Jerk Knee, Blame Knapp?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Over at The American Thinker is a piece by one James Lewis that asks a worthwhile question about the Blacksburg Massacre: "Was Cho taught to hate?" Unfortunately, the essay threatens to help discredit intellectual criticism of the multiculturalist movement as ignorant and hysterical if the following fit of slap-dash research and knee-jerk conservatism is any indication:

I wonder if Cho took the senior seminar by Professor Knapp, on "The self-justifying criminal in literature." Because he certainly learned to be a self-justifying criminal. Or whether he sat in courses with Nikki Giovanni, using her famous self-glorifying book, "The Prosaic Soul of Nikki Giovanni (2003)". Maybe he read Professor Bernice Hausman's "Changing Sex: Transsexualism, technology, and the idea of gender" -- just the thing for a disoriented young male suffering from massive culture shock on the hypersexual American campus. And even more gender-bending from Professor Paul Heilker, who wrote "Textual Androgyny, the Rhetoric of the Essay, and the Politics of Identity in Composition (or The Struggle to Be a Girly-Man in a World of Gladiator Pumpitude)." Or the Lesbian love stories of Professor Matthew Vollmer. Yup, that's just what this student needs. These trophy "art works" are all advertised on the English Department faculty websites.[bold and link to listing of Knapp seminar added]
This use of the portion of the above passage in bold is sloppy at best, unjust at worst, and wrong, period. (The rest of it strikes me as irrelevant even if correct.) I have never met Dr. Knapp, but I hazard to guess that were she a Marxist, or someone who glorified criminals, or a multiculturalist, she would not have been included among the list of speakers at this year's Objectivist Summer Conference. (Her full name is Shoshana Milgram Knapp.)

The author's overall point, that multiculturalism had something to do with this mass murder, is right, but this paragraph utterly fails to support his point. Indeed, you'd be better off reading Objectivist commentary (e.g., by Dr. Michael Hurd or Nick Provenzo) to begin to get an inkling of how multiculturalism actually contributed to this atrocity.

If there is one thing worse than to be wrong about the cause of a serious problem (of which Cho is merely a symptom), it is to discredit the correct explanation, thereby hindering the search for the truth. This can only make it harder to prevent the "next one".

Mr. Lewis could begin correcting course by offering a public apology to Dr. Knapp and to anyone else whose views he implicitly mischaracterized on the strength of his quick skim through the Virginia Tech web site. If the ideas being taught to college students make such mayhem possible -- and I think some of them do -- then one should be far more careful when identifying them.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

There's another article by Oleg Atbashian that connects the Left to Cho in a much more forceful manner, and that is refreshingly bereft of degenerating into conservative platitudes.

My only knock on it is that is describes collectivism very well, but without naming it:

"The truth is that the radical “progressive” ideology (a broad term embracing many offshoots of Marxism) dehumanizes people more effectively than any violent point-and-shoot video game ever could. It pits various groups of people against one another by cultivating envy and grievances that are mostly imaginary and second-hand. In the politically correct book of “progress,” man is no longer judged by the content of his character - but by the color of his skin, class, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other secondary attribute. The trick is that when a secondary attribute becomes the primary one, man loses his unique individuality and becomes a mere social function, a drone in a collective, a peg in the machine, a sacrificial animal on the altar of “progress.”"

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for the link. That is a better analysis.

Here's a hyperlink, for the further convenience of anyone who's interested.

Orange said...

Damn those gun-loving liberals! I reckon they taught Cho to shoot and made sure he'd have an easy time buying weapons and ammo.

Gus Van Horn said...

"Orange said...

Damn those gun-loving liberals! I reckon they taught Cho to shoot and made sure he'd have an easy time buying weapons and ammo.

4/24/2007 8:31 AM "

You're right. They didn't arm Cho with a gun.

They just gave him lots of excuses for feeling justified in using it in the manner that he did, while physically and psychologically disarming the people he slaughtered.

Yeah. The left is completely innocent. just like Cho, for whom they're making excuses, and because of whom they want to make sure that only people like him will be able to get guns in the future.

Thank you for stopping by here and making it clear for whom and what you are willing to make excuses. This pretty much lends credence to the point made in the Atbashian essay. Good job.

Orange said...

Wasn't Cho a business major who'd only recently switched to the English department? Maybe you should investigate the ideologies addressed in the business curriculum if you're looking to blame an academic department for Cho's crimes. (Disclaimer: I think the idea of pegging the blame for a mass murder on any field of academic inquiry to be bogus.)

Gus Van Horn said...

I did not say he did what he did because of his field of study.

The ideas that permeate a culture are not learned just from college or one's field of study. (Just look at all the "green" businessmen out there who are supporting an environmentalist agenda that will ultimately harm, if not their businesses directly, the economy as a whole.) Furthermore, since ideas motivate people, it is not enough to blame Cho, although Atbashian makes a good case for leftist ideas figuring in to why he did what he did. Ideas also motivated everyone around him: from the people in the court that declared him an "imminent danger", but allowed him to remain free (or the legislators who hogtied them, as the case may be); to those who encouraged his type of artistic expression; to those who helped transform so many of the people around him into mentally passive adults (See Mark Steyn.).

In other words, some of these ideas motivated Cho, and some made the rest of us more easily harmed by his ilk.

I will stop here and say that while I find the ideas of the left largely to blame, the left is merely a secularized derivative of Christianity, but stripped of much of its Enlightenment respect for reason. (And if you don't buy that, you should ask youself why so many Christians so easily accept environmentalism as "stewardship".) Ultimately, religion bears lots of this blame, too. But then, that is why I advocate neither religion nor socialism, but reason, and specifically, the ideas of Ayn Rand.