Volume > Issue > The Rift Between the Finest Minds & The Limp Academics Now in Power

The Rift Between the Finest Minds & The Limp Academics Now in Power

SPOILED AMERICANS, SOFT PROFESSORS & STUNTED STUDENTS

By Robert Greer Cohn | September 1998
Robert Greer Cohn is Professor Emeritus of French at Stanford University. He is Jewish by birth, and considers himself a Judeo-Christian.

Sidney Hook, the dead white male philosopher, once told me over dinner how during his impoverished boyhood in Brooklyn he threw himself in the path of a streetcar to shake down the company for damage money.

Grim necessity defined that epoch: Our immigrant ancestors were driven by potato famines and pogroms to come to America and struggle, as Sidney did, for dignity, along with a certain “competency.” Grim necessity followed them not only onto farms and into factories, but into the teaching profession, where still in my early days, around World War II, I taught huge loads for miserable pay.

Almost all institutions reflected this austerity: Home discipline and the schools were far stricter and more demanding than they are today. But there was more joy, too, as old-timers vividly recall.

It was such necessity that helped keep most families together over lifetimes, along with affection, and made communities warmly close. Those communities maintained sustaining customs — the corner drugstore for decorous juvenile meeting between the sexes and village-square boxing matches for healthy male bonding. Normal folks — I mean those outside the academy — often wax nostalgic about all that, and I only rehearse these familiar facts to point up the dramatic contrast to post-Second World War America. No people in history have been so spoiled as Americans since the mid-1940s.

Enjoyed reading this?

READ MORE! REGISTER TODAY

SUBSCRIBE

You May Also Enjoy

Blitzkrieg on the Western Front

In the ongoing civil war in the universal Church, Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J., President of…

Discovering the Church in Harvard Yard

My father wrote an angry letter to the Dean of Harvard and told me that if I insisted on being received into the Church he would insist on withdrawing me from Harvard.

How Pro-Lifers Are Saving Higher Education

A recent feature at the website of campus-affairs watchdog The College Fix revealed an alarming…