Reader “Roddie M” has this deeply intellectual query for us today:

Why should the taxpayer fund the idle intellectual whose “work” consists of writing academic books no one in the world will ever read and teaching classes that only 5 kids on campus take anyway? Why should the state take money that could go to finding a cure for cancer or something important, and instead throw it down the rathole of Liberal Arts departments where some professor will waste that money sitting on his ass writing a book on Postcolonial Feminist Transgender Finnish Commercials that will not improve life for anyone on earth?

I am very interested to know what this boilerplate excoriation of the Intellekshull Boogeyman has to do with a non-tenure-track, non-research position that consists, in its entirety, of helping young people learn a new language—an act proven over and over and over and over (and over) to make those people better at thinking and problem-solving (and thus, presumably, cancer-curing)?

The neurological and material benefits of speaking more than one language are true regardless of the language, of course, but in this particular case, the non-tenure-track, non-research position in question involves teaching young people potentially the fourth-most-useful non-English language in the modern world (behind Spanish, Arabic and Chinese)? Like Merkel or loathe her, Germany is by all reasonable accounts currently the leader of the free world. At least until the Trump presidency comes to its end (whenever and however that might happen), there is little less useless than learning German. The job in question has nothing to do with postcolonial feminist research, and to connect its terrible salary to that argument is spurious at best, especially if you know anything about the way foreign language departments work (hint: you don’t) and the strange bifurcation between the literary folks and the more “vocational” SLA folks (hint hint: you definitely don’t). To act like paying a subminimum wage pittance for this job amounts to the brave rescue of precious Illinois tax dollars (very, very few of which go to higher education anyway, aka Straw Man Argument Nummer Zwei) from the evil Social Justice Professors simply betrays the fact that you have less than no idea what you’re talking about. Probably about anything, but definitely about this.

But of course, if you’d paid attention in any of your liberal-rathole humanities classes instead of whacking off to Rush records, you’d probably know how to recognize, identify and pulverize a straw-man argument and you wouldn’t need me to do it for you.

Good day.

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4 thoughts on “…so that people can learn how to identify and destroy bullshit straw-man arguments, for one.

  1. How much time have some of these critics spent in Europe? One can argue that certain subjects and sub-fields are specialized, even arcane, but discouraging the hiring of a few experts to teach in those areas is not a good idea. Esoteric literature aside, the dearth of Americans fluent in foreign languages is not a good thing. On the flipside, most young Germans can get by in English (forget the Italians but that’s another line of discussion). Shooting the messenger is not the solution.

    While I’m on a rant, how does anybody justify insulting Dr Schuman simply for commenting that the adjunct situation is a scandal and that graduate programmes are poorly administered? It’s like football fans denying the reality of CTE. Really?

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  2. Your rebuttal was fine until the last paragraph. Why you had to take a random potshot at Rush and their fans, IDK. (You only proved that you can be as guilty of stereotyping as your reader was attacking elitist liberals.) Not to mention, you probably just offended the majority of Canadians over the age of 40 or so.

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