Wednesday, December 03, 2003


An Opening Salvo

After careful consideration, I decided to take the name "Winston's Diary" for this blog in part to reclaim Orwell from the legions of leftists who seem to think that Orwell would somehow approve of their own totalitarian leanings because they are fighting the good fight against the supposed fascism of Bush and the Republican party. Yeah, Orwell was a socialist. But Orwell was as horrified by Stalin as he was by Hitler, and his understanding of the dangers of Marxism were spot-on. While Orwell might have misgivings about the right, he sure as hell wouldn't be out blocking the streets with the denizens of A.N.S.W.E.R. and the rest of mindless ideologues whose religious devotion to a failed ideology and desire to control the words and thoughts of the "unenlightened" is certainly closer to the aims of Oceania than the Patriot Act.

As an academic--a job seeking graduate student who will remain anonymous until tenured, rejected, or so sick of academia that I leave it--I feel an affinity with Winston Smith. I'm not a radical conservative, but I'm not a member of the academic left, and my status as an outsider is made clear to me on a daily basis. I have, on occasion, dared to speak my mind against the use of the classroom to indoctrinate students, and I have watched the faces of colleagues lose all expression as they turned away from me, writing off anything I might have to say as the ravings of a conservative--and thus closed--mind. I have not yet been punished for speaking my mind--I think the powers that be know that I would fight back, viciously--but I have been ostracized. Thankfully, hiring committees don't ask for recommendations from one's fellow graduate students, and my left-leaning dissertation director has agreed to disagree with me, a rare display of tolerance at the postmodern university. Around the rest of my committee, I just keep my mouth shut.

At least once a week, I overhear colleagues describe their plans to turn literature courses into teach-ins against the war in Iraq, and I watch composition classes turned into symposia on the holy triumvirate of race, class, and gender, with any attempt at teaching composition and critical thinking skills abandoned in the desperate fight against "facism." I have even been presented with ridiculous attempts to use Beowulf to teach students about the horrors of the war in Iraq. I won't even begin to catalogue what I've heard from the sociologists. I often think that if average Americans knew what was actually being taught in this nation's universities--and if they knew what was not being taught--universities would have a real budget crisis. Hell, I'm appalled at what my taxes pay for.

There is a definite lack of intellectual diversity in academia. I am frightened by the hegemony (to steal their own word) of the left in academia, and by their attempts to silence the voices of dissent, unwilling to entertain the possibility of real debate. I am angered by the lack of professional ethics displayed by professors, instructors, and graduate students who use their classrooms to "enlighten" their students to the truth of their so-called progressive message. There are many O'Briens in academia. They may not pull people's teeth from their jaws, but their methods of persuasion are insidious nonetheless, and they are not above punishing their students for holding the wrong beliefs.

I intend to speak out against the O'Briens as forcefully and as often as I can, both those employed in academia and elsewhere. And if those of my own political stripe seem to be speaking for the Ministry of Truth, they will not be exempt from critique. But because the academic O'Briens can put me on the street, I'll be doing it here, hopefully out of the range of the viewscreen. Big Brother is watching, but he isn't John Ashcroft.

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