 at 5:52 pm
  8. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    Paul A. Rahe: On December 3, in Pravda-on-the-Hudson, Molly Worthen published a column

    Did you read the comments? All but a handful dismissed the column as a big nothingburger. They made the case that unless you drew Leftist conclusions from those so-called great books, then you’ve learned nothing at all. They truly believe that all wisdom and goodness resides with them, and that we’re barbarians to be destroyed.

    • #8
    • December 11, 2016 at 6:02 pm
  9. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    As a practical matter, the liberals have slammed the door on the Great Books. Why, most of that stuff was written by dead white guys. The little monsters in the classroom will never sit still for that.

    • #9
    • December 11, 2016 at 6:09 pm
  10. Profile photo of JamieIrons123 Thatcher

    God bless you, Mr. Rahe.

    I will pray for your speedy and complete recovery.

    Jamie

    James D. Woolery, MD

    Yale, 1969

    Molecular Biology and Biophysics

    • #10
    • December 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm
  11. Profile photo of Sal Member
    Sal

    Best wishes for a successful surgery and prompt recovery.

    Thanks for this piece that gives one reason to hope.

    • #11
    • December 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm
  12. Profile photo of Ann Member
    Ann

    Thank you for this very clear analysis. I look forward to part 2.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    • #12
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:02 pm
  13. Profile photo of Dave Carter Contributor

    Dr. Rahe, my prayers for a successful surgery and speedy recovery will be ongoing.

    With regard to the left’s ostensible introspection, I read a piece today by Nicholas Kristof on, “The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus,” and thought it was fairly “cutting edge” stuff for progressives inasmuch as it arrived at some of the same conclusions as God and Man at Yale did some 60 years ago. I’ll have more to say about it in a column shortly,…but meanwhile, Godspeed on your surgery.

    • #13
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:07 pm
  14. Profile photo of Casey Member

    I’m not sure why they need to do anything. Their candidate lost an election but in the process they gained a huge victory. Not only are they rid of conservatives but they got conservatives to vote themselves out. Trump has already done Yeoman’s work in laying the groundwork for a stronger, more efficient state.

    We may study better but if we ever get our noses out of the books we’re gonna find their fists heading right for them.

    All the best, professor.

    • #14
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:25 pm
  15. Profile photo of doulalady Member

    The same divide happens before college. Many conservative homeschoolers and charter schools give their children a head start with a classical curriculum. They usually teach history through literature. Meanwhile their “progressive” friends prefer to use Howard Zinn for their history text.

    • #15
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:51 pm
  16. Profile photo of Trinity Waters Thatcher

    Good Dr. Rahe, I’m praying for your deliverance from bodily harm.

    On a positive note, this post was worth at least three years of my contributions to Ricochet. A brilliant post, obviously deeply considered. I hope we can share optimism about our intellectual future. Cheers!

    • #16
    • December 11, 2016 at 7:55 pm
  17. Profile photo of The Reticulator Member

    Best wishes on your surgery. I had been wondering, especially when we went a while without hearing from you. Prayers from here to the one in charge.

    • #17
    • December 11, 2016 at 9:24 pm
  18. Profile photo of RushBabe49 Thatcher
    1.  Prayers for your recovery, Dr. Rahe. You are in our thoughts.
    2. ALL HAIL HILLSDALE COLLEGE! The last bastion of real higher education
    3. Froma Harrop’s column today was about Hillary as the “Martyr of 2016”, how everyone was beating up on poor Hillary. Another example of the fact that liberals do not think, they feel.
    • #18
    • December 11, 2016 at 9:37 pm
  19. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    The Right respects wisdom of books since they hope to convince. The Left has no need for this knowledge since it’s method of persuasion is to harass, demand, march, burn and ultimately use government force in all forms including the force of the gun.

    • #19
    • December 11, 2016 at 9:43 pm
  20. Profile photo of Brian McMenomy Member

    Thanks for a penetrating article, Dr. Rahe. Our prayers are with you for a successful procedure & a speedy recovery.

    Progressivism really is of a type of Marxism; history was Marxism’s god and all were compelled to worship it. This misguided belief that humans have improved morally and spiritually drives a twisted theology that denies our own humanity and laughs at humility. This is the dominant theology of the commanding heights of our culture. God forgive us.

    • #20
    • December 11, 2016 at 11:15 pm
  21. Profile photo of Ray Kujawa Thatcher

    One must appropriately ask who has really been eating the the Member-berries. Seems that it’s been the Democrats all along. Well geez!

    Much appreciation for the assessment on the state of the culture and education post-election. The future seems encouraging. Best wishes for sucess in your coming treatment.

    • #21
    • December 11, 2016 at 11:33 pm
  22. Profile photo of Judith Levy Contributor

    Dr. Rahe, my best wishes to you for your upcoming surgery.

    I eagerly googled all the programs mentioned in Worthen’s piece and was disheartened to learn that they are designed exclusively for young people. On reflection, I see that this is not a bad thing — the critical need is of course to educate the young. But what about us old conservatives? I want to study first principles in a serious academic way, and I’d prefer to do it in a community rather than alone in front of my computer. Where can I go?

    • #22
    • December 11, 2016 at 11:48 pm
  23. Profile photo of Ray Kujawa Thatcher

    Paul A. Rahe: Because most so-called liberals today aren’t liberals at all. They’re progressives — and progressivism is an ideology that has little if any interest in learning from the greatest books, ideas, and thinkers of the past. And that’s because, as the name implies, progressivism is a theory of historical progress.

    Paul A. Rahe: Progressivism is a blind faith. Instead of believing in revelation, one believes in . . . progress. In this regard, progressivism resembles communism, fascism, and national socialism — all of which presumed that they were on the right side of history. Such a conviction relieves one of the need to think prudentially. Indeed, it relieves one from the need to think at all: one need only surrender to the Zeitgeist and go with the flow

    Progressivism puts blind faith in progress as being represented by an arc (as in ‘the Arc of History’) that moves progressively forward. Even if events were to always move forward, it is evident that progressive adherents err in oversimplifying how the arc of history moves. The most common error in modeling physical reality is to select a mathematics that is too simple to represent the actual physical phenomena. As an example, selecting a straight line for a trend line which doesn’t model inherent variation in the physical process. Or complexity resulting from high levels of interaction among sentient humans in a market or in politics. Attempting to apply simplistic assumptions that might be appropriate for modeling physical phenomena to the complex social systems in economics or politics is really nothing more than a con game. With groups of people, you would expect behavior that moves in cycles, with negative feedback attempting to reverse movement as larger and larger percentages of the system reach the limits of their tolerance. By blindly putting forth their belief in history moving in accordance with straightforward mathematical trends, they not only display their ignorance of mathematics and science, they display their ignorance of the complexity of social systems. [lots more of this in Hayek’s last book, The Fatal Conceit]

    • #23
    • December 12, 2016 at 12:04 am
  24. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    Judith Levy:Dr. Rahe, my best wishes to you for your upcoming surgery.

    I eagerly googled all the programs mentioned in Worthen’s piece and was disheartened to learn that they are designed exclusively for young people. On reflection, I see that this is not a bad thing — the critical need is of course to educate the young. But what about us old conservatives? I want to study first principles in a serious academic way, and I’d prefer to do it in a community rather than alone in front of my computer. Where can I go?

    We have a graduate program in statesmanship, with an MA and a Ph.D., at Hillsdale College.

    • #24
    • December 12, 2016 at 3:44 am
  25. Profile photo of Seawriter Member

    Paul A. Rahe: The only objection that I would make to these observations is to Worthen’s phrase “ideological training.” I have taught off and on for decades at these gatherings, and I can testify that Worthen is wrong to call them “ideological echo chambers.”

    I suspect she calls them echo chambers because as a progressive that is what she is familiar with. As you noted progressivism is a blind faith, and intellectual training is more repetitive dogma than rigorous examination. Perhaps she cannot conceive of any education system that is not an ideological echo chamber.

    Seawriter

    • #25
    • December 12, 2016 at 4:12 am
  26. Profile photo of Judith Levy Contributor

    Paul A. Rahe:We have a graduate program in statesmanship, with an MA and a Ph.D., at Hillsdale College.

    I just submitted a request for further information on the Hillsdale site. Thank you.

    • #26
    • December 12, 2016 at 5:11 am
  27. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member

    Professor, I pray for you, but more for your surgeon. Let’s hope he has a good day!

    Because I got my degrees in philosophy, I’ve regretted seeing its star fall from the heights of the academic universe (mostly by its own shallowness). Political philosophy has been replaced by political science, and I don’t think the switch was worth it. The relationship between citizen and State is a relationship that’s been going on for a long time, and the deceit that only in post-FDR America has it been “perfected” is a dangerous illusion.

    Get well soon and get back to work – this is no time to be slouching!

    • #27
    • December 12, 2016 at 6:34 am
  28. Profile photo of Old Bathos Member

    Get well.

    I do not expect a Strange New Respect. A great education would foster a love of truth if so no other reason that certainties and few and rarely reducible to methods provided by theory or ideology. Starting with wonder and arriving at humility and gratitude is supposed to be the path.

    In stark contrast, the Narrative rejects the validity of questions for which it does not prescribe an answer. The Narrative cannot coexist with educated inquiry. The carrot and stick of the Narrative is the self-satisfaction of being among the anointed versus the scorn and exile imposed on the non-compliant. Many people now define and justify their existence on being morally superior to racists both real and imagined, saving the planet from threats both real and imagined and being smarter/hipper/more enlightened than their enemies, real and imagined.

    People who find the meaning of life in a collage of op-ed excerpts, tweets and bumper stickers might find life outside that bubble too complex to bear. Anyone who thinks a walking zeitgeist echo like Gail Collins to be insightful is not ready for even the Cliff Notes on Kant and Aristotle.

    • #28
    • December 12, 2016 at 6:37 am
  29. Profile photo of Doug Kimball Member

    Paul,

    All the best to you and yours. I hope that soon you’ll be setting urinal distance records rivaling that of a 12 year old. A colleague recently went through first prostate then bladder surgery and, now, given a clean bill of health, he claims such feats. May your Christmas be amazing and uneventful.

    Kindly,

    DK

    • #29
    • December 12, 2016 at 6:40 am
  30. Profile photo of Manny Member

    Oh, I didn’t know you had cancer. You will definitely be in my prayers.

    There was a lot to respond to, and I agree with most of it. The selection of (a) a Muslim, (b) a Muslim with radical ties, and (c) a Muslim who is a disciple of Louis Farrakhan to head the DNC is almost incredible to believe. What a windfall for the Republican Party that would be. Can you imagine he being the voice of opposition to Trump? While that would be great for the Republicans, I think it would be terrible for the nation as a whole.

    • #30
    • December 12, 2016 at 8:01 am
  1. 1
  2. 2