clap clap blog: we have moved

Thursday, July 24, 2003
Jason points me to an Economist article about the rightward shift among US youth. It makes a point that may sound a wee bit familiar as regards the unintended consequences of the boomers taking over the educational system:

IN WOODY ALLEN's musical comedy, "Everyone Says I Love You", one young character suffers from a terrible affliction: compulsive conservatism. He annoys his decent (ie, liberal) parents by calling for smaller government or extolling the latest article in the NATIONAL REVIEW. Everything ends happily, however: the parents discover he is suffering from a brain tumour. The tumour is removed, and with it goes the youth's annoying politics.

These days more and more young Americans are suffering from a similar affliction. This week Washington saw two jamborees for young right-wingers: a National Conservative Student Conference, put on by the Young America's Foundation, and a National Convention of College Republicans. Hundreds of young conservatives flooded into the capital to listen to their heroes (including a wrestler called Warrior), to learn how to identify liberal textbook bias, to visit the White House, and to watch Karl Rove receiving the Lee Atwater Leadership Award.


Why this upturn in conservatism? One reason is a healthy desire to tweak the noses of people in authority. America's academic establishment is so solidly liberal that Naderites easily outnumber Republicans. The leftists who seized control of the universities in the 1960s have imposed their world-view on the young with awesome enthusiasm, bowdlerising text-books of anything that might be considered sexist or racist, imposing draconian speech codes and inventing pseudo-subjects such as women's studies. What better way of revolting against such illiberal claptrap than emulating the character in Mr Allen's film?

By going to the moderate left, of cou....oh wait, that doesn't exist because all the leftists my age are friggin' crazy.

Well, maybe I'm just feeling bitter, but it does seem like taking a moderate oppositional stance against the identity-politics loonies would be a bit more effective than right-wing pranksterism. But maybe it's just that you can't oppose the loonies because they're so good at shouting you down (anyone who's tried to take a slightly oppositional stance on a campus recently knows this) so ineffective rebellion is the best option. I don't really believe that, though.