I picked a fight about this with John Podhoretz or Charles Murray or someone on Facebook once (I think), and I’ll say it again:
Men like this — of all people — should know that words are supposed to have meanings.
If you haven’t “the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. And maybe has no image of Teddy Roosevelt, let’s say, at all”, then you are BORDERLINE RETARDED.
You are my ditzy relatives and the idiots I went to school with, who I got away from as quickly as possible and who, incidentally, weren’t students at (what used to be) Yale.
We didn’t listen to classical music (“that racket”) in my family. But I know who Beethoven was because I watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The Simpsons has been airing throughout the lives of these Yale students, and beyond. How do they watch it? Don’t they see the joke about “Al Capone doing the Charleston on top of the Empire State Building” and think, “Hey, I wonder what the 1920s were like…” and find a goddamn book about it maybe?
I didn’t learn about Winston Churchill or Teddy Roosevelt in school, either. But I owned a goddam TV and a library card.
These kids have even less of an excuse.
In a world of the internet and the History Channel and PBS, I’m not sure how you DON’T see Winston Churchill scowling at you at least once a week.
It’s not, as Gelernter says, the school system, although it doesn’t help — at least, not the “education” part.
These kids are stupid because nobody ever left them alone.
They all had to play sports (puke) and “participate in extracurricular activities” (double puke) and “go to the prom” (I’m out of puke.)
They’re all so well adjusted and outgoing and conformist and all that crap, it’s clear their brains fell out around Grade 4.
God, we are SO screwed.