Most conservatives are preoccupied with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the coming deluge on Capitol Hill. A few of us are more concerned with the current Reign of Terror in our universities. When Pelosi and Reid are little piles of forgotten dust, the consequences of political correctness in the academy will still be evident to the naked eye.
You tend to forget about this problem until you read a book like Elizabeth Kantor’s “The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature” (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company). In it, she reminds us that classrooms in almost all our universities have been commandeered by leftist ideologues, whose chief goal is to purge from the nation’s memory the rich content of Christian civilization, to discredit our free-market prosperity and to substitute a simplistic set of Marxist-feminist-homosexualist platitudes that are more likely to promote radical ignorance than an understanding of the world.
In discussing this phenomenon, Kantor surveys the great works of English and American literature from Anglo-Saxon poetry to the 20th-Century fiction of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, suggesting the reasons for their greatness while exposing the stupidity, vulgarity and malice of what’s being taught in their place.
You don’t have to be a literary scholar to understand or enjoy Kantor’s book. Even if you flunked Freshman English and are now a microbiologist or CPA, you can still read it with enormous pleasure, largely because Kantor is an extremely entertaining writer who tells you why these works are crucial and treats the current crop of PC professors with such exquisite cruelty that, if they didn’t so obviously deserve it, you’d have to wonder if she enjoys pulling off the wings of flies.
One of the meanest things she does is to quote them verbatim. Here are three examples:
- Ellis Hanson, a professor of English at Cornell University, in explaining how his department supported his announcement that he would be teaching a course in pornography, said: “In fact, the department paid for my copies of Deep Throat.”
- Professor of English Grover Furr, Montclair State University in New Jersey, introduced an article he had written as follows: “This article outlines Joseph Stalin’s attempts, from the 1930s until his death, to democratize the Soviet Union.”
- David Renaker, professor of English at San Francisco State University, on his “The Atheist Seventeenth Century” website, said “… it was in spite of, not because of, Christianity that Milton, Donne and others wrote great poetry in the 17th Century.”
Note that these teachers of English are no more interested in literature than a litter of house cats. They are obsessed with furthering the leftist agenda—attacking traditional sexual morality, prettifying communism and trashing Christianity. To drive home this point, Kantor reports that the program for the 2005 convention of the Modern Language Association (the professional organization for literary scholars) included the following topics: “Redeeming Violence,” “Marxism Now,” and “What Video Games Can Teach Us About Literature.” No mention of Wordsworth, Coleridge or Keats—dead white males.
In making the case for studying those dead white males, she doesn’t necessarily give equal weight to each one. For example, in discussing 19th-Century English literature, she devotes five pages to Wordsworth and Coleridge and 14 pages to Jane Austen. But in her discussion of the novelist, she is answering the feminist critics, who early in their movement pounced on Austen’s novels and mauled them beyond recognition. They chose Austen because she is the most formidable literary talent among English women and because she clearly affirms the justice and goodness of Western Christian society. Kantor’s brilliant discussion of this perverse distortion is worth the price of the book.
In addition to explaining why English and American literature are crucial to the survival of our culture, she also recommends “Books You’re Not Supposed to Read” and discusses the way in which PC professors are “Suppressing English Literature.”
This work is light reading, a book you can put down and pick up again without feeling guilty. With sidebars and subsections, the television-trained eye is never intimidated.
It is also a very serious book that explains why what is going on in our colleges and universities is scarier than Hillary and more dangerous than a Democratic Congress.