Thursday, May 19, 2005

The defense of the relativist realm

The cultural realist Theodore Dalrymple brings us a hilarious story which makes simple illustration on the lack of any ethical or moral core to the Politically Correct™.

To them, content in literature is meaningless. In an effort to cultivate a "designated victims", they promoted the writings of one Rahila Khan. Khan is just another typical example of narrowminded truisms about "diversity" mattering more to them than evenhandedly editing. In that subculture it's the symbol of the writer selected that constructs and promotes THE PUBLISHING HOUSE'S image, not really that of the writer:

«Her oeuvre is very slender: a single paperback volume of 100 pages, entitled Down the Road, Worlds Away. It was published in 1987 by the Virago Press, a feminist publishing house founded in the 1970s that is now owned by TimeWarnerBooks, and it appeared in a series called Virago Upstarts—that is to say, parvenu termagants. You are never too young to resent.
“Virago Upstarts is a new series of books for girls and young women… . This new series will show the funny, difficult, and exciting real lives and times of teenage girls in the 1980s.” No prizes for guessing the reality of the real lives, of course: and Rahila Khan gives us “twelve haunting stories about Asian girls and white boys … about the tangle of violence and tenderness … in all their lives,” written “with hard-eyed realism and poignant simplicity.”

As for Rahila herself, she was born in Coventry in 1950, lived successively in Birmingham, Derby, Oxford, London, and Peterborough, married in 1971, and now lived in Brighton with her two daughters. She began writing only in 1986 (presumably when her daughters demanded less of her time), and in the same year six of her stories were broadcast by the BBC. Virago accepted her book, an acceptance that, in the words of Professor Dympna Callaghan, Professor of English at Syracuse University and author of a Marxist analysis of the exclusion of women from the Renaissance stage, “seemed to fulfill one of Virago’s laudable objectives, that of publishing the work of a diverse group of contemporary feminist authors.”

A literary agent contacted Rahila Khan by post and asked to represent her. Until then, Miss Khan had refused to meet in person anyone with whom she dealt, or even to send a photograph of herself: but she agreed to meet the agent who wanted to represent her. The agent was surprised to discover that Miss Khan was actually the Reverend Toby Forward, a Church of England vicar.»
For goodness sake, the only predictable truisms that were missing were that the fake Ms. Khan is a survivor of spousal abuse and a refugee who became a Dickensian street urchin. Makes one think about the sculped, maudlin human caricatures found on NPR's "Fresh Air", the ubiquitous intellectual driftwood of BBC Radio 4, or on "OneWord"...
They don't want you to "hear yourself think" - they want you to hear them think for you.

Which helps describe bring us to a graver matter – the amalgam of seemingly innocuous positive selection supplemented with silent exclusion.

The American columnist and commentator Suzanne Fields in an article titled “Lessons from Ancient White Males” illustrates perfectly the paranoiac nature of the left protecting its’ turf instead of dealing in the real diversity of ideas. The reports on a watershed moment in the realization that the left is authoritarian through the experience of Yale’s Donald Kagan:
«"Such was the understanding of the ancient Greeks and of the Renaissance humanists," he continues, "but not, I fear of many teachers of the humanities today, who deny the possibility of knowing anything with confidence, of the reality of such concepts as truth and virtue, who seek only gain and pleasure in the modern guise of political power and self-gratification as the ends of education."
A critic for The Washington Post inevitably sniffs that these ideas are "boilerplate," a cheap appeal to the neocons in power in Washington who criticize multiculturarists and academic deconstructionists on college campuses. But the professor speaks with experience in the culture wars. He has been a professor at Yale for 36 years, and lost a major battle a decade ago when Yale returned a $20 million gift to set up an interdisciplinary program for the study of Western civilization, which he thought would counter the "politically correct opinion" pervasive on campus. He saw it as a substantial loss for everyone. "Even if we conservatives are all stupid, crazy and ill-informed," he told the Yale alumni magazine, "we have the absolute value of providing an alternative to what students are being told by everyone else and helping them see through the cant."»
The banishment of an opportunity for any non-relativistic idea was an instinctive reaction for the “inclusionists” at Yale University. Never mind the fact that most graduates of last classical education establishment in the US, St. John’s College in Annapolis Maryland tend to be centrist to a fault, the Yalies still feel threatened. I have yet to meet a St. John’s grad who is radical in any way.
Those who feel threatened and crank up house organ notions are tacitly half way to some awareness that they aren’t so much defending ideas, but transparently defending themselves FROM IDEAS. At the very least they must realize that the faculty’s ideology matters more to them than the exchange of ideas.

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