Monday, January 16, 2006

 

A Whiff From 1984

Michael Barone, writing in The Beautiful People vs. The Dutiful People at RealClearPolitics, introduces his essay with Judge Samuel Alito’s opening statement to the Judiciary Committee. Following his oft-quoted reminiscence of growing up in Hamilton Township, N.J., outside Trenton, Alito then recalls a different world at Princeton:

"But this was back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community."

Barone expands on this same dissonance between the function that University communities used to fulfill in some distant past, with a now dysfunctional academia that can achieve such nobility of purpose only in the fanciful imaginings of aging hipsters. Barone’s assessment of the dissonance:

The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of cultural conflict, a battle between what I have called the beautiful people and the dutiful people. While Manhattan glitterati thronged Leonard Bernstein’s apartment to celebrate the murderous Black Panthers, ordinary people in the outer boroughs and the far-flung suburbs of New Jersey like Hamilton Township were going to work, raising their families, and teaching their children to obey lawful authority and work their way up in the world.

That was 30-40 years ago, and the coming of age of those who were educated within the confines of the two Americas (as Senator Edwards might want to remark) brought an even greater gulf between the University and the rest of America:

Our universities today have become our most intellectually corrupt institutions. University administrators must lie and deny that they use racial quotas and preferences in admissions, when they devote much of their energy to doing just that. They must pledge allegiance to diversity, when their campuses are among the least politically diverse parts of our society, with speech codes that penalize dissent and sometimes violent suppression of conservative opinion. You can go door-to-door in Hamilton Township and find people feeling free to voice every opinion across the political spectrum. At Princeton, you will not find many feeling free to dissent from the Bush-equals-Hitler orthodoxy.

Barone is exactly right. It occurred to me reading his indictment, that elite Universities today resemble nothing more than the world of 1984 that George Orwell warned of in 1948. Orwell based his warning on the power and corruption of the super state, where government became the grave threat to individual civil liberties.

I happen to think that threat is real, and that our government, in its growing excess of power and spheres of influence over every aspect of modern life, needs to be watched, closely.

Orwell might not agree, but in terms of a case study of doublethink, black is white, all views must conform, and the complete intolerance of dissent, the best examples we have are our institutions of higher learning. Our elites graduate with established disdain for their fellow Americans who are so stupid as to not see things which their privileged minds have long taken for granted.

Forced to confront a government they despise, and a Red State America they caricature but don’t understand, Bush animus is their motivator and every argument an opportunity for criticism and compliant. And they are nowhere more satisfied with themselves and their opinions than in the cloistered world of liberal Academia.

And to think, it is the inheritors of the tradition of liberalism who have met the enemy, and it is their best intentions.

(Via Powerline)




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