A friend asked me the other day why I hadn't done much with this blog lately. No matter what weirdness emanates from Washington and the Human Yam I've been silent. She was surprised I hadn't expressed an opinion on the current movement to remove Confederate monuments.
Well, to be honest, I really don't have one. Granted, most were erected for deplorable reasons -- if they were truly about honoring the bravery of the CSA soldiers and officers, we'd see statues of General James Longstreet all over the South -- but I tend to view them as a local issue. If the majority of residents of Richmond or Durham or Birmingham or wherever want to shuffle Bobby Lee off into the dustbin of history, I figure they should be free to do that without interference. Are they contributing elements to a cultural landscape that shouldn't be messed with? Nope. Culture changes; landscapes evolve. I've never been real keen on preserving anything just for the sake of preservation.
Plus, of course, we don't need large tacky oversized lawn ornaments to remind of us history. There are these things called "books."
I've also actually been far more bemused by the spectacle of young, well educated white guys whining about how oppressed they are. I can understand where some of the bitter old men are coming from -- they've finally had to confront the fact they're never going to be rich, never be famous, and never have a chance to buy a trophy wife -- but when you're a 20-something dude who's still in college? Where's your reason for feeling oppressed, dude? Didn't get rushed by the frat you fantasized about joining? Feeling butt hurt because you went from being the smartest kid in your calculus class back in Podunk and are now the mediocre student learning for the first time that all the other smartest kids in their high schools are now packed into the same college lecture hall as yourself? Not enough Solo cups to go around at the kegger? Can't get laid? It must be the fault of the Illuminati or black or brown people or some vast Zionist conspiracy. It can't possibly be because the dudes need to learn some social skills or maybe take a bath once in awhile.
The tiki torch bros in their white polo shirts, in fact, reminded me of a clueless doofus I knew in grad school. He'd hit the point where he was ABD (all but dissertation) so had begun the job search. He'd done a bit of schmoozing (aka "networking") when our department had guest speakers in for a seminar series so he felt like he had an "in" at one of the schools where he submitted his c.v. He was sure he was a shoo in. After all, his research fit in with what the target department was known for. If memory serves, he did make it past the first cut (preliminary phone interview, maybe) despite the remarkably thin resume (no published papers, no book contract, maybe one presentation at a professional conference, minimal involvement in progessional associations, no Ph.D. in hand yet).
And then the dream department, his sure thing, hired someone else. Even worse, they hired a woman. The doofus went around ranting loudly about affirmative action and tokenism and how terribly, terribly political correctness was running amok. There was no way in hell a mere woman would be better qualified than he was. A few of his fellow students made sympathetic noises, or at least they did until word came through the grapevine as to just who the "underqualified" woman was. She was a person who had (1) a Ph.D. in hand; (2) several publications in peer-reviewed journals; (3) a book in press; and (4) currently held a post-doctoral research fellowship at a top tier institution. Only in the mind of a poor deluded loser unwilling to admit he'd been beat out by a much better qualified candidate would anyone blame tokenism and the evils of affirmative action.
It goes without saying (but I'm saying it anyway) if the winning candidate had been male the loser's response would have been a resigned "Oh crap. No way I could top that dude's record."