Suzanne Fields

Professor Dutton, in fact, sponsored a "Bad Writing Contest" to give the worst material published in scholarly books and journals the attention it deserves. There's lots of bad material.

As bad as student illiteracy has become, he thinks we pay too little attention to the attempted writing of their professors. He awarded his first prize to a widely admired professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley. He offers an excerpt: "The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition convergence and rearticulation. ." (I'll spare you the rest of it.)

This jargon-laden example of incomprehensibility is neither isolated nor unusual. Poor writing, ideological prejudice and narrow arrogance in academe expose a fault line in the ability to teach how to write, think and reason clearly. It's fair game to make fun of a president's spontaneous verbal syntax, and sadder still when academics who suffer jerking knees won't attempt to deal in a forthright way with the president's ideas.

Anyone who visits our finest universities, so called, will quickly discover that the most articulate arguments are made by conservatives because they have to try harder to get a persuasive word in, edgewise or otherwise. The politically correct culture of the left is smug in its failure to grapple with political realities, and it dominates the faculty lounges.

"Through world war and cold war we learned that idealism, if it is to do any good in this world, requires common purpose and national strength, moral courage, and patience in difficult tasks," the president said in his speech London. "And now our generation has need of these qualities."

Powerful words, and the prescription for survival.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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