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    Now you’re just another boy / That I met long ago

    Joanne Jacobs gives us this wonderful little bon-bon:

    Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, is funding liberal newspapers on already liberal college campuses. “Isn’t that a bit like pumping sand into the Mojave Desert?” the Washington Post asks.

    “We’re not winning the battle of ideas on campus,” says David Halperin, who is running the project for the Center for American Progress. Conservatives “have this insurgency mentality, even though they run the world.”

    “We’re being outhustled,” says Halperin’s colleague Ben Hubbard. “We want to cultivate the media stars, much like the right has done with Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza.”

    Toward that end, the center will give $750,000 to nine liberal campus publications at such places as Princeton, Dartmouth and the University of Wisconsin, and help launch four at the universities of Michigan, Chicago, Kentucky and Ohio State. This is dwarfed by the more than $30 million a year that they estimate conservative campus organizations receive from such groups as the Young America’s Foundation and Leadership Institute.

    The web site, CampusProgress.org, has a cartoon showing a blonde female cheerleader, dressed in blue, kicking off the head of a red devil-monster, revealing the cowering male within.

    I don’t know about his colleague, but Halperin himself had a brush with media stardom of his own. In fact, I doubt that I’m the only person for whom he’s been positively immortalized. Halperin, you see, was one of the subjects of Camille Paglia’s climactic essay “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders,” which fourteen years ago helped push her through to fame from buzz. Most people didn’t see its original Arion printing but rather its climactic inclusion in her second book, Sex, Art, and American Culture . Here’s a paragraph from near the beginning of the (very long) essay:

    One Hundred Years of Homosexuality is a short collection of essays that seems to have only one coherent aim: the nomination and promotion of David Halperin as a major theorist of sex. But Halperin, like most of the American academics who have wandered into sex studies, lacks the most elementary understanding of the basic disciplines of history, anthropology, and psychology necessary for such work. The exposition of these essays is tortured, bloated, meandering, pretentious, confused. Halperin’s first book, Before Pastoral: Theocritus and the Ancient History of Bucolic Poetry (1983), is quite different. Whether its precision and clarity of argument–not to mention skill in simple paragraphing–are due to the editors of Yale University Press or to a helpful dissertation director, it is evident that in One Hundred Years we are getting Halperin lui-même.

    That’s one of the more mild passages. It gets much sharper and funnier and basically doesn’t let up until the end. At least the author of the other book under review was spared by death from seeing his idiocies ruthlessly enumerated and refuted. The whole essay is recommended most highly to anyone of generally kind-hearted disposition who nevertheless has an eensy mean streak that does not suffer fools gladly. It was a source of tremendous comfort to me when I was coming out, indicating as it did that the spoiled, upwardly-mobile LGBA types at college and the lugubriously noble AIDS sufferers of pop culture were not the only possible model for homosexual life.

    This recent quotation from Halperin (in the article Joanne cites) is interesting because he appears not to understand its implications in the most meaningful sense. I mean, the “insurgency mentality” part. Conservatism includes a lot of people, and obviously there’s a lot I find to disagree with when examining the ideas of some of them; but I do think that as a generalization, it’s fair to say that conservatives have “hustle” because they see their ideas working and are thus energized and want to find new ways to implement them.

    The left insists on retaining the why-aren’t-they-flocking-to-us-when-we-know-what’s-good-for-them? attitude that people REALLY DISLIKE in a free society. Tossing coins at a bunch of liberal campus newspapers seems to me unlikely to do much about that because it doesn’t involve reexamining their own motivations and hold on reality.

    4 Responses to “Now you’re just another boy / That I met long ago”

    1. Steve H. says:

      You are not alone. That Paglia essay blew my mind when I stumbled across it in graduate school. I don’t want to hear her say “my Sixties generation” ever again, but I still treasure that essay, and revisit it (and the MIT lecture) now and then for a dose of brilliant invective. As I remember telling someone at the time: it’s as if she takes a huge, deep breath at the beginning and then gets twenty years off her chest in one long, sustained blast.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      “I don’t want to hear her say ‘my Sixties generation’ ever again.”
      LOL. Man, is that a pet peeve of mine, or what! At least Paglia put her money where her mouth was, lost her tenure-track job, and spent the next two decades doing penance. I love (in the approximate sense of “detest”) the way Baby Boomers, now that their follies are so apparent that they no longer feel dashing when saying, “We were more radical and rebellious than any generation in history,” have kept up the attention-hogging by switching to, “Yes, we screwed up our marriages and kids–and we screwed them up more radically than any generation in history!” Shut it, already.

    3. triticale says:

      Altho I never managed to boom any babies, I did a lot of other stupid stuff, some of which I thought was radical at the time, between ’68 and ’72. I don’t tend to go into detail about any of it, as I figured out long since that most of it was trivial. I’ve been monogamous since I met my wee wifey thirty some years ago, and altho we made mistakes in raising him (what parents don’t) our son is not notably screwed up. So there!

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Steady there, carbohydrate-rich buddy. My parents have been married since before I was born, too. No midlife crises or getting in touch with their feelings or owning their anger. They didn’t screw me up, either. But they also aren’t the ones who get on the mike and talk about their generation as if it’d invented sex and rebellion. If you don’t, either, you can consider yourself excluded from this particular rant.