Oppressed by a Pronoun


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The other day I was sitting here writing and had the Howard Stern Show on in the background.  (I sometimes find it easier to write with background noise.)  Since Howard was on vacation, they were rerunning excerpts from old programs, including one on which he interviewed a prostitute.  She told him about a client of hers who paid her a couple of hundred dollars to give him a good, swift, violent kick in the cojones.  At first she hesitated, not wanting to hurt him, but then, apparently drawing on her high sense of professional honor and duty, she went ahead and did what he asked, whereupon he doubled over in such excruciating pain that he was barely able to stagger out of the room.  As she watched him depart, she was overcome with feelings of guilt for having caused him such agony.  Two days later he came back with another two hundred bucks and asked her to do it again.

It wasn’t until several hours later that I realized this wasn’t a bad metaphor for the current relationship between what are supposed to be some of America’s – indeed, some of the world’s – very best universities and liberal-arts colleges and the people who send their kids there.  What do I mean?  This: every year, all over the U.S., countless parents cough up not two hundred but more like two hundred thousand dollars so that their pride and joy, their newly minted high-school grad, can go to Harvard or Yale or wherever.  So they pack him – let’s make it a him – off to old Ivy, and next thing you know he’s being roundly scolded at orientation for harboring vile prejudices of which he has, until now, been totally unaware.  But don’t worry, he’s told: those prejudices aren’t really his fault – they’re the natural product of a bourgeois upbringing in capitalist, imperialist America, that fount of all worldly evil and the international headquarters of racism, sexism, and classism.  It is, furthermore, made clear to the kid that he’s come to the right place: for the next four years, he’ll undergo a thorough re-education that will liberate him from the misbegotten notions on which he was raised and will set him on a journey down the one and only path to truth.

Four years later, having been marinated all the while in postmodernist twaddle and lockstep groupthink – from queer theory to radical feminism – the kid will be handed a diploma and sent home, where his parents, if they haven’t already figured out what’s been happening to their little darling on campus, will get an earful of some of the stuff he’s been “learning” and will realize that he’s learned to despise pretty much everything they stand for.  He’s been taught to hate his country, to hate its history (of which he’s been given a thoroughly twisted version courtesy of Howard Zinn & co.), and to view its economic system (thanks to a gaggle of post-Marxist profs) as the root cause of all the planet’s ills.  In short, they’ve paid good money – a lot of it – for their precious angel to be brainwashed into viewing them as class enemies.  Or, to return to our original metaphor, in exchange for all those staggering checks they’ve been mailing off to the college all these years, they’ve been given the equivalent of a powerful kick in the privates.

And so what do these parents – who, in our hypothetical scenario, have other, younger kids – do?  Do they reevaluate their choices?  Do they admit to having learned an expensive lesson and change direction?  No – they go ahead and send kid #2 to exactly the same place to be brainwashed in exactly the same way.  And, in the fullness of time, they do the same thing with whatever other kids they have.  In short, it’s just like that guy paying the hooker to slam her heel into his groin over and over again – the only differences being (1) the sums of money involved, and (2) the fact that at least the hooker, unlike the college, felt bad about taking money for doing such a horrible thing to a paying customer.

I’ve spent much of the past couple of years working on a book about some of these matters, so the ways in which higher education has devolved over the last generation or so are very often on my mind nowadays.  But the immediate reason why I found my thoughts wandering down these byways the other day was an item by Mark Steyn in which he quoted, first, a Harvard Crimson report that that institution had appointed someone named Vanidy “Van” Bailey “as the College’s first permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life,” and, second, a follow-up “correction” in which the Crimson noted that “[a]n earlier version of this article used the pronoun ‘she’ to refer to Vanidy ‘Van’ Bailey….In fact, Bailey prefers not to be referred to by any gendered pronoun.”

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  • Chezwick

    In a recent discussion about transgenderism, my daughter – young scientist that she is – put it as succinctly as possible……

    "Dad, a person can have surgery, can take hormones, can change their name and all the rest, but regardless of how they want to be perceived, their chromosomes remain either XX or XY."

    That folks is what they call the bottom line.

  • aloyicious

    IT — plain and simple. Call this bailey creature IT (because God knows it's probably not much of a human being anymore)…

  • MikeWood

    I remember my own initiation into university life back in the 1980s and it was much as you describe it here. I was "befriended" by a well-meaning idiot who was absolutely steeped in this PC claptrap and he proceeded to train me in the social obstacle course of being PC at a time when I felt particularly vulnerable. It stands out as an extremely unpleasant memory of having my words and actions monitored for conformity to this insidious mentality. Like you say it is a sickness which only seems to be getting worse.

    • mlcblog

      My THREE different forays into college at the freshman level gave me THREE different profs telling us not to trust our parents or any former authority as we now have superior knowledge and ways, that we could just yawn when they talk and pretty much discard what they say.

  • Rifleman

    Children can be immunized from this sort of thing at an early age by logic, as Chezwick (first post) has apparently done. They'll have to learn both answers, the right one, and the wrong one the moonbat grading them wants to see on their tests.

  • mrbean

    Where ideological indoctrination is paramount, captive students are denied the very experience of free and open discussion that would provide them with the practice needed to consolidate those skills and dispositions that would in time foster a spirit of inquiry in life and would help to make them more reflective practitioners. Good teachers encourage disagreements, qualifications, problems, ambiguities, counterexamples, and alternative ideas. IIndoctrination constitutes a threat to the honest and disinterested pursuit of truth and to the flourishing of the intellectual virtues. It is disturbing also to think that students who are pressured to conform to the views of their leftist professors are unlikely to be able or willing to resist other (perhaps more sinister) ideologies they encounter once they areout of school. That is also why we have a clandestine Muslim Marxist who has never done anything in his life as our president.

  • clarespark

    The history of women should have been integrated into history, but was not. The burning issue is less what pronouns to use, but the incorporation of women's studies into the "anti-imperialist" hard Left. I wrote about that here: http://clarespark.com/2012/01/07/feminism-and-its…. Title: "Feminism and its publicists." It relates a lot of personal history in major institutions.

  • al222

    absolutely nothing is a bigger load of bulls**t than the idea that Ivy League schools give one a quality education. they give one access to elitism, all the lack of intelligence in the world notwithstanding. nothing more, nothing less

  • tagalog

    Vanidy Bailey could be called "the person formerly known as 'she.'"

    I went to a college for the first two years that is not held in high esteem by the upper crust of the intelligentsia, mostly because it is a military college in South Carolina, and thus has two strikes against it before one even looks into the curriculum/faculty. Still, I received a better college education there than at New York University, where I finished my last two years, and Hunter College, where I went and obtained the equivalent of a second baccalaureate in New York City.

    I've talked to innumerable people who went to Princeton, Harvard, Penn, Columbia, and other first-rank schools, and in nearly every case I failed to be able to distinguish the ones from NYU, Pace College, et al., from the Ivy-educated ones, except that the so-called second-stringers understood the vicissitudes of life better than their classmates from the heights of Academe.

  • Mo_

    It's a Catch-22. Send your kid to most colleges and you'll end up with this scenario. Don't send them to college, and they will automatically be disqualified from so many jobs.

    I wish I'd gone to college – not because I want to be brainwashed and be in debt for years, but just so I'd have that stupid piece of paper. I can't even get admin jobs without it!

  • tagalog

    Vanidy Bailey could be called "the person formerly known as 'she.'"

    I went to a college for the first two years that is not held in high esteem by the upper crust of the intelligentsia, mostly because it is a military college in South Carolina, and thus has two strikes against it before one even looks into the curriculum/faculty. Still, I received a better college education there than at New York University, where I finished my last two years, and Hunter College, where I went and obtained the equivalent of a second baccalaureate in New York City.

    I've talked to innumerable people who went to Princeton, Harvard, Penn, Columbia, and other first-rank schools, and in nearly every case I failed to be able to distinguish the ones from NYU, Pace College, et al., from the Ivy-educated ones, except that the so-called second-stringers understood the vicissitudes of life better than their classmates from the heights of Academe. But you can cut the paternalism and patronizing attitudes with a dull knife.

    But you know, from the Kennedy era to the Obama era, you can always tell when the Ivy Leaguers are in charge, can't you?

  • mrbean

    The fact you even listen to a mindless sewer mouthed twit like Howard Stern maked me wonder about even you. I bet modern liberals just love the Simpsons, Family Guy, and Beavis and Butthead – and the bungling jackass white man in TV sitcoms, movies and even advertizements.

    • mlcblog

      Whoa! such high standards. What ever happened to staying informed…I personally get O's email invites to the WH and the mansions of his friends. I like to know what they are doing.

    • BS77

      Howard Stern…what a pile of garbage….him and Jerry Springer and all the rest of the morons who have turned the mass media into a land fill. It goes with liberal colleges, laugh tracks, idiotic commercials and the people who see nothing wrong with it.

  • PAthena

    Why is Harvard University wasting money on 'Vanidy “Van” Bailey “as the College’s first permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life'? Vanidy is as mentally disturbed as those whose student life she is supposed to be directing. She sounds as if she knows nothing about biology.

  • mlcblog

    So, it's an it now? does this go with what is is?

  • PoohChooTrain

    I'd be more than happy to refer to Ms. Bailey as 'it'….

  • Maxie

    "The whole shebang, of course, is absurd" Yes, and it's also irrational — literally. It's Postmodernist indoctrination which tells the student, in effect, 'everything you know is wrong'. It's an attempt at intellectual erasure of the Ten Commandments and the Judeo-Christian morals and ethics based thereon. Now the freshmen are 'blank slates' upon which the Marxist prof's can program their deadly ideology (see "The Black Book of Communism" by Courtois et al. ninety-five million deaths under Communist regimes).
    Fortunately most kids are too smart to buy in.

  • Ghostwriter

    I was at a place called Parkland College,a community college in Champaign-Urbana,Illinois a long time ago. Most of my professors weren't like that. All but one. She was a lot like the professors that were described in the article. And,later I found out from someone else that she did something that,well…I don't really want to go into. Not every place acts like this. Hopefully,there'll be a movement to get some sanity back into higher education.

  • Steve Chavez

    I call this "The Circle of Communism." I will use a journalism/journalist for this example.

    A student takes his first journalism class and the professor gives an assignment to cover a "peace protest." (Or Leftist guest speaker or anything Leftist.) When the student gets their paper back, they get an "A+" and there is a note to meet with the Marxist professor. "I loved your paper and how you agreed with the purpose of the protest. There is an opening at the school paper and you would be perfect. Go meet with the Editor and I'll tell him you're coming. " The student calls his parents, tells his friends on Facebook, and frames his first article in the paper. Other professors are praising his work. The Peacemakers are patting him on the back. He gives up his Engineering degree and changes to Journalism. He graduates and is recommended by his Marxist Professor to a Marxist comrade Dean where he is now given a full ride to get his masters. He graduates with Honors and is recommended by his Marxist Professors and Dean to the Marxist Editor at the local newspaper. He eventually tires of doing real work so he applies for a job at a university where he is recommended by his Marxist Editor, all his Marxist Professors and Deans, to the new Marxist Dean and Marxist President and he is hired as a Marxist Professor. He gives an assignment on a "Peace Protest." "CIRCLE OF COMMUNISM" COMPLETE! THIS WORKS FOR EVERY DEGREE as the chosen ones are given the best grades, full ride scholarships, and therefore, eventually better paying jobs.

    IMAGINE what happens to those students who don't agree with the reasons for the "Peace Protest?"

  • Wordy

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a homosexual mind in a heterosexual body, like a (say) female mind in a male body, is a sure sign that something went wrong somewhere (in either nature and/or nurture). Homosexuality is clearly a disorder. Homosexuals are clearly heterophobic. You wonder how long it will take the regressive liberals who dominate many college campuses to accept the truth. Don't hold your breath. Their liberal prejudices have firm holds of their minds.

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