If Nathan Harden is not working as a symbolist poet, he really needs a haircut.
My wife Karen was wondering what kind of critical reception Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale was receiving.
Well, Gawker responded first, unleashing its most fearsome attack-pansy Hamilton Nolan to sneer and condescend all over it.
If you don’t have a book contract right this minute, you should very ashamed. Consider: Nathan Harden…, a 2009 graduate of Yale, not only got a book contract, but has already written and published his book, and that book is about how bad it is that kids are into sex things at Yale—a topic that a professional book publishing house presumably considered sufficiently interesting to pay Nathan Harden U.S. currency, to write it. ...
Yale has a Sex Week where they have panels that discuss SEX and SEX THINGS with COLLEGE STUDENTS. And… seems like a good topic for an outraged book by a young man, right? Sure, sure. But wait—there’s more:
Harden’s other examples of an institution run amok (an acting class run by a yoga fascist, a Spanish language class in which the professor shows a film with a lesbian sex scene) are revealing but not revealing enough to make one feel that an obsession with sex has turned Yale into a “great institution in decline – an institution of tremendous power and influence that is no longer aware of why it exists or for what purpose,” as Harden claims.
Not just sex discussion panels, but yoga and even very mildly racy films? Thank God someone has published this, in a book. The above paragraph is from a NYT book review, btw. Was your book reviewed in the NYT? No? Hmm.
The New York Times Hanna Rosin pegs Hardin as a rube and a naif, while simultaneously indicating that his book-length indignation is really just a cynical careerist pose.
The conservative movement loves an innocent. Better yet if he has attended an Ivy League college and witnessed the debauchery of the elites firsthand. For this particular position, Nathan Harden, the author of “Sex and God at Yale,” possesses impeccable credentials. He was home-schooled, was already married when he got to college and had worshiped the institution so blindly that he was bound to be disappointed. ...
Harden finds himself much in the same situation as Brad Majors at Dr. Frank N. Furter’s convention in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”; that is, a choirboy type faced with a cast of characters he had not at this point in his squeaky-clean life imagined existed. He sits in on a lecture called “Babeland’s Lip Tricks,” given by a burlesque performer named Darlinda, who leads the students in chanting unprintable words, and then demonstrates with great care and enthusiasm her whole foreplay array of lip, tongue and hand techniques. The fact that Yale lends its name and its classrooms to such a display is too much for Harden to stomach. He sits in the back where a couple of pervy professors are lurking, and watches his dreams die. ...
Drinking the Ivy League poison is, of course, a great conservative tradition, a way for Young Turks to show they could be accepted into the elite even as they choose to set themselves apart.
Newsweek’s Daily Beast (a sort of anti-conservative punditocratic gay bar and home of Andrew Sullivan and David Frum) rustled up a couple of recent grad sophisters to pooh-pooh the significance of Sex Week at Yale (Harden’s central theme).
It doesn’t matter, you see, that the Yale Administration throws open its major lecture halls to sex toy demonstrations, bondage displays, and career talks by pornographers and porn stars. No undergraduates are actually in attendance. Everyone is at class.
Yale students go to class.
You wouldn’t get that impression reading the article by our classmate Nathan Harden. His is a Yale of “sex-toy pageants, porn-star lectures, sadomasochism seminars, and fellatio demonstrations.” Those things did happen, during Sex Week at Yale: a 10-day event held biennially that most students don’t really attend because they have other stuff to do. Like go to class.
And, besides, if anyone were actually there and attending these particular events, it would be an educational exercise in deconstructing their significance. Porn is a major part of every Yale student’s life, and like everything else in the universe, porn must be talked about and studied.
In 2012, however, most Yale students have watched approximately a billion hours of porn by the time they matriculate, from hentai (anime porn) to scat (poopy porn) to crying (porn where people cry). And because porn, we agree with Harden, “isn’t just fantasy, it’s a powerful force shaping our culture,” it needs to be unpacked, just like King Lear, the Illiad (sic), and Moby-Dick.
Sex (in every shape and form) is dignified and legitimated as a topic of interest and study on the basis of its political relevance to the struggle of a major victim group for liberation.
For feminists in particular, sex can’t be a private affair. And indeed, for women throughout history, sex never has been (see Anne Boleyn and her inability to give Henry VIII a son).
That’s because sex is the site of most of the struggles that women face as women: rape, sexual harassment, reproductive rights, the pressure to be impossibly skinny (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to be too aggressive or loud or ambitious (so people will have sex with you), the pressure not to have too much sex so you’re not a slut, the fact that so many women never have good sex at all (college women have orgasms half as often as men on repeat hookups). ...
Public discussions of sexual culture don’t turn people sexist. They make them less sexist. And Yale gives lots of controversial issues a public airing, and controversial people a podium. ...
This year, a group of Yale students organized a “True Love Week” to run alongside “Sex Week,” with events like “The Person as Gift,” “Chastity and Human Goods,” and a traditional date night. ...
A “Sex Week” and a “True Love Week” vying for classroom space, and students talking and writing and caring about it—that’s a perfect expression of what Yale’s mission is today.
According to the Media Research Center’s analysis:
—During the first 72 hours of the Akin controversy, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows ran a combined 40 segments totaling nearly 89 minutes of airtime compared to less than 20 minutes for Biden.
—NBC and CBS both immediately attempted to link the “firestorm” created by Akin to Romney even though his campaign openly supports rape exemptions.
—Obama’s extreme pro-abortion record – including his support for partial birth abortions – was almost entirely ignored by the networks in 2008.
—The networks have given Akin 10 times more coverage than they gave to credible allegations by Juanita Broaddrick back in 1999 that Bill Clinton actually committed rape.
The left dominates the media, the universities, Hollywood, the arts, all the engines and apparatuses of communication and creation of culture. Jonathan Chait, in New York magazine, freely admits what everybody knows, and openly gloats.
You don’t have to be an especially devoted consumer of film or television (I’m not) to detect a pervasive, if not total, liberalism. Americans for Responsible Television and Christian Leaders for Responsible Television would be flipping out over the modern family in Modern Family, not to mention the girls of Girls and the gays of Glee, except that those groups went defunct long ago. The liberal analysis of the economic crisis—that unregulated finance took wild gambles—has been widely reflected, even blatantly so, in movies like Margin Call, Too Big to Fail, and the Wall Street sequel. The conservative view that all blame lies with regulations forcing banks to lend to poor people has not, except perhaps in the amateur-hour production of Atlas Shrugged. The muscular Rambo patriotism that briefly surged in the eighties, and seemed poised to return after 9/11, has disappeared. In its place we have series like Homeland, which probes the moral complexities of a terrorist’s worldview, and action stars like Jason Bourne, whose enemies are not just foreign baddies but also paranoid Dick Cheney figures. The conservative denial of climate change, and the low opinion of environmentalism that accompanies it, stands in contrast to cautionary end-times tales like Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and the tree-hugging mysticism of Avatar. The decade has also seen a revival of political films and shows, from the Aaron Sorkin oeuvre through Veep and The Campaign, both of which cast oilmen as the heavies. Even The Muppets features an evil oil driller stereotypically named “Tex Richman.”
In short, the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. That shared reality is the cultural assumptions, in particular, of the younger voters whose support has become the bedrock of the Democratic Party. ...
[The] capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.
Ed Driscoll admires the left-wing media’s instant, almost pre-programmed and prepared-in-advance attacks on Paul Ryan, which poured out everywhere this weekend as soon as Mitt Romney announced his Vice Presidential pick.
Watching the hysterical reaction from the left [Saturday] over Romney choosing Paul Ryan as his veep makes you wonder how much was pre-written boilerplate, with the Republican candidate’s name simply dropped in at the last minute, once Romney formally made his announcement. It’s sort of the Bizarro World version of the riff brainwashed into the skulls of Frank Sinatra and the rest of Laurence Harvey’s troops by the Soviets and Communist China in The Manchurian Candidate: “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” Instead this weekend, we’re getting “INSERT NAME OF REPUBLICAN TO BE DEMONIZED HERE is the worst, vilest, sexist, homophobic, God-worshiping, Second Amendment-supporting, budget cutting, evilest human being I’ve ever known in my life.” ...
[A]t Commentary, John Podhoretz explored “Paul Ryan and Liberal Glee.” As Podhoretz wrote, “Doubtless, Ryan has provided some subject matter for Democratic attacks. But so, in different ways, would anyone else on Mitt Romney’s short list:”
More important is the quality of the glee itself. It’s an ongoing liberal political-character flaw. So insulated a are many, if not most, American liberals that they simply presume that which they despise is inherently despicable, and that what they fear is inherently fearful. As they gather in their echo chamber, all they hear are voices resounding with the monstrousness of redesigning Medicare and the parlousness of cutting the federal budget. They genuinely do not know that budget cutting is popular, even if only in theory, and that tens of millions of voters do understand the notion that the government is living far beyond its means. From what we can gather, in fact, these are exactly the sorts of ideas that speak to independent voters and have since the days of Ross Perot.
Ryan is a formidable presence in American politics. Generally speaking, formidable players do formidable things. The glee of the Left suggests its folk are so excited by what the Obama campaign can dish out that they are unprepared for what Ryan and Romney can dish out right back.
John Ziegler described how misreporting and media sensationalism destroyed the reputation of Joe Paterno and the nation’s most admired football program.
Regardless of what the final facts eventually say about what Joe Paterno knew and when he knew it about Jerry Sandusky’s criminal behavior (contrary to what the media has told you, they aren’t in yet and I have confronted very anti-Paterno “reporters” who admit this privately), the media coverage of him has been as unfair as any I have ever seen. In some ways, the media coverage of Joe Paterno has combined some of the worst elements of both the reporting of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 presidential election. ...
After the grand jury presentment was made available at a Saturday press conference which announced the Sandusky indictments last November, the initial media coverage was, in retrospect remarkably, and tellingly, rather muted.
ESPN, who would later the next week drive most of the narrative of the overall story, limited most of their coverage over the weekend to a passing news mention and a perfunctory place on the ubiquitous scroll on the bottom of the screen. After all, they had actual college and pro football games to broadcast/cover and no need to interrupt those ratings winners for the story of some guy who hadn’t coached football in over a decade.
The first edition of Sports Illustrated (which went to press about 48 hours after the indictments) after the news broke does not make mention of the Sandusky story in even one news article. Sandusky didn’t even make the “For the Record” section under “Arrests.” The story is only cited in an opinion column on the back page which reads somewhat like the “last word” on a story which is horrible but which may not provide much opportunity to write about in the future.
By the next week, Joe Paterno was somehow on the cover of SI along with multiple banner headlines, including one indicating that this was the biggest scandal in college sports history.
What changed in the ensuing week? Well, Paterno was fired, but not because we learned anything significantly new about the scandal during that time. Instead, what happened was that ESPN, with the help of popular website Deadspin (which was the first outlet to jump all over the story and predict Paterno’s demise), decided that they could change the rules of this game and make what was an otherwise dead sports week into a dramatic, ratings winning, passion play.
The initial take of the mainstream media was that this was not really a Joe Paterno story because, while Sandusky had been his assistant coach and there was a major allegation which occurred on campus, it was after he had already left the program. Paterno had testified but had not been charged. The prosecutors said that Paterno had done what was legally required of him, though they did raise the issue (in the response to a leading question from the media) of whether Paterno had fulfilled his moral responsibility with regard to making sure the allegations were properly followed up.
Seemingly lulled into a false sense of security by the relative rationality of the initial coverage (which was neither as intense nor as insane as it soon would be), Penn State made a couple of critical errors. The first was that they failed to make it clear that when Paterno had made sure the Mike McQueary allegations were reported to Gary Schultz, that he was doing so to the person in charge of the campus police. The media, either out of incompetence, deceitfulness, or both, never made that clear and in fact often reported that Paterno “never went to the police.” This omission created a huge hole in Paterno’s ship, which should have been easily plugged. Instead, it was an unnecessary leak in his story which still exists in public perception today. ...
Now the media had what they wanted. They suddenly processed all the excuses they needed to turn a story about a likely child molester who hadn’t coached at Penn State for twelve years, into a tale of whether a legend had failed in his moral responsibility to protect children he may or may not have even known were ever in danger.
The public wouldn’t care much about Sandusky, but everyone knew Joe Paterno. The tearing down of a pious legend makes for incredible copy and it transformed that week from a remarkably slow sports period (the NBA was still on strike, baseball was over, and football was in a midseason lull) into a ratings bonanza.
Now it should be noted that one of the primary weapons which drove the deep passion and anger on this story at the outset was the misuse of one key phrase in the grand jury presentment. The prosecutors brilliantly (though deceitfully) claimed that Mike McQueary had witnessed Sandusky having “anal intercourse” with a ten year old boy in the Penn State showers.
Quite simply, there is very little in the human condition which makes our brains turn off their logic mechanisms faster than the concept of a child being anally raped by an old man. Like the color red to a raging bull, this phrase turned what would have been reasonable outrage into a communal blind fury. It also made it nearly impossible to discuss the actual facts of the matter because people understandably don’t like talking about the subject.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that had the grand jury presentment not used the words “anal intercourse,” that Joe Paterno would not have been fired the way that he was and likely would have coached out the season. I also have little uncertainty that the phrase was purposely misused in the grand jury presentment because prosecutors knew exactly what kind of public reaction it would provoke.
I also believe that part of the reason that the phrase “anal intercourse” was placed in the grand jury presentment was because, at that time, contrary to public perception, the legal case against Jerry Sandusky was actually remarkably weak.
Incredibly, despite a huge civil settlement being there for the taking, somehow there was/is no known victim in the McQueary episode (Don’t tell the media that! They still don’t realize it!), and, though somehow no one knew it at the time, McQueary had inexplicably testified incorrectly about which day, month and year the incident he supposedly witnessed took place.
Few people, and fewer media members, realize that at the time of the indictments there was only one allegation of actual “sex” from a known witness, and that person’s story had been disbelieved by officials at his own school (interestingly that boy’s mom doesn’t blame Paterno or Penn State). The prosecution needed a big explosion in order to blow the case wide open and bring in other accusers they had to be sure were still out there. Their tactic worked perfectly, but it also had the side effect (one with which it seems they weren’t unpleased) of making it impossible for Paterno to get a remotely fair public examination.
As it ultimately turned out, the “hanging” jury in the Jerry Sandusky case actually rightly acquitted him of “anal intercourse” in the McQueary allegation (for the record, I believe the evidence indicates that McQueary did not witness an assault, but rather a botched “grooming”). But by that time it no longer mattered and this inconvenient fact was almost universally ignored by the media.
[T]he mainstream media, and the Times in particular, has done everything conceivable to hasten its own demise. The postmodern Times is a cavalcade of inaccuracy, omission, myopia, flagrant political bias, outrageously lousy writing, latent snobbery, and superficial urban sophistication. All the shallowness of the modern elite university has come home to roost at the Times. The worst offenders are surely the editorial sections (prose sinkhole) and the culture sections (lapdog of everything transgressive), but I reserve special ire for fellow Yalie Michiko Kakutani, the Pulitzer-winning book reviewer who’s done much to instantiate a self-important middle-browism as the default mode of the literary culture. The novelist Jonathan Franzen, for one, calls her “the “stupidest person in New York” and an “international embarrassment.” He continues, “Everyone in Europe says to me, “How can The New York Times let a person who is so patently tone deaf, who is so screechy rhetorically, so clearly unequipped to appreciate interesting books or even to enjoy them — how can that person be the lead reviewer?’”
Ross draws even more blood, as he continues:
Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman, Bob Herbert (recently departed), Nicholas Kristof, and Paul Krugman are the Bad News Bears of prose. Metal garbage cans tumbling down tenement stairwells are about as mellifluous. The newspaper industry has forgotten something it once knew: good journalism is a literary exercise.
Read the whole thing (and don’t overlook the hilarious takedown of the ineffable Thomas Friedman he cites by Matt Taibbi).
It is always tempting to fall into the mode of laudator temporis acti, but this is the same New York Temporis that published Walter Duranty’s denials of the existence of the Ukraine famine in the 1930s; the same newspaper which so thoroughly functioned as Fidel Castro’s publicist that wags responded to a Time’s employment advertising promotion of the 1960s by inserting pictures of Castro in the then-ubiquitous “I Got My Job Through the New York Times” posters; the same paper whose Sunday Magazine commemorated the sacrifice of 58,000 American lives the week of the final US withdrawal by publishing a picture of a contented North Vietnamese soldier, relaxing in a lawn chair (Kalashnikov across his lap, titled “The Blessed Peace;” and the same paper, which when news of the massacres of millions in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge broke in the early 1980s, studiously ignored the story.
The Times has always been a lying, propagandistic organ of leftism, and its cultural side has always been an intellectually dubious olla podrida of slavish trend worship, middlebrow establishmentarian cant, and cynical log-rolling. What Michiko Kakutani is to today, Bosley Crowther used to be a generation ago.
I think David Ross is right: the Times has gone downhill in factual accuracy, editing, and prose, but in those respects I think the Times is simply mirroring the larger culture and reflecting a collapse of standards of education in secondary schools and prestige universities.
What is different, though, today, I think, is the reckless and hysterical level of political partisanship. The Times used to be partisan, but it put the knife into its adversaries with discretion and a grave and carefully-maintained gentility. In those days, the Times and the liberal elite for whom it speaks, were unquestionably and unchallengeably on top and in American society’s driver’s seat. We live today in a post-Reagan revolutionary era, in which the status, authority, and even the economic position of the Times is seriously in doubt, so I suppose the Times’ increasingly thuggish behavior must be seen as a form of lashing out in frustration from the Fuerherbunker as it becomes increasingly evident that they are not winning in the end.
Walter Russell Mead catches the New York Times moaning and groaning about the untidiness and imperfection, the awful messiness of productivity, wealth production, and new sources of prosperity.
The New York Times editorial page is doing its level best to kill any chance of American recovery and prosperity by crusading against anything anywhere that might help our energy woes, but sometimes its news pages inadvertently remind us that prosperity and energy development are closely connected.
This story on the “woes” of the midwestern oil boom shows how towns are throwing up housing for an influx of workers drawn by the breakneck development of new energy resources. In places the story exemplifies the whiny perfectionism so characteristic of millennial liberalism: everything has its down side and if we look hard enough we are sure to find it. (A Times story on Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana would not be complete without a reference to the economic plight of unemployed winemakers.) So a part of the country that hasn’t seen opportunity in decades is suddenly bursting with growth and new jobs, and the Times frets that conditions in the temporary housing are poor. Mourns the Times:
But now, even as the housing shortage worsens, towns like this one are denying new applications for the camps. In many places they have come to embody the danger of growing too big too fast, cluttering formerly idyllic vistas, straining utilities, overburdening emergency services and aggravating relatively novel problems like traffic jams, long lines and higher crime.
Via Meadia advice: get over it. This is what economic growth looks like. It is sudden, disruptive, often inconvenient. It messes with the status quo. New stuff gets built and not all of it looks like the Cloisters. All kinds of rough and hungry men flock to it; they sometimes misbehave. They spit on the ground, say unpleasant things about women, and generally fail to meet the behavioral standards of the Upper West Side.
Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in PPP’s national polling. He’s at 28% to 25% for Herman Cain and 18% for Mitt Romney. The rest of the Republican field is increasingly looking like a bunch of also rans: Rick Perry is at 6%, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, and Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum each at 1%.
Compared to a month ago Gingrich is up 13 points, while Cain has dropped by 5 points and Romney has gone down by 4.
———————————————— CNN’s poll results are nearly as good:
A new national survey of Republicans indicates that it’s basically all tied up between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, with Gingrich on the rise and businessman Herman Cain falling due to the sexual harassment allegations he’s been facing the past two weeks.
According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, 24% of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say Romney is their most likely choice for their party’s presidential nominee with Gingrich at 22%. Romney’s two-point advantage is well within the survey’s sampling error.
It must have been NYM’s recent endorsement.
House Speaker John Boehner made it clear in a speech to small business owners at the University of Cincinnati Monday that he is not in sync with the president’s plan to raise the tax rates of the wealthiest Americans.
“Giving the federal government more money would be like giving a cocaine addict more cocaine,’’ the West Chester Republican told about 100 members of the Goering Center for Family and Private Business at UC’s Alumni Center.
Obama knew perfectly well that the Republican-controlled House would never go along with an any-prospects-of-recovery-killing plan to raise taxes on the only sector of society capable of new investment and new job creation.
What Obama was doing was affirming his commitment to left-wing orthodoxy by embracing class warfare as an attempt to appeal to voters’ worst impulses.
—————————————— Hugh Hewitt named the game:
The president unleashes his inner Alinksy this morning with the release of his proposal for massive tax hikes, mostly on high income earners, accounting tricks and childish rhetoric. It is clear he has decided to run hard left in 2012, with all the tiresome cliches that involves.
The plan is a sham of course, an election year set-up just like the absurd demand in the Joint Session of Congress for Stimulus 2.0. This new, new plan isn’t dead upon arrival; it was dead before sending. And everyone knows it. Politico’s Mike Allen details the massive spin put on the highly partisan plan last night by the president’s tap-dancing and desperate team, but no one is fooled. Everything the president ever said about “working across the aisle” is trashed. The Chicago way is in the saddle. It’s the only way he and his advisors know.
The very good news is that the country knows, even if the MSM doesn’t.
From CBS News: “(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders say they are rejecting President Barack Obama’s jobs proposals to rebuild schools and blighted neighborhoods, and help keep state and local employees on the job.”
Oh, come on, CBS, you can do better:
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders say they are rejecting President Barack Obama’s jobs proposals to rebuild schools and blighted neighborhoods, and help keep state and local employees on the job, and cure cancer and help the lame walk again, and find good homes for puppy dogs and kitty cats, and take a sunrise and sprinkle it with dew and cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two, and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, and grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtledoves, and slow the rise of the oceans, and begin to heal our planet.