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#WeBelieveWomen: Hostages of Modern Feminism

“Being female in this world means having been robbed of the potential for human choice by men who love to hate us.” – Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse (1987) “The normal fuck by a normal man is taken to be an act of invasion and ownership undertaken in a mode of predation: colonizing, forceful (manly) or nearly violent; the sexual act that by its nature makes her his.” – Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse (1987) “I feel that man-hating is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1978)   The above are not little known and long forgotten passages from disturbing fictional stories; they illustrate what our daughters and sons learn at universities in North America as part of their curriculum in various disciplines – particularly in gender studies, but also in history, philosophy, sociology, and others. As part of feminism classes, students are taught that white men by definition and by birth are privileged in society, that they systematically oppress and rape women, and that women as perpetual victims should restructure the entire socio-economic and political system in order to end their domination by men. This cynical and subversive outlook is found in the writings of Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, D. A. Clarke, Robin Morgan, Germaine Greer, and others, which are very popular readings in schools and universities  and which dominate today’s feminist discourse. Having already made significant progress in the 20th century, the promotion of women’s rights and the struggle for equal opportunity for women and men remain very important issues in the modern world. Domestic violence, grave institutional discrimination, violent and brutal cultural practices, and social and economic repressions are currently an everyday reality for… Read More

Technology has a place in classrooms, but it shouldn’t be a crutch used by lazy professors

My article “Pass, Fail” in The Walrus seems to have triggered a massive response from readers, most of it approbative but some of it highly critical, in several instances verging on being ad hominem. Happily, this not the case with Darryl Whetter’s “The Kids Are Alright.” He does not agree with my argument, but nor does he condemn it. Rather, he attempts to think about it critically. I offer the following brief remarks in response to his concerns. Darryl Whetter’s criticism of my article consists of two substantial assertions and two corollaries. First the assertions: (1) Technology has not had the deleterious effect on education I claim it has; (2) neither student ability nor university education per se has declined over the past several decades in the way I suggest. As to the corollaries: (1) Professors who endorse either or both of these assertions may be nostalgic, narcissistic, and perhaps even ill-inclined toward contemporary students; (2) my article indicates that I am such a professor. I’ll address Whetter’s substantial assertions directly; I’ll leave the matter of the corollaries to the readers’ judgement. First, nowhere in the article do I offer a wholesale critique of technology or of its role in university education, as Whetter suggests. Nor am I against technology in the manner in which the comparison of me with Bernard of Clairvaux implies (the prostitutes aren’t “student e-distraction.” The students are the mill workers. The prostitutes are those who profit from their misfortune—the lower ranks of the administrative cast, the student services cabal and the e-cheerleaders.) Insofar as I have a critique of technology, I’d be inclined to agree with Jaron Lanier—technology is merely a tool, and should be thought of and used as such. To think of it as being more than this—as salvation, as the most important… Read More

Ministers of Education in the credentialist era

Quebec's new Minister of Education, Pierre Moreau, has held many previous senior offices for the provincial Liberals. Anglos may be pleased that he has had much greater contact with anglo constituents than his predecessor. Whether he will have any real effect, positive or negative, on public education is more open to question. Compared to other cabinet positions, Education has been something of a revolving door. In the last half century, it has had about two dozen Liberal or PQ appointees to the post. It is recognized as a difficult position, but while it has usually been occupied by senior party figures or fast rising stars, they have mostly been professional politicians, largely in the hands of the two groups that really control all the matters of substance, the permanent bureaucrats, and the leaders of teachers' and support staff unions. There have only been three Ministers who, for good or ill, put a marked personal stamp on the office. Paul Gérin-Lajoie, a Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford law doctorate, was a major founding architect of the MEQ, part of the “Quiet Revolution” of the 1960s Lesage Liberals. Jacques-Yvan Morin, another legal scholar, was René Lévesque's choice for the first four years of his government. And Claude Ryan, former editor of Le Devoir, former Leader of the Liberal Party, an austere and learned workoholic, was an unusually effective Minister from 1985 to 1990. I served on the Legislature Education Committee throughout the first half of the 1990s, observing Ryan's capacity in the first year I was there. He probably would have happily remained there another five years, but Bourassa switched him to a triple portfolio of Public Security, Municipal Affairs, and Native Affairs, to deal with the 1990 native insurrection at Oka. The three Liberals who followed Ryan over the next four… Read More

Last Days of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice

As a sceptical 1950s student hangover, I was still around university campuses and undergraduate life during the upheavals of 1965-75, but saw them very differently from most students around me. I was most interested in surprising ideas and developments that did not fit the instant mythology being created. A major cause of these surprises was that, when university departments, flush with cash in those days, sought to raise their prestige by inviting a "Distinguished Visiting Professor" from afar to join them for a year or two, they sometimes got different distinctions from the ones they expected. In 1966-68, I was at Sir George Williams University. My Queen's mathematics degree already in hand, I was taking two years to qualify in honours history. before moving on to graduate studies at McGill. During those two years, the Sir George history and economics departments had jointly obtained Rudolf Schlesinger as a visiting professor. Schlesinger was the retiring head of "Soviet Studies" at the University of Glasgow, and the editor of two academic journals, one on the USSR, one on "world co-existence." He was also a walking piece of history. Coming to Britain as an Austrian emigre in the late 1930s, he had been an important Communist Party activist for two previous decades, in Berlin, Prague, and Moscow. Despite having been expelled from the USSR CP in 1936 in a purge, he had remained a lifelong Marxist-Leninist. The then largely youthful and leftist history department revered him as a scholarly Marxist, who would add the weight of his historical experience. In some ways, he did as expected. He was certainly not one of the countless eventually disillusioned Marxists of his generation, symbolized by Arthur Koestler's 1940 novel, Darkness at Noon. For him, Communism was still not the god that failed. “Koestler? A mere courier!”… Read More

No tears for Germany

At the close of the 2100s, when the 16 centuries of conflict between Christian and Islamic civilizations in Europe culminates in the latter’s ultimate victory, one wonders how the commentators of the time will sum it up. I doubt that I’ll be alive then, but like most of you I’ll doubtless have lived through much of the coming transformation: a product of slow suicide for Europe, comprised in a forfeiture of its own values along with the societal ethic of low birthrates. For a religion that has gone toe to toe with the more confident systems of Hinduism and Confucianism, Christian Europe will be easy pickings. What’s more, the seeds have been sown by the Europeans themselves, as institutions of integration like the European Union will continue to perform the role of a catalyst for defeat, rather than a celebrated fortification of continental peace. But while those commentators may look back with sorrow at the loss of great European cultures, I hope that they won’t shed too many tears for Germany. It is, after all, largely Germany’s fault that things have already gotten so bad. The economic stability of the continent has been jeopardized by the fantastical EU and Eurozone projects, always cheered along by Germany as a means of furthering its national ambitions without having to acknowledge them as such. And as much of the rest of the continent — certainly the poor and irrecoverably-indebted parts — now have to play by Germany’s rules for monetary policy, they now have to play by its directives on migrants as well, which have initiated a full-blown crisis with no seeable end. If some of its fellow Union countries are less able to cope with the present surge of immigrants and refugees — not only from Syria, of course, but also Central… Read More

Patriarchal songs

When reading Tom Kott's article "Quebec's paternalistic married-name prohibition" about the Prime Minister's wife having to legally keep her maiden name in Quebec, I couldn't help but think of songs about marriage, whose basic purpose is what Samuel Johnson called "identification of progeny". For example, next year will mark the hundredth anniversary of the wedding song "[The bells are ringing] For me and my gal," made even more popular when Judy Garland and then Dean Martin sang them in movies. Those words may be out of date now that countless wives follow the dictates of feminism by keeping their father's surname. It's telling their husbands, "I'm not your girl, I'm Daddy's girl." I am sure that the Prime Minister's father-in-law Jean Grégoire is a fine gentleman who had the usual mixed feelings about seeing his daughter be married. He knew he would be losing a portion of the joyfulness that comes especially to the man fortunate enough to have daughters. I often think that the happiest moment of my own life was sitting in an easy chair reading a newspaper when I stopped and listened to my wife and daughters chatting about everyday things. Sooner or later a father accepts that his girls will grow up to become women. A phone call once in a while and Christmas and grandchildren's birthday celebrations have to suffice. He accepts that they can't remain girls for the rest of their lives, so their keeping his surname does nothing for him; indeed is faintly ridiculous. To recap: a woman's maiden name is not "her own" but her father's, over which she never had any choice. Unless she is the victim of forced marriage, a woman freely accepts her husband's name. That's the appeal of another song about marriage that begins I'll be with you… Read More
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