December 12, 2017

Newishly Old?

Tuesday read: a post-mortem on Evergreen College, though the corpse is still twitching and its spirit lives on apparently. It is quite a tale, of which I'd only heard bits and pieces before now.

This quote from Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind might have been written about Evergreen President George Bridges rather than the 1969 faculty at Cornell he described:

Students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.

Then again, I'm not sure academic freedom is part of the catechism anymore, as this incident seems to indicate.

One thing that strikes me about the current wave of campus demonstrations is how quasi-liturgical and "religious" the program seems to be, the crowd repeating en masse sentence by sentence words of an officiant orator, the chanting.. it always reminds me of church. Check out the "canoe ritual" in the video.

"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of Heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen..." the words are different and the objective is arguably different, but it's a familiar sound and cadence from my childhood that I hear every time I see video of one of these protests. The ideologies of the past couple of centuries have always been ersatz religions by some reckonings (including mine) but this sacerdotal style seems to bring it full circle and to be something new, or newishly old. Where did they learn it? I wasn't aware of much of anything in '69, but the protests I remember from my college days in the '80s weren't anything like so liturgical. Maybe I'm misremembering though.

At any rate, they certainly seem to have mastered the art of shaming, casting out, and ostracism of non-believers and dissenters.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 12, 2017 08:00 PM