Finishing School

So, the recent fiery yet “mostly peaceful” pro-Hamas demonstrations of support on various university campuses making the fiery and “mostly peaceful” headlines over the last couple of weeks may yet have unfortunate results for the affected schools. This would be a consummation devoutly desired by those of us on the sort-of-conservative side of the political spectrum, who have viewed the increasing academic lunacy and dysfunction with concern and mistrust. Honestly, it’s long been obvious that there is a massive stench emanating from those ivy-hung quadrangles of higher learning. The tuition to attend them has been increasing at a breakneck rate for two or three decades, even above the rate of inflation, while the graduates of those institutions appear dumber and dumber and the ratio of administrative staff to student body approaches 1:1. Of late, even those graduates boasting diplomas from formerly respected colleges appear barely scathed by literacy, or any kind of practical, useful-to-the-working-world knowledge and skills at all. No wonder that an increasing number of 18 year olds are coldly, rationally considering the cost-to-benefit ratio and opting for a trade school or an apprenticeship.

Adding insult to this injury, just about every malignantly bad idea infecting our society and body politic today originated in academia; diversity-equity-inclusion or ‘white people bad!’/POC can do no evil, the viability of gender-swapping and forcing women to share intimate spaces and sports teams with men LARPing as Audrey Hepburn, and those designated as disadvantaged minorities are entitled to whatever retaliation they want to take against those they hold responsible for their condition. I’m certain that dozens of other bad ideas can be laid at the feet of the ivory-tower academics. They’ve long been enamored of communism and that slightly less poisonous junior partner, socialism, because it sounds so logical and sensible in theory. Never mind that extolling Marxism in practice means glossing over mass murder, famine, gulag slave labor, political corruption, and a stagnated manufacturing sector. If academia can overlook all that … well, what’s the murder, kidnapping, mass rape and torture of 1200 Israelis in comparison? Going all I-Heart-Hamas is sooooo daring, rebellious, romantic, and the logical extension of those other bad ideas, in addition to wholly unwarranted ‘60s protest nostalgia. Why not turn out and protest for the Cause, whatever the cause is, this week?

However, I am not entirely certain that fondness for Hamas and the Poor Pitiful Pathetic Palestinians runs all that deep at American universities, even the ivy-shrouded bastions of privilege favored by the otherwise useless spawn of the elite class. Oh, sure – a lot of the proggie professorate are keen, with visions of ’68 dancing in their relatively vacant heads, or administrations keen on all that full-fare tuition from foreign students of a Middle Eastern origin and naturally anti-Semitic leanings. News stories like this one, about the high proportion of professional activists among the detained, the pre-positioned buckets of concrete chunks, the uniformly expensive pop-up tents all of a color and make, professionally pre-printed protest signs … all scream ‘astroturf’.

It’s an ‘astroturf’ protest movement enabled by spaghetti-spined administration and chancellors, at the expense of students there who actually – get this – still expect an education out of it all, while enjoying something of traditional fun and non-activist college experience. I also suspect that in the long run, indulging the I-Heart-Hamas student activists and the professional protest organizing cadre will not work out well for places where the most destructive, disruptive protests have taken place, and which retain the most anti-Semitic faculty. When the brightest and most focused students decide they can be better served by taking their interests and their tuition dollars elsewhere, formerly-respected academic establishments will just become an expensive finishing school for privileged foreigners, and the offspring of our own elite class who can’t hack more demanding school programs.

Comment as you wish.

15 thoughts on “Finishing School”

  1. Meanwhile, most of those students who happen to be descended from Jacob will look at the increasingly hostile environment and look for another campus that’ll accept transfer of credits.

  2. Really, who cares about protests at colleges? The media of course love to blow things out of proportion, but most of us simply shrug and move on. It does not matter if the Daughters of Privilege are complaining about Palestine this week or global warming last week — we all understand that most of them don’t have a clue about what they are protesting; they are simply mouthing the slogans others gave them.

    Sadly, the problems of Academia run much deeper, all the way to kindergartens. Pupils (there’s a nice word!) don’t learn the three Rs adequately, let alone history, geography, civics. They are unprepared for contributing to society. If young people can simply become proficient readers, they can learn almost any academic subject through their own efforts in a good library — Ivy League quadrangle unnecessary. That was why the largely self-taught Andrew Carnegie spent so much of his fortune building free public libraries to pay back the nation that had made him rich.

    It will take time, but nations that value true education will gradually displace ones that don’t. What should disturb our rulers is that if we think about countries that value education, the names that first pop into mind are China, Russia.

  3. I think SGM buried the lede which is the fantastic, heart-warming story that the “annus horribilis” for higher ed continues with it setting its brand equity aflame! Student loan forgiveness? Communicating to the public that not only is it a bunch of thieves but that a college education isn’t worth the money. The “3 Presidents Fiasco” in front of that Congressional committee last year? Our supposed intellectual and social betters are a bunch of racist DEIers and plagiarists. Now this… because nothing pulls the heart strings of Americans like videos of vegan-munching soy boys and 47-genders celebrating antisemitic Islamic fascists.

    I’ve already gone in halves on selling bumper stickers saying “My Kid Didn’t Go to Harvard” Then there’s this from David Burge

    Is there an AI that can convert audio to the voice of John Facenda? I would love to have that in order to narrate a film documenting a day in the life of Kamala Harris

    So big shock that a lot of the people being arrested are not students? There’s a nearly 150-year history on Left of organizing and agitation and then there’s the irresistible to be a 68er (I guess gluing yourself to works or art is passe now). Not only that but there’s been an accelerating trend of big money going the Soros route and being poured into “activist” causes. I’ve talked about the need to protest before, but it’s tough… it takes people and a lot of resources to properly organize and agitate. If you review the history of the AntiFa riots of 2019 and 2020, you see a pretty sophisticated use of both technology and tactics which, especially given sociopathic nature of those members, means some significant money is standing these guys up. Sure it’s astroturf, behind the video of the last week or so, up a few levels from the street action, are people with both the money and a plan… so what’s the plan? That’s the big question

    I’m with Gavin in that in of themselves I don’t really care about protests at colleges. The Democrats are in a full-blown freakout because this could be disastrous as it will potentially alienate both their radical wing and moderate voters. I have noticed as well that in the last day or so the various media outlets have buried the story; I bet there are a lot of people now in DC making frantic calls trying to find the kill switch for this.

    My concern is that seems to me a preview of coming attractions, a probe as it were. It was going to be Operation Chaos once the weather started to warm up, but I didn’t have campus unrest on the bingo card. I find it curious because most of the campuses are wrapping up the academic year and people will disperse, so what’s this action supposed to be feeding into?

    This is going to be a very interesting next 8 months.

  4. At this point, the value of a college education has been so degraded that a reasonably intelligent teen would be better off going the autodidact route.
    Mike, I think that the college students provide the fodder, the troops on the ground for the professional activists – nothing more, nothing less. If the faculty at so many of the ivies, or near-ivies weren’t such dingbats with delusions of ’68 in their otherwise empty skulls, they’d know that providing/encouraging the protests is degrading the brand.
    Yes, it is going to be a very interesting 8 months. Interesting in the historically-significant sense, waiting for the whole cobbler’s stock of shoes to drop.

  5. “barely scathed by literacy”… love it.
    The reason reading of the ‘dead white males’ became discouraged is so this cohort would not have to contend with any thought that would require them to think, and not just repeat a slogan.

  6. This is The Fourth Turning. I expect the failing regime to repeat many practices and schemes that once worked very well but no longer do at all.

    I recall that a single politically motivated nonsense indictment was enough to end GOP House leader Tom Delay’s career while lately both Texas AG Ken Paxton and Donald Trump have survived much worse lawfare for much longer. But the left keeps at it.

    American higher education is not on a sustainable path. I keep seeing stories about there being one bureaucrat per student at this school or that, which is a sort of featherbedding that would make the UAW of circa 1980 blush. Worse, the educrats can’t manage to keep their crazy in a box. I find it mildly fascinating that the party of why nothing can be done- to borrow from Mark Steyn- still managed to get a pair of Ivy League presidents ousted, just by asking them some rather banal questions they somehow couldn’t answer well enough to avoid angering their donors.

    The latest protests- who cares? A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag- and by now everyone has become endlessly familiar with the latest forever protests from angry unemployable activists. Yawn.

    So what’s next? If this is in fact a warm up for a summer of chaos, then it is certainly interesting to read Mike say that they demonrats are trying to damp it down. But then again, this isn’t 2020 and I doubt very much that another George Floyd-type narrative will work again.

    What to do, what to do…If you’re a demonrat, you’ve spent the last few years frothing at the mouth about Donald Trump. If you’re a gope, you’ve been doing the same, perhaps using different words, perhaps not.

    Zugzwang. Every move by the regime worsens its position. If it backs the Hamas-loving protests, then donors will be peeved. If it doesn’t, then ignorant young people will be upset.

    And looming above is the Bad Orange Man, set to impact in a few short months. One way or another, Trump will bring about the end of present regime.

    No wonder they’re panicked.

  7. David,

    A rebrand for conservatives?

    Okay. First, America is both a propositional and a revolutionary nation. The writings from the 1760-1787 revolutionary period are just as relevant today given their views regarding the threat of tyranny government and the need for constitutional government. Just look at the past several years. Second, the conservatives are the only group in the country who take the principles seriously. The Democrats have spent the past 120 years abandoning them and the Republicans have been following suit though at a slower pace and for a shorter period of time.

    A spiffy name for the rebrand that reflects that support for liberty? Well here’s the problem, it doesn’t matter what you “brand” yourself if the other side holds all the marketing power through control over the media and big business. You’re going to be branded as bunch of far-right, theocratic fascists because that’s what is politically expedient. Also there’s a larger problem in that conservatism is counter-cultural, not just in regard to the common enemies of DEI and Malthusian economics, but to many of the assumptions that look to be held by Eriksen himself.

    I’m assuming Eriksen, since he brands himself a techno-optimist, adheres to Marc Andreessen’s Techno Optimist Manifesto which explicitly that “Techno-Optimism is a material philosophy, not a political philosophy” and so I find troubling Eriksen’s crack regarding a conservative publication rejecting his writings. Also his use of strawmen such as “bronze age sheep herders” to further his agenda, not to mention that “tech is where progress comes from.”

    The reason I find them troubling as it shows how deeply set the opposition is to those revolutionary conservative principles (revolutionary and conservative are not necessarily opposed terms) The greatest threat to freedom, even more than the enemy of Woke shared with Eriksen, is the belief that through the use of reason that people can not only devise optimal political and social solutions, but can also implement them in a politically neutral fashion (see COVID). A corollary to that is the belief that History has an arc, a Hegelian progression in that societies and civilizations and by extension people themselves evolve and improve over time. Sounds good? However that also means that there is no eternal values or truths… 100+ million dead in the 20th Century is attributable to that belief.

    For the American conservative, the focus is on how to preserve liberty. For others the focus is on how to get things done to move forward, the authoritarian temptation. Not all tyrants dress like 3rd World generals, some wear lab coats and have PhDs or MBAs.. For both the conservative and tyrant the focus is power; in the former it is to avoid its concentration with the latter it is further its centralization.

    Eriksen would be a guy worth spending a few hours with, over a couple of beers, and get him to explain himself. I get the feeling that 1) given his notions of how the Left has captured media, education, etc… he’s not quite sure how power works 2) his ideas regarding “progress” and “build” and “we”, he’s not so much down on centralizing power as he is using for its own purposes (for technology as opposed to for DEI) What’s that line from Asimov’s Foundation? “An atom blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways”

    Maybe Eriksen just sees himself as a 21st Century version of Alexander Hamilton.

  8. I would just love to know more about Ericksen’s interaction with that conservative publication and what generated that rejection.

    I find too many of the tech Bros and conservative means the equivalent of the SNL church lady

  9. The tech bros have come up with the transgender nonsense so I would not be too impressed with their wisdom. Steve Jobs treated his curable pancreatic cancer with herbs until it was too late. Tech bros are far more impressed with their knowledge than I am.

  10. well technology is a tool not an end in itself, Science is a way of understanding how the world works, and applying to a certain task,

    now its arguable how neutral the whole covid strategy was as it was weighted by unsound models, that placed a procrusteam framework on human interactions, how did Trefell, of Sweden come up with more efficaceous strategy that Ferguson of the UK, for example, because one adopted a strategy before the results bore out,

  11. None of what college professors are doing, and have been doing for decades, is a surprise. It is the culmination of “the long march through the institutions” that is more than 80 years old. The only way to stop it is to expose them (“a good place to start is “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace”) and to eliminate their opportunities to indoctrinate our young people.

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