Obama’s Presidency: Victory in the Culture Wars

Mary Grabar
|
Posted: Jun 09, 2008 12:00 AM
Obama’s Presidency: Victory in the Culture Wars

An Obama presidency would signal the final salvo by the Left in the culture wars. Obama’s advance troops have already taken over our college campuses, have bound and gagged our conservative professors, have ravished our virgins, have pillaged our stores of wisdom, and have ensconced themselves in the thrones of power in deans’, presidents’ and department heads’ offices.

The victory cry is heard across the land in the cheers of Obama’s constituency on college campuses.

This has been going on under the very noses of the Republicans.

Claes G. Ryn, in the Fall 2007 50th anniversary issue of Modern Age, accurately attributes the decline of intellectual conservatism to an abandonment of tradition, philosophical foundations, and artistic expressions, for a focus on political pragmatism, manifested in a fondness for economics and business. Professor Ryn writes, “in trying to effect a renewal of American and Western society, winning and exercising political power cannot take the place of the patient and demanding intellectual and artistic efforts that, in time, might change the mind and the imagination of a people.”

I would add that we may be bearing the fruits of this short-sightedness this coming fall. Obama has a slight lead in the polls against McCain--and a huge lead on college campuses.

Even for the well-being of the business world we need to refocus on the humanities. As Ryn points out, the “honesty, good manners, and social responsibility” of Western businessmen is formed by “an ancient civilization.” But the increasingly popular business school major offers little in terms of appreciation for the hallmarks of our Western civilization.

For decades, teachers have been inculcating an alternative tradition and belief system. The beliefs may be based on such amorphous and sophistical ideas as “social justice,” “tolerance,” and “multiculturalism,” the traditions may lead back to the communist ideology of the nineteenth century and then through the heyday of radicalism in the sixties, but the means for inculcation are entrenched.

The conservative traditions and beliefs, in contrast, are rarely to be found in college syllabi and high school textbooks. Obama connects with audiences because they have been primed for him and his message. Obama, with his scantly resume, is an affirmative action candidate. But his record as a “community organizer” places him at an advantage with those who believe in “social activism” in the classroom.

So when a war hero enters, most college students great him with a collective shrug. John McCain on June 3 suggested that he shared certain similarities with Barry Goldwater, but there was no resounding invocation of heroes the way Obama does with Kennedy and King. The tone is almost apologetic; we are on the defensive, reflexively holding back lest we be misinterpreted by the guardians of political correctness.

In 1957, with the threat of communism looming, conservatives had passion. But recently I had some college sophomores ask me during class discussion what communism is. Where to begin with such a question? Those who have been taught about communism likely have been told that it is one of many systems of government, not evil, perhaps even offering better health care, as in the opinion of Michael Moore, himself likely to be on the syllabus. We had 9/11, but already in the days following you could see how the left brainwashes the inmates of the educational system. Students who should have been inspired to passionately defend their country and culture instead were given lectures in English classes on the historical reasons for the attacks (the Crusades, as my colleague at the University of Georgia presented it to his freshman composition classes). Or they were treated to “workshops” on the “peaceful” traits of Islam (presented in contrast to the rapacious imperialism of Christianity). Today, the fountainhead of anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity is on the college campus.

If a student today sees a “preacher” screaming, “G—damn America!”, as Obama’s of twenty years did, it, for him, simply echoes a little more crudely what his professor has been saying in class. Besides, he has been taught to value all religions equally, and with very little exposure to the Bible cannot recognize that what Jeremiah Wright preaches is antithetical to Christianity.

But the indoctrination goes even deeper. An insidious, concerted attack on logic itself has been conducted by the radicals and feminists. Consider how, for example, University of Georgia’s Director of the Wilson Center for Humanities and Arts, and Professor of Comparative Literature, Betty Jean Craige, describes her scholarship on the university’s website: “I am interested in the shift in Western mentality from a dualist, hierarchical conceptual and social model of reality to a more holistic model, such as that expressed in ecosystem ecology.”

In conference papers and journal articles, I’ve seen this sham scholarship that pretends to originality but simply is a way to disparage standards and logical notions, like right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsity, by calling them dualist and hierarchical. It’s “women’s ways of knowing”—illogical, nonsensical, and inappropriately emotive—dressed up in academic jargon.

As the mush-brained feminists and wild-eyed radicals have taken over English departments and comparative literature departments, they have eliminated or demolished the great works that promoted our values and inspired the passion necessary to propel a movement. The great works of literature that could inspire passion for the love of God, love of a spouse, and loyalty to one’s country, and foster the appreciation for the comedy and tragedy of human life, have been excised from the curriculum. In their place are ideological tracts, video games, television dramas, celebrities, and pornographic performance art. The love of God and a spouse that John Donne could evoke is now replaced by such things as an analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s sex life.

This poison rotting away our civilization is witnessed mainly by the few teachers in humanities departments who must hide their views from their peers and work on the fringes. We get stares of disbelief when we try to describe what goes on to outsiders. Meanwhile, our left-wing colleagues rise up the ranks.

So when aforementioned Professor Betty Jean Craige, writes an editorial for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “New ideas must flourish at colleges,” arguing against David Horowitz’s “academic diversity bill,” citizens are likely to be lulled by her claim that all professors want is an open exchange of ideas. The reality, however, is the opposite, as the very need for such redress indicates.

In my rebuttal to Craige’s editorial, I gave readers a sampling of the papers presented at the 2006 American Literature Association Conference I attended: “La Reconquista: The Application of Latina/o Studies to U.S. Literature(s) & Criticism,” “Teaching the Arts of American Protest,” and “Female Sexualities Revised in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and Anita Blake Series.” Consider the less than collegial and invitingly discursive response from my former professor at Georgia State University, Randy Malumud. I copy his email dated 8/4/2006 in full:

“Dear Mary Grabar:

I read your column in the AJC today, and thought about writing a letter to the editor, but decided it didn’t warrant a public response. But I wanted to share with you, privately, my thoughts: I found it self-righteous (without any foundation, as far as I can tell, in any record of scholarly accomplishment on your part, which accentuates a resonance of ‘sour grapes’) gratuitous, and, as a salvo in the culture wars, um, about ten years out of date . . . . [ellipses retained] Your writing is formulaic, utterly predictable, uninspired. As a member of the profession, I found it embarrassing. You will probably ‘interpret’ my response as a self-defensive riposte from a tenured radical, but it’s really not—if I thought your ‘point’ was important enough to attack, I would have done so publicly. I really just found it trite and banal.

-Randy Malamud”

I clashed with Malamud, now an associate chair of the English department, in his T.S. Eliot seminar in the early 1990s. But Professor Malamud seems to have left behind his scholarly interest in T.S. Eliot, whom he cast as a virtual Hitler. Malamud has since gone on to more “cutting edge” scholarship, abandoning even human communication for that of the less logo-centric, animal kind--along the line of Professor Craige’s inquiries into the “holistic model” of “ecosystems.” His “scholarly accomplishments,” according to the University website, include his latest book, “A Cultural History of Animals in the Modern Age” (2007). Malamud has also opined on CNN about “human voyeurism and animal suffering in zoos and aquariums” (being looked at by human “voyeurs” constitutes a form of suffering and evidence of a “hierarchy” between species).

You can learn more about Professor Malamud who rejects the traditional Western garb of an English professor, the tweed jacket and now customary jeans, for the flowing robe and bare feet, here on his web page: http://english.gsu.edu/people.php?req=malamud

When the Randy Malamud’s, who have declared victory in the culture wars, run English departments, you can see why young people place “hope” in a candidate who promises to talk to terrorists—perhaps in the way Drs. Malamud and Doolittle talk to animals.