Monday, June 18, 2007

Hard Times for These Postmodern Times

I just finished yet another terrific Charles Dickens novel--Hard Times. It is every bit as wonderful as his other more well known books David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities. Of all the novelists in our spectacular heritage of English literature, Dickens has to be the best: some of the most memorable characters in literature from the main characters to the often offbeat supporting characters; a grand mix of drama, comedy, and mystery; and a brilliant way with words like few other authors. When a Dickens novel ends, it is always with disappointment and regret that the story is over. Dickens truly is a joy to discover and his stories enrich one's life, as does all great literature.

Sadly, very few American students these days ever have the opportunity to discover Dickens in today's postmodern schools. Why? Because of goofy liberals, of course, who run the school establishment and control the curricula. "Dead white males" are out and "multicultural" teen literature is in. During the immigration debate, proponents of the amnesty bill have accused conservatives of being against "brown people," which is truly ironic because liberals, as demonstrated by their paternalistic attitude, are actually the biggest enemies of "brown people."

These racist, patronizing, arrogant liberals actually believe with sincerity that "brown people" (and anyone not white) somehow do not possess the ability to relate to and appreciate classic British and American literature. They just wouldn't be interested and could never appreciate it. For this racist, bigoted attitude, liberals actually feel they deserve plaudits for what they perceive is their elite sensitivity to minorities' needs.

So instead of the magnificent novels of Dickens, Eliot, and Scott (just to name a few excellent writers of our common cultural heritage who are no longer taught in English classes), foolish liberals actually believe that teens can only appreciate "teen literature" and that "persons of color" can only relate to novels written by "persons of color." According to liberals, "persons of color" and teenagers have no ability to transcend their immediate surroundings and background.

To put this blatantly racist attitude into perspective, imagine if your father were in the State Department and you as a high school student were living in, say, Japan. In a Japanese literature class in which you would be eagerly awaiting the treasures of Japanese literature, your Japanese teacher decided because you are white or black, you could not possibly relate to Japanese literature. Therefore, the Japanese teacher must only give you
Lafcadio Hearn. This is the exact same attitude liberals have for minorities. Liberals, own up to your racist attitudes and get rid of them!

Amazingly, these racist low expectations make up the attitude of our professors of education who seek to hoist these racist and degrading ideas upon thousands of schoolteachers across the country. This concerted effort seems to be paying off, which is not too surprising considering that teachers have the very lowest GRE scores of all groups taking the test. Bimbo teachers of both sexes now actually feel that it is important only to teach "multiculturalism," and they brainlessly parrot the line that about students not being able to relate to "dead white males" (and evidently "white females" as well since Eliot is rarely taught).

Consider the following anecdote: In the worst class I took at UVA's Social Foundations program for my master's--Anthropology of Education by up and coming Marxist professor
Dan Butin whose career is skyrocketing, thanks to his socially correct attitudes--we actually had an excellent required text: Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. It is a very moving and touching autobiography which celebrates assimilation and is vehemently against bilingual education and affirmative action, just like Linda Chavez's excellent organization CEOUSA.

Unfortunately, Butin in the class discussion cleverly led it in such a way that liberals in the class had sheer indignation that Rodriguez was a Hispanic that had the audacity to 1) be against affirmative action and bilingual education; 2) not appreciate their noble efforts at helping him in a cruel capitalistic society; and 3) get a doctorate in Renaissance literature instead of Chicano Studies. One red-headed woman who was big into the theatre arts scene of the Washington area dramatically declared Rodriguez to be a "pompous ass." His crime: Not appreciating his Mexican heritage by getting a doctorate in Renaissance literature and being against all the programs liberals have deigned to grant poor benighted minorities to help them. What ingratitude! Note: Rodriguez was born in America and did not even speak Spanish. Yet to racist liberals in the Anthropology of Education class, including the professor, Rodriguez was still a Mexican and his heritage was only that of Mexico, not that of Britain and America. Hence, liberals' animosity to classic literature.

Back to Hard Times, which like all classic British literature is the heritage for all American students, despite color, race, or background:

Hard Times is a wonderful novel and shorter than most Dickens' novels. It is filled with memorable, unique characters: self-made, boastfully humble factory owner Mr. Boundersby; the aristocratic lady Mrs. Sparsit whom Mr. Boundersby supports, school owner Mr. Grandgrind who only teaches facts, young Louise and Tom Grandgrind who have grown up under his regimen; factory workers Stephen Blackpool and his girlfriend Rachael; a mysterious old lady who has a fascination with Mr. Boundersby; young, abandoned, charming Sissy Jupe; the wonderful characters at the circus where Sissy's father has worked, the roguish, diabolically rakish young aristocratic Jake Harthouse. Their lives, from all backgrounds intertwine in the backdrop of the successful factory city of Coketown with an entertaining and moving mixture of drama, comedy, and mystery, like all of Dickens' novels.

Hard Times is notable for its theme that to lead a truly enriching and noble life of dignity, one must be educated in the humanities, not just in impersonal, scientific "Facts." Liberal utilitarianism ironically leads to a degrading fascination with consumer pop culture that, in fact, leads many to dissipated, meaningless, cold lives, which is completely unanticipated by those advocates of utilitarianism. To have imagination, empathy, and love for fellow man, one must be educated in the humanities.

Sadly, liberals have not only deigned that teenagers and minorities are not capable of relating to Western Civilization, they also have decided to destroy the humanities in the name of socialist utilitarianism. Every work of Western Civilization must be deconstructed in order to support socialism. In other words, they are completely against teaching the humanities for its own inherent worth. Liberals are the modern day heirs to Mr. Grandgrind's social utilitarianism, except for these advocates of "social justice," facts must only support socialism.

Take Hard Times for instance. This is generally liberals' favorite of of Charles Dickens' novels because they mistakenly feel that it can best be twisted most effectively into supporting their misguided anti-capitalistic, socialistic agenda. Witness Signet's description of the novel on the back cover, which unfortunately shows that Signet has bought into postmodern desecration of classic literature:

"Red brick, machinery, and smoke-darkened chimneys. Reason facts, and statistics. This is the world of Coketown, the depressed mill town that is the setting of Charles Dickens' most powerful and unforgettable novels. . . .

"Hard Times is Dickens' scathing portrait of Victorian industrial society and its misapplied utilitarian philosophy."

What? Hard Times is nothing of the sort, as any honest person who has actually read the novel will tell you. My description of the novel above--its memorable characters whose lives intertwine in a fascinating mixture of mystery, drama, and comedy--is what the novel is about. Liberals' seething hatred of the capitalism in its most brilliantly successful--culturally and economically--Victorian society comes through in this blantantly biased Signet description of the novel.

So, to sum up, obscurant liberals do not want you to be exposed to our Western heritage of classic literature, but if somehow you are, you must be programmed in a form of doublethink to deconstruct it and dislike it--thus having no knowledge of our heritage in order to be a better "useful idiot" for their failed ideas and nihilistic values. What is the outcome of their modern day socialist utilitarianism, which is very similar in its eschewing of the humanities to the utilitarianism in the novel? The outcome is students bored with "multiculturalism" and "teen lit" and turn to consumer culture and unfulfilling pop attitudes, much the same as does the "whelp" Tom Grandgrind.

Rebel against these utilitarian liberals. Educate yourself and expose yourself to our magnificent heritage and pass it on to others to enjoy and relish.


Anonymous said...

I am tired of reading my name being disparaged and defamed on your blog. I have formally informed blogger and will take further legal steps if your comments continue to constitute libel.


Gabe said...

Dan- Good luck! I was in your class and witnessed exactly what went on.

There is freedom of exchange in academic environments, though many "social justice" professors only want freedom to criticize Western Civilization. You can't handle it when the tables are turned.

BTW, I passed the comps with a "high pass" so I know exactly the different education theorists. You are firmly in the camp with Paulo Freire.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the recommendation for Hard Times. Believe it or not,
I used to use that book in the course that I teach on Schools, Society and Morality. I used it to draw the contract between moral systems based on a decision making tool (the calculus of utilitarianism) and morality based on some form of objective truth or -- God forbid I say this in a public institution -- Natural Law (Sissy's basis). It was well received. I then switched to The Scarlet Letter which is still
(to my surprise) taught in amny high schools. It also was well
received. Recently, since I have been team teaching the course, I have not used either book.

As a note, one of my daughters wrote a major paper in clollege on Hard Times because she too was facilated by the book. Have you ever read Dicken's Bleak House? It is very, very, very long. But I found it very interesting -- since I don't especially like lawyers.

Gabe said...

Anonymous 943- I just ordered Bleak House today from Amazon. I love Dickens. He is my very favorite writer in our English heritage.

diana said...

Oh how funny! "Take legal steps if your comments continue to constitute libel."

Holly said...

I stumbled across your blog searching for more information on the SF program, as I've already taken both Anthro (with Dan Butin) and SF (with Bernadette Black). I have to admit, I am quite puzzled as to why you would make some of the assertions that you do.

For one, I have never enjoyed Charles Dickens. I read his works in both high school (as part of the requirements for my English course) and college (in an elective survey of the Modern World).

What is more important, though, is that I have never said, nor heard anyone say, hint at, or otherwise indicate, that people of color are incapable of appreciating or relating to what are considered classic works of American or British literature. I have, on the other hand, heard my white classmates complain that the handful of works by people of color were pointless, had nothing to do with them, and so on.

While I do not expect that these limited experiences in a 10th grade English classroom of rural southwestern Virginia are indicative of the beliefs held by society at large, you seem to do so with your own experiences.

I'm sorry that you had professors you perceived as too liberal, but perhaps during the discussion you could have made comments about (a) the way in which the discussion itself had been moving, (b) the way in which the discussion was led, (c) the assumed liberal motivations behind the discussion, and (d) how you perceived Richard Rodriguez's memoir.

It doesn't take much courage to write a blog about a former professor you'll probably never encounter again face-to-face, especially when these same words spoken in his classroom could be the spark of change that you hope to see in the educational system.