The advanced human brain is just about the only means that we have to secure our collective well-being. Humans are neither the strongest nor the fastest species, but we are the smartest. Therefore, it makes sense to educate ourselves. Without education, we would probably still have a life span of nine years and would spend our evenings sacrificing each other to the sun god. That’s why education is good. It does, however, have its bad points. For one, a college education costs about as much as a three story Victorian home. What is worse, higher education today usually requires students to sacrifice their brains— not all of their brains, just the part that allows them to use logic. So, today’s college grads have to pay back loans every month until retirement and they also have to forfeit the most important part of their brains— that’s a pretty high price for a college degree.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe college isn’t to blame for the political silliness of so many students. Stupid political decisions— like voting for Ralph Nader— could be attributed to outside factors, such as immaturity or malnutrition. Or it could be that the liberalized boys and girls who are being turned out of the Marxist assembly line known as academia have been liberal their whole lives. Maybe their parents named them “Moonbeam” in 1975 and are still anti-establishment hippies who suck down marijuana cigarettes with their kids every weekend. I have had friends who come from similar circumstances. Another reason that kids come out of college dazed and confused could be alcohol and hallucinogens. Nothing kills a strong study habit like a hit from a three foot glass bong. Nothing, of course, except a fat, old professor who convinces you to chain yourself to the front gate of a power plant.
Are colleges and universities turning young people into spineless leftists who are afraid to use logic? Perhaps even as you read this you are thinking of a friend or family member who used to make sense and receive commonly appreciated ideas with a rational thought process, but now, upon liberating himself in academia, has accepted the notion that possessing a strong opinion is bad, and standing up for what you believe is not right, if it’s possible that somebody might take offense. Do you know somebody like this? Does it frustrate you? Do you try to drag them back with conventional wisdom only to watch them recoil like disease recoils from cure? Do they respond to your logical statements by accusing you of being too rigid and aggressive? Is there still hope?
I know somebody who fits this description to a tee— my brother— I‘ll call him Jack. My little brother, I love him. He can whip a six-string guitar like Bruce Coburn, write phat lyrics like Busta Rhymes, and furnish his entire wardrobe by shopping at the Salvation Army. At twenty-four, he’s visited monasteries in France and temples in India, just for the hell of it; just to see what they’re like. He’s driven all over America; he’s hiked all around California and Oregon— all without ever asking for any doe from mom and dad, without even asking for a ride to the airport. My father has never gotten a phone call like “We’re broken down in Wyoming. Can you come and change a flat?” My brother is a very accomplished guy. He earned a bachelors degree in philosophy from a prestigious college, and he now works as a teacher for autistic children. He’s basically been on his own since he went off to college, where, of course, he completely lost his mind.
Before he departed for college, he was a typical conservative Christian who enjoyed going on youth group trips and playing his guitar. He also liked to listen to music such as the Grateful Dead and The Beatles. He enjoyed hanging out with his friends, reading books and doing normal things. But then he went to college and came under the influence of a radical professor who is a former student of the intellectual fraud and unrepentant leftist, Cornel West. This professor became Jack's mentor, inviting him to her house for dinner and even arranging for him to join her in a protest of the World Trade Organization that took place in Boston’s financial district. As time went on, and Jack got closer to graduation, I noticed that the little comments he would make were more and more left-wing. Now, my youth-group loving little brother has been transformed into a young man who gets his jollies by studying the likes of Noam Chomsky and Richard Rorty.
Recently I caught up with him and convinced him to do an interview for this magazine. When I told Jack that I wanted to write a column about his liberal convictions for this cutting edge conservative publication, he immediately cried foul, citing his belief that he is not a liberal at all— he simply doesn’t know what he thinks. When he informed me of this, I was disappointed. I had already agreed to write the article, but now my interview with Jack was not getting off on the right foot. I was quickly reassured that the article would be written, however, when Jack realized that the floor was his and I would not be challenging any of his ideas. That, of course, would be an insensitive thing for me to do.
He began his statements by informing me that “I think Mitt Romney [the MA Republican Governor-elect] and George Bush are both clowns.” Now, he doesn’t exactly know why; they just “seem” like clowns. My thought: “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.” His thought: “Well, if either of those two guys are on the cover of a book then I ain’t buying that book.” Touché.
Still unconfident in his political knowledge, he told me that if I really want to interview a liberal then there are plenty of guys in his commune who fit the bill. (I suppose it isn’t really a commune, but he has about a million roommates and none of them own beds). He also told me that he often listens to the socialist radio station, National Public Radio (NPR), but he doesn’t think of it as left-wing, he just considers it normal. Moreover, he thinks that conservative programs are just out there bashing anyone who doesn’t agree with their way of thinking. He’s heard the Boston area conservative radio host Jay Severin do this, and he has never listened to Rush Limbaugh, but he has “heard of him.” According to Jack, everyone in the world should just meet in the middle and avoid extremes— the middle apparently being the political line of NPR.
Jack says that he is all for finding alternative forms of energy, and that drilling for oil in the pristine Alaska wilderness “doesn’t make sense” to him. This desire to find alternative forms of energy is popular among those on the left. But, like most rank and file leftists, Jack doesn’t have any suggestions as to what “alternative forms of energy” might mean. Perhaps we should all rely on our own fat. The U.S. is, after all, the fattest nation on earth. The average American is twenty pounds overweight. That is caloric energy stored as blubber. I’m sure that we could figure out a way to harness this energy and avoid disturbing the sacred Alaskan caribou. Maybe if liberals took science classes instead of studying about “oppression,” and “women” they would have figured this one out already.
Unlike most lefties, my brother takes a firm stand against abortion. This is a brave position to take considering that just about anyone in the country can be pro-abortion without ever having to worry about defending that position. Teddy Kennedy, the chubby, alcoholic Senator from Massachusetts, for example, counts himself as pro-abortion as well as Catholic. How does this work? Who knows? Even though it is logically impossible for someone to be both a Catholic and pro-abortion, Kennedy gets away with it because he’s not expected to be logical— he is, after all, a liberal Democrat.
During our conversation, Jack briefly mentioned that he does not think that nuclear weapons are good. That’s his stand on the nuclear weapons issue.
Jack then began complaining, and rightfully so, that the state program that he works for is holding out part of his check for some kind of retirement fund. He is only twenty-four and is clearly not going to be working in the same job until retirement. He thinks that this withholding is “stupid” and “unfair.” Conversely, he thinks that there should be more state funding for social services. He obviously hasn’t figured out that part of that money will be coming from his paycheck. Maybe someday he’ll make this connection.
One of the social services that he firmly believes the federal government should provide for American citizens is health insurance. I’m not quite sure, but I think that this belief might be derivative of his own lack of health insurance— just a hunch.
How about this for an irrational, baseless fear? Jack mentioned in passing that he has a terrible fear of “large corporations.” I have heard of this fear before. Some experts actually consider it to be a clinical problem— like claustrophobia, or arachnophobia. It is typically referred to as “corporatephobia.” Many a college student has been known to come down with this illness. Currently, Jack is only in the beginning stages of the disease, suffering from such symptoms as a strong desire to read anything by Noam Chomsky and an unexplainable pull toward masculine women who badmouth capitalism. In its later stages, this illness usually culminates in a trip to Seattle, where the afflicted person breaks storefront windows and flips the bird to anyone wearing a suit.
Throughout the interview, Jack was dead set against me attaching a political moniker to him. I think perhaps many folks who are politically astute would call him a “liberal” or a “leftist.” But Jack reflexively pulls away from such titles. Like many brainwashed college grads, he displays ignorance and weakness as a sign of intelligence and sophistication. The rationale is, “Hey, I’m so confident and secure in my intelligence and inner strength, I don’t have to make sense or know the answers, or have the testicular muscle to take a stand. But just don’t ever call me a conservative.” Of course, most campus leftists wear their political label as a badge of honor. But some, like my brother, are too afraid, for whatever reason, to admit that they are further left than Karl Marx.