Thursday, May 30, 2013
Anti-intellectualism: It's all in the family
Well, not me personally, but academics in general. Summer is the time when duty calls me to be nice to people just because they happen to share some DNA with me or my spouse, and inevitably the discussion will turn to What's Wrong with the World These Days (everything) and Who Is to Blame for our National Ills, and I'll bet you can identify the current scapegoat: godless liberal socialist college professors brainwashing students with their radical feminist pro-gay anti-gun anti-God multicultural agenda.
What do I say to these people? A little voice urges me to bite my tongue, respect my elders, don't rock the boat, keep the peace, don't teach an old dog new tricks, just smile and nod and talk about the weather. Cliches: the last refuge of the academic at the family reunion.
But I can only bite my tongue for so long, and bottling up all that anger may eventually make my head explode. I need a quip, something clever and concise enough to make anti-intellectualism uncomfortable without permanently alienating people I'm supposed to care about or causing anyone to suffer a fatal stroke or, even worse, draw a gun.
What would you say?