From the fantastically ignorant and snowflake idiocracy in which I was born: Educational Earthquake: ‘Disappearing’ the Great Writers From Schools. This is the problem with being “nice”: you don’t actually stand for anything but are prepared to be rolled over by cultural invaders.
The Greater Essex County District School Board in the Windsor, Ont., area is supplanting its grade 11 literature curriculum, which up to now has featured great writers of the western canon such as Shakespeare and George Orwell, with a year-long program of Indigenous writers. The change has already been effected in eight of the district’s 15 schools.
In the Peel district as well, I am informed by a reader, the same transformation is in progress. It would be naïve to assume that these schools will remain anomalies for long. The “disappearing” of dead white European male writers, however magnificent their achievements, may well be normalized across Canada before long.
It is hard to overstate the alarming implications of this educational earthquake. Deliberately withholding Shakespeare from young minds is a form of aesthetic starvation, but depriving them of Orwell is a moral crime. It is from Orwell’s “Animal Farm” that young minds first grasp the nature of totalitarian evil, whether it arises from the left or the right, and understand the preciousness of their freedoms.
Of course these Orwellians are suppressing Orwell. It is almost a sign of how deep the infection already is that the author is not emphasising the disappearance of Shakespeare. As my mother used to joke, why read Shakespeare; it’s just one cliche after another? Shakespeare deepens the reader in many different ways: listening and understanding great language and poetry; watching human nature play out in actual settings; learning English history from the time of King John through to Henry VIII; learning classical history from Julius Caesar to Timon of Athens; becoming aware of an extremely important part of the English literary canon. They probably no longer want to teach this since their teachers no longer know any of it themselves.
Still, bypassing Orwell is a major loss if he was already on the curriculum. As she writes:
The compulsion to assent to opinions we hold ridiculous is a form of totalitarianism. But only the most intrepid of citizens dare to dissent from the incoherence of the hegemonic definitions in play presently. Orwell’s “two minute hate,” conceived as satire, has achieved eerie verisimilitude on Twitter. Velvet totalitarianism replaces bullets to the back of the head with bullets to career and reputation.
The irony is that we who have read Orwell understand what the “two minute hate” is. Eventually no one will, even as they participate in their own two-minute hates, along with their teachers who won’t know what it is either.
We’re not talking about just anywhere here, we are talking about UCLA. This is a report on a presentation given by Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute about the current state of our culture:
“Until 2011,” she noted, “students majoring in English at UCLA had been required to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton — the cornerstones of English literature.
“Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the ‘Empire,’ UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing.”
As Mac Donald put it, “In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Milton, Chaucer or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalogue, to ‘alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race and class.'”
If nothing else, it’s easier on the students and no doubt on the junior staff as well. You will end up knowing bugger all but have strong opinions about it.