18 August 2008

A Preview of Debate With In (and With Out) an Obama Administration

Above is a hilarious clip (I found it through Boing Boing, they tip their cap to Arbroath), it also contains much NSFW language, as well as raised voices, sobbing, and enough identity politics to choke an elephant. I recommend following all the Boing Boing links, they're instructive. YouTube took it down (though they still have Prof. Shanahan's reply, but it's not exactly a reply, it's a deleted scene from a doc on debates, but he does seem to be replying to a question about the incident recorded above), but LiveLeak will likely leave it up, so enjoy. For a bit of background Inside Higher Ed has you covered.

It has nothing to do with a potential Obama administration, obviously, and yet I think it does offer a clue as to the storm roiling beneath the liberal and academic minded wing of the Democratic party, and the kind of divisions and discussions that Obama would bring with him to the White House should he get elected. He's the first candidate immersed in postmodern theories on the construction of identity. He's also the first candidate who seemingly embraced (at least) the rhetorical angles of marxist theory. Doesn't make him a commie, doesn't automatically make him anti-market, but it does suggest (as have his own words) that for Obama, he views most things in life through a dialectic materialist framework where there is a constant oppositional tension between those that control the means of production and those that do the producing, or a constant class struggle if you will. That also suggests that he sees America as having rather static classes like 19th century Europe, and not the fluid Horatio Algerized dynamic view of class that I believe a majority of Americans still believe in (at least those that didn't take too many marxist theory courses in college).

I've always found that framework ass-tastic, personally, I also find all identity politics equally ass-tastic, so when a couple of professors blow their tops at each other, I'm not surprised that underlying the tensions that came to the surface there seems to be all sorts of victim group politics at play. The language of the left is all about 'reconciliation' and 'understanding' but in effect and practice that language is used to exclude the ideas of which they don't approve and deny legitimacy to anyone who doesn't think or speak in the ways that meet the ever more limited 'speech codes' that have been proliferating throughout campuses across our land.

I don't know that this was about that, it might just be two hot heads in a bad moment, but from reading some comments of people who were there, and reading between the lines, the hippie looking professor blew his top when an insinuation of racism was made, and the other professor (it'd be racist of me to identify her as the 'black woman'; and ironic or sad that one of the courses Prof. Reid-Brinkley teaches is "Interpersonal Communication"?) knew full well that she was insinuating that Prof. Hippie was a racist, but she wasn't going to own up to it in plain and clear language.

Forensics is a beautiful thing when done honestly and with respect, but honesty and respect are viewed with contempt on a lot of campuses, lately (those are just lies told by hegemonic old white men, you know, they never lived up to their old ideals, so those ideals are a product of a false consciousness, and therefore aren't something that should be adhered to, but it's OK to use them, twist them, and reshape them as you see fit in the service of a greater cause to disrupt the old order, cause that's like deep, man).

But back to a potential Obama White House. You just know that he's going to surround himself with ivory tower types, eggheads, and ex-radicals. That's who he's associated with privately and professionally throughout his adult life, why would he change as Commander in Chief?

So, behind closed doors, I wouldn't be surprised at all if more than a few policy sessions become seething cauldrons of hurt feelings, victimhood passion plays, and coalition building based on identity and ideology rather than what's best for the country. He's already stated that he wants to bring together many voices with many ideas and let them hash it out and present him with opposing views. Of course, he never said he'd actually respect all those points of view, just that he'd bring them into the process.

Yeah, should be fun times, fun times, indeed.

(or not, McCain might actually win this thing, whodathunkit?)

No comments: