Thursday 8/18/16

  1. Anthony Esolen, Lawgiver
  2. ABA, SJW — what’s the difference?
  3. Will the GOP be pushing up daisies soon?
  4. Election update

1

Most new things are empty and the higher the diction that people used to name them and describe them, the emptier or more sinister they are.

(Esolen’s Law of the Distributive Property of Stultification over Tradition)

Esolen continues:

In the fall of 2015, a group of students took over the president’s office and met him with a long list of demands … What concerns me here is that, no surprise, they went after the DWC program. We experience these periodic attacks rather as people afflicted with malaria do. It never really goes away, but sometimes you feel almost normal, and sometimes you break into fever and chills and the sweats. The students want diversity. That is the watchword, just as relevancewas at Brown.

There is a Manichean mania about such political movements. If not relevance, oppression! If not diversity, institutional ­racism, as one of my colleagues in politics put it, or genocidal racism, according to a sociology professor who arrived at Providence College when I did, who immediately began to attack the DWC program, and who has learned nothing about it ever since.

It isn’t easy to out-yell the true believers at a political rally. Nor does it serve any purpose …

I wrote an article for Crisis, taking note of the wild array of cultures to which we introduce our students. For this is, of course, the very fat and very weak underbelly of our critics. As a matter of plain fact, the sociology professor who complains about my lack of diversity is himself the most culturally monochromatic of scholars. He teaches about cities that he can visit by riding on a train. He teaches about people whom he can call up on the telephone. He assigns books and articles written in English, about people who speak English, who watch the same television we watch, listen to the same bad music, play the same sports, and so on. I cannot take a train to ancient Athens. I cannot call Thomas Aquinas on the telephone. There are no YouTube videos of Shakespeare directing his actors.

The material I teach in the first year of DWC spans four millennia, from ancient Babylon to the end of the Renaissance. This year’s entries were originally written in Babylonian, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, old French, Italian, German, Spanish, and English. We are in Jerusalem with David, on the coast of half-Christian England with the poet of Beowulf, in Rome with Cicero, in Madrid with Calderón, in exile with the Florentine Dante, and in London with Shakespeare. We have studied the Parthenon and Saint Peter’s, Giotto and the stained glass windows of Chartres, Arthurian romance and the poetic philosophizing of Lucretius. It is utterly preposterous to say that we are anything but multicultural. We study cultures, and there are a lot of them, and they diverge far from ours and from one another. A Viking chieftain is not a Roman senator or a Christian friar. Xerxes is not Francis Xavier.

But I know that none of that really counts. One of the student protesters, abashed, has written in our newspaper that even though a Viking is admittedly “diverse” from anybody we may meet on the street now, studying the Vikings does not serve “the larger purpose” of diversity. And thus has he unwittingly given up the ballgame.

He and the students are not really interested in studying cultures other than ours. What counts for them as “diversity” is governed entirely by a monotonous and predictable list of current political concerns ….

2

ABA leadership clarified that they believe certain viewpoints and policies should be removed from public discussion—including legislative and legal venues—and indeed, the ABA will ban attorneys from advocating on one side of the debate in order to ensure that the law moves in a particular direction on controversial social and policy issues. ABA leaders have indicated that the proposed rule, in addition to discipline, “could be used strategically against lawyers and law firms” based upon their viewpoints and religious beliefs.One committee member, Drucilla Ramey, added that bar leadership must go “to the top of the legal profession” in order to “incentivize” attorneys to change their conscious and unconscious views and speech on everything from sex, race, gender, to law firm hiring and compensation, to “interrupt” their supposed “bias” and change their beliefs.

The ABA has been utterly taken over by an ideology that sees the law as mere institutional power …

The prospect of a professional organization using its power over the right to pursue one’s livelihood as a means of inculcating the “correct” views on contentious social issues should frighten us all. That the ABA seeks to do so in a manner intentionally prejudicial to the views and livelihoods of literally millions of Americans, be they Catholic, evangelical Protestant, Mormon, Orthodox Jewish, or otherwise connected with traditional religions, is a fact inimical to our constitutional traditions. This is an attempt at secular cleansing, of forcing out of the public square and even a prominent, important profession, those whose beliefs were deemed mainstream not ten years ago, but who now are to be treated as bigoted pariahs.

(Bruce Frohnen; block quote is Ed Meese and Kelly Shackelford)

Having gained the ascendency on contentious social issues, the Social Justice Warriors of the ABA are declaring the issue fully and finally closed, with dissent being unethical.

My disgust with the ABA cannot be adequately expressed in a family blog.

3

Third Parties come into their own when major parties collapse. I think the GOP may be fulfilling that vital precursor role, which is one of the nicest things I’ve said about the GOP in a while.

4

So far, my Dormition catharsis appears to have been effective at making further comment seem unnecessary.

Moreover, a new Monmouth University poll gives me the consolation of anticipating that Indiana will not be in play, as he who must not be named or invidiously characterized again has a pretty commanding lead:

If the election for President was today, would you vote for Donald Trump the Republican, Hillary Clinton the Democrat, or Gary Johnson the Libertarian? [ IF UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?] [ NAMES WERE ROTATED ]

47%     Donald Trump

36%     Hillary Clinton

10%     Gary Johnson

1%     (VOL) Other candidate

5%     (VOL) Undecided

Of course, this also means that 83% of my fellow Hoosiers are willing to vote for an unsuitable candidate, for whatever visceral reason or strained rationale, rather than shake off their shackles.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

2 thoughts on “Thursday 8/18/16

  1. Esolen is a treasure. He speaks as wisely, intelligently and sharply as anyone worth reading today. One is reminded of T.S. Eliot’s prescience in “The Hollow Men” when reading about today’s universities.

    • This Esolen offering was especially welcome because my grandchildren, ages 8 and 5, entered an Orthodox Classical School in Indianapolis yesterday. The 8 year old is in third grade when the “classical” part really begins. Next year he will start adding Greek to English and Russian.

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