2:31 AM EDT, May 1, 2013
As life becomes faster and attention spans of readers grow shorter, we have to adjust. I am doing so with this column, as from now on each week it will follow a new format that will feature three segments: one significant, one sentimental and one sassy.
Other columnists will surely follow my lead with their own versions of my SSS format, but I’m used to being copied by admirers, so I will be honored when they do so yet again.
First we’ll start with the significant. In the wake of another aspiration-whupping in the November elections, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other gears in the right-wing wind machine are attacking education as a source of this country’s ills, specifically focusing on higher education.
What they are saying is higher-education institutions are bastions of liberality, meaning vulnerable young people are being brainwashed by smarty-pants and smarty-skirts professors of the leftist ilk, hence the liberal political preference of most young folks. This is not a new rhetorical front on the right, but it is newly vehement.
Certain folks have gone after my university job in past years, calling my bosses to ask for my firing and insisting that someone such as yours oh-so-truly should not be teaching easily influenced young-uns. I’ve challenged people to come to a class and see how much preaching about politics and social issues I do, but no trash-talker has yet taken me up on the challenge.
The offer remains open. And feel free to record my classes, or hire an undercover agent/student, to do so.
Recently in a speech class we did get into discussions after various persuasive speeches about current events. I was just another participant in the discussions, saying no more than many students, although I did encourage those with minority opinions to speak up. Still, that was the first time in recent memory when one of my classes went into political issues for an extended period.
O’Reilly recently launched an attack on a leftist professor at the University of Southern California and Beck went on a tirade about the “progressive” curriculum of what I think was Bowdoin College in Maine. What they didn’t point out was both colleges in question are private, and if people don’t like what is taught, they, and their parents, don’t have to pay tremendous tuition sums to such colleges.
It’s the same thing with institutions such as the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, Bob Jones University and Hillsdale College, all private. If people don’t want their offspring to hear endless right-wing hooey, they can send their kids and cash elsewhere.
Now for something sentimental: George Jones, the Ol’ Possum, one of the greatest singers/songwriters in the history of this country — not just country music — died over the weekend. People who label real country music such as that George Jones played as being redneck-ish or trailer-trash-ish never listened to the lyrics sung by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or George Jones. If you don’t think country music is full of brains and beauty, listen to Jones’ hit “A Good Year for the Roses” or Haggard’s song “Mama Tried.”
Haggard is the only one still living of the four, and before he goes he should be named the nation’s poet laureate. It would do the country, and poetry, a lot of good.
Now for something sassy: I was lucky enough to attend (inner cranially) the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library this weekend.
It really is a wonderful library. And the best thing is all the books aren’t colored in yet.
Bret Kofford teaches writing at
San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus. His opinions don’t necessarily reflect those of SDSU
or its employees or those of the
Imperial Valley Press and its staff. Kofford can be reached at