Jewish World Review Oct 20, 2005/ 17 Tishrei,
The evil virus upon us
Parents, inoculate yourselves. It may be too late for your
There's an emphasis on multicultural studies, and few campuses
have escaped the disease and it's not yet Halloween. The title of a
course taught to undergraduates in American studies at New York University,
for example, is called "Intersections: Gender Race and Sexuality in U.S.
History and Politics." You might think this is a strange way to get at
American history. The class spends a week analyzing the murder of Teena
Brandon (aka Brandon Teena), a young woman who pretended to be a man, and
includes the screening of the movie "Boys Don't Cry," the narrative version.
The following week students study the life and murder of Tupac
Shakur, the "gangsta" rapper whose rough and raw lyrics glorified drugs,
abusing women and the violence that finally took his life. There's "Queer
Lives and Culture," "Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora," and a
discussion of the relationship of gender, race and war in Haiti through the
lens of "Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism." One
teaching assistant of this course describes herself as an "anti-racist queer
activist feminist." That covers just about everything, except a year's
tuition at NYU, for which parents shell out $40,000.
Smith College, the elite school that once was only for women,
and still is, sort of, has a different problem. About two-dozen women who
arrived as female have become male, more or less. The Financial Times
reports that some of the more traditional "girls in pearls" on campus think
the new "guys" should transfer to a co-ed college. Smith has long been "gay
friendly," but now that girls have become "boys," Smithies joke that the
school motto is "Queer in a year or your money back." It's not a joke, and
it costs $37,000 a year.
Somewhere Sophia Smith is spinning. The Massachusetts woman who
left her fortune to create a college where women "could develop as fully as
may be the powers of womanhood" did not have a third sex in mind. Once known
for their dedication to academic rigor, Smith students voted to change the
school constitution to purge all "gender-specific" language. No "she" and no
"her," but an all-purpose "student." The Rev. L. Clark Seelye, the first
president of Smith College, said that the study of English should produce
clarity of thought and expression. Other seats of higher learning have gone
farther, creating synthetic pronouns, using "hir" for "her" or "his," and
"ze" for "she" and "he." You thought "herstory" for "history" was a joke.
Smith is not alone in disfiguring what passes for education. A
popular introductory freshman course at the University of Pennsylvania
deconstructs Herman Melville and other dead white males (if not white
whales), seeking hidden meanings of homosexuality, pederasty and incest.
Majors in the humanities are down, and why not? In "Binge: What Your College
Student Won't Tell you," author Barrett Seaman finds lots of colleges that
promote gay-ity. Vassar College has a "Homo Hop," and the Queer Student
Union at Williams College holds a "Queer Bash" with gay pornography, widely
attended by straight students. Adrienne Rich, a lesbian poet, encourages
young women to experiment with homosexuality and bisexuality.
An authentic liberal education promotes both character and
understanding with a rigorous study of what Matthew Arnold called "the best
that is known and thought in the world." When dead white males like Thomas
Jefferson and John Milton are replaced, or must compete with popular studies
about transgendered males and newly minted homosexual heroes in classic
novels, students are deprived of any trace of disciplined thought. They're
doubly vulnerable when at the same time they're encouraged to indulge in
undisciplined social experimentation without anchors of moral reference.
"Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women's
Studies, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Studies," writes Roger Kimball, author
of "Tenured Radicals," in New Criterion magazine, "are not the names of
academic disciplines but political grievances. . . . Parents are alarmed,
rightly so, at the spectacle of their children going off to college one year
and coming back the next having jettisoned every moral, religious, social
and political scruple they have been brought up to believe." These studies
inhibit debate, corrupt young minds and infect learning with a virus for
which, like bird flu, there is not yet an
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