Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Idiot Wind of Know-Nothing Anti-Intellectualism

"By bringing intelligent conservative discourse to our campuses, we will increase our capacity to combat the idiot wind of know-nothing anti-intellectualism that is all too prevalent in our political culture. I am hopeful that Justice Scalia's lecture and discussion will contribute to this capacity."
                                        (Wesleyan U. President Michael Roth; Huffington Post, March 1)

   Two events concerning the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of rights will occur on the Wesleyan campus today. The first event, two performances of Neely Bruce's "Ten Amendments in Eight Motets" (see Middletown Insider, March 7) in the afternoon, will be followed in the evening by presentation of the Hugo Black lecture by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia's lecture is titled "The Originalist Approach to the First Amendment". All events will take place at Wesleyan Memorial Chapel on High Street.

By  his "idiot wind" comment President Roth surely was not referring to the storm of protest being prepared by students, off campus agitators, and others to "welcome" Justice Scalia to Wesleyan. However, the winds of anti-intellectualism have been blowing fiercely in the pages of the student run Argus newspaper.
But Scalia’s arrival, and the moral imperative to confront him and “Occupy” his time at Wesleyan, can only go so far in the struggle to dismantle the oppressive institutions which have created a world of massive institutional violence, wealth disparity, environmental degradation and systematic erasure.  The next step is to turn our dissent inward, confronting the underlying institutionalized values which have allowed for this despicable event to occur in the first place.  We need to go beyond “Occupying” our campus.  The time has come to Decolonize Wesleyan.

Let us never stop simply at “Occupying Scalia,” because Scalia, though a powerful individual, is really just a puppet in a larger system of domination embedded into the framework of the United States, which has seeped into the administrative attitude of Wesleyan.  We must confront his violence, certainly.  But we cannot stop there.  More conversations about envisioning a decolonized Wesleyan must occur, and we need to begin to understand how the ideologies spouted by bigots like Scalia are in full force, in less obvious ways, here at Wesleyan.                       

Mindless blather and slogans to be sure but, at the same time, dangerous. The hatred and contempt directed at our Founders and our founding documents is palpable.

Sample below of Neely Bruce's "First Amendment" score. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Why tonight's lecture may be quite interesting:
(Scalia's) writing style (and hopefully his speaking style) is best described as equal parts anger, confidence, and pageantry. Scalia has a taste for garish analogies and offbeat allusions—often very funny ones—and he speaks in no uncertain terms. He is highly accessible and tries not to get bogged down in abstruse legal jargon. But most of all, Scalia's opinions read like they're about to catch fire for pure outrage. He does not, in short, write like a happy man. (Wikipedia)

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