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Special announcement

. . . especially for the discerning readers of this fine website and that fine website and this other fine website too!  I was going to take the week off to get ready for the semester, but then I thought it might, just might, be fun to remind everyone of the kind of fun I was having while my brand-new book was in production.

From February 17, 2006, the final day of the glorious week when U. No. was promoting his book on Hannity & Colmes every single night:

Sean Hannity on academe:

Kids are indoctrinated. They’re a captive audience. What can be done to remove these professors with these radical ideas from campus?

My reply (not that I was on Hannity and Colmes at the time):

That’s a great question, Sean.  Let’s break it down into two parts.

Kids are indoctrinated. They’re a captive audience.

The process all starts with the captivity, really.  As you know, Sean, in America, students are assigned to their universities by the Federal Education and Re-education Committee.  Once they arrive on campus, they are subjected to a rigorous system of mandatory coursework.  We like to call it “basic training,” and let me tell you, the foreign language requirements are especially punitive.  Now, the FERC records tell of a student who tried, in 1988, to “choose” an “elective” course at a Big Ten university.  That student was sentenced to twenty years in the Nevada silver mines, where she works today.  And I don’t think I have to tell you what happens to undergraduates who violate curfew!

[Laughter]

Now, you mentioned indoctrination.  Let me dilate on that for a bit. 

Once they get into my course (required for graduation), Advanced America-Blaming and Applied Appeasement of Terrorists, they are graded primarily on attendance and recitation.  They are also required to turn in two essays, one in which they blame America first, the other in which they propose a strategy for appeasing a terrorist enemy.  I am very strict about these essays.  I demand that their essays conform to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition, and that they spell America with a k.  (Extra credit for three k’s!)

The results are quite dramatic.  Many of my students come from conservative backgrounds, but by the tenth week of class, they can chant “all power to the Supreme Soviet” with the best of them.  Basically, we party like it’s 1929.  At the end of the semester, they leave my classroom and plaster the campus with posters reading “Meat is Murder” and “Bush is Hitler.” Two years ago, one enterprising student came up with a “Meat is Hitler” poster.  I have recommended that student to some of the nation’s top graduate schools.

My thinking is that if we can’t get them in college, we inevitably get them in graduate school.  Look at young Ben Shapiro.  When he got out of UCLA he was still an ultraconservative firebrand in the D’Souza/ Coulter tradition.  He even wrote a book called Brainwashed, even though he himself had not been brainwashed.  But after just two years at Harvard, he’s dropped out of law school to join the national touring company of The Vagina Monologues.

As to the second part of your question:

What can be done to remove these professors with these radical ideas from campus?

That’s actually quite easy, Sean.  I think a simple auto da fé should do the trick.  But let me answer you in a song.

Hey Sean Hannity, whaddya say?
I just got back from the auto da fé
Auto da fé? What’s an auto da fé?
It’s what ya oughtn’t to do, but ya do anyway

Sean Hannity:

Great tune, Michael!  Let me join in!

Auto da fé? What’s an auto da fé?
It’s what ya oughtn’t to do, but ya do anyway

Fox News Channel, what a show.
Fox News Channel, here we go.
We know you’re wishin’ that we’d go away!
So all you professors better get a clue
We got big news for all of you:
You’d better change your point of view . . . today!
‘Cause Sean Hannity’s here and he’s here to stay!

UPDATE:  Don’t forget the First Rule of Satire, kids!  The wingnuts are always worse than you can possibly imagine. Right now, in fact, in the sunny state of Arizona, they’re promoting a bill that would protect undergraduates from . . . novels by Rick Moody!  Here’s State Senator Thayer Verschoor on The Ice Storm:  “There’s no defense of this book.  I can’t believe that anyone would come up here and try to defend that kind of material.” Someone get this guy a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow!

Now, I hasten to point out that this exchange does not, repeat not, appear in the actual text of What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? But I’m holding onto the musical-adaptation rights just in case (because you never know), and if I get the necessary clearances from Mel Brooks, we’re gonna take this routine on the road!

Posted by on 08/28 at 11:49 AM
  1. I thought the way you indoctrinated your students was by collecting lists from various important conservative establishments, like Human Events, that create Bad Books lists, and then you assign those books to your class. If the book has been banned anywhere, or complained about by some conservative then that book gets on your syllabus and into your class.

    And now I have to go read The Ice Storm because some cranky conservative has complained about it.  When will the oppression end?

    Posted by Bulworth  on  08/28  at  01:47 PM
  2. What is your take on the tireless crusade of Stanley Fish?  Do you address his concern with using a teaching position to push a certain political viewpoint?  I’m a big fan of Adorno and it’s hard to imagine how he could have given the lectures collected in Metaphysics if he had come under the influence of Stanley Fish’s impeccable professionalism, and I don’t see how he could have been half as interesting or have achieved one quarter of the depth if he was saying, “Well Nietzsche said this, Hegel said that, and at the same time so-and-so said this and that, the test is on Friday, come to your own conclusions.” I mean, he was writing philosophy.  He landed his positions because of his work.  I don’t know if I’m making a clear point.  I understand Stanley Fish’s point, but it remains unsatisfactory to me, and I was wondering if your book dealt with it.  Thanks.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  01:47 PM
  3. Joe(k), thanks for asking.  My take is right here.

    Bulworth, those Bad Books lists are a great idea.  But it might be even more fun to make my students sit through the top 100 conservative movies instead.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  02:04 PM
  4. That’s one of the best scenes in any movie, ever.  Disturbingly, Michael’s stage version involves synth drums, Bananarama, and real nuns.

    Posted by Sini  on  08/28  at  02:20 PM
  5. Those ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ movies are a genuine treat.  Having constructed a near-random algorithm expressly designed to get their desired #1, they get the bonus of shunting most of La Babs’s oeuvre into the 100-screen dhimmiplex.  I am, however, quite proud that my all-time favorite filmic US President is a resident of the liberal list (no, not at #1.  Scroll down.  Way down).

    If I were in the teaching thang, I’d be taking heavy syllabus cues from all of their Go Team USA lists.  Come for the theism and family values, stay for the New Deal socialism.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  02:28 PM
  6. Yes, but we got Bananarama because they can do the segue into “Cruel Summer.”

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  02:29 PM
  7. I win.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  02:56 PM
  8. where she works today

    Excuse me, oughtn’t that be “where she (or he) works today”?

    What manner of genderist claptrap is going on there at Middle Central Pennsylvania University?

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:06 PM
  9. They march into class chanting
    Momma, momma can’t you see
    What the Ivies done to me
    Took away my MTV
    Now I’m reading Chomsky

    Sound off, one-two
    Sound off, three-four

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  03:35 PM
  10. Shouldn’t the title be What’s Classically Liberal About the Liberal Classics?

    Or something?

    Posted by Roxanne  on  08/28  at  03:56 PM
  11. Good thing to see that nothing has changed since I went to college, I mean Kollege. Do they still consume mass quanities? Sounds like they need it.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  04:22 PM
  12. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came in as the number 11 conservative movie of all time. At its core it’s the story of three teenage friends who rebel against an indoctrinating liberal educational system. This film follows the three through mad-cap antics as they outwit a Maoist principal while suffering the persecution of an immigrant parking attendant; realize the importance of being rich and white; and opt for the cornerstones of American life - abstinence and parades. Truely a conservative classic.

    Posted by Central Content Publisher  on  08/28  at  04:37 PM
  13. I demand that their essays ... spell America with a k.  (Extra credit for three k’s!)

    I’d be careful with this spelling. There are Afrocentrists who maintain that “Afrika” with a “k” is the authentic Afrikan spelling. It seems to me that this sets up some cognitive dissonance. It’s clear that Amerika with a “k” embodies a negative value judgment about afore-spelled nation-state. It’s also clear that Afrika with a “k” is an effort to take back the name and so is a positive value judgment. So which “k” is it, good or bad? Or is “K” just [can’t believe I’m about to do this] Special?

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  08/28  at  05:18 PM
  14. I avoid the very morass to which Bill B. refers by spelling America with three Ks. I usually capitalize them to make the distinction extra Klear.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/28  at  05:54 PM
  15. Oh, the sacrifices we make to be PC leftists! Three K’s, three strokes of the finger on the keyboard—and note just which finger it is.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  08/28  at  06:08 PM
  16. Congrats on your book, Hizzonor Professor Berube.  I am currently going to school in a backwater of Florida at the ripe old age of 51.  I would do anything to have a teacher who didn’t worship everything IBM ever did, does or will do in the future.  To say she is pro-business is like saying Wolf Blitzer occasionally talks above a whisper.  I’m getting tired of listening to her demand that us business students learn to scrape and bow no matter what, sir, yes, sir, may I have some more, sir. 

    If only The Academy really was liberal.  Oh joy, oh rapture.  May you sell many books, Oh Great And Powerful Professor Berube, and may you continue to teach whatever you want at whatever school your heart desires.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  07:07 PM
  17. Funny Lance Mannion post on liberal/conservative movies, but I still can’t stand Taming of the Shrew.

    Vachon, your error was in going back to school as an adult.  I did this also, and it is very uncomfortable, after being treated as a competent adult professional, to go sit in a classroom and be treated like a backward and recalcitrant teenager.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  09:42 PM
  18. Excuse me, oughtn’t that be “where she (or he) works today”?

    What manner of genderist claptrap is going on there at Middle Central Pennsylvania University?

    Well, JP, that silver-mining student was in fact a Female-American.  But we can refer to her as “zhe” if you like.

    Shouldn’t the title be What’s Classically Liberal About the Liberal Classics?

    Or something?

    Oh, now you tell me, Roxanne.  But isn’t that Preteen Wisdom guy a “classical liberal classic”?  I get confused about these things.

    And vachon, you can sit in on one of my classes any old time.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/28  at  10:12 PM
  19. Shouldn’t the title be What’s Classically Liberal About the Liberal Classics?

    Why am I hearing Elvis Costello in my head?

    But each time I hear him teaching away,
    Just makes me wanna cry,
    What’s so lib’ral ‘bout
    Peace, Love and Liberal Classics?
    Whoa-oh
    What’s so lib’ral ‘bout
    Peace, Love and Liberal Classics?

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:11 PM
  20. Sean Hannity:

    Great tune, Michael!  Let me join in!

    Auto da fé? What’s an auto da fé?
    It’s what ya oughtn’t to do, but ya do anyway

    Nobody expects the Fox News Inquisition!

    Our chief weapon is stupidity ... stupidity and lies ... lies and stupidity ... our two weapons are lies and stupidity ... and ruthless hatred of liberals. Our three weapons are lies and stupidity and ruthless hatred of liberals and an almost fanatical devotion to the Administration ... Our four ... no ... amongst our weapons ... amongst our weaponry are such elements as lies, stupidity ...

    I’ll come in again.

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:23 PM
  21. It could even be an opera chorus!

    What a day, what a day,
    For an autodafe!
    What a sunny summer sky!
    What a day, what a day,
    For an autodafe!
    It’s a lovely day for drinking
    And for watching people die!
    What a perfect day to be a money lender!
    Or a tradesman, or a merchant or a vendor!
    At a good exciting lynching
    People stop their penny pinching
    And the tightest fellow turns into a spender!

    What it day, what a day,
    For an autodafe!
    What a lovely day to die!
    Tourist trade, tourist trade,
    Will be coning our way! 
    It’s a bonnie day for business,
    Better raise the prices high!
    For an inquisition day this is a wonder!

    Not a raindrop, not a cloud or sound of thunder!
    So we’ll gaily get polluted
    Watching sinners executed!
    It’s a perfect bit of weather to get under!

    Posted by  on  08/28  at  11:52 PM
  22. In the spirit of the thread and as a gesture to our host I have composed a fifteen-and-a-half-minute drum solo entitled “Torquemada Da Vida,” but the margins of this blog are too small to contain it.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/29  at  02:24 AM
  23. bad Jim, I’m seeing a Christopher Walken dance routine to your lyrics. Not very operatic, but he’d kill in the role. As it were.

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  08/29  at  06:11 AM
  24. Words are scary.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  07:16 AM
  25. but the margins of this blog are too small to contain it.

    Too bad, I’d simply die to hear a Phil Spector-produced Topper Headon cover.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  07:59 AM
  26. Funny.

    But Nittany Lions are still pink. So is the Columbia lion, the Yale bulldog, the California bear, yadda yadda.

    And no, it’s not the water.

    Posted by Grumpy Old Man  on  08/29  at  08:27 AM
  27. Actually, G. O. Man, Penn State, Columbia, Yale and Cal are all blue.  Coincidence . . . or conspiracy?

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  08:55 AM
  28. Here’s an auto-da-fe for ya (from Candide), lots of singing and dancing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bs6HSlTG8dc

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  08/29  at  09:28 AM
  29. Don’t you think Senator Verschoor has a point though? Surely the best way to prevent indoctrination is to ban books we don’t like.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  09:34 AM
  30. No way, Ginger Yellow!  The best way to prevent indoctrination is to have a key party!

    Posted by Michael  on  08/29  at  12:57 PM
  31. I’m definitely picking up this book. I love the way you write, Michael!

    I noticed the link to Amazon. If anybody is concerned about coporate political leanings, Amazon donates primarily to the “red” party. Barnes & Noble, on the other donates, donates primarily to the “blue” party. Just sayin’ ...

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  01:29 PM
  32. And what’s more, Barnes and Noble gave Life As We Know It bestseller treatment (front of store, 30 percent off) even though it wasn’t a bestseller, mainly because CEO Steve Riggio, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, read and liked the book.

    You’re right, Wendy, the links should be B&N/ Powells.  And so shall they be.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/29  at  04:02 PM
  33. Thanks, Michael! And that’s a nice story about Steve Riggio.

    Of course, the next time I post, I should proofread first. Preferably after having a cup of coffee. It’s not good when your fingers are moving faster than your brain.

    Posted by  on  08/29  at  05:20 PM
  34. MB,

    It’s a small change, but meaningful.  The last line of Sean Hannity’s part should read:

    You’d better change your point of view . . . today!
    ‘Cause Sean Hannity’s here with his auto da fé!

    Posted by  on  08/30  at  06:51 PM
  35. These colleges that are all blue.

    What country’s flag is blue? (Not Greece or Argentina.)

    We all know who’s behind this. And they control the media, too.

    Posted by Grumpy Old Man  on  08/31  at  12:15 AM
  36. What country’s flag is blue? (Not Greece or Argentina.)

    We all know who’s behind this. And they control the media, too.

    I hear you, G. O. Man.  You don’t need to say any more—I’ve read the Protocols of the Elders of Finland.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/31  at  07:06 AM
  37. Those the guys who used to sing: “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go . . . ”??

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  08/31  at  09:22 AM
  38. Protocols of the Elders of Finland.

    In fact a friend of a friend told me that Nokia has secret chips in their cellphones which allow them bend our will to support this nefarious program!! And it works - Eurovision 2006 was a test run - how do you think these guys won against the typical schmaltzy crap?

    [Note: This piece of astroturf Internet FUD brought to you courtesy of the Association of Korean Cellphone Manufacturers.]

    Posted by  on  08/31  at  11:21 AM
  39. In the 1973 Candide Sondheim wrote some additional lyrics to Auto-da-fe:

    What a day,what a treat
    Did you save me a seat?
    In the back,near the rack
    (But away from the heat)
    Though we won’t see the bones
    We’ll hear most of the groans
    And we’ll still
    Have a thrill
    Throwing stones!

    Posted by  on  09/07  at  05:54 PM
  40. It’s great to see real satire is still alive and well...i think all too often these days people can take things far too seriously.

    Satire will bring the b*****ds down!

    Posted by Jon loves Drum Kit  on  02/11  at  01:21 PM
  41. Great lyrics #39!

    Posted by abonnement  on  03/09  at  09:11 AM
  42. #41 Here’s more:

    It’s the usual bunch
    To cremate
    And to crunch-
    There’s a queen!
    And a dean-
    And a nun with a hunch!
    See you soon-
    We must dash
    Once they’ve swept
    Up the ash-
    We should meet
    Down the street
    And have lunch!

    Posted by  on  03/09  at  11:46 AM
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