And the Hyperbole Prize Goes to…

Rod Dreher:

A number of you have sent me the Edward Schlosser essay on Vox, headlined, “I’m a Liberal Professor, And My Liberal Students Terrify Me”. It cannot fail to bring to mind the horrors of China’s Cultural Revolution, in which Mao turned the fervor and idealism of students on their professors, creating generational warfare and a “Lord of the Flies” situation.

And that statement cannot fail but to induce some serious eye-rolling.

(I promise I was not intending to post more on this topic,. but I was closing some tabs and noticed his piece that I meant to read the other day—it is more of the same:  massive over generalization from one essay with some gleeful cluck-clucking over how liberals have done it to themselves).”

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Rod’s a good writer but he tends to get hyperbolic a lot these days.

  2. @Doug Mataconis: I tend to think him of him as one of the few serious ones these days, but geez whiz.

  3. DrDaveT says:

    Without a doubt, the most apt and compelling analogy in the history of Western thought.

  4. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis: ,
    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dreher has a writing style that seems thoughtful at first glance and then you slowly recognize that he is truly paranoid. I know where you’re coming from, he looks like a cuddly professor-type with his Warby Parkers; you don’t expect a guy who looks like that and writes like that to be as bonkers as he is.

    He is developing, or has, a martyr complex that has become more pronounced over time and the pace is accelerating.

    He’s confounding because he looks like a theology professor duck and walks like a theology professor duck, but quacks like an erudite Mike Huckabee.

  5. Davebo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The fact that you find him to be one of the serious ones really epitomizes the problem with the mouthpieces of the cultural right.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    It’s a drama queen piece, overwrought.

    At first I thought the characterizations were intended as Onion-like humor, to draw you in, but I realized soon enough that he was serious, but this piece was very hard to take seriously.

  7. @de stijl: I suppose my opinion is drawn from the fact that he has seemed reasonable on a number issues (or more reasonable than some of his ideological allies). I will say that he is overwrought on the gay marriage issue without a doubt. (And now this).

    @Davebo: Perhaps so.

  8. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Rod’s a good writer

    Dreher demonstrates the difference between being a writer and being a thinker. When someone has the physical talent to hit a Major League curve ball, no one assumes that makes him smart. That is an assumption traditionally made, however, when someone has the mental ability to string words together in a pleasing manner.


  9. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’ve been reading him for the last few years. He had this knack of saying outrageous things in the sort of way that we associate with mid-century academics. He’d really nailed that style and tone, actually. It used to be kind of cute and borderline adorable.

    But the loss of Christian privilege especially on sexual matters and being accepted by the larger society as the default civic religion was not processed well in the Dreher household. America’s new increasing social acceptance of SSM and gay rights has freaked him out. He now is bummed out about Millennials because their default view is not automatic social disapproval of the things that he thinks ought to be dissaproved of. Google “special snowflakes+Dreher.” His new bugbear is that socon Christians will be ostracized, fired and jailed for anti-SSM views.

    He no longer has the ability to argue in good faith. He’s lost that ability within the last six months. Winky hyperbolic over-reaction used to be his trademark (Dreher-bait); now he’s just over-the-top hysterical. Pearl clutching is now bug-eyed apocalyptic rhetoric. What used to be weird one-off posts are now routine.

    What used to be borderline adorable is now just Borderline. He is a man going through a public crack-up. I used to hate-read him, but in the last few months it’s now mostly a pity-read. It’s not pleasant to watch someone go off the rails. He needs back away from public commentary for awhile. He’s not in a healthy space.

  10. Mikey says:

    From the Wiki on the Cultural Revolution:

    The Revolution was launched in May 1966, after Mao alleged that bourgeois elements had infiltrated the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these “revisionists” be removed through violent class struggle. China’s youth responded to Mao’s appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials, most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. During the same period Mao’s personality cult grew to immense proportions.

    Millions of people were persecuted in the violent struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including public humiliation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during the Down to the Countryside Movement. Historical relics and artifacts were destroyed. Cultural and religious sites were ransacked.

    That Dreher even had this come to mind when considering whatever’s happening in American higher education would seem to prove @de stijl correct: Dreher’s losing it.

  11. grumpy realist says:

    As far as Dreher’s concerned, everything has gone to pot since the Nominalists won. The fact that the scientific method wouldn’t have gotten started had we not finally decided to place the importance of solid facts over the importance of Platonic Ideals just never occurs to him. He totally ignores what living in such a society would be like. (And, as I have said, don’t insist on the validity of the Supernatural then complain when the local mob accuses your wife of being a witch.)

    He’s in love with an idealistic view of How The Universe Works and most of the screeching that’s been made about the Social Justice Warriors and Gay Rights is because the other set of idealistic warriors has been winning.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Rod also seems to have a history of going Chicken Little over things, period. Wasn’t he one of the ones convinced a few years back about the inevitability of Peak Oil and How We Are All Doomed?

    Some people love to convince themselves (and others) that we are on the edge of destruction and If We Don’T Immediately Do X, it’s Armageddon. For Rod, it’s SSM and Caitlyn Jenner.