Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stefan Kanfer on the Larger Meaning of Mattew Yglesias's "Evelyn" Ignorance

Kanfer weighs in on the ignorance of a notable leftist blogger (who thought Evelyn Waugh was a chick) and what it betokens for the survival of Western civ:
When the dustup hit the Net, one of Twitter’s most popular commentators, Matthew Yglesias, owned up to his ignorance like a man—an unlettered man. “Confession time,” he wrote. “Until today I thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman, because his name is ‘Evelyn’ and that is typically a woman’s name.” Whereupon, a derisive Twitterer asked, “Have you ever read anything?” Answering in kind, Yglesias shot back, “Yes, several books but none by Evelyn Waugh.” 
Very amusing, but Yglesias isn’t your average blogger. He’s a graduate of Dalton—a tony Manhattan progressive school—and attended Harvard where he graduated magna cum laude in 2003. If Waugh is untaught—and perhaps unknown— in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that lends credence to an essay in the education-watching site Minding the Campus. Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen laments, “My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”
Can a civilization that "has achieved perfect indifference to its own culture" survive? Perhaps. But I have my doubts.

Update: Here's a Waugh observation that seems to be completely up-to-date re The Donald:
He was gifted with the sly, sharp instinct for self-preservation that passes for wisdom among the rich.

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