Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Moral Depravity, Constitutional Ignorance, and the University

6 April 2009

The headlining story in today’s Diamondback, wholly unsurprisingly, covers the continuing porn brouhaha here on campus. Amusingly, it reads “Students push on with porn: Campus groups to host XXX film in name of free speech.”

At what point did the great contemners of decency become so brazen as openly to contort the purportedly sacrosanct freedom of speech to defend the public showing of xxx-rated pornography, despite a history of Constitutional law that explicitly denies hardcore obscenity the same extensive protection given to less prurient — not to mention wholly unnecessary and anti-communitarian — forms of expression? In the fall semester of the 2007-2008 school year, the Times, in what, sadly, was our only issue of the year, ran a front-page exposé revealing that the alleged noose hanging outside of Stamp and Nyumburu, source of embarrassment and outrage on our hyper-sensitive, politically correct campus, was, in truth a simply Boy Scout knot, the leftover string from a since-removed sign or banner.

How the Left roared in indignation! Such speech — had it in fact been “hate speech,” and not a harmless piece of string — simply could not be tolerated. To what great extent University officials went to assuage the great offended masses, to assure them that this University takes racial diversity and “tolerance” seriously, and would never defend a racist’s right to speak his mind over the right of a student not to be offended.

Now, the Left cries, “Wolf!” suggesting the the state legislature is out of line threatening to cut funding if the showing happens — on a public university campus, no less —, calling it “censorship,” an offense to free speech. What of those of us who find repulsive that students worry more about some spurious notion of free speech than about moral and intellectual cultivation? Those of us who think that certain things belong in the privacy of home or dorm room, and not in a campus theater or lecture hall, who reject the risible claim that charging an admission fee negates the publicly supported nature of a showing of obscene material on a public campus? Some of us just want to attend an ostensible institution of higher education that recognizes that education, though open debate is necessary to it, requires limits, too.

Then again, the Left on campus not only dominates, but is composed of a bunch of intellectually enervated whiners who need to grow up.

Advertisements

The Diamondback, Enemy of Civilization

9 March 2009

by Nathan P. Origer, executive editor

From the 27 February 2009 Diamondback, idiotic, knee-jerk liberalism as its finest.

We’re a bastion of Christianity, holding the line after centuries of battle against the raging masses of Islam. White, black and brown immigrants are sneaking across our borders in a determined attempt to erase the last waning vestiges of the European culture that our civilization was founded on. If we don’t line our borders with marines and military robots, we’ll never stop the hordes from sneaking in and sullying our country. And while we’re at it, we should probably stop all of that legal immigration too. We’ve got to stop buying into this “cult of multiculturalism;” it’s a sham.

It isn’t hard to recognize spouts of racist bile as hateful blather when they’re this blatant. The ideas above are held and promoted by former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). When he came to speak at American University earlier this week, students from throughout the region came to protest Tancredo’s bigoted ideas, and we’re happy they did.

[…]

In many ways, Tancredo is useful as a rallying point – it’s clear he stands for what’s wrong.

[…]

We believe there are strong arguments for both broadening access to higher education and maintaining access to licensing. But that isn’t the point. The point is that it’s difficult but imperative to define the boundaries of citizenship. It’s easy to argue we aren’t a bastion of Christianity, but it’s harder to define what makes us true Americans or true Marylanders.

Responding to such a daft editorial is a bit like trying to reply to Billy Madison’s “rambling, incoherent response”. You know that it’s horribly wrong, but offering anything more than, “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it” proves to be stupendously difficult. Deigning to such a low level of intellect hurts.

The wise editors of our venerable campus daily are well within their right to disagree with the solutions proffered by Mr. Tancredo; they’re even permitted to think that Tancredo is a “bigot.” They are not, however, as members of the Fourth Estate, to be making such ludicrously false allegations as they do in this piece.

To deny that the United States is a “bastion of Christianity” is to ignore the entire history of this nation. Every single president, devout or not, has been at least nominally Christian. Seventy-six percent of all Americans still identify as Christians, and the entire history of Western Civilization, beginning in the Fourth Century, is inseparable from Christianity. The Enlightenment, for all of its rejection of Christianity, nonetheless happened only because of Christianity; it could not have arisen in an equally “backward” culture. Particularly amusing is that the editors attempt to distance our nation from Christianity in a state that was established as a safe-haven colony for Catholic Christians.

Most disturbing about this silly rant is that the editors never bother to show how Mr. Tancredo is wrong. They disingenuously conflate a sincere, wholly sensible concern for the distinctly Anglo, Christian heritage of our nation, without bothering even to consider the results when this culture is submerged into a heretofore praised, but never materialized “melting pot”, with “racism” and “bigotry.” To rally against illegal immigration is to preserve a necessary definition of citizenship, imperative for the defense of what remains of our republic. There is nothing racist about suggesting that non-citizens should be prevented from entering our nation; there’s nothing racist about saying that we should limit even legal immigration, at least for a time, if even legal immigration threatens the cultural foundation upon which contemporary society so very precariously sits.

Most offensive to me, an out-of-state student who works as a teaching assistant to avoid the pains of paying tuition, the editors defend permitting immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of immigration status, defending this asinine position with the equally imbecilic contention that “there are strong arguments for … broadening access to higher education.” If we wish for a university education to retain any real value — that is, something more meaningful than the opportunity for a bigger paycheck —, then we need to be restricting access and cutting down admissions, not compelling the taxpayers of Maryland to subsidize the education of student who don’t legally belong here as it is.

Update One: Jim Antle has a solid piece on the immigration debate, and the disturbing tactics of the pro-amnesty/immigration crowd in the most recent issue of The American Conservative. (Subscription required.) A lovely excerpt:

Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza also desires a “middle ground” between the First Amendment and censoring commentators like CNN’s Lou Dobbs with whom she disagrees about immigration policy. “Everyone knows there is a line sometimes that can be crossed when it comes to free speech,” she told the New York Times last year. “And when free speech transforms into hate speech, we’ve got to draw that line.”

Apparently, suggesting that illegal immigrants should be deported to their home nations is now the equivalent of falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Update Two: The basic point about immigration policy is this: Although we should be welcoming, we must be wary. The presence of foreign elements in our communities threatens the very nature of our communities as we need to perceive them: that is, as people who share roots in place and culture. It’s analgous to planting invasive species in an ecosystem where they do not belong. You might have the most beautiful flower to add to your garden, but not being part of the environment naturally, it disrupts the natural cycles of the place, perhaps poisoning an unwitting animal that happens to nibble, growing sufficiently large to prevent other plants from receiving enough sunlight, or requiring more nutrients than the soil can provide for it and the native plants. If and when outside elements can be integrated smoothly, organically, and over an appropriately long period of time into the community, all the better for the sustainability thereof. But “facilitating democratic participation,” which coerces integration in much the same way that busing did during the slow, agonizing end of segregation — which is to say in a manner wholly destructive of community in the name of a sense of equality that is risible —, is both unsustainable and a political anathema.

America is a nations of immigrants” is little more than a deceitful canard when we start to talk about Hispanic immigrants, illegal or legal — or any non-Europeans. Why? No, dear offended, politically correct reader, not because Europeans are better, but because American culture(s) developed out of European cultures, whereas Hispanic culture, although in part rooted in Spanish culture, has followed an significantly different trajectory. Eastern Europeans were still from the Continent, and, strange as they may have been, still came from similar cultures, particularly in the age of the great empires. Comparing a Ruthenian from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to a Salvadorian just ignores all too much.

Hip-GOP

4 March 2009

by Luis Mazariegos

Can RNC Chairman Michael Steele turn the Republican Party’s image around with a hip-hop makeover?

Recently, Steele promised an “off the hook” marketing blitz that would apply core conservative principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” (whatever that may mean).

He cemented his path by calling the stimulus plan “bling bling” for Democrats the other day. I kid you not.

Though on the surface this may all seem a tad ridiculous, there might be something worthwhile here.

It’s no secret that the Republican Party is trying to distance itself from the George W. Bush era – and with good reason. Bush’s spending choices and war in Iraq have made him unpopular among certain blocs of conservatives, such as those who value fiscal responsibility over everything else. 

Not only that, but the Republican’s loss last election showed that unless they can appeal to younger voters and minorities, the future won’t hold better results.

And though culturally the Republican Party and hip-hop may seem miles apart, the similarities in ideology are striking.

Yes, rappers are against gun legislation and distrusting of big government’s ability to help people, hallmarks of conservatism. But most importantly, rappers are, above all, capitalists. There just aren’t very many socialist rappers. “Share the wealth” will never become a hip-hop catchphrase like “get that dough” is. It seems that hip-hop is, in reality, permeated by conservative or maybe more precisely liberterian ideals.

So yes, Michael Steele has not handled it quite gracefully. His comments mostly drew ridicule and sharp criticism. Comedian Stephen Colbert mockingly challenged Steele to a rap battle. Democratic strategist Brad Woodhouse said that  “with gaffes and an attitude like this [Steele will] just lead the [GOP] into another drubbing at the polls

In truth, calling the stimulus package “bling bling” is an oversimplification if not a bit sophomoric. But it does, to an extent, get the right idea across to a certain few people.

And it’s this kind of language, if done correctly and by the right person, that could end up attracting just the right demographics to win an election.

“A big corporation”

2 March 2009

Finally, we near the publication and distribution of the first issue of the semester, The Terrapin Times VI.III.

Amongst other wonders, the forthcoming edition includes my “Dred Not: Redeeming Roger B. Taney,” the first installment in our new regular feature, The Maryland Room; a review of Janet Holl Madigan’s Truth, Politics, and Universal Human Rights; opinion pieces on the stimulus; and a piece on the current financial crisis, the Federal stimulus package, the Maryland state budget, and the University. From that piece, an absolutely terrifying thought from State Delegate Susan Aumann, R-42:

Aumann describes the University as “a big corporation” that will need to improve efficiency to keep costs down and that it “takes a situation like this for us to concentrate on the best practices.”

What incredibly — and, I’m sure, unwitting — honesty from a politician! The University is not a place of higher learning, where, when necessary, we make sacrifices to ensure that students exit College Park possessed of a well-rounded liberal education. It’s “a big corporation,” training the mindless for mind-numbing “careers.” I’m sorry, Cardinal Newman.

The Diamondback‘s Luridness Continues

12 February 2009

Yesterday, gay sex columnist Dan Savage presented a lecture in the Grand Ballroom at the Stamp Student Union here on campus. This is part of the Sex Education Week, or whatever we’re calling it here at UMD, leading up to Saint Valentine’s Day; stop by the food court and grab yourself a gift pack, complete with tuxedo condom to share with your special someone. (Your tax dollars at work, Marylanders!) We had intended to cover the event for the Times, but, forgivably, the staffers who had planned to attend, on account of time commitments and a sense of decency, could not make it.

Fortunately, our friends at the Diamondback made sure to highlight Mr. Savage’s tal on the front page. Doubtless, this event does deserve front-page coverage, and we likely should have done the same — though in a critical tone. No stranger to lasciviousness (Hell, I think this word is synonymous with “journalistic integrity” at that paper.), the Diamondback felt it appropriate to start the front-page article as follows. (Warning, mildly offensive language.)

Ever wondered what a cock ring does, how common armpit fetishes are or what to do if you are “afraid of dick?”

Really? These words are appropriate for the front page — or any page — of a daily newspaper, whether national broadsheet or campus publication? I respectfully dissent. Perhaps I’m just a prude.

This is not, of course, the Diamondback‘s first flirtation with puerile, ribald “provocativeness”.

The Female Orgasm and the Embarrassment that is the Diamondback

28 November 2008

On Monday, 25 November, our campus’s venerable Terps for Choice, adding to its support of mythology, most prominently displayed by their support for the claim that woman has the right to kill her own offspring, hosted its second-annual “Female Orgasm”, promulgating the risible notion that the female orgasm, well, even exists. (I jest! Ha!)

According to the article, “Students lined up two-and-a-half hours early to hear sex educators Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot teach men and women alike how to reach the perfect O . . . .” When was the last time students on the campus of this abysmal excuse for an institution of “higher education” waited patiently for one hundred and fifty minutes to listen to a speaker adjure them assiduously to study the works of Aristotle, Avicenna, or Bacon? Filled an auditorium to listen attentively to a lecture about More’s Utopia? Even knew who Alasdair MacIntyre is?

One, I suppose, cannot blame the student body alone — not when Where My Girls At?: A Comedic Look at Black Lesbians and a Provost’s Conversation called “Re-presenting Disability: Million Dollar Baby, Tropic Thunder and Anti-National Sexual Positions” the University’s idea of intellectual discourse —

This talk examines a few of the films that have sustained intense criticism from disability activists and theorists over the past few years. Reading these films within a queer theoretical perspective and through the cultural logic of neoliberalism, McRuer affirms and extends the immeasurable value of an increasingly global — and at times daringly anti-national — disability movement.

— comprise what passes for intellectual conversation here.

Perhaps most troubling, in this specific instance, though, is not the all too expected, systemic problem of the modern University gone astray, but, rather, the Diamondback’scoverage of the event (Be sure to read the comments posted in reply to the article; they only further support my claims about the general ignorance of students on this campus and that far too many young adults study at Universities, when they ought to be learning otherwise, thereby debasing the value of a Bachelor’s degree and denigrating the education, compromised to suit those less mentally capable, that worthier students receive. See Jeremy Beer’s review — PDF; sorry The American Conservative subscribers, only! — of Charles Murray’s Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing American Schools Back to Reality)

One line in particular stands out as the apotheosis of the death of modern journalistic respectability — to wit, the sign that the Diamondback has lost, or at least should lose, all credibility:

The male attendees seemed more intrigued. Sophomore aerospace engineering and finance major Justin Searles, who said he was one of the first in line for the event and had looked forward to event for three months, said the lecture was “awesome.”

I learned that I can make a girl ejaculate if she feels like she has to pee,” he said.

Yep, that’s our esteemed campus daily. I should not be such a prude were the alternative not so gruesome.