Thursday, December 20, 2007

Great Moments in Schadenfreude

From degree programs in Social Engineering to degrading into a sort of haven for socially awkward but violent outré lefty Animal Farm types, Antioch College is finally giving up the ghost.

Of the eight student organizations currently listed on Antioch's website, only one, the Antioch Environmental Group, is not focused on identity politics of one sort or other. The others are By Any Means Necessary for students of African descent, Unidad for Latinos, the Third World Alliance, Kehilla (formerly the Jew Crew) for Jews, two separate groups for gays and lesbians (the Queer Center and Queers of Color), and the Womyn's Center. (The spelling looks like another Saturday Night Live parody, but it is in fact the center's official orthography, although "wombmen" is also in current use on campus.) The only Antioch College students who do not have a campus organization listed in their name are white, heterosexual, non-Jewish males. Traditional college clubs centered around student interests--say, French or music or film or chess or debate--seem to be entirely lacking. Even the events featured for this fall's "Community Day" on October 16--an Antioch tradition in which classes are suspended to accommodate student hayrides and other social events--seemed obsessively focused on identity. The evening events, for example, consisted of a queer lecture followed by a queer movie followed by a dance to the music of a queer band--leaving one wondering what Antioch's non-queers were supposed to do with themselves.
Enjoy. Watch it smolder. After the dominant student culture resembled militant intolerance, and thus looking an awful lot like dominaition, what else could one hope for other than for the entire thing to “go out in style”?
Although political views at Antioch might have tilted leftward even back then, the students of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s prided themselves on their willingness to hear out their more conservative classmates in lively all-night dorm discussions on politics and philosophy, inspired by professors who encouraged them to test all their assumptions against the evidence. "We were completely respectful of every point of view," recalled Rick Daily, a Denver lawyer who graduated from Antioch in 1968 and is treasurer of the alumni committee that is struggling to save the college from closure. "We even had a Goldwater Republican in our graduating class," Daily said in a telephone interview.

That was Antioch then. Antioch now might be fairly represented by a September 21 article in the student newspaper, the Record, consisting of a gloating account of the invasion by 40 gay and lesbian Antioch students (a full fifth of the current student body) of an evangelical Christian book-signing event at a Barnes & Noble store located in a mall in nearby Beavercreek, Ohio. Record reporter Marysia Walcerz described the hours-long "Gay Takeover," whose participants wore rainbow-tinted bandannas, ostentatiously held hands and kissed, and did their best to shock both authors and customers in this socially conservative sector of Ohio, as a "success .  .  . for direct action executed in style."
Regardless of their presceient trendsetting in 2000 that would inspire Paris’ City Hall years later in asking murderer Mumia Abu Jamal (née Wesley Cook) to address their graduating class (calling him a “political prisoner” for reasons that only the most inventive and mendacious could gin up), their prospects do map out the future of the “radical” left: dumbed further and further down as the reality of events in the world are kept further at bay, and dumbed further and further down as they try to engage with the reality of events in the world. Toast some marshmallows while you’re at it.

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