Save the Academics: Get Them Into Normal Society

Down at Duke University, Bruce Lawrence, an Islamic studies specialist with a long-standing sympathy for Islamic extremists – has just edited a book that reproduces and analyzes the declarations of Osama bin Laden. Here’s one of Lawrence’s insights on bin Laden:

If you read him in his own words, he sounds like somebody who would be a very high-minded and welcome voice in global politics.

And indeed, who wouldn’t welcome another voice calling for a perpetual holy war against all of Western civilization until Western countries are either destroyed or agree to live in servitude to Muslims? What reasonable, high-minded observer could possibly object to bin Laden’s demands for the subjugation of women through the imposition of sharia law across the entire planet?  

Lawrence’s sympathy for bin Laden should really come as no surprise, since bin Laden’s vision isn’t much more extreme than the worldwide socialist utopia that so many academics are still dedicated to achieving.

The real problem is that academics live in such total isolation from society that their condition naturally breeds this kind of millennial day-dreaming. They adopt these totalitarian political philosophies as a kind of compensation for their real-life political impotence. Having abandoned religion long ago, they look to utopian political philosophies to explain their place in the world and give meaning to their lives.

So what can be done to alleviate the extremism so prevalent among the American intelligentsia? Engaging them in conversation has heretofore proven to be an unsuccessful strategy. Rational discourse is clearly not conducive to anyone who can look at the history of socialism in the twentieth century – from the millions killed in the Soviet and Cambodian death camps to the economic lunacy forced on Cuba and Albania – and say “Now there’s a system that really works well.”

What we need to do is to break down academics’ unhealthy social isolation, in order to enable them to discover the problems with utopian extremism for themselves. How you ask? The answer is obvious – those of us genuinely concerned about our academic brethren must help get them out of their cramped apartments and away from the cheerless political cartoons that dominate their office d???? ┬ęcor. We must inaugurate a nationwide "Take an Academic to the Park" campaign. The fresh air will do them some good, and perhaps one of the local kids will even teach them how to throw a baseball.

By helping academics cultivate an interest in sports and the outdoors, we just might give them a healthier outlet for their creative energies than sitting in front of their computers pontificating on bin Laden’s high-minded contribution to political philosophy.


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