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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
tdempsey <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 29 Jun 2006 09:53:59 -0500
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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    You actually made me feel guilty with your last.  I remember reading
Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life years ago -- actually the
summer before I was going to start teaching middle school social studies.
It prepared me well.  I didn't teach a month before one parent came in
telling me I was teaching Godless humanism.  I asked her why and she told me
her preacher had told her. He, of course, had never met me or seen the text
we used.  One just knows these things. And now I have sunk to the depths of
anti-intellectualism.  How ironic.
    I don't think a week goes by when I don't think of Pudd'nhead Wilson and
the real Samuel Glover.  Seriously, last week a friend at Rotary told me,
"everyone likes you, but we all think you're a kook."  This is the burden of
being a liberal lawyer in Hannibal.  I am not aspiring to be PW, it is just
that MT in his genius nailed the characters in the American pantheon.
    You guys on the left and lefter coast may not be living it, but those of
us in the U.S. are still residing in the period 1865 - 1914.  Time moves
like a soap opera here.  Miss a week and you're only 15 minutes down the
storyline.  (The rest of you are being dragged back to the period. Look what
the congress did with the Estate Tax -- or as Karl Rove has spun it: the
DEATH TAX!  In another generation or two our kids are going to be calling
the rich people's children Sire and Your Ladyship.)
    Believe it or not, Jane Clemens's First Presbyterian Church is rumbling
about seceding from the Presbyterian Church USA because of ordination of gay
folk.  (The General Assembly did not allow it, in fact, reaffirmed
traditional ordination standards -- it just appears the church is grudgingly
tolerating local groups that have ordained gays in an attempt to avoid
schism.) The arguments are amazingly similar to the 1840s and 50s arguments
over slavery.  In some cases the actors are descendants of the same people
who were arguing at that time.  Ripples in the pond.
    So, I agree with you.  A good liberal arts education is terribly
important -- as are all of you intellectuals. Just be sure you are
scribbling as fast as you can.  If Dick Cheney decides there is a 1% chance
you are a threat to the republic, you're all going to end up in camps
somewhere.  Fortunately, you are not at too great a risk of anyone in the
present administration actually reading anything.