VDH II

VDH: “hypocrisy is not the most dangerous paradox of the university. Its entire financial structure is far more hypocritical. And the fix goes something like this: 18-year-olds enter college after being sold a bill of goods that an undergraduate degree is so invaluable that it will more than justify tens of thousands of dollars in aggregate long-term debt. Often “aid packages” brim with showy fellowships, grants, and tuition waivers to disguise the reality that the discounted, rock-bottom, bargain-based, final total cost of a year at college is still exorbitant. Students are reminded that at least a B.A. or B.S. degree will provide status that will aid upward economic and social mobility. Sometimes that is true, but when it is not, the results wreck lives.

Woke majors centering on social justice are lauded and promoted on campus as the spear of resistance culture. Yet years later, such campus veterans don’t impress employers. The now indentured serf graduate is left to fend for himself, far away the previous reverie and energy of progressive protests and inculcation. In other words, the next time you see a chanting crowd of woke students shouting down a speaker with a faculty member cheering them on, imagine such protestors five years from now, solitary without good jobs, but with lots of their own private debt and plenty of bitterness and angst.

Who then pays for the tenured full professor who indoctrinates students for 32 weeks of the year? Who pays for the assistant provost for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” who teaches no classes but monitors those who do? Who helps to subsidize a costly campus that is increasingly disconnected from learning? Is it not the part-time lecturer driving between campus gigs without job security, retirement or good, if any, benefits? Is it not the student carrying $100,000 in 6 percent loans, majoring in environmental studies?”

This is not a new thing for VDH. Here’s a book written 20 years ago calling out the same things. Our “proof” that things have been bad for this long: 2 of the D candidates and at least 1 of their followers at MSDNC are Rhodes Scholars. (Hey, why is the word Rhodes still allowed to be said?) Finally, we include a review of the book from someone who bought it FYI:

“In WHO KILLED HOMER, Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath address the pressing issue of the rapid demise and death of classical Greek learning in the west. At the time of its publishing (2001), the dire straits that Greek thought and culture found itself in have not improved a whit. If anything, the trend is toward a total obliteration of the very foundation of western civilization. Hanson and Heath have plenty of blame to lay and fingers to point, but the bulk of their ire is surprisingly enough directed at their colleagues, all of whom were charged with keeping the immortal spark of classical learning alive. They are especially angry when their colleagues insist that there is nothing wrong at all with their profession. Such misguided academics most often point to the geometric increase in scholarly articles published and conferences attended. And that, Hanson and Heath insist, is precisely the point.

The scholarly articles are written in the most opaque jargon-ridden prose imaginable with no one reading them. The conferences are attended mostly by senior tenured professors of Greek and Latin who hand over their few teaching duties to underpaid and overworked teaching assistants who can only dream of the day when they too will be able to enter the sheltered life of a tenured academic when they know only too well that with the shrinking pool of college students who choose classics as a major that that scenario is very likely not to occur. And it is not simply laziness or cupidity that has caused today’s teachers of classics to abandon the very barricades that were their responsibilities to maintain. Much of the problem they see as a changing mindset in the very viability and desirability of thinking like the ancient Greeks. Hanson and Heath charge modern modes of thought like post-modernism, cynicism, nihilism, and skepticism as the collective root cause in subverting a two thousand year tradition in the belief of Eternal Truths like beauty, justice, and patriotism into a witches’ brew of deconstructive thought that insists that there is no solid linguistic, cultural, or historical groundfloor under our feet.

All that we used to call Traditional Values are now to be seen as slipping and sliding in ways that suggest that there was nothing special or enduring about the ancient Greeks at all. They note that it is trendy for cultural relativists to insist that all cultures in all ages are equally viable and worthy of emulation. If so, then why study classics in the first place. The answer, Heath and Hanson insist, is that the relativists are wrong. When Homer was writing his ILLIAD, there was nothing like Greek ideals of polis or thought available anywhere else in the world. This, of course, does not sit well with those who decry the United States as the primary source of all the world’s evil. Those who claim that are also the same ones who deny Greece as the initial and irreplaceable source of current western concepts like egalitarianism, property rights, and religious tolerance.

As bad as things are, Hanson and Heath do not think them hopeless. In their concluding chapter, “What We Could Do,” they list alternatives to the dissolution of their profession. Among them:
1) Re-introduce the classics into high school and college curriculums
2) Have senior tenured classics professors attend fewer conferences and teach more undergraduate classes
3) Reduce the time to complete a Phd in classics to five years or less
4) Scrap the traditional doctoral dissertation in favor of several broad papers of Greek culture
5) Give tenure only to those who teach a lot rather than publish a lot
6) Re-acquire the belief that the Greeks were a special people who have a great deal to say that is relevant today.

On the down side, both Hanson and Heath do not believe that any of their suggestions will be implemented anytime soon. As a result, when future Greek classes will be attended only by the doddering senior professors who will preside over a legion of empty seats, then it will be evident even to these soon to be retired professors that their profession has already gone the way of the dodo.”

Indeed.

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