Prof. Reynolds points us at an essay by Thomas H. Benton[*] in the Chronicle of Higher Education lamenting the poor image of the professoriat in the eyes of the unwashed. As usual, much of the value of the piece is in the comments, where “educator” after educator congratulates the system for its value and its participants for their dedication and selflessness.

Sorry, guys, but the next time you decide to write this sort of thing and put it before the public, take a little advice from an inhabitant of the “lowbrow anti-intellectual community” and do some analysis first. (You do, after all, have the critical analysis skills necessary, by your own admission.) If, as in Benton’s essay, the screed can be reduced to “…because we ah smaht and they resent theah inferioritah”, you should discard it unpublished.

The operative word is not “hate”, it is “despise”. There is an unsubtle difference between the two, and “contempt” might actually be better.

To understand why “we” despise “professors”, you need look no farther than the emblematic recent case: Duke University vs. the lacrosse players. Here we have a case of Academia presenting a vocal united front against every ideal Americans have held and attempted, however badly, to implement: eliminate the tired old concept of “equal protection”, toss out “presumption of innocence” with sneering contempt, dump every concept the Founders might have held dear in the dustbin of history, and focus like a laser on “social justice” — those *holes are jocks, their parents are rich, and they’re white to boot; it follows as the day the night that they are racist oppressors and rapists regardless of what they actually did, and must be punished severely on that basis. It is contemptible, and earns the contempt it deserves.

Add to that the toplofty declarations of “teaching critical thinking”. What we actually observe in your graduates is the product of an overly-complex madrassah, able to look at any situation and find an applicable passage in the Holy Writ, starting with Marx and expanding to a mile wide and an inch deep. The value of broad and inclusive reading is unquestionable, but when it is restricted entirely to a narrow range of themes concentrating on finding nothing but unmitigated evil in the social structure that yields your living it is of considerably less utility.

On the other hand, you could persist in congratulating yourselves on your dedication to the advancement of Pure Knowledge. The contempt you clearly feel for those you consider inferior will continue to be reflected back at you, and the result is likely to be destruction of the system that keeps you fed, clothed, and housed. That would be a disaster; the value of a real, humanities-based education is extremely high, which is why the system got established in the first place.

[*](Thomas H. Benton is the pen name of William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College.)