29 July 2015

My Favorite Feminist Utters Profundity

Camille Paglia said something quite profound about militant atheists recently. It is exactly the same thing I've thought about many modern historians and history bloggers of our day.  Her observation came in response to an interview question:
You’re an atheist, and yet I don’t ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?
Paglia's response is spot on:
I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way. 
And many modern historians write and analyze things the same way - as juveniles with little real world experience and very limited in their intellectual capacity (or maybe honesty). It seems to always be about "the most recent scholarship." These intellectual adolescents think that just because it's "new", it's superior to what's been written in the past. They remind me of the junior high student who is embarassed because they're not wearing the newest style of jeans. You know, the ones that come with the holes arleady in them. (Yes, the analogy applies in more ways than one.)

And I do believe, like Paglia, that it has something to do with how they view their parents and our collective past, which they connect in some way. They're acting out some type of temper tantrum. This immature bitterness toward, and "sneering" at, our collective past along with the shallow myth that the current generation is always wiser and more enlightened, has other consequences as well as some psychologists have noted:
. . . awareness of the present and future aren't the most important predictors of a satisfying, meaningful life. Instead, extensive studies show that our most important orientation toward time is a positive appreciation of the past. The more we savor memories of relationships and let go of grudges ... the more we connect to our roots and let go of our forebears' failings ... the more we treasure their legacy and let go of the myth that we are self-made: the stronger our sense of a positive past, the better grounded and centered we will be. In fact, the more crazy and stressful our circumstances, the more the past helps us navigate our way. ~ Dr. Christine Chakoian
As I noted in a comment on the Shelby Foote post (before I even read Paglia's comments): "Foote remains one of the few adults in a room of Civil War historians populated by juveniles."   

And Paglia continued with this:
I find it completely hypocritical for people in academe or the media to demand understanding of Muslim beliefs and yet be so derisive and dismissive of the devout Christian beliefs of Southern conservatives.
The exact same thing could be said of academia's and the media's dismissive "sneering" attitude toward Confederate monuments, etc.

And she has some more tough words for the frauds in academia:
The proof of the vacuity of academic leftism for the past forty years is the complete silence of leftist professors about the rise of the corporate structure of the contemporary university–their total failure to denounce the gross expansion of the administrator class and the obscene rise in tuition costs. The leading academic leftists are such frauds–they’ve played the system and are retiring as millionaires!
You can read the complete interview here at Salon.

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