Terms I Put In Scare Quotes . . . And Why

When I was writing my dissertation, my dissertation chair complained (seemingly) endlessly about my use, misuse, and (too often, flagrant) abuse of scare quotes.  As it happens, she was right: dissertations are not really the place for the challenging of accepted ideas with such a simple device–actually, as it turned out, dissertations are not the place to challenge ideas accepted by leftist loons at all (but that’s another story for another day).  However, snapping on some scare quotes is fun for the snarky and, as far as I’m concerned, mandatory for tweeters (particularly snarky tweeters like me).  While I can’t seem to write complete blog posts at the moment (several half-started, half-hearted drafts languish in my Drafts folder), I am rather active on Twitter where expressions must be succinct (140 characters or less) and still make sense.

This is actually a wonderful exercise for me because I tend to be verbose to the point of rambling incoherence.  Okay, maybe not incoherent, but I can rock a simple stance into several pages with little effort.  Scare quotes are my saving grace on Twitter because I can say so much with only two additional characters: “”.  Hard not to love that . . . even as it makes me think of that Friends episode in which Joey tried so hard, and with hilarious results, to understand “sc-air” quotes (when you wave your fingers on both hands in the “quotation” gesture to undermine, question, or otherwise lampoon the word, term, or phrase being “sc-aired”).

“Gun control”–It’s never ever about controlling crime; it’s always about controlling people.  Leftists create gun-free zones and then are shocked (shocked, I say) that lunatics hell-bent on mass casualties “hit” these gun-free zones.  That makes sense how?


“Marriage” (when used in conjunction with the word “gay”)–there is no such thing as “gay marriage.”  Marriage is what it is, and government plays exactly no role in its definition.  As long-time readers of this blog know, I was not always opposed to “gay marriage”; however, once it became clear that this was not about equality (civil rights–a term that never worked on me in this context) but about undermining religion, I realized just how wrong I was.

“Religion” (when used in conjunction with Islam)–Islam is not and never was “simply”  a religion (woot at the scare quotes).  It is, and always has been, a complete economic, political, religious, and socio-cultural dictate.  And it is, and always has been, a vehicle for barbarism, even evil.

“Compassionate Conservatism”–this one is SO annoying.  It means being a great big big-government leftist in faux-conservative clothing.  And yes, I do mean George W. Bush (his dad was, arguably, even worse because he was responsible for Agenda 21 in America).

“Progressive”–I always mean “regressive” because that’s what they are.  They anchor themselves in a destructive, regressive past that is fantastical (and/or evil: segregation, slavery, prohibition, eugenics, etc.).  For example, in the midst of the Great Depression, lunatic regressive FDR paid farmers NOT to farm.  People are starving, particularly in the South, and the government limits farmers’ crops or flat-out bars them from growing much-needed food.  This is not evil how?  FDR has earned his place among the worst presidents this country has ever had the misfortune of electing, and it’s no accident that the Constitution was amended (22nd Amendment) upon his death (he was barely cold in his grave before Americans ensured that two terms as president was quite enough).

“Conservative”–as expected, when I use scare quotes on this term, I mean establishment GOP (the big government “compassionate” conservatives–the “c” in “compassionate” more aptly stands for “communist”).  When I speak of Rubio, Christie, and/or Ben Carson, I use scare quotes.  These men are not conservatives.  Rubio is a corrupt little toad who used the state campaign credit card for his own personal use (yes, he repaid it, but not until he was caught . . . two years later), who claims that conservatives who oppose his amnesty idiocy are not “true conservatives,” and who refused to join the Senate TEA Party caucus (keeping in mind that he would have lost his race in FL if it weren’t for the TEA Party).  Christie, omg where do I even start?  He’s pro-Islamist (calls anyone who questions anything about Islamfascists “ignorant fools”), pro-big government “solutions,” and pro-Obama on far too many issues for my liking.  As for Carson, I love love loved him because of the prayer breakfast beat-down of 0, but he’s said that he thinks that the Second Amendment should only apply to people in rural areas.  Sorry, he’s lost the plot by too much for my comfort (or support).

“Feminist”–Okay, back to my dissertation director (she was a renowned “women’s and LGBT” scholar.  And, in case you were wondering, that’s worth exactly crap.).  She would get near-hysterical and down-right eye-bulgingly irate if I dared to mention anything that even remotely evoked what she sneeringly called “’80’s feminism.”  This was the so-called third wave of feminism, and as far as she was concerned was too pedestrian and intellectually barren for the would-be progressive academic she was intent in building (i.e. me).

I didn’t get it then.  But I do now.  “Feminism” had to change (to regress) to accommodate the new view that things like burqas and female genital mutilation (and honor killings, etc.) were actually–somehow–suddenly–okie dokey.  That being “tolerant” about these things was somehow more sophisticated, more intellectual.  You know, somehow.

I type that, and I see how insane it is, but these loons who still have the audacity to call themselves “feminists” (all the while actually hating women as women) actually defend such practices on the grounds of “tolerance.”  So feminists who once denounced female genital mutilation (as but one example) now look the other way when stats tell us it’s on the rise right here in America. A few of these faux feminists have even defended the practice.  All of this was anathema to me as an academic, a feminist, an American, and a woman.

So I’m bumbling along in my grad “training” to be a consummate Marxist; this just means that I wrote what was expected:  Marxist crap painted willy-nilly on every thought, word, and deed.  It was so easy, so mindless, that I didn’t even bother with it too much and would slap out a 25-page Marxist lunatic “analysis” in two hours . . . to rave reviews. (Yes, it was really that pathetic.).  It’s hard not to be good at manufacturing/ferreting out “inequality” in even the simplest prose; once you learn the basic premise, you see it everywhere . . . even though it exists exactly nowhere.   It’s like the hypochondriac who reads about the symptoms of a disease and immediately becomes convinced s/he has “it.”

“Mainstream”–let’s face it, “mainstream” actually means the 8-10% of Americans who are Obots (including, of course, the “mainstream” media).  What is actually mainstream is dismissed as “extremist” and lately as the behavior/thoughts of a “potential terrorist.”

“Racism”–One of the great travesties, I think, of leftism is the crazed notion that race is the root of any dissent.  This does nothing to advance debate and serves only, purposefully, to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with 0’s job-killing, middle-class-robbing tactics.

I used to feel insulted when some leftie accused me of racism for the simple act of verbalizing my dissent.   “You just hate him because he’s black,” was the accusation.  Um, well, I hated the same policies under Carter and some (NCLB) under Republican presidents.  Does this mean that I’m a sometimes racist? That I hate all white, Southern men?  It’s nuts; conservatives have nothing to prove here.  We’ve already lost the trenches; we’re evil, hate people, want them to die, blah, blah, blah.  If we don’t have “enough” black republicans, we’re racist.  If we have too many, we’re racist and only pandering.  The truth, of course, is harder for them to grasp.  Conservative values and principles actually empower people; less government intervention is GOOD for people of all races.

As I noted, I’ve actually felt guilty in the past for my views on 0’s destructive, disastrous policies.  He’s killing our economy, and he’s doing it on purpose.  This has zero to do with race and everything to do with policy (I hate what Reid and Pelosi are doing, too. Does that make me a hater of white men or women?  Of course not.).  But for scrambling, fearful leftists, it’s always–always–about race.  Even when it isn’t.  Even when the people don’t think about or care about race.

24 thoughts on “Terms I Put In Scare Quotes . . . And Why

  1. “as it turned out, dissertations are not the place to challenge ideas accepted by leftist loons at all”

    That’s a lesson hard learned, I’m sure.

    My dissertation wasn’t so bad. Nobody really ever understood my writing all that well. Plus, I wrote long, braided narratives so they spent most of their time trying to figure out the timeline rather than bust me about my non-Marxist works.

    I get very frustrated with what passes for academia in this country. I’m most familiar with the English Depts., but the Leftist crap and constant brown nosing happens across the board in every department. I mean just look at the global warming nonsense and the absolute draconian efforts to shut up and discredit all opposition. It’s pathetic. And peer review has become more akin to gatekeeping than to actual thoughtful examination.

    English seems the worst to me. I mean deconstruction was started by a failed French philosopher dependent on a linguistic theory 60+ years out of date. And it resulted into English Depts. becoming a joke– or at least more of a joke than they already had been. Now these bozos languish in a self-constructed limbo trying to figure out what theory to shlep after like zombie sheep. Lacan is an even bigger waste of time than Derrida, and he relies on deconstruction anyway. Everything now is just some identity politics word game– Queer Theory, Post-Colonalism, etc. It’s politically motivated trash barely worthy of even MSNBC.

    And I don’t see any way out of it. Maybe when the university bubble bursts, they’ll have to come back to non-Marxist reality, but I’m not holding my breath. Ugh.

    Glad to see you’re back Fuzzy. : )

    • heh, it wasn’t so bad, actually. For some strange reason, even after being immersed in the nuttiness for years, I had imagined that I could write what I wanted in my dissertation. Found out right away, in my initial proposal and before I’d written more than a chapter, that wasn’t the case. I should have known better. Your point about gatekeeping is spot on. That’s what they do, it’s really all they do. The university bubble bursting may indeed have some lasting effect, but in the meantime, the gatekeepers are busily defending their faux intellectualism and shallow thinking. It’s stunning really that even they can’t see how stilted and anti-intellectual they really are.

  2. I’ve missed your blogs. 🙂

    I just can’t seem to get into twitter anymore, even though it perfectly fits into my lack of concentration/attention/whatever. I feel obligated to follow everyone back and then get overwhelmed.

    I’ve often found it funny that I think college, for the most part, is a bunch of bullshit and yet some of the people I most admire are/have been professors. Weird, huh? 🙂

    • Aw, thanks, Kerry. I’m going to try to start posting more often, but everything is just . . . awful. I can’t stand what’s happening, and I don’t want every post to be tagged “rant” heh. College is pretty much crap these days, and students, perhaps especially grad students, have to work pretty damned hard to get anything meaningful out of it. It’s really a shame because I love the actual idea behind higher learning, the way that it should be.

    • Heh, you’ve read them a thousand times, Michael. They’re all the same, cookie-cutter Marxist crap that your students turn in every class and that you wrote for every one of your courses. That’s part of the problem with higher education. 😦

      • I’ll confess that I find Marxist claptrap to be charming, and I can almost always draw something out of it. But Marxism was never my thing. I remember my first year as a Master’s student, the theory course was taught by a brilliant Marxist-inclined teacher, who writes about American Indian writing and nineteenth century America. For a brief time as a consequence of that class, I felt like my own interests were insufficiently political, but I could never even pretend to endure Marx. I felt like “The German Ideology” was one of the creepiest books I’d ever read, and that whatever gains one might draw from it were more than outweighed by its thinly veiled violence. I remember arguing with a fellow student at the time about it, when at some point the conversation turned personal (not in a bad or heated way) and I agreed that, yes, I want to make sure we pay our babysitter fairly, even if she doesn’t insist on it or the “market” might not support it. “That’s Marxism!” he said. “No,” I replied, “Marxism is, ‘Pay your babysitter more, or we’ll shoot you!'” He laughed.

        Luckily, I found that I had an enormous amount of leeway in what and how I wrote. I’m pretty sure none of my course papers or other writing fits the mold you describe. My dissertation was pretty uniquely mine, and I’ve been free to write on whatever I want. Right now I’m really interested in analytic philosophy and am returning to works by John Locke, Bishop Berkeley, and David Hume. (Not exactly firebrands, those sort.)

        Maybe it has to do with my fields (18th century literature and digital humanities) which tend to be a little more conservative than others. Or maybe it’s just my (flawed, as you’ve pointed out) personality, but I’ve found academia to be far more welcoming than I feared it would be. I was expecting the politically rigid environment you describe, but have found a great deal of freedom personally. Of course, I vote Democrat and I’m a straight white guy (I’m pretty unthreatening and no one expects me to be a vanguard of feminism or a voice of the oppressed) so maybe it’s more acceptable for me just to do my thing.

        Anyway, your experience sounds dreadful, and I’m sure it’s all too common. The attrition rate in graduate school is really high, especially for women. The political pressures that you all seem to feel at all times must be difficult to bear. I’ve just started as a professor this year, and I’m trying to be very respectful of the different agendas graduate students bring to their work and to give them whatever freedom I can.

        I’d still like to read your academic writing! Perhaps you could do a side-by-side? The paper along with your present-day commentary? That would be hilarious, but perhaps it would put your anonymity at risk. In any case, welcome back to the blogosphere! (You’re reminding me that I need to put a blog together myself…)

        • Heh, so much here, I’m not sure where to begin, but yes, you definitely should start your own blog. As to a side-by-side, that would be of interest to me. And you. And that’s about it. So it’s probably not good blog post fodder, but I appreciate your interest very much.

          Oh where to begin with your “non-Marxist” interest in a field of study that originated in the early-twentieth century and was based on some German dude’s work in maths–okay, I can’t recall his name–that was essentially teased out by others (Bertrand Russel among them, as you note) to debunk idealism and to logically “prove” that all that religious nonsense was just so much disprovable bunk (sound familiar?). Not only was that fantastical religious stuff unrealistic but it was provably false. Scientifically so.

          Destabilizing meaning (sound familiar?) and throwing out anything not deemed “scientific,” defining the world, philosophy, ideology, people’s actions, life itself in bits and pieces, separate working parts that can be identified (again, it’s all “science,” right?) and thus stuffed in its proper place in the greater scheme of things isn’t at all Marxist. 😉 It’s been years since I read any of it (and that was in a linguistics class that I rather enjoyed), but I do very clearly remember thinking how interesting and novel it was to reach out to maths to latch onto yet another way to undermine both religion and the individual in one fell, rational, scientific swoop. That drive to make their lunacy sound “rational” and “scientific” is still alive and well.

          And are you seriously telling me that you’ve never been in a class that discussed 18th century literature and feminism (i.e. Marxism applied after the fact)? You haven’t read Wollstonecraft’s Vindication (and read how it became something completely different in the hands of Marxists?)? Bentham? Or Marxist criticism (sometimes disguised, not very cunningly, as “historical criticism” or “cultural criticism” or really, pretty much any of the “isms”)? And don’t forget that analytic philosophy played a huge role in rewriting the debate about the dialectic (and it would seem that Marx himself actually read your buddy the German maths guy who got all that off the ground . . . and whose name still escapes me. I probably need more coffee. You know the guy, and I’m sure Yukio does, too.).

          I guess my point is that I wasn’t stripped naked, beaten with leather straps, and forced to recite Marxist mantras. I didn’t sit in brightly lit rooms with my eyelids taped open while forced to read every single piece of literature as if it held some hidden meaning about oppression or as if it actually undermined and questioned all meaning, paving the way for Marxism to sprout its nasty seeds. I was just in college. Then in grad school. And the stuff was freaking everywhere. A few of us used to meet for mandatory beer unwinds after class and examine the lunacy, so I do know that I was not the only one unaffected by the intended indoctrination (and that really is what it is). Well, not “unaffected,” we were very much so. As I suppose my rants about it reflect. Heh.

          Honestly, I can’t tell you the last time that I actually ENJOYED reading a piece of literature. Once they’re reduced to “texts” plumped full of socio-political, cultural, “scientific” “meaning” (or that destabilize society, politics, culture, and religion by calling all meaning into question–two sides of the same coin), they’re no longer literature. They’re political tracts (because it all comes back to politics, even if that’s not the apparent or first intent/purpose–just look what happened to that German dude’s maths ideas). In fact, I bet if I asked any tenured faculty member in my graduate department when the last time they enjoyed a book was they’d be first shocked (enjoy a book, huh? on its merits? It has none!), then they’d scramble about in their pea brains for the most compelling Marxist or Marx-based or Marx-bastardized nit they picked. A couple of them would undoubtedly state that it was their own book that they most enjoyed. And that would make me smile.

          • Can’t enjoy reading books and neither can anyone you work with? Dreadful. Sorry for that. For what it’s worth, the last book that I truly, deeply enjoyed reading was Gulliver’s Travels, which I’ve been re-reading this past week with unbounded delight. Or did you only mean books newly read? In that case, I’ve been thrilled just in the past few days to dig into Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge, which is stunningly brilliant and charmingly bonkers. I’m not sure how either would fit into the scheme you describe. I guess I’m just not seeing it. Perhaps I should consult my buddy the German maths dude, whoever that is. 😉

            • LOL, I didn’t say I don’t enjoy reading books; I said I don’t enjoy reading literature anymore (and I very much believe that there is writing worthy of being called “literature.”). Not like I once did, but I’m hoping it’s just burn-out, and I’ll get my groove back in that regard. I read voraciously, but mostly either founding documents (lately), American and European history(with some Russian and Mao-era China thrown in for good measure), and of course, brain candy crap (I love those silly cozy mysteries).

              And you would make me look that German dude up, wouldn’t you 😉 It’s Gottlob Frege, arguably the founding father of your field of study. But you knew that. 😛

              • Ah, Frege. Sure. I think that your above comment sort of makes sense now. Did Frege and Marx actually overlap professionally? I think of them as being of different eras, but my background in the Continental stuff isn’t as strong as perhaps it should be. As I mentioned above but didn’t explain properly, my interest is really in 17C and 18C empiricism, and I find that current debates in philosophy (in the tradition of analytic philosophy but not necessarily dictated by Frege’s and Russell’s work) offer some of the best commentary on intellectual problems that writers like Locke and Berkeley were tackling. Much of this is brand new to me, truthfully. The things I’m reading feel pretty separate from the whole conservatives vs. leftists thing that so powerfully motivates you. Or so it seems to me. I only mention this because you said above that everything *I* and my students do is Marxist. Maybe I’m an evil Marxist bent on world domination, but it really feels like I’m just interested in the ways neoclassical writers confronted metaphysical problems while trying to explain how literature works. You seem to be sure that this fits into some predetermined political scheme.

                It’s funny, actually, that you accuse me of being super political and leftist in my work. The only other written response to my writing so far that I know of was by a woman who complained that my article on the poet Anne Finch was “a step back” for being insufficiently feminist. It annoyed me for an hour or so, and then I got over it. Your comment above and hers are I think, to date, the only two publicly available commentaries on any of my work. Something about this totally entertains me.

                And yes, I hear you about burnout. It’s a very common problem. I’m not sure why I’ve been immune so far. Even when I was down in the dumps about the job market and my hair was going gray, I always was having fun with reading and writing and thinking. Luckily, the hair bounced right back and spring is around the corner in beautiful South Carolina.

                And my blog is up! — I haven’t spent *all* day flirting with my lovely tin-foil-behatted Internet friend. 😉 — It’ll be about some of my newest DH work, which is only tangentially related to my other stuff.

                • Yay! Am going to post my response in a few (um, after I write it), but wanted to let you know it’s going up discussion a bit. I like these indented blog discussion comments, but they quickly become too scrunched for my liking.

                • Oh! And I almost forgot to mention College Insurrection. It’s a conservative site, of course, but they don’t wear tinfoil hats over there, and you may find it of some interest to read what conservative college students are saying about the intellectual and socio-political climate at their respective schools. See?! That’s what I love about you, my union-loving-Obama-voting, friend. I honestly believe that you would find that site of interest.

                  Here’s the linkage: http://collegeinsurrection.com/
                  And here’s a recent article over that I think may of some interest to you: Straight White Men Alienated in Higher Ed Workplace: http://collegeinsurrection.com/2013/03/straight-white-men-alienated-in-higher-ed-workplace/

    • Yay! So glad your blog is up; what is the url for it? You can email me if you prefer (I understand completely and promise not to embarrass you with my right-wing nuttery). I must say I do love our occasional chats, even though you are a patchouli-stinking Obot commie. 😉

      Actually, I’ve never read any of your work and was only talking off the top of my pointy but oh so pretty tinfoil-hatted head. When I was still in grad school (and of course I only have experience being in grad school where I was), the only time we really discussed or read anything even remotely related to analytic philosophy was in that linguistics course that I mentioned enjoying. That professor was still old-school enough to insist that we understand the intellectual history of the ideas that we were being asked to consider, so we did a lot of that sort of discovery stuff (who read and was influenced by whom and in what ways, etc.). Personally, I always thought she was a bit subversive because she let me write a very . . . let’s say not rampantly feminist or any “ist” final paper in that class. It was my first year, and one of the last non-ist papers I wrote, alas.

      I will concede, however, that I do tend to smatter that crap everywhere; I like to think of it as pushing back using the tools with which I was gifted. But that’s only when I’m feeling particularly crabby. The rest of the time, I don’t think about it too much and trundle along doing my own thing in my own subversive way. So don’t take too personally some off-hand comment about your work (as noted, I’ve never read your work) or that of your students. I would, though, be super interested in reading your syllabi and essay assignments. When I’m bored, I sometimes float around reading online syllabi and assignments, usually very unhappy with what I see because it’s so predictably immersed in pushing a leftist worldview.

      You wrote: [quote] Maybe I’m an evil Marxist bent on world domination, but it really feels like I’m just interested in the ways neoclassical writers confronted metaphysical problems while trying to explain how literature works. You seem to be sure that this fits into some predetermined political scheme.[/quote]

      I could talk for hours about this particular snippet (don’t worry, I won’t), but I’d be interested in reading this applied to some “text” or group of texts. For all I know, you could be doing what a lot of straight, white males (and more than a few non-leftist academics who wouldn’t dare admit they’d never chain themselves to the WH gates, blow up a Japanese whale-fishing boat, or stand arms outstretched on the deck of a blockade-running flotilla) do: looking for a way to find your own bit of turf within the mire that you can call your own and from which you can spread your intellectual wings. A bit. Some might try to meld musical theory and literature or find other ways to indulge their formalist streak and still meet the needs and expectations of contemporary academia. And I have no idea if you have a formalist streak or not, so don’t take that personally, either. 🙂

      So, I’m curious. What do you think will happen when the higher education bubble bursts, as it seems likely to do at some nearish point?

      • OK, I was going to make an off-color joke about the conditions under which I might chain myself to something, but thought better of it…

        My new blog, which is just under construction and not ready for public viewing, can be found at http://modelingliteraryhistory.org. This is all totally new stuff to me, but I have a few grant applications out and am coordinating with people at the Complex Systems Institute at UNC-Charlotte. I presented some work to them this past weekend and they seemed pretty enthusiastic about it.

        I have several publicly available articles, if you’re interested in my actual academic writing, mostly stemming from my dissertation work on the history of literary criticism. It’s all up on Project Muse, if you have access to that. If not and you’d actually like to read it, I can forward the pdfs to you.

        My newest piece is titled “Real Robinson Crusoe,” and it’s the germ of my current book, which is on metaphysics and literature. The basic thesis of the book is that, in trying to figure out how fiction works, writers across the 18C were confronted over and over again with the ontological weirdness of fiction as a category. The chapter I’m working on now is about drama and the effect of looking at real people and objects (actors, scenes, etc.) and imagining them to be fictional characters. So, I’m looking at 18C theories of drama and contemporary epistemology about the perception of real objects. That chapter is still basically in tatters and wouldn’t make much sense, but basically I’m reconsidering neoclassical theories of “the unities.” So, yes, in a way it’s a kind of formalism, but in a very strange way not connected to 20C lit theory.

        As for the future of higher education, I really don’t worry about such things. I find it difficult enough to understand what happened in the past. I just try to ensure that my students have a great experience in the classroom (and at SC, that necessarily includes conservative students) and that my graduate students have the best training they can get.

        Speaking of which, TTh are my teaching days, so I can’t talk too much today. Any chance you’ll be at MLA next year? I have a paper accepted and if the panel runs, I’ll be presenting my new DH work.

        • Congrats on your website! That’s marvelous, and I’m sure it will be a raging success. Yay you!

          No, I won’t be attending MLA this year, but would love to read your paper. Speaking of reading your work, thanks for the info, I’ll definitely read some of your articles and/or your dissertation. 😉

          Go, teach, be productive.

  3. As someone who/whom had to repeat Dumb Bell English … Scare Quotes?

    You just keep lighting them up at The Tweet Thing. Post a few for me because I visit my account there twice a year whether I need to or not.

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