8 December 2004

Sympathy for the devil

Winds of Change has a post bemoaning the dominance of liberals in education. I've always found this particular meme fascinating. The right-wing currently monopolizes the U.S. government and receives a steady stream of funding via corporate right-wing sponsors and yet we're supposed to somehow believe that the dwindling oasis of academia is a terrible threat to all red-blooded Americans. Of course, a parallel meme can be found in Christianity's sense of being under threat by Paganism, New Age ideologies, and other statistically small movements. And last but not least, there's the wholly absurd notion that the U.S. is one air-craft carrier away from being over-run by Iranian Shiites or Columbian Marxists.

In short, the idea of the bully-as-the-victim, a theme underlying so much of American exceptionalism, evinces a criminal mindset. And this attitude has worked as a corrupting influence at the core of the national psyche. U.S. right-wingers have become the swaggering macho thug with a chip (or a clip) on his shoulder. Don't mess with us. If you flip us off, we'll bomb your village. For their part, academics aren't supposed to think for themselves or expound ideas that challenge the status quo. The message is follow the cue cards or lose corporate and government funding.

When trying to explain the pronderance of "liberals" and "lefties" in academia, why doesn't anyone consider a more obvious conclusion--a thorough acquaintance with facts combined with a dedication to the truth (versus dedication to the corporate bottom line) makes it virtually impossible to support the right-wing agenda.

1 comment:

Dave said...

"In short, the idea of the bully-as-the-victim, a theme underlying so much of American exceptionalism, evinces a criminal mindset." I don't know what a criminal mindset entails, but I buy the rest of your argument. More than anything else, a bully is insecure. Charles Dickens encountered this very same swaggering thin-skinned fearfulness back in the 1840s; it's been part of the national character a very long time.