North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

Gen M and South Park Conservatives

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Only in the U.S. you say? Pity.

The Tiger in Winter is a fun read. Ben’s always got interesting things to report from the university scene. The other day he remarked on how it is easier to find openly conservative students on an American campus than a Canadian. I greatly suspect that is true, although I’m inclined to think our cousins to the south might be taking a turn for the better. In some corners, at least.

I have not been a university student since I left Simon Fraser University in about 1993 or so. I got a B.A. in five years – not because I was lazy or I toured Europe in order to ‘find myself’ (or some such bumf) – but because I finished with two majors and a minor and no debts. I had some help from home and I worked part time for almost the duration. When I was done I considered an M.A. in English Lit. I decided to upgrade with a few courses first and abandoned the project after the first course. This was the course in Literary Criticism in which my prof claimed that any one of us could be in his position, if we had been born into his family or his family situation. Merit and hard work had nothing to do with it, he said. It was plainly true and we must accept it and press society to deal with it. He was trying to make a case for everyone being materially determined and from that he felt it followed that we ought to accept very high levels of income redistribution and race and gender quotas.

Fair is fair, he was saying, in his twisted way. Never mind how he got any kind of an ought statement from a world that was materially determined. Or how we can do anything about it, if we are materially determined. Never mind that my parents and other members of my family landed in Canada with what today would be less than $100 in their pockets and were now productive, working class home owners. No, to this condescending dolt, nothing they did mattered. Any progress they made was due to our tax system and public health care. He never came right out and said it plain, although there were people in the class that tried to disagree, he shot them down with the authority he had supposedly not earned, and said they felt that way because of American propaganda and their class. The pompous prick used post modern phrasing so that you were never quite sure what the hell he was getting at but when I got the drift I had a slow burn that to this day I don’t think has gone out.

I knew he was being incredibly condescending towards my family and its achievements, as well as to me and every other student in that class that had worked hard to get the grades to be there, and even more so to those of us who had worked to earn the money to pay him. I was not yet a conservative, but I had my first real hard look what was going on in the Arts faculty of that school and decided that I wanted none of it. I had already decided in the first few years I was there, that I would never be a public school teacher as I had hoped. Life in such a position would have been miserable because my thoughts would never be accepted or valued there. I thought a University career might be an option, even though there were a lot of things going on that I strongly disapproved of.

Things may not have changed for the better since then, as an opinion piece in today’s National Post [subscriber link] claims that:

Canadian students in the arts and social science departments of our universities are being recruited to the hyperorthodoxies of multiculturalism, feminism, Marxism, postmodernism and bio-politics. Proponents of these ideologies prefer social engineering and the subversion of Western values to the advancement of learning and respect for Western achievements. Furthermore, today’s welfare campus fosters a culture of comfort/grievance for women, aboriginals, other visibly distinct races and all sexual orientations: for everyone, that is, except Americans, Israel-sympathizers and heterosexual men of European descent.

It only sounds over the top. If you’ve been there, and I was, it is sad, sad, thing. I’m not saying that nothing good is happening on Canadian campuses, but when you have business profs giving students an “A” for a class project in which he took pictures of female students in risque poses and made a calendar, something is amiss. The school this took place at was St. Mary’s University in Halifax. If this was a Catholic founded school, it’s come a long way, baby.

Students have forced the student proprietor to sell the calendar off campus due to pressure pressure from feminist groups on campus. The feminists don’t like the fact that there are no ugly, old, or transgendered people in the calendar. If religious folks had objected, I’m pretty certain the administration would have lectured them about tolerance and told them to go away. The feminists are right to want the campus free of such material, but their reasons are off, in my opinion. My own reasoning is that the school has a reputation it must look after – as a place where serious study is perused, and as a place where a parent will feel safe sending their kids. If I was the teacher in this class, I would have given the calendar project an “F.” Despite its business merits (the calendar made money) it failed to take into account the environment it was to be produced and consumed in. I think most Canadian Universities would have fired me for that.

And that’s why I think they are sinkholes I would not want any child of mine to attend. I don’t know how much sympathy I’d get in Canada. Not enough, I’d wager. In the U.S., however, there has been some movement away from the race and gender baiting and pornification of campus life, and it is being led by the students. Meet Generation M. Yesterday NRO’s Katheryn Jean Lopez interviewed Naomi Schaefer Riley, who has written a book that looks at the new appeal of religious colleges and religious education. Says Riley:

There are a few factors at work here. First, most of these kids actually want to be at these schools. It’s not their parents making them go. And when they get there it’s almost a relief. In high school they were often subject to a barrage of bad influences. At religious colleges, though, their standards of behavior are the norm. Second, I would say the colleges are pretty clear about their rules and fair about the enforcement of them. The aim isn’t to kick students out, but to get them to be a little more reflective about their behavior. If they do violate the rules, the administration generally takes what they call a “redemptive” attitude, trying to help students prevent it from happening again…

The question always asked of religious school is, “do they measure up?” In other words, the kids might know Genesis inside out, but can they do hard scientific research? Riley responds:

… in trying to decide between secular and religious colleges whose students report comparable SAT scores and GPAs, there is at least one academic advantage that colleges of faith seem to offer — a more motivated environment. The students I have observed and interviewed tend to approach their studies with a sense of mission. As the kids at BYU say, “The glory of God is intelligence.” That’s a pretty strong motivator. When asked how teaching at a religious college differs from their previous experience teaching at secular ones, dozens of professors have offered me the same answer: The students here do the work and they come to class.

In other words she sticks to her guns that the environment can be great and ducks the issue. It’s a real concern, I’ll grant. I’ll also say that I don’t know why this question does not get asked of “secular” schools. If people like me are not welcome, who’s to say that there are not gifted teachers in all subjects who would love to jump from group rights slash porno campus to something more traditional, where Western Culture and dead white men are not sneered at by people who haven’t read or understood them?

There is this modern assumption that Christians simply can’t do science since they are all inbred fundamentalists. It is hard to square that with my experience of reading mainstream Christians on the web. Johnny Dee, for example, has just done a series of posts squaring the Bible and Evolution (here, here and here). He writes: “The overall point of Genesis 1-2 is not to give a date of the universe. The point is to show what kind of creator God is.” It’s the Fundamentalists and the Liberals who stubbornly insist on Biblical literalism. I say let Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum fight it out in the corner while the rest of us get on with our lives as thinking, feeling human beings who care about truth and nuance. I do not get the sense that there need be anything dishonest about Christian investigations in the nature of the world. The Catholic Catechism says (#159): “the things of faith and the things of the world derive from the same God,” which I read as an open door to do serious science (with the proviso that things like embryonic stem cell research is out).

You can read more about the struggle to be a conservative on campus here, in an article from City Journal. As for me, I had an epiphany at age twenty five. I decided that I was unhappy with the course my life was taking – nothing was coming to any fruition – and I began to ignore all the advice I got from my high school teachers and all the other upper class wonks I had looked up to. Smartest decision of my life. From there it was blue collar job, apartment, wife, libertarian and finally – Catholic. Almost. We’ll get that annulment taken care of and a long cycle will come to something of an end. After that I suppose the new struggle will be to understand and live a life that is as orthodox as I can manage.

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Written by Curt

January 12, 2005 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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