Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Presence of Malice

Yesterday I responded to an analysis of Ehud Olmert's reaction to the Saudi peacemaking summit by suggesting that it was an act of deliberate malice, rather than the recklessness that is often attributed to him. This morning I read Paul Cummins' Truthdig essay on the sorry state of education in the United States; and, again, I could not help but wonder if this was another instance of deliberate malice. There used to be a Web page (which I can no longer find) of an address that sociology professor Neil Ramsey gave to the Senior Banquet where he taught, Virginia Wesleyan College. What I remember most about this address was the hypothesis he raised that a liberal education can free the mind of “fear, superstition, and pettiness.” Now, at the risk of being pegged for a conspiracy theorist, I would dare to suggest that such an act of freeing the mind is precisely the opposite of what the current Administration wants. Consider each of those items:

  • 9/11 has elevated fear to the primary currency in what now passes for discourse.
  • "Faith-based reasoning" is nothing more than a postmodern euphemism for "superstition."
  • Now that the tables are turning, we are finding more and more pettiness in the language invoked by the White House in the face of questions of accountability and (in the case of the current congressional fact-finding mission to Syria) the examination of policy.

One of the recurring themes in Dilbert is that of the project that, from its inception, has been designed to fail. Has our government decided that education reform is such a project; and, if so, was that decision made out of clumsy recklessness (as we tend to assume) or deliberate malice?

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