I’ve recently started recovering from forty years among pseudo-academic weirdos in the collegiate loony bin. One persistent aspect of modern college life is its obvious loathing for anything that smacks of Christianity. This includes whiting out Christian symbols and references to Christian holidays from the academic landscape. In the fall of 2006, a bronze cross was carted out of Wren Chapel at William and Mary lest it cause offense to unidentified spectators. Faculty members I’ve had the misfortune of knowing usually vibrate with excitement at such displays of sensitivity, and whenever the possibility exists for replacing “Christmas greetings” with “Have a blessed Kwanzaa,” “Peace to you on Ramadan,” or an inspirational listing of white racist sins, academics will run to make this happen. Staff members once changed a “Yule Bowl Party” to a “Season’s Greeting Festival,” arguing that “Yule” references were an affront to non-Westerners. Perhaps an itinerant Hindu would wander into the gathering and go bonkers at the mention of something once associated with Christianity.
This reaching out to other cultures while pushing away the host culture took a particularly bizarre form at a nearby college about fifteen years ago when a Protestant chapel was being built. Plans had been made to crown the newly constructed steeple with a simple cross to indicate a Christian house of worship at what was then a quasi-denominational institution. But this was not permitted to transpire because a Jewish faculty member protested mightily against the blood-curdling symbol. It seems the cross reminded her of the Holocaust, an association that is perhaps understandable given that authors who are abundantly present in college libraries always make the same dubious connection. The proper answer in this instance would have been to tell the employee to look elsewhere for a job if she found Christian symbols so intolerable. Instead, the “cross was reconsidered”—that is, replaced by a less offensive spherical object.
More recently at the same institution, a memorial service was performed for a former college president who from all accounts was a conventional Protestant churchgoer. A college chaplain was on hand to offer a prayer, but before she began, she fitfully apologized to the attendees. She had planned to offer a non-denominational prayer but was afraid her words might offend someone who wasn’t quite cool with appeals to an Occidental God. With visible discomfort she looked around before mumbling her invocation. Perhaps she was scared the Holocaust Lady would show up and report her to some government agency.
My sister-in-law tells me about a meeting she attended at the English-Speaking Union, where the group announced it would not convene the following week because of Rosh Hashanah. My sister-in-law looked around at the craggy, longish English faces and wondered, “Cui bono?”—for whose benefit was the announcement being made? Perhaps the members were concerned that the Holocaust Lady would show up there as well.
Meddlesome nudnik that she was, Holocaust Lady had a set-to about fifteen years ago with a trendy male religion professor who came into her building (in a sense it was hers by right of bullying) wearing a swastika on his chest. The swastika-attired professor was calling attention to the folk culture of Native Americans, who apparently fancied the same symbol Hitler chose for his Thousand Year Reich. When the two met in the hall, it became a question of whose victim claims would prevail—the perpetually outraged Holocaust victim-by-proxy or the German Protestant who wished to save Native Americans from cultural genocide. Loud shrieking ensued until the celebrant of Native Americana agreed to strip himself of his ancient symbol of Susquehannock tribal life.
I can’t say that I felt sorry for the loser. Contrary to what he told me about Central Pennsylvanian Indians gently handcrafting pottery, I’ve since learned the Susquehannock wiped out most other Indians in their path. Apparently these Native Americans had never taken the Peace Studies course the professor with the swastika offered. These looting warriors may have shared with the Nazis more than a predilection for an ancient symbol.
Then there was the pious atheist—a philosophy professor at another institution who was always ranting against religious simpletons. This guy couldn’t get over the idea that some people still believed in a divine being; they seemed to furnish proof that critical inquiry had not yet bested ignorance and superstition. Everyone who accepted God’s existence was “just a jerk” and certainly not as bright as this academic imagined himself to be. The most outrageous expression of primitivism, he explained to me, is that “some intellectuals assume intelligent design in nature,” a belief the very mention of which caused him to spit out F words. He was sure that one could work out all the steps whereby—given enough hypothetical time—life forms came along chemically without the aid of some mythical organizing intelligence. Although I considered his explanation to be hardly conclusive, he was entitled to his beliefs. It was his ranting against theists that I found tiresome, particularly since he peppered his tirades with childish obscenities.
Even when leftist orthodoxy flew in the face of the “science” he claimed to worship, he held tightly to his appalling PC fixation. Although he knew that genetic differences existed, he never dared apply them to human beings in ways that might hurt his career or his relation to his social think-alikes. He assured me there were no socially significant differences between genders or races. In fact, such differences were mere fictions that an unjust governing class created to divide us. Only bigoted or ignorant people would argue differently—perhaps ignoramuses such as Darwin, who wrote about things that our professor refused to consider, such as the significance of subspecies and sexual dimorphism.
Although a hater of Christian sentimentality, he would melt into sappy tenderness at the very mention of a designated victim group. We could never do enough for women, blacks, gays, Latinos, Aleuts, etc., in light of the Christian prejudice that had blighted their lives. Once I got so pissed off listening to him, I said that Nietzsche must have been thinking about someone like him when he spoke about “slave morality.” Despite his screaming about Christian sentimentalists, this fellow was always going on and on about the “marginalized.” Although a self-proclaimed free thinker, he was the incarnation of what Nietzsche rightly or wrongly despised as Christian silliness. In response to my scolding, he announced: “Well, shit, we have to do something for these people.” But it is hard to think of anything he did for his beloved minorities (like adopting an inner-city black) except for voting at faculty assemblies for “diversity training.” And he did this after he propagated a totally unfounded rumor of outbursts occurring on his campus against Muslims and Hindus. What did someone once say (I can’t remember who) about those denying the deity’s existence believing in just about anything? In my experience, with rare exceptions (such as John Derbyshire), it is not “just about anything” these people believe. They are almost always hooked specifically on PC stupidities.