In last Saturday’s New York Times,
op-ed contributor Dr. Rhonda Garelick, an Associate Professor of French and
Italian at Connecticut College, openly laments that today’s female college
students just aren’t as interested in being politically indoctrinated by
the radical left as those of generations past.
She uses a discussion of the film Mona Lisa Smile as a basis on which
to expound upon current conditions in the classroom. Dr. Garelick finds
feminist consciousness to be all too rare in today’s female undergraduates.
This article is very valuable as it showcases the way in which our universities
remain under the ironclad (or whine-clad as it were) grip of cultural Marxists.
Her bias, as you’ll see, is undeniable, and the fact that it is being published
in the New York Times suggests what we already know–that many in the
media wholeheartedly approve of universities imparting dogma rather than
Take a glance at her description of the film and note the bias evident in an early paragraph:
protagonist, a progressive art historian named Katherine Watson (played by
Ms. Roberts), struggles to inspire critical thinking in young women who see
their elite education as a passport to upper-class wifedom, not to intellectual
independence. The film also reminds us of the period's political witch hunts,
and of how much sexism ultimately had in common with McCarthyism. Both relied
upon splitting the world into absolute categories: chaste vs. fallen woman,
good citizen vs. suspected Communist.
observations are far from accurate. Note the way in which wifedom is
juxtaposed with intellectual independence. Such a relationship is counter-intuitive,
and she fittingly offers her readers no proof. Unlike financial independence,
one’s mental freedom is not mutually exclusive with marriage. A mind,
regardless of circumstance, can always be free. The professor should
consult the works of Primo Levi or Viktor Frankl if she has any questions
on this matter.
Then a bogus connection is made between sexism and McCarthyism. Again
no evidence is sited which is doleful. Apparently, comparing McCarthy
with any crime or wrong is such standard fare in academe that Garelick feels
no need to justify her accusation. The McCarthy era is nearly as common
in the speech of contemporary leftists as the words “multicultural” or “androgynous.”
They trot McCarthy out every time they’re challenged about anything.
They use it to imply all sorts of horrors that in fact never occurred.
McCarthy was an unsavory character who certainly drank too much and was in
love with publicity, but attempts to discover Communist agents within our
government were laudable. The efforts of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations sadly came too
late. Most of the secrets were already pilfered by the time the investigations
When the left refers to McCarthyism they actually refer to a subgroup of
senators probing federal workers to determine if they were members of the
communist party. It certainly wasn’t a witch hunt. The release
of the Venona Documents in 1995 showed that they were far more right than
they even guessed. Communist Party USA was absolutely a tool of Soviet
During the thirties and forties, American officials were incredibly ignorant
about the threat posed to us by the Russians. When Walter Krivitsky
defected, our government at first didn’t believe that he was the head of
European Soviet intelligence because they did not think such a post even
The voices of the left boom with phrases like “naming names” and “getting
blacklisted” but they completely ignore individual words like “gulag” and
“Kolyma.” With the theft of our nuclear secrets, we, and the entire
world, had every reason to fear Stalin and the American citizens he used
as marionettes. When all was said and done, some people got fired during
the era. Many dismissals were well-deserved, and, although judicial
activists might deny it, there is as yet no constitutional right to be employed
by the federal government.
My last point here concerns sexism. I don’t know the link between sexism
and McCarthyism but I absolutely know the link between sexism and radical
feminism. In the fantasies of relativistic gender feminists, there
is no evil in the world–there are only men. We are to blame for everything.
If they are childless it is because of us. If they are unemployed it’s
because of us. If they feel unsure of themselves it is because of us.
Radical feminism is the most thoroughly sexist political movement in our
Then in reference to the ending of Mona Lisa Smile she notes:
do female students today continue to ride their bicycles steadily forward,
considering themselves inheritors of the hard-won freedoms of the 1960's
and 70's? As a professor of humanities at a select coeducational liberal
arts college, I think not. One might imagine that women benefiting from such
an education would develop a particularly astute political radar.
I beg to differ. The fact that students now pay little attention to
the likes of Professor Garelick tells me that they have developed excellent
political radar. Radical feminism is a religion built on a platform
of privilege, rage, complaint, and the convenient projection of all one’s
personal problems onto the frames of penised “others.” Who needs it?
No one. These students would do best to merely lead their lives and
ignore shrews who coerce them into preposterous theoretical categories.
It is a common misperception that political correctness is going the way
French Catholicism, but our professor documents that it is still powerful
and replicating like the Ebola Virus.
all, a liberal arts education aims to nurture just this brand of alertness,
providing four years to read between the lines, question surface meanings,
and approach the world with engaged curiosity. The skills produced by such
an education should promote and sustain thoughtful critique of gender roles
as well as equip students to engage in a participatory democracy.
is a description of a liberal arts education I was quite lucky to avoid.
Mine nurtured knowledge. Only after one acquires knowledge should one
“read between the lines.” Cynicising over everything, when you know
nothing, is pointless. I would also suspect that questioning facts
before they’re learned effectively kills curiosity.
We should be thankful that she is so bold in her admissions because the above
passage is a perfect summation of all that is wrong with education today.
Our youth will never appreciate civilization if they deconstruct before they
Furthermore, think of the inanity of a person believing that critiquing gender
roles is an inherent part of higher education. Denying reality and
screaming at biological imperatives will certainly get you a doctorate in
Women’s Studies but will accomplish little else. Writing polemics about
gender should be no more a part of a university education than the study
of this week’s Super Bowl over/under score.
Then we receive some good news:
awareness and political questioning are just as hard for me to inspire as
they are for Miss Watson in the movie. While my own college days in the 1980's
overflowed with heated debates about women's rights and cultural politics
in general, such fervor now seems absent from campus life.
question surface meanings and read between the lines of what she wrote.
What she’s really implying is that, “In my own college days there were no
debates. We ran the campus and people were afraid of us. Now,
everyone knows radical feminism is one big cesspool and that fills me with
sadness.” I hope it stays that way.
Is feminism obsolete? We can only pray, but here’s her analysis:
virtually all of my female students expect to pursue careers, this is where
their enlightenment seems to end. For them, the reassuring power of a college
degree to unlock professional doors seems to have rendered "feminism" obsolete.
In other words, the fires of feminism may have burned down to the ashes of
can be said of such sentences? I guess “no” is the best way to begin.
No, the fires of feminism have not burned down. They still actively
plague us today. They caused a “war between the sexes” and have, perhaps
irreparably, damaged relations between men and women. Radical feminism
has created a cult of homosexuality and demoted heterosexuality to being
just another lifestyle choice. Feminism has lowered birth rates and
produced misery for those who bought into its infantile dreams.
Next, Dr. Garelick gives us a glimpse into a classroom I have never seen:
is still common for even the very brightest female students to hold their
hands over their mouths when they speak, or to cut off their own remarks,
mumbling, ‘Forget it, it was stupid.’
nine college classes that I’ve taught the students were predominantly female
and I never heard one of them say something like that. If I gave them
the option of talking all the time discussion would be all that ever occurred.
Besides, isn’t she forgetting the alternative hypothesis? Some of what
these students have to say may well be stupid. That being said, their
self-censorship benefit’s the class.
To Dr. Garelick’s bewilderment, students are not always on her wavelength:
I call them on this, asking them to consider the political ramifications
of such undermining behavior, they are surprised — surprised, that is, to
be asked to read their own sexual politics.
now we know why a few cover up their mouths–because the questions that are
asked of them are stupid. No wonder students don’t engage her in political
discussions. It’s because her opinions are sophomoric. I’d do
the same thing if I were stuck in her class (after pointing my finger and
laughing at her first, but then again, I already graduated from college).
Next she delivers to us the smoking gun:
some reawakening of student activism via Howard Dean's Internet-based campaign,
in my experience, attempts to introduce contemporary politics into classroom
discussions meet with blank stares. Even this past year, as our country began
a war, I encountered mostly silence when I broached the topic of Iraq, a
mix of paralysis and anxiety, plus some disgruntlement over my deviating
from the syllabus.
each year, frankly, I feel increasingly compelled to look beyond my syllabuses
and to devote myself more to teaching "wakeful" political literacy: the skills
needed to interrogate all cultural messages.
over deviating from the syllabus? She’s a French professor. What
the hell is she doing talking about Iraq! The students disgruntled?
Wait until she consults with their parents as the average yearly tuition
at Connecticut College is $37,900 (I’m not kidding, check their webpage).
To me, Dr. Garelick is a perfect example of feminist empathy, and by that
I mean she doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. She’d rather feed
her poor students post-modernist diarrhea than what the university hired
her to teach. What happens when the students never learn French?
Not everybody is lucky enough to obtain a cushy university job and some of
these students may actually have to one day speak another language in order
to get a job.
Most probably, this anti-scholar gets more and more bored with the areas
in which she has been entrusted to ovular so she decides to spoon feed undergraduates
tripe that they could get for several thousand dollars less by simply buying
a copy of The Nation or The Progressive. But what more would one expect
from someone who writes academic papers on Richard Simmons and his outrageous
As a conclusion she spews one last slander,
though, if students resist such reading and suffer from amnesia in politics
— sexual and otherwise — it's because they drink from the same pool of Lethe
we all do. A film like "Mona Lisa" merits more than our own complacent smiles.
The troubling 1950's [read “stable” here] may not be quite the quaint relic
we think they are.
for one, just wish that the basket cases from the 1960’s become quaint relics
and stop poisoning our culture and institutions. I eagerly await the
time in which they retire from public life and scratch by on the millions
they have extorted from our taxes. The lysergic personalities of the
radical professorate have done more harm to this nation than Mad Cow Disease
Although Roger Kimball, in an interview not yet published, predicted to me that they’ll be around for a good bit longer:
tenured radicals, by virtue of the institution of tenure, have one important
characteristic in common with the lowly virus: they are self-replicating.
It’s been my observation that students have moved decidedly to the middle
over the last couple of decades. I have seen no comparable movement among
faculty. The reason? They staff the appointment and promotion committees,
and those they appoint and promote are as near as possible to being clones
of themselves. It will be another generation, at least, before the radicalism
of the 1960s works its way through the university and other institutions
of high culture.
we should at least be cautiously optimistic that the likes of Dr. Garelick
understand that the speech code glory days are over. This pyrrhic victory
alone is worth a worldwide Mona Lisa smile.
Email Bernard Chapin
Bernard Chapin works as a school psychologist full-time, a college instructor part-time and writes whenever possible.
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