War And Remembrance
Has Feminism Killed Femininity?

Striking Hot Iron

Apparently, the "Red State, Blue Collar" post was a big hit with BlackFive readers.  I haven't had much to say today, but I've been impressed with the response.  I've been off looking at horseflesh -- I mention this for any of you CAV readers out there. I already know you boys wear Stetsons:  the last time I was at IAD, some of your fellow soldiers spotted mine and came up to show me "their Stetsons." 

I wouldn't trade mine for yours.  Mine belonged to my grandfather, before it came to me.  That said, if I couldn't wear mine, those big old Stets look mighty fine.

So, since you liked "Red State," let's do another one along that line.  Let's talk about intellectuals.  Last time, we looked at why Red State poor don't vote like Blue State poor.  This time, let's look at why academia is full of Blue Staters.

This has also been a hot topic since the recent election.  The role played by Mr. Noah in the last piece is here played by Jonathan Chait. He wrote a piece called "Conservatives Just Aren't Cut Out for Academia."  Here's the meat of the thing:

[T]hese studies show that some of the best-educated, most-informed people in the country overwhelmingly reject the GOP. Why is this seen as an indictment of academia, rather than as an indictment of the Republican Party?...

The main causes of the partisan disparity on campus have little to do with anything so nefarious as discrimination. First, Republicans don't particularly want to be professors. To go into academia - a highly competitive field that does not offer great riches - you have to believe that living the life of the mind is more valuable than making a Wall Street salary. On most issues that offer a choice between having more money in your pocket and having something else - a cleaner environment, universal health insurance, etc. - conservatives tend to prefer the money and liberals tend to prefer the something else.

There's a problem with this picture, all right, but it doesn't lie with academia.

Well, what about that?  We've looked at the parts of the Red States that have limited education, the parts who are working their way up from poverty.  What about the ones who do get an education? 

There are some who do.  For all of Harvard and Yale's pomp, the oldest public college in the United States is none other than the University of Georgia.  You want a classical education?  UGA offers a course in Anglo-Saxon Studies, a generation after Tolkien's own college abandoned the program of philology.

Where do they go, the ones who want 'the life of the mind'?  Well, here are a few hints:

DARPA -- that is, "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency" -- has embarked on something it calls the Cambrian Project. The idea? To use computer models of biological evolution to predict weapon evolution. By examining what countermeasures evolved to handle which methods of attack, DOD hopes to be able to predict and overcome enemy countermeasures before the enemy even thinks of them.

The Defense Science Board engages questions of the "growing threat of missiles, information warfare and biological, chemical, and nuclear weaponry," as well as military transformation.  Are they any good?  Judge for yourself -- see how much better they have been than the mainstream media at learning and integrating the lessons of the blogosphere, by reading their paper on "Strategic Communications."

And then there's the JASON panel, which is named after the leader of the Argonauts of Greek mythology. Who was it who freely quoted Pindar?

Do you prefer Rome to Greece? Where is it that Latin is more alive -- among lawyers, or priests? Ask them a few words of it. Then pass some words past a military officer: De Oppresso Liber, Semper Fidelis, Ductus Exemplo!, or any of the slogans kept alive by the Army Institute of Heraldry. Or have we forgotten that Heraldry is also a form of esoteric wisdom, developed by Knights, kept by warriors, until at last only the fighters remember the mottos and symbols?

And let's not forget to include the apparatus of military intelligence, the War College, the military academies, and the constant schools that bewilder the lives of military officers and noncoms alike.

Oh, that's right. I remember who quoted Pindar. It was the man with 7,000 books in his personal library.

Red State men and women may find a life of the mind here. You want the "something else" Chait spoke of? How about honor? How about duty? How about service, and faith to country and kin?

Military men, and those in their service as contractors -- how well I know, who has met so many! -- are well educated. But where is the Harvard man who can shoot a rifle or pistol? Few, and growing fewer!

In fact, MIT claims to have 42 varsity sports, one more than even Harvard. Of course, Harvard scoffed snootily, "Hearing that MIT was claiming 42 varsity teams, officials at Harvard, which has 41, chafed. They point to MIT's varsity pistol and rifle teams as evidence of MIT's skewed vision of varsity sports."

Hey, wait a minute! I was ON the Harvard Rifle Team in 1973! The team capitan, a member of my "freak fraternity" and now owner of a software company in Houston, had the key to the Harvard rifle range and we would go down there in the wee hours under the effects of whatnot and invent weird games like hanging tootsie roll pops from shoelaces tied to the mechanized target holders. When we rolled 'em back down the range, the lollypops swung around wildly and were wicked hard to hit. Or even see, for that matter.

We lost all 12 matches that season. Most of the guys we were shooting against were steely-eyed vets with thousand-yard stares just back form Nam and trying to finish college on Uncle Sam, while we were just a bunch of Ivy freaks who liked to play with guns.

It wasn't always that way. Time was, the Ivy Leagues produced men like Francis Parkman, who drew praise from such lights as Theodore Roosevelt. Listen to his own condemnation of the modern academe, which rings as strong in the modern ear as it must have in his own day.

[I]f any pale student glued to his desk here seek an apology for a way of life whose natural fruit is that pallid and emasculate scholarship, of which New England has had too many examples, it will be far better that this sketch had not been written. For the student there is, in its season, no better place than the saddle, and no better companion than the rifle or the oar.

And where are such men today? In the US military, by God.