Tuesday, July 17, 2007

George Will: International Punch Line

Jesus Christ, George WIll is a fucking tool. His latest column, crowing about the demise of Antioch College, is absolutely mortifying.

The rise and fall of Antioch College

During the campus convulsions of the late 1960s, when rebellion against any authority was considered obedience to every virtue, the film "To Die in Madrid," a documentary about the Spanish Civil War, was shown at a small liberal arts college famous for, and vain about, its dedication to all things progressive. When the film's narrator intoned, "The rebels advanced on Madrid," the students, who adored rebels and were innocent of information, cheered.[citation needed]

Can I call bullshit on this? BULLSHIT. First question: did this event actually take place? A google search for "to die in madrid" and "antioch college" returns two hundred fifty results, all of which--amazingly--are to this very column. It MIGHT be true, I suppose, but it certainly has a strong whiff of bullshit about it. Are we meant to believe that the film had provided no contextual information for this statement? That it opened with "the rebels advanced on Madrid?" I don't know; maybe it did, or maybe they just weren't paying attention, or maybe they were drunk and unruly and just reflexively cheered for any mention of shit getting fucked up. Also, notice that he implies that ALL of the students partook of this applause. Uh huh. If I had to guess (and I do, since there's no other information to go on), I'd say Will probably took this incident from a memoir some such from one of these allegedly-formerly-liberal conservative pundits who go on at length about how teh librul at college turned them conservative. But I'm quite ready to state as a fact: THIS NEVER FUCKING HAPPENED. The most that occurred is that a few students cheered inappropriately. Horrors.

Also: "rebellion against any authority was considered obedience to every virtue." WOW is that ever bad writing.

Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had been so busy turning undergraduates into vessels of liberalism and apostles of social improvement that it had not found time for the tiresome task of teaching them tedious facts, such as that the rebels in Spain were Franco's fascists.

"Hey, are you taking that course in Modern Spanish History?"
"No, man, I'm totally swamped. I have to retake Liberal Vesseldom this semester, and if I don't get at least a B+ in Social Improvement, I won't be able to finish my Indoctrination Degree in time."

Seriously, wuh? That's one wild-ass conclusion to take from a highly dubious premise. On another note, I would be fucking amazed if a majority of Will's readership could describe the ins and outs of the Spanish Civil War.

So anyway: Not an especially consequential incident. But of course, that's irrelevant, because even someone as dim as Will wouldn't try to use it to make a sweeping indictment of an entire college, would he...?

That [sic] illustrates why it is heartening that Antioch will close after the 2007-08 academic year. Its board of trustees says the decision is to "suspend operations" and it talks dottily about reviving the institution in 2012.

That's right: a meaningless, probably apocryphal incident that happened--IF it happened--forty years ago demonstrates why we should all gloat about the college shutting down. Makes sense to me!

"Dottily?" Seriously?

There is, however, a minuscule market for what Antioch sells for a tuition, room and board of $35,221 - repressive liberalism unleavened by learning.

See, this is why Will is completely insufferable, in a nutshell. You just know he thought the phrase "repressive liberalism unleavened by learning" made him sound terribly clever and sophisticated, in spite of being completely nonsensical and not even remotely following from anything else he's said. It doesn't make you look smart, George. It makes you look like a guy who desperately wants to look smart.

[...]

In 1993, Antioch became an international [citation needed] punch line [sic] when it wrote rules to insure[sic] that all sexual conduct would be consensual, step by minute step: "If the level of sexual intimacy increases during an interaction ... the people involved need to express their clear verbal consent before moving to that new level." Does consent to a touch cover a caress? Is there consent regarding all the buttons?

Please don't make even mildly risque "jokes," George. It's fucking gross. The policy in question was not terribly well thought-out, but the college was trying to stop sexual violence. Will's contempt at the idea is unsurprising.

Although laughable, Antioch was not funny. Former public radio correspondent Michael Goldfarb matriculated at what he calls the "sociological petri dish" in 1968. In his first week, he twice had guns drawn on him, once "in fun" and once by a couple of drunken ex-cons "whom one of my classmates, in the interest of breaking down class barriers, had invited to live with her." A true Antiochian still, Goldfarb says: "I do think I was made stronger for having to deal with these experiences."

Yes, that's right: some guy had a flakey classmate; therefore, Antioch is TEH LIBRUL INDOCTRINASHIN!!!11 This is only ONE of the many deep insights that the Intellectual Conservative has to offer.

I could go on, but I won't. If this stuff really interests you, you might check out the article that Will cribbed most of this column from (except the Spanish Civil War part, which comes from god knows where). It's clear that the college has had problems, but there is absolutely no need for anybody to see them reflected through the warped, ideological mirror of a smug, self-satisfied prick like Will.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

If even half of what George Will says is true, Antioch is/was a pathetic example of higher learning. I hate to break it to you, but beating somebody up for their evil Nike shoes of Globalization may not be school policy, but it is the direct result of a school and class culture that promotes such lunacy. Their rules regulating sexual consent were beyond problematic, they straight up stupid. They weren't merely intended to prevent "sexual violence", they were there to pump up the ego's of the self righteous idiots who thought it up. Come on now... Let's just call a spade a spade, because there are plenty of nutty institutions, both liberal and conservative. Antioch happens to be a liberal one.

10:19 AM  
Blogger GeoX pontificated to the effect that...

Does making up random shit and wildly exaggerating isolated events count as "calling a spade a spade?" Inquiring minds want to know!

11:54 PM  

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