Schlafly’s honorary degree: a travesty of a mockery of a sham

by kathy on May 8, 2008

By Kathy G.

The decision on the part of Washington University, the highly respected research university located in St. Louis, Missouri, to award an honorary degree to the odious Phyllis Schlafly is deeply distressing to me. One reason why is that this story has gotten nowhere near the attention it deserves, either from the mainstream media or from the left blogosphere (although there are a few blogs that, against the grain, have been on the case).

I think part of the problem is that, these days, many people have no idea who Phyllis Schlafly was and is. And, compounding that, a lot of folks don’t understand what awarding an honorary degree means. I will try to correct what I see as those lacunae, or misunderstandings, in this post (which I’ll warn you right here, is exceedingly long).

Let me start by posing a question: how would you feel if a great university decided to bestow its highest award —an honorary doctoral degree—on Ann Coulter? Or on Karl Rove? Well, the reprehensible Schlafly is very much their equivalent, as I’ll explain later.

Washington University has defended its outrageous decision to honor Schlafly with these disgusting weasel words:

Alumna Phyllis Schlafly’s articulation of her perspectives has been a significant part of American life during the last half of the 20th century and now the 21st century, serving as a lightning rod for vigorous debate on difficult issues where differences of opinion are profound and passionate. Not only should a university serve as a place where such discussions take place, but it may also choose to recognize those who provide leadership and articulation — both pro and con — on vital issues.

Well, yes, there can be doubt that Phyllis Schlafly has been a “significant part of American life,” that she has been a “lightning rod,” that she has shown “leadership.” As Alan Wolfe pointed out in a 2005 review of a biography about Schlafly that appeared in The New Republic (but which, unfortunately, is unavailable online, because the TNR archives are still screwed up, as they have been for about a year now):
If political influence consists in transforming this huge and cantankerous country in one’s preferred direction, Schlafly has to be regarded as one of the two or three most important Americans of the last half of the twentieth century. . . Had she never been born, the Constitution would now include an Equal Rights Amendment.

I am in complete agreement with Wolfe here—Phyllis Schlafly is indeed probably “one of the two or three most important Americans of the last half of the twentieth century.” That is a bitter and painful truth, but a truth nonetheless. Wolfe again:
Critchlow [author of the Schlafly biography Wolfe is reviewing] is right to insist on Schlafly’s influence—but influence is a neutral category. It may be a force for good or a force for ill, depending upon the ideas that animate it. Let it be said of Phyllis Schlafly that every idea she had was scatter-brained, dangerous, and hateful. The more influential she became, the worse off America became.

The officials at Washington U. can piously murmur all the bland words they please about “difficult issues where differences of opinion are profound and passionate,” but let’s get real: when you award someone with an honorary degree, you are making a value judgment. You are saying that the honoree—because of her exceptional intellectual, creative, or entrepreneurial talents, or her extraordinary contributions to American life, or the world—is so distinguished that she has rightfully earned the highest honor a great university can bestow. Let’s not kid ourselves: plenty of fairly hacktackular people—mediocre sitcom stars, not especially distinguished politicians, and the like—are regularly rewarded with these babies.

But very rarely—in fact, almost never—do you see a great university honor someone who, throughout her public life has shown nothing but contempt for the values of the academia, values such as intellectual honesty and integrity, rational discourse, and the dispassionate pursuit of knowledge. Who has been, not a champion of human rights and human progress, but rather, at every turn, sought to thwart the aspirations of millions of female and nonwhite Americans and deny them equal justice under the law. Who has attempted to leave the world a far worse place than it was when she came into it, and in many ways has succeeded at this.

All right, you may ask: specifically, what is my bill of indictment against Phyllis Schlafly? Dear lord, where do I even begin?

Well, let’s start with something that I think should be very disturbing indeed to a great university like Washington U.: Schlafly’s deeply ingrained habit, from the beginning of her public career well into the present, of crackpot conspiracy-mongering. Early on Schlafly was a member in good standing of the John Birch Society. You know them—they were an organization of redhunters so freakishly obsessed and paranoid that they famously believed President Eisenhower was a “conscious agent” of the international communist conspiracy. Schlafly first became well-known for her slim 1964 volume—a pamphlet, really—supporting the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater, A Choice Not An Echo. The book has been described as

a conspiracist theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger banking conference, whose policies were allegedly designed to usher in global communist conquest.

And yes, to be sure, in that book she didn’t explicitly identify those communist international bankers as Jews—but then again she didn’t have to, did she?

Later on, Schlafly’s conspiracy theories took more of a black helicopters, anti-UN, anti-”one-world government” flavor. In recent years, she has been identified as one of the leading proponents of conspiracy theories about the National American Union—the belief that “behind closed doors, the Bush administration has collaborated with the governments of Mexico and Canada to merge the three nations into one Socialist mega-state.”

Given her anti-intellectual conspiracy-mongering, it’s not surprising to learn that Schlafly rejects the theory of evolution and believes that creationism (or “intelligent design”) should be taught in schools. It must be said, though, that it is startling to read that she blames the Virginia Tech shootings on that school’s English department.

But it’s not just through anti-intellectualism and paranoid conspiracy theories that Schlafly has lowered the tone of political debate in this country. Do you enjoy the ugly and vicious character of political discourse in George Bush’s America—the way conservatives cast aspersions at everything from their opponents’ patriotism to their gender identity? The way every political issue under the sun becomes fodder for cheap and sleazy sensationalism? Well then, you would just love Phyllis Schlafly. To this day, Schlafly is an ardent admirer of Joseph McCarthy, and that’s not surprising, since her tactics of smearing and redbaiting greatly resemble his. Alan Wolfe explains:

The ugliness of American politics today can be directly traced back to Schlafly’s vituperative, apocalyptic, character-assassinating campaign against the ERA. In Slander, her 2002 contribution to American letters, Ann Coulter described Schlafly as “one of the most accomplished and influential people in America” and “a senior statesman in the Republican Party.” Coulter was right. Karl Rove only perfected what Phyllis Schlafly invented. And the wild, filthy rhetoric of Coulter and some of her screaming reactionary colleagues owes a great deal to Schlafly. We are lucky, come to think of it, that Schlafly flourished in the days before cable.

I can hardly believe that someone whose entire public career as a writer and speaker is littered with lies, smears, conspiracy theories, and shrill, ugly rhetoric would ever be rewarded with so high an honor as an honorary doctorate from a great university. But there are yet more reasons why every decent person should consider Phyllis Schlafly beyond the pale.

There is, for example, not just her style of argument, but the content of her political views. Which is very disturbing indeed.

Schlafly has always been an energetic proponent of the view that in America, nonwhites should not enjoy equal rights under the law. Here, for example, is what Wolfe has to say about the relationship between Schafly, the Goldwater-for-president boom, and the civil rights movement:

The origins of the Goldwater boom could be traced to a meeting between Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon in 1960 when, in return for Rockefeller’s support, Nixon agreed to endorse a civil rights plank calling for “aggressive action to remove the remaining vestiges of segregation or discrimination in all areas of national life.” This was too much for the right-wing activists from the South and Southwest, who were intent on taking over Abraham Lincoln’s party for their own bigoted ends. Goldwater had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and conservatives such as Schlafly loved him for it. Conservatives maintained that their opposition to the Civil Rights Act was based on a preference for state’s rights over federal power, but no one, least of all their enthusiastic followers, was fooled. Conservatism was in large part a revolt by whites against the aspirations of blacks, and whatever success it enjoyed was a by-product of the backlash that it generated.

Her views on race remain unchanged, lo these many years later. Unsurprisingly, Schlafly (again quoting Wolfe here) “strongly” endorsed “Lee Atwater’s use of Willie Horton to scare voters away from Michael Dukakis.” She continues to be (Wolfe’s words) “anti-immigrant and hostile to minorities.” She has fairly recently, for example, described Mexican immigrants as “invaders” seeking to take control of America.

Her views on military and foreign policy are equally retrograde, which is perhaps not surprising given her notorious pronouncement that “The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” Predictably, she attacked Nixon’s opening to China, as well as Nixon’s, and later Reagan’s, arms negotiations with the former Soviet Union. Her writings on military and arms policies were spectacularly ill-informed and dangerous, as Wolfe explains:

[Schlafly] teamed up with kooky former military officers such as Admiral Chester Ward to write a series of screeds which, if anyone had taken them seriously, would have brought the United States into a full-scale nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The United States, Schlafly and Ward insisted, should build a first-strike nuclear force capable of destroying the Soviet Union, adding, along the way, an ABM system in case the Russians should attack us. Their ideas had a certain intuitive appeal, but only to those completely ignorant of how the world really worked. So long as the Soviets could respond to any attack on our part by launching an attack of their own, and so long as there was even a remote possibility that an ABM system would fail, deterrence, which Schlafly and Ward denounced, was the only strategy available. Published by obscure firms, their books deteriorated in both coherence and sales over the years.

Yet Critchlow presents the views of Schlafly and Ward as if they were part of a responsible discussion about American nuclear strategy. “The debate between the two sides,” he writes, “was technical, with different assumptions brought to the table…. Still, evaluating specific weapons systems allowed much room for honest disagreement on both sides.” This is gibberish. There never was a “debate” between two “sides,” both of which were “honest.” There were foreign policy officials making tough decisions about protecting American lives against Soviet missiles and there was, off in the far corners of the lunatic fringe, a group of embittered reactionaries writing furious diatribes taken seriously by no one—except, that is, Critchlow. It is true that in the late 1970s and early 1980s critics of deterrence emerged who entertained ideas of “nuclear war-fighting” and “nuclear victory”; but they were genuine defense intellectuals, whatever the merits of their arguments, and Schlafly was a raving amateur.


Schlafly’ has had a powerful, and entirely negative, influence on the political direction of this country, and on the tone of our political discourse. But there is no question that the thing she has been most famous for is being an antifeminist. Throughout her career, she has been given to such outrageous statements as “Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women, except in the rarest cases” and “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.” But she is best known for almost single-handedly stopping the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The ERA was a proposed amendment to the Constitution that simply said “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” and that Congress would have the power to enforce this by legislation. It was first proposed in 1923 and was added in the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties in the 1940s. It languished for decades, until the feminist movement of the 1970s began a campaign to get it passed. In 1971, it was approved in the House of Representatives by 354-23 and by a vote of 84 to 8 in the Senate the following year. Soon it was passed by 35 of the 38 state legislatures needed for ratification. But then Phyllis Schlafly organized an anti-ERA drive, demagogically claiming that the law would destroy families, deny Social Security benefits for housewives and widows, and mandate unisex bathrooms. Her efforts were so stunningly successful that the proposed amendment was dead in the water by 1982.

It’s hard to say what material difference the ERA might have made to the lives of American women. Many legal scholars believe it would make it easier for women to prevail in cases of sex discrimination, because for the first time it would make sex, like race, a suspect classification demanding strict legal scrutiny (rather than the intermediate level of scrutiny it currently requires). Under the ERA, a number of Supreme Court decisions such as last year’s outrageous Ledbetter ruling, which protects employers from lawsuits over pay discrimination, might very well have gone the other way.

But perhaps, more than anything else, the ERA would have been a symbolic gesture, granting women, at long last, the dignity of equal protection under the Constitution. At any rate, the defeat of the ERA marked a turning point for the feminist movement. The backlash had arrived in full force, and from that moment on, women saw precious little progress on the legislative, political front. Although socially, culturally, and economically, there would continue to be much improvement, politically, American feminists have been preoccupied with holding onto the rights they’d thought they’d already secured (such as the right to abortion ) rather than agitating for new ones (such as universal child care or universal paid leave).

I’ve been working hard trying to understand why a great university like Washington U. ever saw fit to honor Schlafly in the first place. It’s not a matter of denying Schlafly freedom of expression, because granting an honorary degree, which implies an endorsement of the honoree, is not the same as inviting a person to speak on campus, which does not. Universities hold events where all kinds of highly controversial people speak all the time, and that’s how it should be. A mere speech by Schlafly would not be out of bounds (unless it was at some sort of official event that implied the university’s endorsement, such as graduation).

Nor do I believe that conservatives should never receive honorary degrees. There are conservative scholars who do work that is respected within academia—many economists, for example—and they would not be inappropriate candidates for such an honor. Nor would I have a problem with conservative pundits, so long as they’re sane and genuinely distinguished (which these days admittedly narrows the field to practically zero), such as the late William F. Buckley. I’ll even grudgingly accept the reality that conservative Republican elder statesmen are regularly awarded these things. Though even here there are limits—while personally I wouldn’t protest the awarding of a degree to George H.W. Bush, even though I find him pretty hateful, far-right lunatics like Cheney, Dubya, and Jesse Helms should be entirely out of bounds.

But Schlafly, as I’ve explained, is another matter entirely. In its statement, the university says the decision was made by an Honorary Degree Committee consisting of students, faculty, staff, and members of the Board of Trustees. The Committee must approve all candidates unanimously, after which the Board of Trustees must then approve all the Committee’s selections unanimously. I am stunned that all those people thought that a figure as noxious as Schlafly merited so high an honor—that there wasn’t a single person who objected. How ignorant can all those people, many of them quite distinguished, I’m sure, be?

Though probably at least a few of the board and committee members who voted to honor her are conservatives, I’m willing to bet that the overwhelming majority are not exactly McCain supporters. I’d guess that most of them are liberals of one sort or another, and I suspect the decision to honor Schlafly came out of a misguided attempt to be “fair.” It’s a distressing fact that many liberals, anxious not to be seen as “biased” or as condescending to conservatives, in fact bend over backwards to be “fair and balanced” towards them. Such behavior then allows them to congratulate themselves on their “tolerance” and “open-mindedness.” Though, to be “fair,” so to speak—such behavior does come out of a genuinely decent liberal instinct to be evenhanded.

But this way madness lies. Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things. King George III is not the moral equivalent of George Washington. Jefferson Davis is not the moral equivalent of Abraham Lincoln. Joe McCarthy is not the moral equivalent of Walter Reuther. George Wallace is not the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King. And Phyllis Schlafly is not the moral equivalent of Betty Friedan.

So if you’re going to be handing out honorary degrees to political activists, conservatives are always going to come up short. And that is how it should be.

Right now, I’m thinking about what a bitter, infuriating experience graduation will be for so many Washington U. students this year. Did you know that, in addition to honoring Schlafly, there will be a commencement address given by Chris Matthews? To paraphrase D. at Lawyers, Guns and Money, this has got to be the Worst. Graduation. Ever.

If I were a parent who’d spent a small fortune to put my kid through Washington U., I’d be beside myself with rage. Graduation should be a joyous event, a celebration of an important achievement, a time for students to rejoice at their entrance into the adult world. But this graduation will be something entirely different. Look at the crystal-clear and quite powerful message that Washington University is sending to its female graduates, through its selection of Chris Matthews as commencement speaker and Phyllis Schlafly as the recipient of an honorary degree. They’re saying that it’s far more important for them to suck up to, respectively, media elites and the conservative movement, than it is for them to honor the dignity and aspirations of their female students. That giving their imprimatur to one of the biggest sexists jerks in the media today, and one of the greatest enemies of women’s advancement in American history, is a far greater priority for them than respecting their own female graduates. That must be one hell of a bitter pill to swallow. What a lovely parting gesture to students about to venture forth into “the real world.”

If you oppose Washington U.’s decision to award Schlafly the honorary degree, I suggest that you join two anti-Schlafly Facebook groups—this one and this one. Both groups list actions you can take and Washington U. officials you can contact to register your protests. I do think there’s hope they will back down. Just last week Northwestern University reversed its decision to award an honorary degree to Jeremiah Wright, so there is precedent for this sort of thing. I will continue to follow this story on my blog, The G Spot.

{ 181 comments }

1

Michael Bérubé 05.08.08 at 1:48 pm

To paraphrase D. at Lawyers, Guns and Money, this has got to be the Worst. Graduation. Ever.

If I were a parent who’d spent a small fortune to put my kid through Washington U., I’d be beside myself with rage.

Hey, I’m that parent. So I’m gonna get to hear Chris Matthews next week? While my kid’s school is giving an honorary degree to Schlafly? Wow. It’s almost like that wasn’t worth the $170K price tag. What’s the deal with booking Matthews as commencement speaker, anyway? Was Carrot Top unavailable?

2

Maurice Meilleur 05.08.08 at 1:59 pm

Not to undermine Kathy’s argument, with many of the points of which I agree, but: why don’t schools simply stop awarding honorary degrees altogether?

It’s manifestly not something many schools can responsibly handle–in today’s political climate, anyway, or as long as they’re under the administrative and financial control of people (trustees, state legislators for public institutions) who have little understanding of or respect for higher education.

3

rea 05.08.08 at 2:06 pm

how would you feel if a great university decided to bestow its highest award —an honorary doctoral degree—on Ann Coulter?

Sigh. The great university from which I graduated bestowed an actual doctoral degree (a Juris Doctor degree-the same one I have)on Ms. Coulter . . .

4

chris y 05.08.08 at 2:23 pm

3. If Coulter did the work and passed the course, she earned her degree. The university didn’t go out of its way to bestow an extra one on her as a mark of special distinction.

5

grackle 05.08.08 at 2:46 pm

In a world where the route to the Papacy begins, or at least is well founded, in the office of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, can it be too surprising that “Washington University, the highly respected” Roman Catholic “research university” would offer an honorary degree to someone whom Wickipedia describes as both a Roman Catholic and as a “conservative political activist,” and who is an alumna to boot? In describing the university it emphasizes the relative importance of the descriptive terms ‘research’ on the one hand, and ‘Roman Catholic’ on the other.

6

grackle 05.08.08 at 2:47 pm

Sorry, I was trying to bold only the words Roman Catholic”

7

Tom McC 05.08.08 at 2:53 pm

Well, the Wash.U. trustees are at least consistent. Matthews is as anti-feminist as Shlafly but since he has a CableTV show,as the more recently prominent he gets to mouth inanities longer than she.

8

Dan Simon 05.08.08 at 3:03 pm

Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things…So if you’re going to be handing out honorary degrees to political activists, conservatives are always going to come up short. And that is how it should be.

So can we finally end this charade about conservatives being treated as full equals in academia, and being massively underrepresented simply because they’re less interested in intellectual pursuits, or perhaps less intellectually capable than those on the left?

9

arbitrista 05.08.08 at 3:04 pm

Your statement about people not knowing who Schlafly is is likely correct. My 22-year-old female coworker had no idea who I was talking about. When she looked Schlafly up on the internet, she was appalled. I suppose we need to do a better job of reminding people about OLD villains as well as NEW ones.

10

Thomas 05.08.08 at 3:11 pm

One of the funniest things I’ve read at CT. This captures a particular mindset perfectly.

grackle, I think the Catholic Church and Wash U both will be surprised to find they are connected in the way you describe.

11

parse 05.08.08 at 3:11 pm

The ugliness of American politics today can be directly traced back to Schlafly’s vituperative, apocalyptic, character-assassinating campaign against the ERA. I think that, without much trouble at all, you could trace it back farther than that.

James Blaine’s campaign slogan in the presidential electoin of 1844 was Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha, a referance to the out-of-wedlock child Grover Cleveland allegedly had fathered.

12

Steve LaBonne 05.08.08 at 3:12 pm

Gee, it’s a good thing she’s not controversial like Jeremiah Wright.

13

Steve LaBonne 05.08.08 at 3:13 pm

By the way, is “university administrator” the SECOND oldest profession?

14

matt 05.08.08 at 3:14 pm

5- Washington University isn’t a Catholic school. It is, and always has been “non-sectarian”. It was founded by Unitarians. Maybe you’re thinking St. Louis University or Catholic University in Washington DC?

15

Anderson 05.08.08 at 3:15 pm

David Irving — wotta lightning rod, eh? Perhaps he’ll receive his honorary degree at their next commencement.

16

richard 05.08.08 at 3:16 pm

“behind closed doors, the Bush administration has collaborated with the governments of Mexico and Canada to merge the three nations into one Socialist mega-state.”

I probably didn’t need to keep reading after this. That must be the source of the strange smell that clings to Bush: socialism. Vicente Fox reeked of it, too.

17

mrmobi 05.08.08 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for that very informative piece, Kathy.

I try to read your blog every day. It’s nice to see you posting here also.

Schlafly is truly a pernicious influence in our culture. How very, very disappointing it is for her to be honored in any way.

Keep up the good work Kathy.

18

grackle 05.08.08 at 3:26 pm

Oops, mixed up with St. Louis University. A shame, as it was such a nice theory. Well, who can account for the bad taste of administrators?

19

Uncle Kvetch 05.08.08 at 3:28 pm

I agree with Kathy G wholeheartedly on this, but I just can’t get too exercised about Schlafly. I figure that having an out-&-proud gay son is more than enough karmic justice for that miserable old sow.

The sweetest irony, of course, is that if Schlafly (and Coulter, for that matter) actually lived by their own “teachings,” we would never have heard of either of them. Instead of making careers in politics they’d be spending their lives in the goddamn kitchen, the way the Good Lord intended.

20

someguy 05.08.08 at 3:35 pm

And Robespierre isn’t the moral equivalent of Burke.

The real take away wasn’t so much that Schlafly is a nut who doesn’t deserve an honorary degree.

It was more that people who disagree with Kathy G’s politics, people who don’t support universal childcare or universal paid leave, are hateful enemies of the advancement of women and lesser moral beings.

21

Marc 05.08.08 at 3:41 pm

That’s one devil of a twisting of her words someguy.
Hatemongers and demagogues shouldn’t be honored by academe. It’s not a complicated idea.

22

wustlstudent 05.08.08 at 3:44 pm

THANK YOU for asserting the very arguments I have been telling my peers for the past week. I’m glad there are others who believe this to be as important an issue as I do. Please email wrighton@wustl.edu if you’d like to tell our Chancellor you disagree with this decision, and cc your email to noschlaflydegree@gmail.com

23

Clayton 05.08.08 at 3:47 pm

We had Priscilla Presley. Jealous? C’mon, you’re a little jealous. It was a little awkward when listing her achievements there was mention of Naked Gun 33 1/3 and Those Crazy Animals.

24

kathy 05.08.08 at 3:51 pm

someguy must not have read the paragraph below. Or maybe he did but prefers to engage in the same dishonest debating tactics Schlafly traffics in.

“Nor do I believe that conservatives should never receive honorary degrees. There are conservative scholars who do work that is respected within academia—many economists, for example—and they would not be inappropriate candidates for such an honor. Nor would I have a problem with conservative pundits, so long as they’re sane and genuinely distinguished (which these days admittedly narrows the field to practically zero), such as the late William F. Buckley. I’ll even grudgingly accept the reality that conservative Republican elder statesmen are regularly awarded these things. Though even here there are limits—while personally I wouldn’t protest the awarding of a degree to George H.W. Bush, even though I find him pretty hateful, far-right lunatics like Cheney, Dubya, and Jesse Helms should be entirely out of bounds.”

25

bjk 05.08.08 at 3:55 pm

What’s interesting about Kathy’s post is the sense of territoriality. It’s like “hey, this is liberal country! You can’t invite conservatives to my country club! Club members only! Read the sign! Go back to your corporations or think tanks or wherever it is you eat children!”

26

kathy 05.08.08 at 4:04 pm

bjk, I specifically said that I don’t have a problem with conservatives getting honorary degrees, so long as they’re not hateful, conspiracy-mongering liars a la Schlafly. And I also specifically said that I had no problem with even those same hateful, conspiracy-mongering liars speaking on campus and freely expressing their views. But honoring them is something very different.

Tell me, would you not have any problem with a hateful conspiracy freak like Ward Churchill being awarded an honorary degree? Or maybe you think that would totally be beyond the pale, but honoring his right-wing equivalent would be just fine and dandy.

27

someguy 05.08.08 at 4:19 pm

Marc,

I thought I was clear. I did get that ‘Schlafly is a nut who doesn’t deserve an honorary degree.’

‘That’s one devil of a twisting of her words someguy.’

No, it isn’t.

If it helps I will re-write it to include the ERA and strike out universal childcare and universal paid leave.

It was more that people who disagree with Kathy G’s politics, people who don’t support the ERA, are hateful enemies of the advancement of women and lesser moral beings.

Was it not clear to you that Kathy thinks ‘liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents’ and that by implication conservatives are not the moral equivalents of liberals?

‘But this way madness lies. Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things. King George III is not the moral equivalent of George Washington. Jefferson Davis is not the moral equivalent of Abraham Lincoln. Joe McCarthy is not the moral equivalent of Walter Reuther. George Wallace is not the moral equivalent of Martin Luther King. And Phyllis Schlafly is not the moral equivalent of Betty Friedan.’

For goodness sake Kathy described the first Bush as hateful.

Was it not clear to you that the main reason Kathy considers Schlafly, ‘one of the greatest enemies of women’s advancement in American history’ is because she opposed and defeated the ERA?

Given all that why don’t you agree that,

It was more that people who disagree with Kathy G’s politics, people who don’t support the ERA, are hateful enemies of the advancement of women and lesser moral beings.

is a reasonable interpretation of Kathy’s post?

28

kathy 05.08.08 at 4:33 pm

I certainly don’t consider people who oppose(d) the ERA to be hateful. But I absolutely think that people who don’t support equal rights for women are opponents of women’s advancement.

And yes, I do think that people who oppose women’s equal rights *are* lesser, morally. Just as I believe that people who oppose equal rights for nonwhites are lesser morally. It doesn’t mean that they’re terrible people, but it does mean that on one moral dimension which I consider to be very important, they fall short.

My own parents are antifeminist, hard-right conservatives. I love them deeply and consider them to be perfectly lovely people. But that doesn’t mean I don’t consider their political views to be dead wrong and morally highly problematic.

And c’mon, someguy — are you going to tell me that don’t believe that, say, communists are lesser morally? That there’s not a single political belief in the world that a person could hold that, in your view, would make them lesser morally? Like, let’s say, oh, just maybe, feminism?

29

Righteous Bubba 05.08.08 at 4:36 pm

Was it not clear to you that Kathy thinks ‘liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents’ and that by implication conservatives are not the moral equivalents of liberals?

Given that conservatism in America for the last while largely consisted of slavish devotion to George W. Bush it’s easy to mistake the odd principled conservative such as yourself for a nitwit or reprobate.

30

bjk 05.08.08 at 4:37 pm

Ward Churchill isn’t evil, he’s a buffoon. Let him speak, go ahead. That’s what universities are for. Universities are filled with Ward Churchills who make fools of themselves daily, and the students snicker at them during and after class.

31

someguy 05.08.08 at 4:41 pm

Kathy,

I am in no way being dishonest. My reply to Mark works as a reply to you.

I would be happy to hear that you do not find the first Bush hateful.

I would also be happy to hear that you do no think that people who adamantly oppose the ERA and Universal Daycare and Universal Paid leave are the enemies of the advancement of women.

‘King George III is not the moral equivalent of George Washington. Jefferson Davis is not the moral equivalent of Abraham Lincoln.’

By the way Burke was very sympathetic to the American Colonists and supported the gradual abolition of slavery.

He might be a better choice as a representative of conservatism than say Jefferson Davis.

32

kathy 05.08.08 at 4:43 pm

bjk, you haven’t answered the question. I didn’t ask whether you think Ward Churchill should be allowed to speak, but whether you think a great university should award him with its highest honor, an honorary doctoral degree.

I have no problem with Ward Churchill or Phyllis Schlafly speaking on college campuses. But I would have a huge problem with awarding either of them an honorary degree.

33

Sebastian Holsclaw 05.08.08 at 4:51 pm

“Tell me, would you not have any problem with a hateful conspiracy freak like Ward Churchill being awarded an honorary degree?”

Ward Churchill got a psuedo-actual degree. The university vetting procedures were so non-stringent as to make the degree non-honorary. So it doesn’t exactly make your point.

I’m all for not giving Schlafly an honorary degree. It doesn’t seem clear that she did anything special to deserve it. But pretending that modern liberals have much to do with Washington or Lincoln is laying it a bit thick. Just because you are for change doesn’t mean you have much in common with people who advocated good changes in the past (or that you are necessarily different from people who advocated awful changes in the past).

Just today Clinton said that she should be elected because whe appeals to hard-working *white* people. She is considered a major Democrat right?

34

bjk 05.08.08 at 4:52 pm

Fine, give him a degree. I wouldn’t have voted for it, but like I said, he’s not a little Eichmann, nor is Phyllis Schlafly. Universities need a wider range of opinion, even if that means tolerating fools like WC.

35

someguy 05.08.08 at 5:07 pm

‘And c’mon, someguy—are you going to tell me that don’t believe that, say, communists are lesser morally? That there’s not a single political belief in the world that a person could hold that, in your view, would make them lesser morally? Like, let’s say, oh, just maybe, feminism?’

Not unless the belief is actively evil. Like say Nazism.

Not only that, I also think that Marxists/Communists/Socialists can provide valuable critiques based on their Marxism/Communism/Socialism.

And like everyone else nowadays I consider myself to be a feminist.

So,

you do think that people who oppose the ERA fall short in one very important moral dimension?

I find that troubling and a little insulting.

But that’s ok.

36

kathy 05.08.08 at 5:07 pm

In the history of America, at least, principled conservatives like Burke (who I realize wasn’t American) are few and far between. People like Jefferson Davis, however, are a dime a dozen. Throughout American history, have been many, many more prominent conservatives who were racists than there have been prominent conservatives who have been principled intellectuals a la Burke. You can pull out the Burke card all you want but it doesn’t get you out of jail free, pal.

In fact, I think it’s highly revealing that you chose Burke, an Englishman, as your representative of a conservative. Because the fact is, in all of American history, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a few prominent conservatives who weren’t racists. Even the most decent conservatives like Bill Buckley were strong supporters of segregation.

When I said that I found the first George Bush hateful, what I meant is that I pretty much hate him. Which I do — his policies sucked, I believe he subverted the Constitution during Iran-contra, and he started an unnecessary war (albeit one that didn’t have anywhere near the horrific consequences of the present war). But I didn’t mean to imply I think he himself is hate-filled, in the way that Schlafly is, for example, and I’m sorry that I apparently did.

And yeah, I think people who oppose universal child care, universal paid leave, the ERA, etc., *are* enemies of women’s progress. They may not think of themselves that way, but in practical terms, they are. Policies like those would increase women’s economic and political equality. Do you disagree with that? Or do you just not agree that women should have equal status in our society?

That said, I don’t oppose honorary degrees for people who are enemies of women’s progress. Gary Becker can collect all the honorary degrees he likes, as far as I’m concerned. But Schlafly is a lying, demagogic hack, and I oppose honorary degrees for lying, demagogic hacks of all ideologies. See here: http://ourfuture.org/blog-entry/crash-eagle for more of Schlafly’s lies.

I also think liberals make a huge mistake when they try to show they’re fair by balancing honors given to activists who have brought our society forward (such as feminists) with honors to activists who have pulled our society back (Schlafly). The two are not equivalent. Though I realize that conservatives, of course, will disagree with this.

37

cw 05.08.08 at 5:15 pm

someguy:
I’m sorry Kathy hurt your feelings by believing that those who work toward social justice are morally superior to those who oppose it. Perhaps you’d care to engage that part of her argument directly.
No one is fooled by your conflation of the small subset of intellectually dishonest & openly racist & misogynist conservatives like Shlafly from the more mainstream conservatives like the 1st Bush, a distinction Kathy makes explicit by name.
And yes, the ERA, universal daycare & universal leave advance the interests of women, what with people generally better off when they can provide for themselves. Logically, if you oppose those things that advance my interests, I do consider you my enemy. Rocket science, that.

38

richard 05.08.08 at 5:22 pm

Among GHW Bush’s sins, don’t forget his important contribution to establishing the Carlyle Group, which has more than a little to do with the current reprehensible war.

39

Dave Maier 05.08.08 at 5:33 pm

parse informed us that:

James Blaine’s campaign slogan in the presidential electoin of 1844 was Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha, a referance to the out-of-wedlock child Grover Cleveland allegedly had fathered.

The way I heard it, it was only “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?” which was Blaine’s slogan. “Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!” was the Cleveland side’s gloating retort (makes sense, right?).

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

40

Dan Simon 05.08.08 at 5:39 pm

What’s interesting about Kathy’s post is the sense of territoriality. It’s like “hey, this is liberal country! You can’t invite conservatives to my country club! Club members only! Read the sign! Go back to your corporations or think tanks or wherever it is you eat children!”

I think the word you’re looking for is, “greenneck”.

41

akatsuki 05.08.08 at 5:39 pm

I imagine this is an outgrowth of the right’s campaign to start infiltrating the academic sphere. Much like the judiciary, which they have stocked with “sleeper agents” through a concerted effort, they are using similar techniques in academia to push creationism and foster an increasing divide.

42

Dave Maier 05.08.08 at 5:55 pm

On that note of sleeper agents (akatsuki, #41), see this (though there seems to be some disagreement about whether it’s a joke, which it clearly is).

43

someguy 05.08.08 at 5:58 pm

Kathy,

Goldwater and plenty of his supporters.

http://www.reason.com/news/show/28337.html

‘And yeah, I think people who oppose universal child care, universal paid leave, the ERA, etc., are enemies of women’s progress. They may not think of themselves that way, but in practical terms, they are. Policies like those would increase women’s economic and political equality. Do you disagree with that? ‘

Much in the same way that farm subsidies increase the economic and political equality of farmers.

Our community recently voted against full day Kindergarten.

All the Mom’s I spoke to were very upfront about why they wanted full day Kindergarten. They worked and they wanted to save money on day care.

Call me a vicious opponent of women’s equality but I couldn’t help but think to myself, you live in a bigger house on a nicer street than me and my family, I don’t think we should have to pay for your daycare.

(Yes, lots of common goods exist, Universal Daycare is not a common good. Also, I am ok with some level of re-distribution in the name of income inequality.)

I don’t think that opponents of universal daycare are enemies of women’s progress.

44

MSshaftesbury 05.08.08 at 6:15 pm

and I assume the honorary degree will be an “M-R-S”?

(yes, yes: an extremely old, and almost always rude joke. But if it were ever appropriate: this is the time)
p.s. my alma mater didn’t do honorary degrees. I believe that’s still true.

45

kathy 05.08.08 at 6:17 pm

someguy, I don’t understand your point about Goldwater. I have read the book that post refers to, Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm. One thing Perlstein makes clear is that the overwhelming reason most people supported Goldwater was because he opposed civil rights. And the reason they opposed civil rights was because of their own racism, as the book also makes clear.

If you were planning to, please spare me the argument about how conservatives opposed civil rights out of a purehearted concern about states’ rights. That is just so much self-serving bullshit, as the Perlstein book makes crystal clear.

You oppose universal daycare? Fine. Why not oppose universal public education as well? Lots of rich folks send their kids to public schools, after all. And why should those of us who are not rich pay for it?

And actually, there’s a much stronger argument for things like universal pre-K (or daycare, if you will), because investing in early childhood education pays off much more highly than investing in later education does. Look at the work the economist James Heckman has done on this subject if you want proof of this.

someguy, you seem to be just fine with leaving society as it is, with women bearing the brunt of unpaid care work. Call yourself a feminist if you like, but that doesn’t sound terribly feminist to me. It does sound mighty complacent, though.

46

sprite 05.08.08 at 6:21 pm

I knew little about Schlafly, and upon reading Kathy’s description, I have to say awarding her an honorary degree does sound questionable. So I appreciate that aspect of this post.

But I have to concur with someguy that the overall tone came across as “liberals good, conservatives bad,” and that hurts the argument. Really, passages like this:

<I.It’s a distressing fact that many liberals, anxious not to be seen as “biased” or as condescending to conservatives, in fact bend over backwards to be “fair and balanced” towards them. Such behavior then allows them to congratulate themselves on their “tolerance” and “open-mindedness.” Though, to be “fair,” so to speak—such behavior does come out of a genuinely decent liberal instinct to be evenhanded.

But this way madness lies. Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents.

are disturbing, because they suggest that “fairness” and “tolerance” and “open-mindedness,” things liberals demand for minorities, gays, and women – and rightly so – are ONLY for those groups, and need not be extended to people who, say, disagree with Kathy.

Look, I admit I know less than I should about culture war struggles of the past, and I’m eager for posts that help me learn more about it. But I want an even-handed account of same so I can make up my own mind, and saying all liberal ideas are morally superior to all conservative ideas is clearly biased.

It’s ok to be biased in favor of your beliefs, and I appreciate that you’re up-front about it – that way I know how to read your posts in future. Just be aware that some fence-sitters will find your tone off-putting, and that will make it harder to convince them.

47

Righteous Bubba 05.08.08 at 6:22 pm

FYI in case it wasn’t clear in post 29 I was just being sarcastic. Conservatives are obviously awful people, though often individually charming.

48

sprite 05.08.08 at 6:23 pm

Messed up the close italic code – the quote ends after “equivalents.”

49

Barry 05.08.08 at 6:24 pm

“Just today Clinton said that she should be elected because whe appeals to hard-working white people. She is considered a major Democrat right?”

Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw

Um, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention for the past few months, but she’s been pulling a Lieberman, working her way out of the party.

Just to let you know.

50

sprite 05.08.08 at 6:27 pm

Darn! Also meant to quote this part of prior paragraph:

It’s a distressing fact that many liberals, anxious not to be seen as “biased” or as condescending to conservatives, in fact bend over backwards to be “fair and balanced” towards them. Such behavior then allows them to congratulate themselves on their “tolerance” and “open-mindedness.” Though, to be “fair,” so to speak—such behavior does come out of a genuinely decent liberal instinct to be evenhanded.

51

someguy 05.08.08 at 6:42 pm

Kathy,

You asked for a prominent conservative who was not a racist.

Goldwater.

As the article notes, Perlstien is wrong. Goldwater and the article’s author and lots of conservatives opposed civil rights out of principle and not racism.

I don’t think that is correct. I am not aware of any study that indicates that day care has a lasting impact on educational achievments.

Most proponents will cite the benefits of universal pre-K through grade X where grade X is always less than high school graduation. Generally somewhere around grades 6 – 8. At that point any benefits disappear.

Are you claiming this study demonstrates that universal pre-K has a lasting impact? As in the differences at high school graduation are noticeable?

Please let me know if that is the case. Because I would be very interested in such a study. Sceptical but interested.

‘someguy, you seem to be just fine with leaving society as it is, with women bearing the brunt of unpaid care work. Call yourself a feminist if you like, but that doesn’t sound terribly feminist to me. It does sound mighty complacent, though.’

I just really don’t think that is something I want the government to fix. And if they did fix it, I would prefer a simple solution. Like cutting a check for the work.

52

bann 05.08.08 at 6:47 pm

What’s the big deal about Chris Matthews?

He has not:
– worked against or stated opposition to the advancement of women in any field
– shown any pattern of opposing policy ideas that would help women
– lists should have three things

He has: complimented women on their attractiveness in inappropriate (professional) situations.

To me, this means the guy is not likable, can be amaturish and awkward, and wastes his viewers’ time. But “…one of the biggest sexists jerks in the media today?” Really? Lighten up!

53

kathy 05.08.08 at 6:48 pm

Excuse me, sprite, but where did I ever “suggest” this?:

“that ‘fairness’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘open-mindedness,’ things liberals demand for minorities, gays, and women – and rightly so – are ONLY for those groups, and need not be extended to people who, say, disagree with Kathy.”

Hey man, if I didn’t believe in fairness, tolerance, and open-mindedness, I’d be deleting your ass! And someguy and the rest of y’all who disagree with me.

I’ll say it for the thousandth time, I am 100% supportive of the right of even Phyllis Schlafly and her ilk to enjoy freedom of expression and to speak on campus. But I don’t agree with *honoring* lying, demagogic hacks, such as Schlafly.

I also think liberal ideas and political movements are by and large good things and that conservative ideas and movements by and large suck. Am I required to be so “open-minded” that I have to pretend that I think conservative ideas are just swell? Ye gods, spare me!

And honestly, I prefer it when conservatives are upfront and *don’t* try to pretend that they think liberalism is teh awesome, either. Because honest debate and real understanding are impossible when people disguise their true opinions on these matters.

54

kathy 05.08.08 at 6:57 pm

someguy, all the best research indicates that early childhood education has enormous benefits to society. Here’s
http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB113686119611542381.html
an article by the leading expert on the subject, ultra-conservative University of Chicago economist James Heckman. It appeared on the ultra-conservative Wall Street Journal op ed page.

“There are many reasons why investing in disadvantaged young children has a high economic return. Early interventions for disadvantaged children promote schooling, raise the quality of the work force, enhance the productivity of schools, and reduce crime, teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency. They raise earnings and promote social attachment. Focusing solely on earnings gains, returns to dollars invested are as high as 15% to 17%.”

55

Jonathan Mayhew 05.08.08 at 7:06 pm

What’s the non-racist “principle” for opposing civil rights for those of another race? Would that be like all those non-misogynist reasons for hating women?

56

Grand Moff Texan 05.08.08 at 7:07 pm

Not like an honorary doctorate is going to make her any smarter.
.

57

Grand Moff Texan 05.08.08 at 7:09 pm

Generally somewhere around grades 6 – 8.

Was that about the point where you failed to learn to write in complete sentences?
.

58

shteve 05.08.08 at 7:20 pm

Never heard of Shlafly, and I hold no brief, so to me this is a daft rant from Kathy G.

She attacks the woman’s opinions, but only once does she quote such opinion – the sentence about the nuclear bomb. Everything else in this piece relies upon the opinions others hold of the opinions of Schlafly.

Ironic, given the writer’s concern over the “ugly and vicious character of political discourse”.

59

bann 05.08.08 at 7:24 pm

jonathan mayhew @55:

What’s the non-racist “principle” for opposing civil rights for those of another race? Would that be like all those non-misogynist reasons for hating women?

It is called “federalism.” It is the idea that there are some things the federal government doesn’t have the right to make the states do, even if it’s the right thing to do. It is the idea that we have to do what the constitution says; when the constitution is wrong, we should change it rather than do what is right without changing the constitution.

So there are non-racist principles that lead to the opposition of federally-imposed civil rights. Now, I don’t believe that most of the people opposing civil rights actually did so on these grounds. I’m just saying that’s the argument, and it is not racist. It is deontological. Your consequentialist argument (if you favor something that ends up with fewer rights for non-whites, you are a racist, period) is another, perfectly legitimate way to evaluate policy.

Anyway, go civil rights!

60

kathy 05.08.08 at 7:29 pm

shteve, either you didn’t read the whole thing, or you can’t count. I quoted Schlafly directly at least three times. On top of that, I linked to a number of her writings. And I also accurately paraphrased lots of lying bullshit that she did actually say — such as that the ERA would mandate unisex bathrooms and deprive widows and housewives of Social Security benefits.

In any event, unless you’re very young or not American, if you haven’t heard of Phyllis Schlafly then you’re far too ignorant about politics to have any real understanding of this issue.

61

arcseed 05.08.08 at 7:33 pm

“‘someguy, you seem to be just fine with leaving society as it is, with women bearing the brunt of unpaid care work. Call yourself a feminist if you like, but that doesn’t sound terribly feminist to me. It does sound mighty complacent, though.’

I just really don’t think that is something I want the government to fix. And if they did fix it, I would prefer a simple solution. Like cutting a check for the work.”

Like, um, cutting a check to pay for universal daycare?

62

someguy 05.08.08 at 7:40 pm

Kathy,

Liberalism is swell.

I previously mentioned I have no problems with some level of re-distribution in the name of inequality.

The study you linked to does provide a persuasive case for re-distribution. It does seem such re-distribution might promote the common good.

But that wasn’t an argument that Universal pre-K is a common good. It wasn’t an argument that Universal pre-K would benefit all children as opposed to just high risk children. It wasn’t even an argument that Universal pre-K would benefit high risk children. (It seems that Heckman feels Head Start is a failure.)

It might be that early intensive intervention in high risk children increases the common good. Scalability is an obvious concern. At this point I am persuaded that we should try.

Daycare is still not a common good.

63

sprite 05.08.08 at 7:46 pm

Wow, Kathy, I’m surprised at your angry and defensive reply to what I thought was a polite comment. I guess my writing skills are not all I had hoped.

The issue is not that I disagree with your point about Schlafly, it’s that I feel you’re tone could be offensive enough to turn off people who might otherwise be receptive to your argument. Telling me

Hey man, if I didn’t believe in fairness, tolerance, and open-mindedness, I’d be deleting your ass!

is hardly setting the bar high for either open-mindedness (which requires more than merely not obscuring dissenting viewpoints) or for civil discourse. Nor is the following

Nor would I have a problem with conservative pundits, so long as they’re sane and genuinely distinguished (which these days admittedly narrows the field to practically zero),

a convincing concession to anyone who doesn’t automatically equate “conservative” with “bad.” Really, almost no conservative pundits are sane or distinguished, despite scads of liberal pundits who are? Perhaps I’m just unclear as to your definitions of “sane” and “distinguished.”

I understand that you strongly believe liberal ideas are morally superior, and trying to say otherwise would feel hypocritical. (That’s what I meant by “biased in favor of your beliefs,” which on rereading I see may sound like I think you’re stacking the deck in your favor – not at all true.) I appreciate your honestly about it, because it means I can read your posts for a liberal viewpoint. I trust that’s not a bad thing.

64

someguy 05.08.08 at 7:47 pm

arcseed,

No. Maybe she would prefer hiring an Nanny. Maybe she wants to do the work herself but she just wants to get paid for it. Maybe she wants a part time helper to stop by while she works from home 6 hours a day.

65

a 05.08.08 at 7:48 pm

“I’ll say it for the thousandth time, I am 100% supportive of the right of even Phyllis Schlafly and her ilk to enjoy freedom of expression and to speak on campus. But I don’t agree with honoring lying, demagogic hacks, such as Schlafly.”

IMHO all politicians are lying, demagogic hacks. Some more than others, and some much more than others, but basically it goes with the territory. I think why you don’t like about Schlafly is that she lied and was a demagogic hack on an issue which you care very deeply about.

66

kathy 05.08.08 at 7:57 pm

someguy, I don’t understand what you mean by “common good.”

And yes, that article does not say universal pre-K (which is indeed different from universal day care) would benefit all children. And I don’t know that the author would support a universal program — quite possibly not. And unlike me, he would certainly prefer early childhood education to be provided via vouchers than via the public school system.

But if we’re going to provide early childhood education — which I think we should — I think universality is the best way to do it. The program would be most effective that way. Means-testing programs is usually problematic, for reasons I discuss on my blog:
http://thegspot.typepad.com/blog/2008/04/against-means-t.html

Quoting from that post, I think this is one reason why means testing for early childhood education could be especially troublesome:
“Means tests create transaction costs which increase the price of accessing programs and services. Once you start requiring people to fill out forms, provide proof of income, etc., you will discourage some people who qualify for the benefit from applying for it. This makes it harder for some of the people who need the program most to take advantage of it.”

67

A-ro 05.08.08 at 7:59 pm

Lots of people say lots of crazy things. What’s really scary is that so many people found Schlafly persuasive.

68

A-ro 05.08.08 at 8:06 pm

FYI everyone, using a fake email address in the comment form prevents your comment from posting. I think this blog’s proprietors have been pretty up front about this before (and it is their right to have this policy), but I just wanted to remind everyone about the policy because I have had two comments “moderated” today. Your loss!

69

kathy 05.08.08 at 8:08 pm

sprite, no, I don’t think that there are scads of distinguished liberal pundits, either. Practically everyone in the pundit game is a hack, unfortunately. But the conservative hacks tend to be hackier. I think that’s because the policies and leaders they support have mostly been such spectacular failures of late that they’re forced to lie a lot more than the liberals do.

Honestly, how many conservatives can you stand to read these days? I like Ross Douthat, Christopher Caldwell, and a couple of others. But most of the rest of them really do suck.

Finally, I’m sorry if you don’t like my tone, but I prefer it when political writers are passionate. To me that’s always a turn-on, not a turn-off, whatever the writer’s point of view. And btw, I did think my comment to you was particularly angry or defensive. Passionate, yes; angry, no. But perhaps it didn’t come off that way.

70

Mrs Tilton 05.08.08 at 8:13 pm

someguy @35,

And like everyone else nowadays I consider myself to be a feminist.

That’s nice.

you do think that people who oppose the ERA fall short in one very important moral dimension?

I find that troubling and a little insulting.

But that’s ok.

What you think troubling and a little insulting, and what you think ok, is of no interest.

71

Michael Bérubé 05.08.08 at 8:20 pm

Dan Simon @ 8:

So can we finally end this charade about conservatives being treated as full equals in academia, and being massively underrepresented simply because they’re less interested in intellectual pursuits, or perhaps less intellectually capable than those on the left?

Yes we can. Phyllis Schlafly’s degree should finally bring a definitive end to this charade. Also, Larry Summers and Duke lacrosse team Ward Churchill.

72

someguy 05.08.08 at 9:21 pm

Kathy,

The programs that seem to be effective, Head Start does not appear to be all that effective, are very expensive. The payoff looks to be enormous. But they are expensive. 10 – 12 K per child.

That is a tough sell. And the easy sell of the cheap Head Start doesn’t seem to be all that effective.

I am dubious an effective government program is possible. Even at higher levels of spending. I am not sure any of these programs are scalable.

This stuff is very hard on a lot of different levels.

From Heckman -

‘Important operational details of investment programs for disadvantaged children remain to be determined. Children from advantaged environments, by and large, receive substantial early investment, while children from disadvantaged environments more often do not. There is little basis for providing universal programs at zero cost, although some advocate such a policy. While there is a strong case for public support for funding interventions in the early childhood of disadvantaged children, there is no reason for the interventions to be conducted in public centers. Vouchers that can be used in privately run programs would promote competition and efficiency in the provision of early enrichment programs. They would allow parents to choose the venues and values offered in the programs that enrich their child’s earliest years.’

Again this stuff is not easy.

Which is why people who don’t support universal pre-K are morally lacking and against women’s rights isn’t a very good argument.

I think you would get much better results posting about Heckman’s findings and proposing some pilot programs. A head start or different public pilot and a voucher pilot.

You might be suprised how many people you convince.

73

Uncle Kvetch 05.08.08 at 9:29 pm

Also, Larry Summers and Duke lacrosse team Ward Churchill.

Oh yeah? Well Amanda Marcotte Chappaquidick Robert Byrd Robert Byrd Hanoi Jane to YOU, pal!

74

Dan Simon 05.08.08 at 9:36 pm

Phyllis Schlafly’s degree should finally bring a definitive end to this charade. Also, Larry Summers and Duke lacrosse team Ward Churchill.

Just in case you weren’t aware of it, Michael, if someone correctly identifies you (or a political ally of yours) as a partisan hack, that doesn’t automatically mean that the critic is also a partisan hack. The critic could, for example, be a fair-minded non-partisan unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort.

“I know you are, but what am I?” may work in the schoolyard, but among adults, it just makes you look like an idiot.

75

dsquared 05.08.08 at 9:39 pm

Never heard of Shlafly, and I hold no brief,

It never ceases to amaze me that people like this nonetheless think that their opinion is worth posting via our comments facility. How can you not care about something enough to learn about it, not care enough to find out, not care enough to have an opinion and yet nonetheless care enough to comment about it?

Exhibit B for this tendency: Dan Simon.

In general, if you had always campaigned against fishing, always said that fishing was a stupid idea, demanded that several large fishing rivers were dammed, constantly supported the interests of boaters against fishermen and generally put together a lifelong record of hatred for fishing, would you expect to win Angler Of The Year? That’s the sort of thing we’re dealing with here.

76

dsquared 05.08.08 at 9:42 pm

Just in case you weren’t aware of it, Michael, if someone correctly identifies you (or a political ally of yours) as a partisan hack, that doesn’t automatically mean that the critic is also a partisan hack. The critic could, for example, be a fair-minded non-partisan unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort.

stop it Dan Qana Qana Red Cross, you’re Ward Churchill Noam Chomsky killing me here. My why do you never mention Darfur? sides are Petraeus Petraeus surge surge in serious danger of course they never found them Saddam spirited them away to Syria splitting here.

If only you understood irony, we could laugh together at that one.

77

cw 05.08.08 at 9:51 pm

someguy:
While the question of the benefit of early childhood intervention for children is indeed an important one, it has little if anything to do with women’s rights. Even if you can establish that the best childcare available has no educational benefit for children, it does have the very important benefit of allowing parents to go to work every day, which, sadly, remains in our culture a burden born disproportionately by women.

78

Martin James 05.08.08 at 9:52 pm

I thought honorary degrees were often bestowed on the famous and on donors (preferably both) without regard to any particular academic accomplishment.

Agreeing with Kathy G seems to require believing both that honorary degrees should be subject to a moral test and that a reasonable moral test would exclude Ms. Schlafly.

If you pursue the first, a moral test, you will bring about not a universal application of the test you like, but a contested, standard that will apply differently at different institutions.

Certainly there are academic institutions that will confer honorary degrees on Rove, Bush and Cheney.

I’d like to disagree with you but you’re so morally quaint and prude that it seems hateful to do so.

79

dsquared 05.08.08 at 9:54 pm

I’d note that state-funded third party daycare is very much a compromise position from what one would assume would be the logical position; a compulsory, legally enforceable, egalitarian distribution of housework and childcare within the home.

80

Dan Simon 05.08.08 at 9:57 pm

Daniel, I do believe you’re referring to this thread, where you made a complete fool of yourself, refusing over and over again to accept documented evidence that your posting was based on a basic misunderstanding of the facts. Shortly thereafter, you banned me from commenting on all your posts–and yet here you are, responding (not for the first time, I might add) in someone else’s comment thread, to this fellow whom you supposedly deem unworthy of your own. Having second thoughts, perhaps?

How can you not care about something enough to learn about it, not care enough to find out, not care enough to have an opinion and yet nonetheless care enough to comment about it?

Good question. Why, if such people simply emulated you, and made sure always to have an opinion, they’d be just fine.

81

Michael Bérubé 05.08.08 at 10:32 pm

“I know you are, but what am I?” may work in the schoolyard, but among adults, it just makes you look like an idiot.

Two things, Dan. I’ll walk through them slowly.

One, the point of my comment @ 69 was not “I know you are, but what am I.” It was a point about your laughable attempt at making a “logical” “claim” @ 8. See it goes like this. First Kathy G. said, “So if you’re going to be handing out honorary degrees to political activists, conservatives are always going to come up short. And that is how it should be” (emphasis added). You responded that Kathy’s remark proves that we can “finally end this charade about conservatives being treated as full equals in academia, and being massively underrepresented simply because they’re less interested in intellectual pursuits, or perhaps less intellectually capable than those on the left.” This, despite the fact that Kathy G. does not in fact control all academic hiring in the United States and was speaking about honorary degrees for political activists, not about applicants for academic positions. In other words, your response @ 8 makes as much sense, speaking in a logically-minded kinda way, as my parody of it @ 69.

Two, your failure to understand point one makes you look . . . oh, you know.

82

dsquared 05.08.08 at 10:34 pm

Daniel, I do believe you’re referring to this thread, where you made a complete fool of yourself, refusing over and over again to accept documented evidence that your posting was based on a basic misunderstanding of the facts

the only possible response to this is “I know you are, but what am I?”, ironically (cf above).

83

John Protevi 05.08.08 at 10:35 pm

Just in case you weren’t aware of it, Michael, if someone correctly identifies you (or a political ally of yours) as a partisan hack, that doesn’t automatically mean that the critic is also a partisan hack. The critic could, for example, be a fair-minded non-partisan unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort.

The blogosphere has longed for the day when the partisan hack Michael Bérubé would be taken down by the fair-minded non-partisan, unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort, Dan Simon. That day is here at last!!!!111!!

84

Borealis 05.08.08 at 10:40 pm

If many more Universities did this sort of thing, people might get the impression that Universities weren’t idealogically biased toward liberals. We couldn’t give that impression.

85

John Emerson 05.08.08 at 10:42 pm

Kathy don’t argue with Someguy. He’s deliberately misreading your piece and will never shut up. He’ll just continue to repeat his misreading.

86

John Emerson 05.08.08 at 10:43 pm

Kathy, some people make a career of abusing discursive charity. The solution is at my URL.

87

Will Schendel 05.08.08 at 10:58 pm

James Blaine’s campaign slogan in the presidential electoin of 1844 was Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha, a referance to the out-of-wedlock child Grover Cleveland allegedly had fathered.

#11 –

That would be

88

leederick 05.08.08 at 11:02 pm

I can’t see how state funded childcare will save us all from culturally enforced gender roles. The gender division of childcare within families may be bad, but from what I can see the gender division of childcare within commercial childcare is worse. If you want childcare to remain womans’ work Universal Daycare is the way to go.

And as for daycare helping mothers work: Why is this a good idea? Mothers are not by any means particularly disadvantaged group in society – their wealth and income compares favourably to the young, or elderly, or unemployed. I have my doubts about whether subsidising middle-aged couples maintainance of double-income households really is the sine qua non of an egalitarian social policy. It this makes me an enemy of women’s progress, then sign me up. The way Kathy floated a really bourgeoise social policy and then tried to prop it up with a concern for the poor when people started disagreeing is is absolutely shameless.

89

Dan Simon 05.08.08 at 11:17 pm

Look, Michael, if you can’t understand what people are writing in plain English (that’s twice in a row, now), there’s really no point arguing with you. Do you also make fun of the silly sounds made by people conversing in foreign languages you don’t speak?

90

someguy 05.09.08 at 12:13 am

cw,

‘Even if you can establish that the best childcare available has no educational benefit for children, it does have the very important benefit of allowing parents to go to work every day, which, sadly, remains in our culture a burden born disproportionately by women.’

Head Start already covers a million children.

I am sure a few women who cannot currently afford day care would work if a universal pre-K program was instituted.

But the vast majority of women don’t require an expansion of head start in order to work.

The results of such an expansion would mostly consist of other people picking up my daycare costs and forcing us to use the program instead of our current day care provider.

91

Josh in Philly 05.09.08 at 12:26 am

Am I right that Schlafly came out in opposition to Holocaust education in the mid-Eighties, suggesting that it irresponsibly disturbed the complacency of junior high schoolers by making them think critically? There was a column in The Nation about that, IIRC.

92

cw 05.09.08 at 12:55 am

leederick & someguy, you are simply beneath contempt.

93

Helen 05.09.08 at 2:02 am

Finally, I’m sorry if you don’t like my tone, but I prefer it when political writers are passionate. To me that’s always a turn-on, not a turn-off, whatever the writer’s point of view. And btw, I did think my comment to you was particularly angry or defensive. Passionate, yes; angry, no. But perhaps it didn’t come off that way.

Kathy, your tone was no way wrong.
Hey man, if I didn’t believe in fairness, tolerance, and open-mindedness, I’d be deleting your ass!

I think 99.99% of CT readers would understand what you meant.

94

Helen 05.09.08 at 2:06 am

Back on topic – PS’s son Andy is the founder of the ridiculous Conservapedia, isn’t he?

The stuff there on vaccination and race, to name two topics, are worthy of some kook’s self-published journal (oh wait, that’s what Conservapedia is). What a family!

95

Sebastian Holsclaw 05.09.08 at 2:08 am

Somone might want to tell Berube that the Duke lacrosse team was actually innocent unless I’m totally misunderstanding his throwaway.

96

rea 05.09.08 at 2:09 am

What an astonishing display of moral relativism Dan Simon engages in!

There are such things as right and wrong in this world, and justice does not require us to accord those who are wrong the same honor and respect as those who are right.

97

rea 05.09.08 at 2:16 am

Someone might want to tell Berube that the Duke lacrosse team was actually innocent

Or at least, not guilty of the charges against them.

unless I’m totally misunderstanding his throwaway.

I suspect that you are.

98

noen 05.09.08 at 2:23 am

Maurice Meilleur @ 2
“why don’t schools simply stop awarding honorary degrees altogether?”

Really? People need to ask what these are for? Honorary degrees have only one purpose:

“Why yes Mr. Redstone, we’d love to accept your 20 million for the new stadium. What’s that? Why of course we are a fair minded University. Just the other day we proudly bestowed an honorary degree on Phyllis Schlafly. Oh!!! Thank you Mr. Redstone!! Thank you!”

They have no other function at all and are completely worthless.

99

Dave Maier 05.09.08 at 2:25 am

I suspect you are.

I think so too. Consider that a) Ward Churchill is actually a goofball; and b) Michael knows this too.

Now does Michael’s comment make (more) sense?

100

Lara 05.09.08 at 3:36 am

If Phyllis Schlafely actually lived up to what she believed in she would shut up, stay home, clean, and bake a pie…AND let a man do the talkin’ for her.
Any feminist can sense the hypocrisy and misogyny of Schlafely’s ideas right away.

101

Dan Simon 05.09.08 at 3:44 am

Somone might want to tell Berube that the Duke lacrosse team was actually innocent unless I’m totally misunderstanding his throwaway.

I think you misunderstood–Berube was simply stringing together a random sequence of right-wing hot-button keywords, basically accusing me of being a right-wing partisan hack. (That’s certainly how Uncle Kvetch and DSquared interpreted him.)

Of course, he had to back off once I pointed out that “I know you are, but what am I?” only works when arguing with fellow idiots. He now claims that he was just stringing together nonsense phrases as a way of accusing me of being nonsensical. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

There are such things as right and wrong in this world, and justice does not require us to accord those who are wrong the same honor and respect as those who are right.

I agree completely. I actually think that a dogmatically PC university–heck, a whole community of them–is a perfectly unobjectionable institution. After all, there are universities associated with every major religion, and numerous minor ones, as well as all sorts of philosophical schools of thought. The modern leftist university may be largely devoid of intellectual substance, but its output is probably at least somewhat more useful than that of, say, Maharishi International.

However, a professedly leftist university should be frank about its goals and mission. (And the government shouldn’t fund it preferentially over universities with other goals and missions.) If people flock to leftist universities, then good for them–they obviously fill a need. But they should stop the pretense of being neutral, dispassionate seekers of knowledge, pluralistically welcoming all sincere scholars. They should instead openly embrace their foundational philosophy, and argue for its superiority over alternatives.

And if they want to persuade anybody but the already-converted, I might add, they’ll have to do a lot better than Kathy G.

102

Josh in Philly 05.09.08 at 4:43 am

Even people who’ve never heard of Schlafly ought, I think, to entertain the idea that her Virginia Tech remarks are as far beyond the pale as Ward Churchill’s famous column.

Re: Dan’s approach to argument: Of course, he had to back off once I . . . Wow. Way to claim a misinterpretation as a victory (that’s been happening a lot to the presidential candidates of late). Michael’s parodic style really isn’t that hard to interpret: he’s been doing it online for a few years now.

103

Mark 05.09.08 at 5:01 am

@87

And as for daycare helping mothers work: Why is this a good idea? Mothers are not by any means particularly disadvantaged group in society – their wealth and income compares favourably to the young, or elderly, or unemployed.

Because, of course, there aren’t any young, elderly, or unemployed mothers out there. There certainly aren’t any mothers out there who are unemployed because they have to take care of young children.

That would be silly!

104

Zeno 05.09.08 at 5:23 am

Schlafly is a deeply ignorant woman who has the courage of her misconceptions. I have a copy of her Goldwater manifest (A Choice, Not an Echo) and it is full of her fulminations against polling. She has no idea how it works but thinks it’s persuasive to argue that you can possibly discover the opinions of millions of people by finding out those of a sample containing hundreds.

I wrote a primer on polling that includes some of her choicest comments.

105

Dan Simon 05.09.08 at 5:27 am

the only possible response to this is “I know you are, but what am I?”, ironically (cf above).

Nope, sorry–saying it “ironically” (or even, “‘ironically'”) doesn’t make you look any less like an idiot. (Berube, take note…)

106

Roy Belmont 05.09.08 at 7:19 am

…a group of embittered reactionaries writing furious diatribes taken seriously by no one
versus
Schlafly has had a powerful, and entirely negative, influence on the political direction of this country
They sort of bounce against each other, but never quite come together.
…a hateful conspiracy freak like Ward Churchill
Well, there is that pesky indigenous thing he keeps droning on and on about. And the actual instances of actual hateness in his public speech are actually kind of hard to point to. As opposed to that “chickens coming home to roost” sort of thing. And Wounded Knee sort of thing. Which in the sense that it was held out of the national story for far too long is a kind of conspiracy object. And that was the place from which Churchill was speaking. Which was just too much for most acceptable folks to bear in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Which is why Churchill’s anathema to decent liberals.
But who can deny the legitimacy of anti-American hatred now? Maybe not publicly, but to yourselves? Iraq? Palestine? Why do they hate us?
Oh.
People like Jefferson Davis, however, are a dime a dozen….
So are people like Ghandi and Einstein a dime a dozen, if only they would realize that about themselves and bring their latent genius into the light. Seriously that’s a knee-jerk uninformed and prejudiced opinion. Jefferson Davis had many exceptional qualities, which is why he was elected to the President of the Confederacy. Not because those guys were all a bunch of poopyheads.
#95:
There are such things as right and wrong in this world, and justice does not require us to accord those who are wrong the same honor and respect as those who are right

This is an astonishing thing to say – and it was seconded!
It’s overwhelming my senses, but I think what’s most off about it is it completely elides the somewhat common idea of setting aside the assumption of personally-held right, and honoring the possibility that those who disagree with us may be in fact correct – in order to have an actual dialog. Like here, sort of.
See, what happens when it goes bad that way, and it often does, is you get two opposing viewpoints held by people on both sides who are equally convinced of their rightness, and since they’re both confident there are some things that are “just plain right and wrong in this world”, and they’re it and they know it and that’s that, they end up, the two sides, have mercy, fighting each other. To the great detriment of everyone.
As opposed to giving all ideas a fair hearing and maintaining a polite reserved attitude toward one’s own obvious superiority.
Something Ward Churchill was never given, here or anywhere else in the large-venue online world. Just a steady series of low-grade scornful epithets, heaped up around an effigy the media handed ’round back when polarizing scapegoats were needed in a hurry.
Triangulating off the radicals has always been a serious let-down whenever it’s shown up in erstwhile liberal positions – now, at this late hour, it’s thoroughly disheartening. If the country, as some of us fear, should step down into martial law before Obama’s miraculous and redemptive transformation of the budding American police state into a benign and humane nation we can all be proud of, it will be at least in part because the liberal disavowal of more radical resistance was so overly strenuous it cut the heart out of any possible united force against that nascent tyranny.

107

dsquared 05.09.08 at 7:57 am

I have to say I take 102 as a challenge. I think, and I am willing to put it to the judgement of the Crooked Timber readership, that more people think Dan Simon is an idiot than think I am. How about it, readers? I can link to the thread where he claimed that the Red Cross faked an attack on one of their ambulances because they are anti-Semites if it helps.

Once we’ve cleared this up, we can have the “Davies v Simon Hack Challenge” and the “Davies v Simon Troll Challenge”.

108

novakant 05.09.08 at 7:57 am

Um, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention for the past few months, but she’s been pulling a Lieberman, working her way out of the party.

Just to let you know.

The difference between Lieberman and Clinton being, the former is universally loathed, while the latter has the support of around half of the Democratic voters. Ignore the bigots in your midst at your own peril.

109

Daniel 05.09.08 at 8:09 am

Just in case you weren’t aware of it, Michael, if someone correctly identifies you (or a political ally of yours) as a partisan hack, that doesn’t automatically mean that the critic is also a partisan hack. The critic could, for example, be a fair-minded non-partisan unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort.

sorry to repost this but it’s still just as funny in the morning.

110

bad Jim 05.09.08 at 8:15 am

Perhaps it’s because I have a science degree, but I’m not particularly exercised over whether or not my alma mater is a “liberal university”. Schlafly might, though, since she objects to the study of biology, characterized in other quarters as the “theory of evolution”.

This school also taught other doctrines elsewhere considered scandalous, including the Big Bang, the Theory of Relativity, the Uncertainty Principle and the Incompleteness Theorem. Any right-thinking person would have to admit that political correctness rode roughshod over common sense.

111

abb1 05.09.08 at 9:15 am

Is “partisan hack” the same as “dogmatic ideologue” or is it more like “paid propagandist”, someone who doesn’t really believe what he/she proclaims?

I suspect it’s the latter, in which case I have to object to characterizing Dan Simon as “partisan hack”. He seems very authentic. I doubt you’ll find any hacks in comment threads, they have better things to do.

112

bernarda 05.09.08 at 9:29 am

I notice in the WU statement about other awardees, “members of the media including Tom Friedman, George Will, Tim Russert and this year’s commencement speaker, Chris Matthews.”

Maybe these rightwing tools deserved it, but I notice that WU did not mention anyone from the evil “liberal media”.

Many many years ago, I had a friend in California who got the job to head a lab at WU. He had some government grant. I visited him where he had chosen to live in a middle-class Black neighborhood where his family were about the only Whites.

He told me that certain colleagues wouldn’t come to visit them because of where they lived. He also said that soon they stopped inviting him over to dinner because of his California ways, but because he had an important position, they would sometimes invite him for a cocktail to keep up minimum civility.

I hope WU has changed.

113

Mrs Tilton 05.09.08 at 10:12 am

Daniel @104,

OK, if we don’t vote, we’ve no right to complain. Sorry, but I’ll have to give my vote to Dan Simon. You might be a shite-stirrer par excellence (and I mean that in the nicest possible way), but you’re no idiot.

Dan, on the other hand, wrote a comment once, somewhere, several years ago, that I found interesting and thoughtful. It wasn’t sufficiently interesting and thoughtful that I can recall today what it was about, but the occurrence was sufficiently rare that the fact of it has stayed with me.

So Simon breaks out into an early lead. But does the front runner have what it takes to bring it across the finish line? The world watches, rapt!

114

Michael Bérubé 05.09.08 at 12:16 pm

Once again Dan Simon has totally pwned me with his powerful intellect. And now, thanks to Kathy’s post, we can finally end this charade about conservatives being treated as full equals in academia, and being massively underrepresented simply because they’re less interested in intellectual pursuits, or perhaps less intellectually capable than those on the left. Yeah, I know I said we could do that yesterday, but I was only being “ironic,” as Dan keenly observed.

And fine, fine, the Duke lacrosse players were innocent. But Dreyfus was guilty.

115

Uncle Kvetch 05.09.08 at 12:29 pm

The difference between Lieberman and Clinton being, the former is universally loathed, while the latter has the support of around half of the Democratic voters. Ignore the bigots in your midst at your own peril.

Unfortunately, novakant, no one’s “ignoring” Clinton’s remarks–which, for the record, I found repugnant. They’ve been the subject of (overwhelmingly negative) commentary all over the lefty side of the blogosphere. Keith Olbermann raked Clinton over the coals on his show last night.

I’m afraid you and Sebastian will have to find another faux-grievance on which to base your concern-trolling.

116

John Protevi 05.09.08 at 12:47 pm

Once again Dan Simon has totally pwned me with his powerful intellect.

Not to mention his biting wit. Who among us could have written thisin response to Heath Ledger’s death?

117

ajay 05.09.08 at 1:03 pm

dsquared: “what one would assume would be the logical position; a compulsory, legally enforceable, egalitarian distribution of housework and childcare within the home”

Not necessarily – why would you think it’s more logical to have one full-time carer per one or two young children, rather than one per ten at a daycare centre? Economies of scale, O Dsquared.

FWIW, I believe that Davies is an abrasive, arrogant man who is not quite as clever as he thinks himself to be – but he is not an idiot.

118

ajay 05.09.08 at 1:04 pm

And fine, fine, the Duke lacrosse players were innocent. But Dreyfus was guilty.

Again we notice Berube’s craven refusal to take a stand on the authenticity or otherwise of the Tichborne Claimant, the Warming Pan Baby and the ancestry of Perkin Warbeck.

119

dsquared 05.09.08 at 1:29 pm

why would you think it’s more logical to have one full-time carer per one or two young children, rather than one per ten at a daycare centre?

because I have children. I’ve written on a couple of occasions (usually in the context of Walmart) about the danger of mistaking a decline in quality for an increase in efficiency and I think this is a good example.

120

taochiapet 05.09.08 at 3:18 pm

let’s hope they give her the andy card treatment!

g

121

Uncle Kvetch 05.09.08 at 3:23 pm

Who among us could have written this in response to Heath Ledger’s death?

Wow–quite a find, JP. I’ll just add “sniveling cretin” to “right-wing hack” in my mental notes on our dear friend Dan S.

122

grackle 05.09.08 at 3:46 pm

Having mistaken, upthread, a university named for a French king, at least indirectly, with one named for a man reputed to own some fine wooden false teeth, I hesitate to assign relative idiocy. However I could say I would avoid most opportunities to cross verbal swords with either Messrs Dsquared or Berube (sorry don’t know how to do the acutes); I can’t imagine the desire arising to do so at all with Mr. Simon.

By the way, as to the honorary degree matter, I suppose one should follow the money. Washington University has an endowment greater than the wealth of much of Eastern Europe. In looking at a list of its trustees (there are many of them) the only one I recognized in the whole list was Harold Ramis. No doubt he is responsible for Schlafly? There is probably a joke here somewhere.

123

Mike 05.09.08 at 3:52 pm

She is still alive?

Only the good die young.

Heaven help us!

124

solid 05.09.08 at 4:16 pm

I grew up not far from Schlafly’s hometown of Alton Illinois, so I have the perspective of history. Nevertheless, I will not mince the language of academia:

Schlafly is a heartless and racist bitch (apologies to my dog).

What the heck Wash U., was Hitler unavailable?

125

abb1 05.09.08 at 4:28 pm

Great, I’m feeling sympathy for Dan Simon now. Damn you all.

126

Sebastian Holsclaw 05.09.08 at 5:08 pm

“I think you misunderstood—Berube was simply stringing together a random sequence of right-wing hot-button keywords, basically accusing me of being a right-wing partisan hack.”

Well then isn’t the Duke case rather odd to choose? The reason why “Duke lacrosse” is a right-wint hot-button is because they were railroaded, including action by the Gang of 88 Duke professors rushing to judgment and condemning them even after initial evidence suggested their innocence. It is a hot button because it is an example of left-wing hysteria mongering.

Also, considering his later comments, I suspect he somehow didn’t know they were innocent, which makes using it as an example of hackishness almost amusing. :)

And rea, while ‘innocence’ in a general sense is something entirely different, it isn’t just that they were not provably guilty to the level of reasonable doubt. There was proof that at least one of the men accused and postively identified by the accuser was definitely not there at the time (I believe a picture of him at a far away ATM was available but initially hidden by the prosecution). So for him at least, factual innocence is clear. For the others it is clear that the story as told by the accuser fits the evidence about as well as it did in the Satanic child care center cases–which is to say not very much at all. Though Janet Reno did make her prosecutorial reputation on those cases and got to be Attorney General, which probably says something very sad about the state of prosecutorial excellence in the United States.

They were clearly guilty of hiring a stripper, for whatever that is worth.

127

Tim Worstall 05.09.08 at 5:14 pm

Wikipedia (for whatever accuracy level that has) :

“He was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Alfred University after giving a lecture there about American Indian history in 1992.”

Kathy G:

“I didn’t ask whether you think Ward Churchill should be allowed to speak, but whether you think a great university should award him with its highest honor, an honorary doctoral degree.”

So can I take from this thread the fact that Alfred University is not a great one? Is that at least agreed by all?

128

Dan Simon 05.09.08 at 5:43 pm

I think what’s most off about it is it completely elides the somewhat common idea of setting aside the assumption of personally-held right, and honoring the possibility that those who disagree with us may be in fact correct – in order to have an actual dialog. Like here, sort of.

I don’t think the two ideas are necessarily in conflict. One can believe that there’s an absolute right and wrong, and still concede the possibility that they don’t precisely coincide with one’s own understanding of them. As for dialog, I’m all for it, in general, for the reasons you point out. (That’s why I’m posting here, after all.) But when strong moral conviction combines with urgency, we sometimes just don’t have the luxury of letting our inevitable moral uncertainty interfere with action.

No doubt, that leads to some deeply misguided actions in the name of distorted conceptions of absolute morality. But that’s the dilemma we, as humans, face: we must act, and act morally, without knowing for certain what that means–and if we get it wrong, there are no consolation prizes for effort. Bummer, eh?

I think, and I am willing to put it to the judgement of the Crooked Timber readership, that more people think Dan Simon is an idiot than think I am.

Typical DSquared–why debate when you can bully?

FWIW, I believe that Davies is an abrasive, arrogant man who is not quite as clever as he thinks himself to be – but he is not an idiot.

I agree completely. That’s why it’s so disappointing to watch him behaving like an idiot.

I’ll just add “sniveling cretin” to “right-wing hack” in my mental notes on our dear friend Dan S.

I’ll take the heat for the tasteless Ledger joke–it was posted on a whim, right after I heard the news, and I can’t fault anyone reading it now for seeing nothing in it beyond the tastelessness.

But if you read the postings around it, you’ll quickly discover that the “right-wing hack” label is completely unjustified. I routinely give knee-jerk right-wing partisans their share of grief.

I would avoid most opportunities to cross verbal swords with either Messrs Dsquared or Berube

Hey–they started up with me. All I did was put them in their place.

129

Steve Reuland 05.09.08 at 5:46 pm

Given her anti-intellectual conspiracy-mongering, it’s not surprising to learn that Schlafly rejects the theory of evolution and believes that creationism (or “intelligent design”) should be taught in schools.

Ah, that really takes me back. I wrote a lengthy “fisking” of that bit of dreck when it first came out. Schlafly managed to get everything wrong, not only the facts both great and small, but even basic evolutionary concepts, to say nothing of legal and constitutional concepts. If someone sat down and tried to write the most ill-informed, ridiculous crap they could about the evolution/creationism debate, they would do no worse. It is truly Wrong In Every Way.

At the time I didn’t know much about Schlafly, although I did know she was prominent (at one time at least) in conservative politics. I chalked up the laughably bad nature of the piece to what happens when ideologues, especially aging ones, traipse boldly into subjects they know nothing about. I realize now that this isn’t necessarily the case — she’s been batshit stupid about everything right from the beginning, so her inane anti-evolution screed is merely indicative of her usual poor scholarship and intellectual dishonesty.

130

oldskool 05.09.08 at 6:13 pm

OK, that makes it official: On this day, the 9th of May in the year 2007, I became old. Can it really be the case that Phyllis Schlafly has to be explained to the “netizens” in the “literate left o’ center” corner of the net? We’re screwed…God help us all. Cocoa Beach is looking better ever day. Alternate explanation: “Kathy G.” is 7?

131

Innocent bystander 05.09.08 at 6:37 pm

I worked for the ERA in the ’70s. Phyllis Schlafly did back then what the NeoCons are doing now: putting out falsities for fact, e.g., the unisex toilet thing. She is an awful, awful person, and the world will be better off when she is dead and gone.

132

Mrs Tilton 05.09.08 at 6:38 pm

All I did was put them in their place

And how! You are now entitled to join Jonah Goldberg for a victory lap.

133

Michael Bérubé 05.09.08 at 7:00 pm

Well then isn’t the Duke case rather odd to choose? The reason why “Duke lacrosse” is a right-wint hot-button is because they were railroaded, including action by the Gang of 88 Duke professors rushing to judgment and condemning them even after initial evidence suggested their innocence. It is a hot button because it is an example of left-wing hysteria mongering.

Also, considering his later comments, I suspect he somehow didn’t know they were innocent, which makes using it as an example of hackishness almost amusing. :)

I can’t believe someone would suggest that I am unaware of these players’ innocence. Good lord! The Duke Lacrosse Case is the single most important civil-liberties issue of our time! Is there man, woman, or child alive who does not know of the ordeal these young men have suffered, the inconceivable torture they endured? These people were voiceless, invisible, convicted with no possibility of appeal, not even granted the right to legal representation — until KC Johnson came along, heroically, to suggest that a suspiciously high number of the Gang of 88 had published books with the Duke University Press. And then, at last, justice was done in America.

(Oh yeah, and the moment it became clear that Nifong had suppressed exculpatory evidence, I said he should be disbarred.)

But the really amusing thing is that I wasn’t using the Duke lacrosse case as an example of “hackishness.” Only people with exceptionally poor reading comprehension, like Dan Simon, would think so. I was quite simply mocking poor Dan’s claim that Kathy’s post proves that liberals in academe actively discriminate against conservatives. Here are some other things that people like to trot out as proof of pervasive liberal bias in academe:

(1) Larry Summers’ firing
(2) the controversy over the Duke lacrosse team
(3) Ward Churchill

This phenomenon is actually quite common on the Internets! That’s why it makes sense to allude to it in shorthand, as I have done above. But honestly, I would never accuse Dan Simon of being a partisan hack. I believe he is, instead, a fair-minded non-partisan who is unimpressed with partisan hackery of any sort. Like Ann Althouse.

Fortunately, however, Sebastian’s and Dan’s comments are of great use to me right now. I’ve recently received a multimillion-dollar grant from the Institute for Intellectually and Morally Superior Liberalism (a division of George Soros Enterprises) to discover why it is that people like them take the time and effort in these comment threads to demonstrate — repeatedly and assiduously — that they don’t have the sense God gave a goose.

134

Woodrowfan 05.09.08 at 7:12 pm

Zeno (#104), thanks, that’s a great primer.

BTW, the Blaine-Cleveland election was 1884, not 1844 and Cleveland was a likely candidate as the child’s father….

One scary thing about Schlafly is her promoting home schooling with her Eagle Forum. There’s more than a few kids out there learning US History ala’ Schlafly…

135

abe 05.09.08 at 7:32 pm

“…is so distinguished that she has rightfully earned the highest honor a great university can bestow.”

Hm, I always thought that EARNED degrees were the real honors, and honorary degrees were mostly political pandering, perhaps because I have several of the former and none of the latter.

136

Cruel Jest 05.09.08 at 8:07 pm

Mssr. Bérubé:

Nothing destroys irony like having to explain it. And, as much as I enjoyed your attempt, I’m afraid it will bear no fruit. I believe that over the last 20 years, vast swathes of the pundit class have developed, as a means of survival, a complete immunity to irony. It is, to me, the only possible explanation. My upcoming book will tell all.

But I’m just a DFH. What the hell do I know?

137

Sebastian 05.09.08 at 8:32 pm

Since the entirety of your comment was this:

“So can we finally end this charade about conservatives being treated as full equals in academia, and being massively underrepresented simply because they’re less interested in intellectual pursuits, or perhaps less intellectually capable than those on the left?

Yes we can. Phyllis Schlafly’s degree should finally bring a definitive end to this charade. Also, Larry Summers and Duke lacrosse team Ward Churchill.”

with the first paragraph being a rather cryptic quote from DS, you’ll forgive me for missing your point.

But one thing did come across clearly in that and later comments. You’re quite good at sarcasm. I hear you can do discussion almost as well. I’d love to see that some time.

138

shteve 05.09.08 at 9:16 pm

From Kathy G to me:

“In any event, unless you’re very young or not American, if you haven’t heard of Phyllis Schlafly then you’re far too ignorant about politics to have any real understanding of this issue.”

True – I’m not American, so this is all a bit parochial to me.

Maybe I miscounted your direct quotations, but the post relies almost completely on other people’s characterisations of Schlafly’s opinions.

Politics isn’t just an American thing, or something reserved to tottering elders. And debate should appeal to direct evidence.

So there!

You have my permission to redouble your rudeness.

139

abb1 05.09.08 at 9:32 pm

What nonsense. When are we going to start discussing the G-spot?

140

Dan Simon 05.09.08 at 9:33 pm

And how! You are now entitled to join Jonah Goldberg for a victory lap.

Jonah Goldberg? You read that guy? I can’t imagine why anyone would–he’s nothing but a right-wing partisan hack.

141

Ann Bartow 05.09.08 at 10:00 pm

Of possible interest:

http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=3498

Apologies if it has already been noted in the thread.

142

Michael Bérubé 05.09.08 at 10:53 pm

You’re quite good at sarcasm. I hear you can do discussion almost as well. I’d love to see that some time.

Actually, my contract with Crooked Timber calls for to alternate, back and forth. I did discussion in my last post to this fine blog, with just 8 percent sarcasm. Time before that, I started off making a serious point about faculty workloads, but then Dan Simon showed up to say that when Mark Bauerlein writes that humanities research is worthless, he really means to champion the aesthetics of talented but obscure jazz musicians, so I had to go back to the sarcasm. When I’m commenting on other people’s posts, I try to be flexible about these things.

And I denounce and reject “cruel jest,” as I do all DFHs.

143

Martin James 05.09.08 at 11:24 pm

I think the reason Michael B’s wit fell a little flat this time is that Kathy G obviously and earnestly believes that great universities can and should be places of moral superiority.

Honestly, its homely and touching. She’s like an ivy league version of Napoleon Dynamite.

144

Robert Zimmerman 05.10.08 at 6:05 am

Because I have a morbid fascination with the Duke lacrosse case and have written about it quite a bit, I’ve read lots of comment threads dominated by conservatives drunk on self-righteousness. it’s fascinating to see it batted around in a more liberal-centric context.

One thing that’s nice is that the phrase “Gang of 88″ stands out, as it should, as a badge of anti-intellectualism (for the really hard core, though, it’s a “Klan of 88″). With respect to academia, the Duke case is a conservative hot-button issue because it’s been hyped up to be. KC Johnson’s success at fabricating a “Group of 88″ with a combination of relentless, repetitive rhetoric and vacuous analysis is something to see. There’s not much insight to be found on his blog (Durham-in-Wonderland), but as a compendium of intellectual demogoguery it has some value. The deep need to make mountains out of molehills makes the conservative complaints of bias look an awful lot like a persecution complex.

The story of how people at Duke reacted to the incident is richer than you’d ever guess from Johnson’s comic-book account of it (I should probably add, fwiw, that I’m at Duke). It really was a debacle, and I worry that the academic Left hasn’t given it the consideration it deserves. One of several the lessons it offers is about facing up to the zealots on your own side. Maybe that’s a lesson that’s never learned. But I’d love to see a forum like this one (not the comment thread but the blog) take up the issue.

There’s much more about all that on my blog.

145

Robert Zimmerman 05.10.08 at 3:45 pm

I screwed up the link. (some admin type could add the “m” and delete this)

146

CK 05.10.08 at 6:22 pm

One of the biggest problems I have with honouring Schlafly in this way is that it is not a good precedent to set. It lowers the bar, dramatically. Whichever side of the political divide you fall on, Schlafly still doesn’t qualify as an intellectual heavyweight – not by a long shot considering the best they can do is say she’s a ‘lightning rod’ for debate. Well, isn’t that just dandy?

The best thing one can say is that she’s a somewhat redoubtable choice. She’s the intellectual equivalent of a car crash, and we just have to look.

147

Jane 05.10.08 at 7:22 pm

(a) I think you are very partisan here. Schlafly has been a highly influential and honest person, and you attribute racism to her that is not there. You should be ashamed.

(b) That being said, I do not think political agitators of any stripe should receive honorary degrees: e.g. Coulter or Schlafly or Limbaugh on the right, e.g. the Reverend Wright or Noam Chomsky (in politics) or Cindy Sheehan on the left. Even Martin Luther King, Jr., were he alive, did not contribute to academia in the way an honorary degree suggests.

So Schafly should not get a degree. Not because she is dishonest or a hack or racist, but because she is not an academic.

148

pointless correction 05.11.08 at 7:59 am

In response to Nos. 11 and 39: I believe you’re referring to the Election of 1884, not 1844. 1844 was the one won by Polk. Like I said, pointless correction. ;-)

149

Ajit 05.11.08 at 5:32 pm

Nor would I have a problem with conservative pundits, so long as they’re sane and genuinely distinguished (which these days admittedly narrows the field to practically zero), such as the late William F. Buckley.

This is very funny. According to this writer Buckley was sane and genuinely distinguished. I wonder how someone can talk in such glorious terms about Buckley is complaining about Schlafly?

Richard Seymour writes about this guy,

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/02/buckley.html


“The central question that emerges…is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas where it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes—the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.” —William F. Buckley, National Review, August 24, 1957.

He’s dead. Good. The affection in which this rather unpleasant High Tory sprog of an oil baron is held is unsurprising and rather appropriate to the age. After all, look at his credentials: former CIA agent; a confederate of James Burnham, one of the earliest neoconservatives; a McCarthyite; a Goldwater guy; a defender of segregation who also thought uneducated whites should be denied the vote and, almost as a corollary, an explicit devotee of empire; and a trashy spy novelist on top of it all! With this commixture of white supremacism and white trash, what’s not to love?

150

Seth 05.12.08 at 3:04 am

Please be aware that a group of Wash U. Students and Alumni have created a blog site opposing this honorary degree. A letter from the student members of the Board of Trustees Honorary Degree Committee has been posted, and they all ask Chancellor Wrighton to rescind the degree:

http://www.wustlalumni.com/

May 9, 2008

Chancellor Mark Wrighton
1 Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1192
St. Louis, MO 63130

Dear Chancellor Wrighton:

As the undergraduate members of the Board of Trustees Honorary Degree Committee, we want to express our disappointment with the choice to award Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree at the 2008 commencement ceremony. The selection process was ineffective in providing a complete picture of the nominees, and the environment was hostile to dissent. We recognize our role in representing our peers, and we accept partial responsibility for the insufficient scrutiny of all nominees. However, throughout the two meetings of the Honorary Degree Committee and discussion of Ms. Schlafly, her prejudice views were never brought to light.

The committee’s recommendation of Ms. Schlafly was based on a complicated voting system. Voting occurred in two stages. In our first meeting, we ranked our preferences from approximately thirty names. The nominees were ranked based on the first balloting, and the top five were collected in a slate. We voted yes or no on the entire slate. An objection by one student was met with hostile opposition. The block of five names was then approved unanimously. We implore you to clarify the University’s official statement on the nomination Ms. Schlafly. The explanation of the selection process suggests a unanimous vote on each nominee and disregards the balloting process. It endorses the widely held misconception that every member of the committee voted in favor of Ms. Schlafly.

Ms. Schlafly’s views, specifically those opposing a woman’s place in academia, are contradictory to the mission of Washington University and inappropriate for recognition at the commencement ceremony. We believe the selection of Phyllis Schlafly was a mistake. The undersigned students have reversed their decisions and urge you to do the same.

Sincerely,

The undergraduate members of the Board of Trustees Honorary Degree Committee

Hui Amy Chen
Amelia D. Keiser
Neil K. Patel
Aaron Robinson
Rachel L. Tucker

151

sny 05.12.08 at 1:25 pm

OK, ajit, I’m convinced and unsurprised that Buckley was a dirtbag, too. But I thought it was nice of Kathy to try to find a representative from the reactionary ranks of right-wing ideologues who isn’t/wasn’t a dirtbag. Can anyone suggest any other nominees?

152

Wilcon 05.12.08 at 3:59 pm

“Because, as much as conservatives may whine and scream to the contrary, liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things. “

Kathy G, this is one of the most ignorant and obtuse statements I have ever had the misfortune of reading from a supposed political “thinker”, and says more about the limits of your intellectual prowess, and the blinding zeal you bring the the subject, both of which conspire to make you an inappropriate person for commenting on politics.

As such, the only responsible thing to do would be to at this point would be to acknowledge you are the leftist equivalent of Ann Coulter, and as such, since you are not contributing in any meaningful way to intelligent political discourse, should cease contributing to the din.

I will not go in to the why, and on just how many levels, your comments offends intelligent discourse, on the assumption that, upon reflection, you may be able to work your way through the irrational underpinnings of such opinions, but in case you do require a more direct primer, I would be happy to discuss this issue directly.

153

Michael B 05.12.08 at 4:35 pm

So how many “progressives” have advocated to have Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer revoked? This never seems to be an issue with the putatively “progressive” Left, yet it’s known he consciously aided and abetted the ’32/’33 Ukrainian famine which resulted in a genocide totaling perhaps as many as 10,000,000 people.

But omelets being what they are, and “progess” being what it is …

Then there’s Margaret Sanger’s honorary degrees …

154

queerunity 05.12.08 at 5:12 pm

155

Michael Bérubé 05.12.08 at 5:33 pm

So how many “progressives” have advocated to have Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer revoked?

Yeah! How about it, you genocide-apologist putative progressives? And while we’re on the subject, why won’t anyone answer the question I asked all the way back in comment number 1 — was Carrot Top unavailable? The Left’s silence on this issue speaks volumes.

156

Michael B 05.12.08 at 5:53 pm

Bérubé offers snide and a sneer.

Pathetic. Pontifical. Predictable.

157

Tertium Quid 05.12.08 at 5:57 pm

Washington U. in St. Louis was founded by Unitarians, specifically, T.S. Eliot’s father, not by Roman Catholics, who run Saint Louis University.

I’m no fan of Mrs. Schlafly; the lunatic fringe, right and left, is something I read about for fun. But I find it remarkable that movement feminists having grass-roots organizing experience found it impossible to counter her. She ate their lunch for most of two decades. All they could do was blame Americans- men, women, and media- for being dupes instead of questioning their own mistakes. They weren’t outmuscled. They were blinded by their own naivite that everyone would welcome their form of social revolution. (Most people don’t like revolutions.)

158

Jim T. 05.12.08 at 7:47 pm

Orwell lives on college campuses and in ‘Human Rights’ commissions – we all have rights, except for people who are lesser than us [don’t think like we do]. Opposing our policies is opposing progress and therefore you are a non-person.

We can burn your books, steal your papers, and make you persona non-grata because we disagree with you.

159

Nelson 05.12.08 at 7:50 pm

I agree that Schlafly is a poor choice, but then so was Mugabe at UMass, Michigan State, and the University of Edinburgh.

Kathy G.’s sanctimony and hypocrisy are predictable, but utterly comical nonetheless. Only in academia can one earnestly claim to be a champion of diversity and then demean — without the slightest trace irony — one’s political opponents as moral and intellectual degenerates. The best part is the contradiction seems to have completely eluded her.

160

Spartee 05.12.08 at 9:31 pm

“Let’s not kid ourselves: plenty of fairly hacktackular people—mediocre sitcom stars, not especially distinguished politicians, and the like—are regularly rewarded with these babies.”

Yeah, but mostly such types just get tenure.

Keep up the awful work, gal. Another generation of “thinkers” like you, and conservatives like me will be able to finish up gutting the funding to your romper rooms.

161

John Protevi 05.12.08 at 9:50 pm

Bérubé offers snide and a sneer.

Pathetic. Pontifical. Predictable.

Also, Ponderous, Predatory, and Post-Modern.

And, Cantankerous, Crumulous, and altogether lacking in Condemnlichkeit.

Has he no Decency(tm) at all?

162

another michael 05.12.08 at 10:15 pm

Regardless of her politics, Schafly probably deserves the honor just because she was so successful at what she did. While many of us were sitting around smoking hash and talking about the coming blows against the empire, Schafly (along with a host of others like Viguire, Falwell, Rove, and Atwater) were out there doing the hard footwork of organizing.

We were just chanting ‘power to the people’. Schafly was actually organizing the power of the people. Let’s face it, most of in academia believe policy should be the province of us intellectuals. As part of that era, Schafly was one of a number who showed once again that in a representative democracy the common man has a seat at the table and not just the cloistered elite.

163

Michael B 05.12.08 at 10:30 pm

Puhleez.

I’m not asking someone to condemn anything to prove their moral bona fides in some abstracted sense. I’m providing an analogy and one that is entirely fitting, is certainly reasonable and proportinal and if anything is generous, in terms of proportionality.

164

John Protevi 05.12.08 at 11:06 pm

Man, you just won’t stay mocked, will you, “michael b”?

How about if we add Unreasonable, Unproportional, and Unpossible to your little list of Bérubé’s attributes? Will that prove to you just how Unserious I’m being about your Generous Analogy(tm)?

165

Michael 05.13.08 at 12:05 am

Kathy G. states: “liberalism and conservatism are not moral equivalents. Because, on the one side you have the thinkers and activists who have advanced freedom, social justice, and human rights, and on the other, you have those who have attempted to thwart all those things.”

I state: No, modern liberalism and conservatism (classical liberalism) are not moral equivalents. Conservatism is morally superior to liberalism for many reasons. The most important reason is American conservatism recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals and that our Constitution protects our rights from government. The thinkers and activists Kathy G. should respect are the American Founding Fathers. Liberals make the primary mistake of emoting that our rights are granted by government and that all solutions to perceived social ills lie with government. This modern liberal mindset is dangerous, murderously so, as history shows. The totalitarian, left-wing, mind-set somehow rationalizes violence, property destruction, rights oppression, and murder all in the name of liberalism. It was the government worshiping modern liberal who murdered 44 million for Stalin, 77 million for Mao, ran the National Socialist gas chambers, ran Pol Pots reeducation camps, and wants to use the police power of government to silence those who think differently in the media, in academia, and in politics. It is the modern liberal who wants to give more power to government to manage health care, to manage trade, to manage (nonexistent) global warming, and to continue and extend the other failed policies of the modern welfare state. Entire generations of Americans have seen their family units destroyed by government meddling and yet the liberals want more; damned be the results. The mortgage crisis has its roots in the Community Reinvestment Act that forced lenders to make risky loans or be prosecuted for “discrimination”. Modern liberals, Kathy G.’s thinkers and activists, based on the results of their policies are evil and immorality incarnate. The proof is the more than 150 million people murdered by their own left-wing governments in the 20th century. God help those of us who do not toe the left-wing line; we may soon hear the knock at the door. We will certainly not be receiving any honorary degrees.

166

Michael B 05.13.08 at 12:20 am

I understood the mockery, what makes you think I didn’t, because I failed to “stay mocked”? What you predictably failed to register was that my relatively serious response was, in some part, a mockery of your very intent. Or is there some high-born or high-bred position of authority you’re speaking from that I’m failing to recognize, in failing to “stay mocked”? With all this mocking and sneering artifice, surely there is some prestige, inherent in it all, that I’m failing to duly and properly recognize?

167

John Protevi 05.13.08 at 12:56 am

Or is there some high-born or high-bred position of authority you’re speaking from that I’m failing to recognize, in failing to “stay mocked”? With all this mocking and sneering artifice, surely there is some prestige, inherent in it all, that I’m failing to duly and properly recognize?

Yes.

168

Michael B 05.13.08 at 1:10 am

For the second time, you failed to register the mockery. Thanks for the amusement though.

169

John Protevi 05.13.08 at 1:46 am

No, no, I’m mocking you! You can’t turn the tables like that on me. It’s not Generous!

170

Michael B 05.13.08 at 2:18 am

Twice, ney thrice, no, it’s I who mockingly mocks you. But alarums and golly gee! I’m all at sea for having been sneered at by the likes of Bérubé and thee!

Boo.

171

Michael Bérubé 05.13.08 at 3:46 am

Dang, it seems that I have to explain everything on this thread. Deep sigh. Very well.

You see, it is quite common, on the Internets, for people to show up in the midst of a discussion of X and demand that the people criticizing X answer his (or her!) peremptory question as to why people are not also criticizing Y. (If only we had a handy term for such people! It would do wonders. Perhaps something that combines an expression of grave concern with an evocation of creatures who live under bridges in certain folktales.) So, for example, when a comment thread is discussing the appropriateness of awarding Phyllis Schlafly an honorary doctorate this week, and someone shows up to ask how many “progressives” joined the campaign to revoke a Pulitzer Prize awarded to an apologist for Stalin seventy-six years ago, the Royal and Ancient Laws of the Internet demand that such a person be mocked. In other words, I was just doing my job.

Now. What decent soul will come forward to denounce the Battle of Teutoberg Forest?

It was the government worshiping modern liberal who murdered 44 million for Stalin, 77 million for Mao, ran the National Socialist gas chambers, ran Pol Pots reeducation camps, and wants to use the police power of government to silence those who think differently in the media, in academia, and in politics.

Jonah! Good to see you at Crooked Timber. Hey, while you’re here, will you take a moment to denounce the apartheid South African regime that American conservatives supported to the very end? And what of Pinochet? And Franco? And — worst of all — Phyllis Schlafly?

172

Michael B 05.13.08 at 5:01 am

No, you explained nothing and you sneered at and therein attempted to dismiss everything. It isn’t Y I’m asking about. Walter Duranty effectively serves as analogy so is more on the order of X´. Apples and apples, not apples and oranges.

A primary focus here is the Left’s or the Progressives’ or whatever the word is moral bona fides. By what authorization do they, do you, hold court, exercise your tout court dismissivenes, your presumptive snark and snide, etc.? Duranty is merely one indicator and reflection, but he is one valid indicator. As such, the analogy serves to inform one aspect of the discussion.

But golly, once again Bérubé, in lieu of any cogency, offers summary judgement and his would-be authoritative dismissiveness. (Does that work with under-grads and grad-students both?) Shocked, I’m shocked there’s gambling going on in this place …

173

Martin James 05.13.08 at 6:24 am

God Bless the Concern Trolls for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

174

abb1 05.13.08 at 7:39 am

Forget Pinochet, what about the recent ‘war of liberation’? Seems to me that more than a half of the US intellectuals, both conservative and liberal, all in good standing, supported it. ‘Yes, innocent people died, but Saddam is gone and the world is better for it’.

Either the ends justify the means or they don’t. If they don’t, then, along with the Duranty fella, you need to dump most of the current US intelligentsia.

And if the answer is “it depends”, then Mr. Duranty had a great case in 1932: after all, he was expecting a workers’ paradise to emerge there soon. What’s a couple of million lives for unlimited happiness of trillions for ever and ever? End of all greed, all evil, all exploitation, all suffering on earth? Easy answer.

175

Michael B 05.13.08 at 12:47 pm

Self-bestowed blessings upon the facile presumptives, for theirs is the fortressed solipsism of self-promotion and self-regard and rank disdain for the uninitiated.

176

John Protevi 05.13.08 at 1:37 pm

michael b, if you had just said you were an undergrad in the first place (and not put “progressives” in quotation marks), you probably would have been treated better and wouldn’t have had your feelings hurt. Luckily, a little initiation in the ways of the facile presumptives can do nothing but help you in your next venture into the land of the snide.

177

Michael B 05.13.08 at 2:15 pm

All you’ve got are these grade-school level sneers every time your chain is pulled.

178

Michael Bérubé 05.13.08 at 3:15 pm

Hey, it’s the “do you treat your students the way you treat sneering anonymous concern trolls” gambit! Why, I do believe I have Concern Troll Bingo!

179

Brett Champion 05.13.08 at 3:48 pm

I find it funny that Kathy G. depicts someone as far-right who received over 60 million votes in a presidential election. That sounds rather mainstream to me.

Definition of a conservative: someone who keeps the progressive from driving the bus off the road.

180

Cruel Jest 05.13.08 at 6:36 pm

Definition of a conservative: someone who yanks the wheel off the steering column and auctions it off to the highest bidder while the bus goes over a cliff.

Seriously, you guys should avoid driving metaphors for just a little longer. I’d say until January, at least.

181

Josh 05.14.08 at 5:24 am

Kathy,

While I agree with you and the majority of those commenting that Schlafly should not be awarded an honorary degree, I must respectfully disagree with some of your reasoning in both the original post and your responsive comments. I opposed the honorary degree because I think it is an honor being demeaned by the frequency of awards. Reserving the honor for only those truly worthy, whether through service to a variety of causes or the institution, would greatly enhance the proper prestige attendant to honorary degrees.

That being said, I disagree with your sentiments regarding comparison of liberals and conservatives. Equating liberalism with progress and conservatism with preservation of the status quo is not only an oversimplification, it is generally speaking inaccurate. While there will always being those standing in the way of progress, for women or other traditionally disadvantaged groups, because they believe in some way that the inequality is somehow justified, your view tends to assume that all change and all methods of “progressive” change are positive. For example, while no one can seriously doubt the dramatic positive effects of affirmative action in increasing diversity on campus and at the office, AA is hardly free of negative effects that understandably engender reasonable criticism (notably long-term negative effects for some originally benefiting and the negative effect on perception by those unjustifiably hurt by such policies). While change is both necessary and proper, we must always be vigilant in working to ensure that change is both positive in its ends and accountable for its methodology. That, in my mind, sums up at least part of what conservatism (or at least some conservatives) are all about.

So, in summary, should we advance equality on all fronts? Absolutely. Should we work tireless to identify inequality even where hard to detect? Unquestionably yes. Should we embrace all attempts promising progress towards equality despite legitimate doubt as to their effects for good and ill. Never. Schlafly may be rightly blamed for her frequent dishonest and soaring rhetoric, but to turn a legitimate criticism of a power decision by one institution into a more general indictment of conservatism with all of its occasional ills that visit all political positions is wrong in principle and obscures what could well have been a stronger criticism of the nature of the decision made.

Finally, so too in both the article and comments a couple of examples of reasonable criticism of progressive initiatives merits mention (though with the caveat that the availability of a reasonable criticism does not provide cover for all who criticize for obvious reasons). As to universal daycare, reasonable minds can disagree as to whether this is within the proper sphere of governmental action. Surely negative consequences persist in attitudes toward the sexes that leave some mothers either literally unable to work or feeling as though they are burden by responsibilities at home that make that enterprise difficult if not impossible. But could not the same progress be made if we use the authority of government to encourage greater individual choice in shared familial responsibilities? As to women’s issues (and race issues as well), the frequency of usage of those demographic categories of persons is most certainly fair in light of our history. But doesn’t inappropriate usage work to undermine true progress? (i.e. he was prosecuted because he was black, despite evidence to the contrary; gender gaps in professional positions are due to entrenched mysogyny, despite higher rates of matriculation from professional school by women and strong evidence of chosen maternal responsibility in lieu of a career at least for a period)

The debate over progress is as important as it can be tragic when we move too quickly, armed with only the best intentions, in support of flawed proposals that both seek to address legitimate concern and make us collectively feel as though we are addressing legitimate shortcomings in our society. To insist that those opposing any proposals styled as advancing equality oppose the march toward complete equality is as misguided as it is ultimately counterproductive.

Shame on Schlafly. But shame on us for every thinking that all change is good, legitimate criticism of well-intentioned but flawed proposals doesn’t exist, or ever implying that the general alignment of those who would stand in the way of legitimate and necessary progress with one political camp or another could or should color the whole of those believers and consign them to the dreaded status of favoring continued inequality.

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