Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frenzied Raceocrats

I have written a number of times about the absurd lengths, or depths, Democrats, liberals, journalists, editorial writers (but I repeat myself) will go to in order to find racism in the Republican campaign. I believe many of these examples will live on, after this campaign is over, in the annals of political derangement, or perhaps collections of unintended political humor.

Thus David Gergen, former confidential advisor to just about everybody and the very icon of establishment rectitude who often sounds like a schoolmarm correcting the rubes for their uncouth attitudes, actually argued with a straight face (but then his face is always straight) that criticizing Obama for his lack of experience, his lack of achievement, and his far left notions was in effect calling him "uppity," which is not-so-coded racism. This "uppity" claim became a ubiquitous trope on the left, i.e., in the mainstream media (such as this OpEd in the Los Angeles Times). As I pointed out here,
So, for Republicans to criticize Obama as "elitist" is really accusing him of being "arrogant," and that in turn is really nothing more than the old racist slur of calling him "uppity." This view strikes me as so bizarre that I would say the nation's media elite has race on the brain ... if I thought it had a brain.
In a similar vein of unintended humor, the director of digital media at National Public Radio wrote that McCain ads poking fun at Obama as an empty-suited celebrity were "subliminally racist" because they contained comparisons to Paris Hilton, thus "subtly playing on racist impulses that fear black men with white women, or that preyed on the idea that black men succeed only in celebrity arenas like sports and music...."

More recently Sarah Palin has been widely and loudly denounced as a racist for pointing out that Obama has maintained a long-standing friendship (has been "palling around," is how she put it) with a white former but unrepentant terrorist. And Congressman Barney Frank, of Fannie Mae fame, through his supersized analytical abilities has been able to determine that Republican criticism of the role the Community Reinvestment Act played in bringing on the current financial crisis (by requiring banks to lend to unqualified borrowers) was no more than "a veiled attack on the poor that's racially motivated." This charge, of course, is simply another example of the frequent Democratic litany that Republican efforts (there are efforts, aren't there?) to oppose ACORN's fraudulent registration of thousands of "voters" (or maybe its tens or hundreds of thousands) is an effort to suppress the vote by intimidating upstanding, legitimate voters.

In the past week or so, however, the thundering herd of independent minds making these risible charges has become even more frenetic, becoming, it seems to me, almost clinically deranged, delusional, as I called one recent example. Thus E.J. Dionne has McCain leading "the reemergence of the far right as a power in American politics," his campaign "playing with extremist themes to denigrate Obama." (Dionne better be careful and choose his words more wisely, or the Obama campaign and its journalistic minions may turn on him with the accusation that "denigrate" is really a coded, sub-textual racist slur.)
McCain and his campaign do not pick up the most extreme charges. They just fan the flames by suggesting that voters don't really know who Obama is, hinting at a sinister back story without filling in the details.

Apparently Dionne does know who Obama really is, though he hasn't told us. Dionne's belief that concern about a potential (and now likely) president's associates, friends, mentors is no more than a racist version of McCarthyite "guilt by association" also found expression in a recent Time column by Peter Beinart (last encountered making an "egregiously dumb" argument here). To Beinart, when Palin describes Obama as palling around with terrorists and says of him that "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America," she is - you guessed it - "injecting race" into the campaign.
In 2008, with their incessant talk about who loves their country and who doesn't, McCain and Palin are doing something different: they're using race to make Obama seem anti-American.
Exactly how they're "using race" to criticize Obama's associates views and associates is never explained. One can be forgiven for thinking that just about any criticism of a black candidate's position on anything is impermissibly "using race."

By far the most offensive of these recent accusations of Republican racism came, however, from perhaps the only widely recognized saints in American politics, the civil rights veteran and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Or I should say, someone who was formerly widely recognized as a saint, for Lewis's recent comment has permanently tarnished his halo and soiled the angelic white robes in which an adoring press (and not only the press, as demonstrated here) always clothes him. The Wall Street Journal nicely captured Lewis's descent into the depths of race-baiting:
By raising questions about Barack Obama's relationship with terror-bomber William Ayers, the Republicans are "sowing the seeds of hatred and division," Mr. Lewis said. "During another period, in the not-too-distant past, there was a governor of a state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their Constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."
Mr. Lewis's over-the-top analogy is nastier by far than anything the GOP nominees have said during this campaign. In any case, Mr. Ayers is white....

I can't say I knew George Wallace (though I knew some of his cousins), but I did see him up close, as did John Lewis. To compare McCain and Palin with Wallace and say they are creating a climate of violence comparable to the one that resulted in Birmingham church bombing is not just ridiculous; it's nothing short of despicable.

Now that Lewis has discarded his halo for vitriolic partisanship, other examples have begun to surface. Thus Red State reports an example from 2006 where Lewis drew upon his iconic status to bash racist Republicans:
In 2006, John Lewis cooperated with a radio ad for John Eaves, the present Chairman of the Fulton County Commission in Georgia. The ad played on black radio stations. In it, Lewis said this:
On Nov. 7, we face the most dangerous situation we ever have. You think fighting off dogs and water hoses in the '60s was bad. [Now we] sit idly by, and let the right-wing Republicans take control of the Fulton County County Commission.
This was followed with Atlanta's current mayor Shirley Franklin claiming the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr. might be undone and of former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young saying they couldn't afford to turn the clock back. Lewis, though, got the last word, saying:
Your very life may depend on it.
The message is clear: Vote Republican and you go back to slavery.
Moving now from a (formerly) secular saint to a Catholic priest, Andrew Greeley is even less subtle than Lewis, describing Sarah Palin as, like Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, "an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House." Greeley, with the impressive ability to peer into the hearts and souls of ordinary Americans that fortunately is so widely shared among liberal pundits, tells us that when people say they don't know enough about Obama to make a decision about him ("as if there were not two books about his life"!), what they are really saying is
that they don`t know enough about him to accept his strange name or his skin color. It is, of course, impossible that they could ever know enough. He isn't one of us.
At this point Greeley slides, still with no evidence, from what he knows doubting Americans really believe to what the McCain campaign is purposefully and knowingly doing:
Playing the race card explicitly merely guarantees what I have thought from the beginning -- racism in this country precludes the possibility of a sepia-colored man becoming president. However, the last-ditch attack on him guarantees that McCain and Palin will be blamed as the candidates who were content to hear crowds calling for the death of Obama....

McCain increasingly acts like an angry, befuddled cancer survivor and treats his rival like a field n----- who is just barely human. He does not talk to him, will not shake hands with him, will not even look at him, walks behind him when he is speaking to distract the audience....
Crowds calling for the death of Obama? In the same vein Greeley describes McCain as "a shallow man who is running on the basis of his skin color."

At this point I'm prepared to believe that Greeley really does see visions and hear inner voices speaking to him, but it's not the voice of God. Greeley sounds like a Rev. Jeremiah Wright who decides to abandon tact and say what he really believes.

Some questions these guys ask, however, can be easily answered. When Palin brought up Obama's relationship with Ayers, accusing him of "palling around with terrorists," E.J. Dionne asks, "What other "terrorists" was she thinking about?" Easy. Bernadine Dohrn.


Britain: Parents get the blame for naughty children

Loss of standards has wide-ranging effects

Poor parenting is to blame for a major deterioration in the behaviour of primary school pupils over the past five years, a study suggests today. Classroom disruption is a significant problem for teachers, according to researchers at Cambridge University. In interviews with teachers, Professors Maurice Galton and John Macbeath found that many blamed their pupils' unruly behaviour on the inability of parents to control children at home.

Many pupils lacked the social skills required to get on in class, said the researchers, commissioned the National Union of Teachers. "Teachers describe 'highly permissive' parents who admitted to indulging their children, often for the sake of peace or simply because they had run out of alternative incentives and sanctions," the authors added.

Examples included a mother who, after great effort, succeeded in getting her five-year-old to bed at 1am instead of 3am, and a boy of seven who smashed his Sony PlayStation in a tantrum, then would not behave for a week until his mother bought him a new one.

Professors Galton and Macbeath were also told of parents who would do anything to shut their children up "just to get some peace". Their report says schools face "formidable challenges" - particularly in poor areas where there has been "an increase in the incidence of confrontation and conflict".

The researchers, who visited schools they studied five years ago, added: "There appeared to have been a significant and inimical impact on school life from a rapidly changing social scene. "Motivating certain children, it was claimed, had become more difficult because by the time they came to school many of these children had become expert in manipulating adults."

According to Galton and Macbeath, the top five obstacles to teaching are poor pupil behaviour, lack of time for reflection, large class sizes, too many initiatives and an overloaded curriculum. "Children arrive at school knowing too much and not enough," they said.


The 'how-to' plan to criminalize Christianity

'Homosexuals know they must silence the church and that's what's behind this'

A growing movement that experts believe could end up in the criminalization of Christianity in the United States is being exposed in a new documentary being prepared for airing on October 26, officials at Coral Ridge Ministries have announced. "Hate Crime Laws" is a half-hour expose that shows how Christians in America, Canada, Australia, and Sweden have been arrested and prosecuted for expressing opinions that are rooted in the Bible regarding homosexual conduct, Islam or other topics about which Scriptures express clear teachings. "On the surface, hate crime laws might sound like a good idea," said Jerry Newcombe, of Coral Ridge, who hosts the special. "After all, none of us advocates hatred or violence against another person. But if you look below the surface, suddenly you realize that these laws are really thought crime laws." The program will air on The Coral Ridge Hour time slot and local airing times are available online.

WND has reported previously on hate crimes plans at the local level. In Colorado, for example, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law earlier this year a plan that analysts believe effectively bans publication of the Bible in the state. The gender "anti-discrimination" law bans publication of statements that can be perceived as being negative toward those individuals choosing alternative sexual lifestyles.

WND also has reported when family groups with alarm have warned constituents about pending plans in Congress to institutionalize nationwide such laws. Pro-homosexual advocates long have sought such a law, but opponents fear it would be used to crack down on those who maintain a biblical perspective that condemns homosexuality as sin. Observers note it would criminalize speech and thought, since other criminal actions already are addressed with current statutes.

Canada already has an aggressive "hate crimes" law, and there authorities have gone so far as to tell a Christian pastor he must recant his faith because of the legislation that bans statements that can be "perceived" as condemning another person. Some states already have similar statutes, too, and in New Mexico, a photography company run by two Christians was fined $6,600 by the state for declining to provide services to a lesbian couple setting up a lookalike "marriage" ceremony. The documentary cites the New Mexico case, as well as others.

"Canadian youth pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to the editor in 2002 criticizing homosexual activism and offering compassion and hope for people trapped by homosexuality. A human rights tribunal took notice and slapped him with a $5,000 fine, ordered him to apologize in writing, and snuffed out his free speech rights by placing a prior restraint on his public expression of any 'disparaging' opinions about homosexuality," Coral Ridge officials said.

"In Sweden, Pastor Ake Green spoke out against homosexual conduct in a 2003 sermon and was prosecuted for 'hate speech,'" the announcement continued.

In Australia, all it took to bring two ministers into a courtroom on charges of vilifying Islam was a seminar in their own church about Muslim beliefs.

The late Coral Ridge founder D. James Kennedy repeatedly had warned such developments would endanger Americans' civil rights. "This will silence churches, which is their great desire - that churches ... may not be able to say anything negative about homosexuality," he said in an earlier presentation.

An online presentatiion on the issue features Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Homosexuals know they must silence the church in this country, and that's what's behind this," he warns.

Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, also appears. The goal, he said, is the "criminalization of Christianity. If you say traditional morality is now a form of hate and bigotry, and bring the full weight of the government, you have criminalized basic Christian moral doctrine."

Other guests include Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel; and Tristan Emmanuel, a Presbyterian minister who resigned from the pulpit to found the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre.

Opponents of such actions note the deceptiveness of some of the proposals. In Colorado, for example, "Section 8 of the bill makes it a crime to publish or distribute anything that is deemed a 'discrimination' against the homosexual and transsexual lifestyle," according to the Christian Family Alliance. Mark Hotaling, executive director for the Alliance, said initially supporters and even some opponents of the bill explained that there was an exception for churches and church organizations. However, lawmakers then attached to the bill a state "safety clause" which is supposed to deal with laws that are fundamental to protecting the lives of residents.

That, he said, simply stripped away any potential allowances for churches and church groups. "Anyone who claims that there's an exception for churches really doesn't know the ins and outs of the bill," Hotaling told WND. "So the religious exemption is purely window dressing and very deceptive," he said. "The Word of God literally now is banned, and that's a legitimate slam-dunk First Amendment issue there."

President Bush has fended off at least one federal plan by deciding it was unnecessary and promising a veto if Congress would pass it.


BOOK REVIEW of "Patronizing the Arts" by Marjorie Garber. Review by Joseph Epstein

After reading Marjorie Garber's Patronizing the Arts, I conclude that the ideal arts patron is a shy, retired Mafia don without the least interest in art: in other words, a rich man who prefers not to discuss the source of his wealth, would never wish to push himself forward for publicity, could not care less about what an artist does with his money, and is content to walk away quietly with his tax write-off in his suitcoat pocket just above his shoulder holster. Professor Garber, chairman of something called the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard, and the author of books on cross-dressing and bisexuality, concludes otherwise.

Professor Garber describes all but the last few pages of her book as a chronicle of "patronage and its discontents." As her book makes clear, no perfect patronage exists, certainly not in the arts, which offer special problems to any patron and not a few to artists. Patronage in the arts tends to illustrate the cynical proverb that holds no good deed goes unpunished. Although generally sucked up to, by artistic institutions and by artists, patrons, in the restricted sense of men and women who come up with money to help make the creation or performance or display of art possible, have been mocked at least since the days of Samuel Johnson. After his rocky experience with his own patron, Lord Chesterfield, Johnson in his Dictionary famously defined the patron as "commonly a wretch who supports with indolence, and is paid with flattery."

Professor Garber's general view of the arts, like her language, is that found in most humanities departments in the contemporary American university. She finds "paradigm shifts" and spreading "commodification," avails herself of such hideous words as "contestation" and "misprision," and makes little jokes that only students, that most hopelessly captive of audiences, might find amusing. As for her taste in art, she likes it, in good academic fashion, hot and edgy, challenging and confrontational. She even continues to believe, quaintly enough, that there still exists something called the avant-garde, unmindful that, as Paul Val,ry long ago said, "everything changes but the avant-garde."

Owing to her entrenched views, Professor Garber's survey of the history of patronage in the arts is perforce tendentious. In her book the required contempt for government support for the arts under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is nicely in place. The fear of being left behind by art--to end up one of those dunces who scratched at Matisse's early paintings or broke chairs at the first performance of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps--haunts her pages, so that she appears to feel that nearly everything in art that is new is, ipso facto, also to be applauded. She takes the opinion of the world ("that great ninny," as Henry James once called it), or at least that of the art world, as the final arbiter on aesthetic matters. Andy Warhol, for example, is for her a great artist, case long ago closed.

Because of these general views, Patronizing the Arts has a cowboys and Indians, good guys and bad guys quality. As in a low-grade Hollywood movie, with Professor Garber, you always know for whom to root and whom to boo. Some figures who cross her screen are, to be sure, worth booing, or at any rate being suspicious of. She is perfectly correct, for example, to question the depth of love for art on the part of such corporations as Philip Morris, Absolut Vodka, and ExxonMobil in sponsoring the various artistic projects and events they do. The question here, obviously, isn't what's in it for the talent but what's in it for the corporation. The answer, just as obviously, is high-sheen public relations for companies that feel themselves much in need of it.

But more often Professor Garber's cowboys and Indians approach merely coarsens a richly complex subject. Not least among its complexities is the real relation between patron and artist. When patron meets artist, artist patron, what does each think? Does the patron, if only to himself, ask, "If you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" And does the artist, in his turn, ask, "If you're so rich, how come you're not smart?"

We know what the artist is getting out of the relationship: First and foremost, funds to begin, carry on, or complete his work. Not uncommonly, taking the funds comes with strings--even ropes, on occasion handcuffs--attached. My friend Samuel Lipman, who grew up as a piano prodigy in San Francisco, had as his patroness the daughter of the woman who was the patroness of Yehudi Menuhin. For her monthly stipend, which Sam's parents used for his piano instruction and out-of-classroom tutoring, she put him through his paces, having him over regularly to play for the amusement of her friends and never hesitating, in brusque fashion, to correct his table manners.

The patron's rewards are more subtle. They run from acquiring a reputation for generosity and, possibly, for artistic sensitivity, to the cachet of what passes for culture in capital-S Society, to perhaps moderate relief from guilt for wealth ill-got, to the obvious, frequently overlooked motive of simple honorable altruism. Professor Garber does not seem much interested in the complexities of this relationship.

Neither is she much aware of the ironies with which her subject is so heavily laden. A few years ago Mrs. Ruth Lilly, of the Lilly pharmaceutical family, died and left a bequest to Poetry magazine of more than $100 million, a fact Professor Garber mentions without further comment. Yet this testamentary piece of wildly extravagant patronage could well end in setting the traditionally modest and historically significant Chicago journal well off course. Poetry and the Poetry Foundation, I think it fair to say, don't know what to do with so much money--an actual embarrassment of riches. I have myself received mailings--sent, I gather, to a great many people--surveying me on how best it might be spent.

Everyone is stumped, and with good reason. The undirty little secret here is that it will take more than enormous infusions of money to make even quite well-educated and bookish people care about contemporary poetry, for the only people who do currently care are those who write or teach it. What is needed are great poets, and nobody knows how to make them; mountains of cash, fairly safe to say, won't do the job.

Upon emerging from the old Museum Theatre in Boston after a ballet, Ralph Waldo Emerson is supposed to have said to Margaret Fuller, "This is art!" Miss Fuller is said rapturously to have replied, "Ah, Mr. Emerson, this is religion!" And so art is, for many people, religion by other means.

Professor Garber appears to be one of the parishioners of the good Church of Our Lady of Art. For her art is a purely approbative word, and not merely a noun that permits many adjectives to reside beside it, among them: trivial, highly politicized, wretched, dreary, and simply crappy. Nor does she seem keenly aware that all these latter kinds of art appear to be in exceedingly great supply just now, with almost no demand for any of them, even though such art wins prizes and its creators are solemnly wreathed in honors and weighted down with gold.

Not only contemporary poetry but most contemporary serious music has failed to find an appreciable--let alone appreciating--audience. Much new visual art has attracted market attention, some of it selling for prices that can only puzzle those of us who fail to see anything in it other than the comic contradictions that arise when culture meets capitalism.

When other explanations are wanting, one can't go wrong blaming America. Professor Garber points out that the Dutch, the French, and the Germans, among other European countries, spent greater sums per capita on state-sponsored patronage of the arts than does the United States. But then, traditions of art patronage in American life had, until the Depression, been thought mainly a private matter; the guardianship of high culture--masterpiece paintings and sculpture, orchestral music, ambitious architecture--was assumed to be among the responsibilities of the rich. This was, let it be said, a responsibility that, in the years between the 1870s and 1890s, the American rich did not eschew, building and stocking the country's great art and scientific museums and symphonic halls, and starting many of its important universities.

Only with the Depression, which brought into being the Works Progress Administration, whose function was to invent work for artists--allowing painters to do murals in public buildings, writers to indite state guide books--did the United States government get into the arts in a major way. The WPA ended with World War II. In 1965, with the advent, by act of Congress, of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the relationship between artists, the arts, and the government became complicated.

The tendency of the National Endowment for the Arts has not been at all to Professor Garber's taste. In recent years it has ceased giving grants to artists--with the exception of writers--and has expended its funds chiefly on institutions and programs, many of them bringing Shakespeare, ballet, and other traditional artistic wares to rural communities and other places where they are not usually available. The agency's modus operandi, Professor Garber finds, has been to seek consensus; its goal is, in her words, "to do no harm." She prefers harm, lashings and slashings, with ample money going to artists who don't in the least mind sticking it in the ear of the public, not least their patrons, the United States government.

I was a member of its National Council, or policy setting body, for six of the stormiest years in the NEA's history, from 1984-90. This was a time when the counterculture had become, in the arts at least, the mainstream culture. The result was that much art was of the in-your-face kind, especially in the visual arts and performing arts. These were the years of performance artists smearing their naked bodies with chocolate, photographs of men with plungers stuck in their rectums, crucifixes set afloat in bottles of urine, paper-towels smeared with HIV-positive blood sent skimming out on pulleys over the heads of audiences--all done either directly with the aid of NEA money or under the roofs of institutions funded by the NEA.

How very different from the old avant-garde--that extending from the French impressionists through Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, and Arnold Schoenberg--a movement having chiefly to do with changing technique in the arts. But the avant-garde in the 1980s had turned largely political: It was about one form or another of ethnic or sexual liberation, of protest and leftwing politics. Its chief message tended to run: I'm an outraged gay or lesbian--or an angry black man, or an aging sixties radical--and I've had it with this detestable bleeping country, with its middle-class respectability, its vaunting of the family, its organized religions, its censorship, and hideous capitalist system. And by the way, nice to learn that I've been awarded an NEA grant, and when do you suppose I might receive my check?

Art is a house with many mansions, also garages, grease pits, small but real slums. Art can be wild, extravagant, offensive, obscene, vile, exhibitionistic, sado-masochistic, filled with political rage, outrageous--it can be all of these things and more. And no one is saying it shouldn't be what the artist feels the need for it to be, though none of this is my particular idea of a good time. But once artists take federal or state--that is, taxpayers'--money, they are under an obligation to be, at a minimum, not directly insulting. If they feel the need for their art to go on the attack--against the customs and institutions of their country--then logic and decent manners suggest they are under the obligation to create it on their own nickel.

The other problem the NEA encountered was that of democracy itself. Art isn't about democracy; it is an elitist activity. Place the word "mediocre" before the word "art" and it isn't any longer art. Yet so much in the funding arrangements of the NEA encouraged mediocrity. Affirmative action was, of course, a great blow for mediocrity in the arts--even NEA peer panels, which recommended grants, were put together along affirmative action lines--for the NEA was committed to helping the disadvantaged, which meant awarding grants to all putative victim groups.

Then there was the grubby political element to consider. A fellow member during my days on the National Council was a Florida state senator who couldn't tell a Picasso from a puffin, but saw it as his mission to make sure that Florida got its fair share of federal arts money, whether or not genuine artists or serious artistic institutions existed in the Sunshine State. And why not? Tax dollars come from taxpayers, so why shouldn't everyone get his fair demographic share?

Late in Patronizing the Arts, Professor Garber compares federal spending on the arts with current funding for science, or Big Science, as it is now sometimes called, next to which spending on the arts is of course puny. She argues that much science is artistic and art is itself becoming more scientific.

But the comparison doesn't hold up. The difference between science and art is that science is progressive, art is not; science is a collective activity, one generation building on the ones that came before, with a generally agreed upon agenda of what are the great problems that need solving. Artists don't solve problems; they work out their visions. And every artist is in business for himself and sets his own agenda. Scientists will tell you that, though Galileo, Newton, and Einstein were of course great geniuses, if they had never been born other scientists would have come along and eventually made their discoveries. But Marcel Proust, and with him all other major artists, was sui generis; no one else could have written A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.

Professor Garber is attracted to the analogy of art with science in part because so much of science is done in universities and her book's closing argument is that the best possible patron for the arts is now the contemporary university. She makes the point that, increasingly, much training in the arts is done in universities in departments of theater and acting, visual art, film and photography, music, dance, and creative writing. (When one thinks of all the would-be poets and novelists being churned out by university creative-writing programs, one begins to understand what Degas meant when he said that "we must discourage the arts.") Professor Garber argues that the arts would be good for the university, but the greater question is whether the university is good for the arts?

My sense is that it would not. Professor Garber writes that "freedom of expression, the toleration of difference, and the high value placed on originality and imagination" are all found in the university. Wonder how, in my 30 years there, I seem to have missed it, and found instead deep conformity, beginning with political correctness and extending outward into anti-Americanism and a hardy loathing for anyone not aligned with all the okay causes.

This conformity cannot be good for artists or for their arts. When one thinks of the powerful critics of the arts in the past century, the best among them--Edwin Denby in dance, Virgil Thomson in music, Clement Greenberg in visual art, Edmund Wilson in literature--almost all came from outside the university. Apart from actors and a few playwrights, most serious novelists, poets, composers, and painters did not acquire their training, or their inspiration, from the university, and fewer still found their subject matter there. The great world, not the university, will always be the ultimate training ground for artists, at least for those who wish to go beyond the academic in their ambitions.

Even with the great good luck of generous patrons, the artist is left where he has always been: attempting to master his craft, trying to narrow the gap between his talent and his ambition, alone with his mad passion, ill-rewarded if rewarded at all--a grant here, a small prize there--hoping to make a little dent in the world's great yawning indifference.

Think of his travail from time to time, and pray that your son or daughter doesn't come to you to announce that he or she wishes to be an artist.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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