John Leo is dead. Between him and Midge Decter, it’s been a real tough week for pretentious psuedo-intellecutal right wing assholes who created this shit show in which we live. I don’t have an obituary written for either of them, though I do for Norman Podhoretz. But I do have a John Leo story.
My brother went to St. John’s College in Santa Fe. It’s one of these Great Books program. To which I say, huge fucking eyeroll. By reading GREAT BOOKS, this means “never reading anything by non-white people.” Also, while there is some value in this kind of education, it’s hardly the well-rounded liberal arts education of the contemporary era I would recommend for kids. In any case though, at St. John’s, there was an enormous disconnect between the students, who were largely a bunch of stoners who liked to read and talk about reading, and the administration, made up of right-wing white men who liked to talk about how this was REAL EDUCATION unlike the public schools and their evil diversity courses and the like.
So of course when he graduated in 1998, John Leo, who was a personal friend of the president natch and who was then writing for U.S. News and World Report, was the commencement speaker. I got to witness this. As someone already following American politics closely, I knew who John Leo was. And it was so bad. He had no clue who these students were. But what he did know is they were reading Euclid and Socrates and not any of that DuBois or Angela Davis or–MY GOD!!!–bell hooks! They were getting a REAL EDUCATION that would teach them REAL VALUES that would create another generation of REAL WESTERN CIVILIZATION. It was so eyerolling, so pretentious, such complete bullshit.
Meanwhile, my brother and his friends were drunk and high during the ceremony and did not give a flying fuck about anything John Leo had to say, the entire political project the administration was pushing, or anything else about this. And while I guess I’d say my brother and his friends can be a bit a contrary about things, you think this produced a new generation of defenders of WESTERN CIVILIZATION? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Amazingly, this is not the worst commencement speech I have seen. But it was pretty bad.
What an asshole. Good riddance.