Monday, July 31, 2006

Ivory Tower Irrationalities

The following is my response to Brian Cooney's guest opinion in the Danville Advocate Messenger, "What does 'God, Family, Country' mean?". Cooney's piece appeared on July 24, my response appeared on July 25. Cooney is a professor of Philosophy at Centre College.

Dear Editor,

In his article, "What does 'God, Family, Country' mean," Centre College professor Brian Cooney comments on the words he says he saw at a local Republican group's booth at the county fair. He says of these three words--'God', 'family', and 'country', "I've been wondering what the words mean, and how they are connected."

Cooney then launches into a somewhat bizarre, pseudo-Freudian analysis of these words and their connection to one another, saying that a whole range of conservative political positions, including positions on issues like minimum wage and estate taxes, are somehow tied together by an extremist, patriarchal view of the family. The analysis is so outrageous (to borrow an expression from George Orwell) that only an intellectual could believe it.

Now if you went out on Main Street and asked average people what these terms meant, they would have no trouble telling you. An average person could tell you what the words 'God', 'family', and 'country' meant without any hesitation. So why does Cooney, a philosophy professor at a well-respected college, have trouble making sense of them? Is the air just thin up there in the top floor office of whatever campus building he's in?

He and his ivory tower friends really should get out more.

I have another theory of the connection between these words, and why they would be be emphasized in the rhetoric of a modern political party. Maybe it's because there is a whole class of people like Cooney who populate our cultural and governmental institutions who've completely lost touch with reality and have forgotten what basic, everyday terms like 'God', 'family', and 'country' mean, and therefore are left having to spin exotic theories about them.

Maybe these political groups stress these terms in order to jerk the feet of people like Cooney back down to earth again.

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