Virginia Tech’s commencement exercises took place this week. Columnists across the country weighed in to consider the impact of last month’s massacre on the surviving students, to walk a minute in the shoes of the grieving families of the 32 dead, and to speculate again about the motives that drove Cho Seung-Hui to gun down his fellow students.
But rest easy, Nation readers, because one intrepid columnist has solved the riddle of Cho’s rage: Literature professors who stray from the Western canon are to blame.
Not lax gun control laws. Not campus security or local police. Not holes in the system for treating psychologically disturbed students. But reading the wrong kind of poetry.
So says Phyllis Schlafly of the uber conservative Eagle Forum in her column this week. "Why was he consumed with hate, resentment and bitterness?" Schlafly asks rhetorically. "Cho was an English department major and senior."
Thanks to her frequent forays into enemy territory–the college campus–Schlafly has located the hotbed of insurrections, that petrie dish where murdering radicals are bred,: "English departments are often the weirdest and/or most left wing."
Okay, she has to acknowledge she doesn’t know what courses Cho Seung-Hui took, but the entire English department at Virginia Tech is clearly rife with femi-nazis and their multi-culti kin teaching just the kind of classes to "confuse an already mixed-up kid."
Schlafly comes down particularly hard on Professor Bernice L. Hausman‘s English class where students read such "fringe" academics as Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Theodor Adorno. Worse, Schlafly says, is the corrupting feminist theory these impressionable youngsters are introduced to: Margaret Atwood, bell hooks, Joan Brumberg, Susan Bordo.
"Did Cho get evil egotistical notions from Professor Shoshana Milgram Knapp’s senior seminar called ‘The Self-Justifying Criminal in Literature?’" Schlafly wonders. "Did Cho take Professor J.D. Stahl’s senior seminar, English 4784, on ‘The City in Literature?’" Schlafly finds the prospect horrifying since the assigned reading, she reports, begins with a book "about an urban prostitute who finally kills herself and a book about a violent man who kills his girlfriend." (And I am not even going to get into the loopy logic here, where someone who objects to literature about suicide or murder has to logically throw out the whole western canon with the bath-water: Good-bye Oedipus, MacBeth, Hamlet, Crime and Punishment, Libation Bearers!)
Schlafly concludes by going after poet Nikki Giovanni, a Virginia Tech professor who read "what purported to be a poem" at a convocation to honor the victims. Schlafly writes:
"On behalf of the English Department, [Giovanni] declaimed: ‘We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it.’ Maybe others will render a different verdict and ask why taxpayers are paying professors at Virginia Tech to teach worthless and psychologically destructive courses."
So there you have it.
And why do we care what Phyllis Schlafly, this aging guardian of aproned-femininity and the western canon thinks?
Oh yeah. We don’t. Forget this blog.