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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Redeeming Violence:  Scarier than Hillary

Readers of this increasingly humble blog know that I don’t spend much of my time going after garden-variety wingnuttery of the ClownHall.com variety.  I mean, why bother, when the doughty crew of the S. S. Sadly, No! and the Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony do it so much better?

But when it comes to dealing with wingnuttery about the Modern Language Association—a minor but important branch of Wingnuttia in general—I figure I’m your guy.  So, dear readers, feast on this scrumptious item, beginning with its title, “Fighting a Movement Scarier than Hillary.” How can literature professors be even scarier than Lady Hillary Macbeth and her lesb***n Islamexifascist hordes?  Let Tom Landess and Elizabeth Kantor tell you how!

Most conservatives are preoccupied with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the coming deluge on Capitol Hill. A few of us are more concerned with the current Reign of Terror in our universities. When Pelosi and Reid are little piles of forgotten dust, the consequences of political correctness in the academy will still be evident to the naked eye.

You tend to forget about this problem until you read a book like Elizabeth Kantor’s “The Politically Correct Guide to English and American Literature” (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company). In it, she reminds us that classrooms in almost all our universities have been commandeered by leftist ideologues, whose chief goal is to purge from the nation’s memory the rich content of Christian civilization, to discredit our free-market prosperity and to substitute a simplistic set of Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes that are more likely to promote radical ignorance than an understanding of the world.

Landess is right: curriculum longa, little piles of forgotten Pelosi-Reid dust brevis.  But he’s wrong about how the left plans to purge the rich content of Christian civilization from the nation’s memory.  We do, in fact, plan to teach your children about the Inquisition, while adapting some of its innovative pedagogical techniques. Cardinal Greenblatt! Have you got all the stuffing up one end?

And what Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes do we have at our disposal, you ask?  Well, “We’re here, we’re always queerly historicizing because sisterhood is powerful, get used to it,” for starters!  By the time we’re through with your kids, their ignorance will truly be radical!

But you know what bugs me about these MLA-bashing screeds?  Two things.  Factual inaccuracy and ambiguous syntax.

Note that these teachers of English are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats. They are obsessed with furthering the leftist agenda—attacking traditional sexual morality, prettifying communism and trashing Christianity. To drive home this point, Kantor reports that the program for the 2005 convention of the Modern Language Association (the professional organization for literary scholars) included the following topics: “Redeeming Violence,” “Marxism Now,” and “What Video Games Can Teach Us About Literature.” No mention of Wordsworth, Coleridge or Keats—dead white males.

OK, what’s with “these teachers of English are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats”?  Is this supposed to be some kind of clever play on “literature / litter”?  (And if so, why house cats?) Because the ambiguous syntax kind of gums up the joke.  Is Landess saying that we have no more interest in literature than we might have in a litter of house cats, or is he saying that we are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats would be?

Everything depends on this.  Everything, I tell you.

And as for the factual inaccuracy: it is simply not true that there was no mention of Wordsworth, Coleridge, or Keats at the 2005 MLA convention.  The ban on discussion of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats, proposed to the Delegate Assembly in 2005 by the Even More Radical than the Radical Caucus Caucus for the Distribution of Violent Marxist Video Games, does not take effect until 2007.  I don’t understand why Mr. Landess—whose bio describes him, somewhat confusingly, as “a former professor of English and at the University of Dallas” (English and what? Video games?) who “has ghost-written more than 35 published books, two of them by conservative congressmen”—would just make things up.

The ambiguous syntax and factual accuracy aside, though, Mr. Landess is a capable reviewer.  He closes his essay with an appeal to the highest of intellectual standards:

This work is light reading, a book you can put down and pick up again without feeling guilty. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.

It is also a very serious book that explains why what is going on in our colleges and universities is scarier than Hillary and more dangerous than a Democratic Congress.

Kewl.  I may have to ask for a joint appointment in the Department of Scarier Than Hillary Studies. 


In other, perhaps more consequential news, it’s good to hear that Iraq is not yet experiencing civil war, because, as Tony Snow explains, “you have not yet had a situation also where you have two clearly defined and opposing groups vying not only for power, but for territory. What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy—which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy.” I’m sure that’s a relief to Iraqis who were worried about conditions in which they see “on average, 40 to 50 tortured, mutilated, executed bodies showing up on the capital streets each morning” and “thousands of unaccounted for dead bodies mounting up every month” or who were concerned about “the list of those who have simply disappeared for the sake of the fact that they have the wrong name, a name that is either Sunni or Shia, so much so that we have people getting dual identity cards, where parents cannot send their children to school, because they have to cross a sectarian line.” At least it’s about power and not territory!  Thank goodness these groups are merely expressing differences!  I’ve got nothing new or insightful to say about this, but I did catch the first hour of Apocalypse Now Redux on cable last night, so I thought I’d just unearth a little item I wrote for this blog one year ago today:

“Die Hard” Diehard Catching Flak for Epic Iraq Flick

Variety, May 1, 2008—According to insider reports, action star Bruce Willis is drastically over budget and cannot decide on an ending for his pro-war Iraq film, Mission Accomplished.

“He’s spun completely out of control,” said one member of the crew, who spoke on condition of anonymity.  “He’ll spend a month filming the ‘democracy’ ending, but no one knows what that’s supposed to look like, and then he decides it’s ‘too boring anyway.’ So we’ll spend another month on the ‘fighting terrorism’ ending, where we wipe out an entire city, then another month on the ‘civil war’ ending, featuring a bunch of Shiite death squads, then another on the ‘revenge’ ending with these incredibly gory Abu Ghraib scenes, then another on this bizarre ‘call in the bombers’ ending that reads like it was written by Sy Hersh.  And then he’ll just spend days alone in his trailer, blasting this turgid crap by The Doors and painting his body from head to toe.”

Willis has assured his initial backers, Passion Media, formerly known as Pajamas Media, formerly known as Open Source Media, formerly known as Pajamas Media, that he will finish the film “when it is done,” but has refused to set any timetable for its completion.  Lead screenwriter Roger L. Simon defended Willis’s refusal, issuing a terse press release, “cowards yell ‘cut’ and run, action figures never do.”

Industry analysts note that the cost of Mission Accomplished now exceeds $200 billion, but few of the cast or crew are willing to speak on the record, fearing reprisals from Willis, who demands complete and unquestioning loyalty from everyone working on the film.  “It’s way beyond what happened with Coppola,” said one of the film’s producers, “not that there are any parallels with Vietnam or anything.  But I think we’re past the worst moments of last fall, when Bruce was insisting on doing this Twelve Monkeys in Iraq bit where he travels back in time to find weapons of mass destruction.  Honestly, most of us wish that Bruce had stuck with the first ending, where Bush lands on the aircraft carrier in a flight suit.  Everything tells us that’s the ending with the biggest box office.”

Posted by Michael on 11/29 at 09:05 AM
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