uno itinere non potest perveniri ad tam grande secretum -- Q. Aurelius Symmachus, 384 C.E.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rush Limbaugh, Asinus Stultus (Dumb-Ass)

Rush Limbaugh went on an uneducated rant about a classical studies student who is occupying Wall Street, betraying in the process his utter ignorance about the degree (as he does when he remarks on about anything) in the process.

In an "aw-shucks, schoolin' is for gettin' jobs!" dilution of the university experience, he essentially boils down a protester's lament about the lack of employment (because, you know, unemployment is extraordinary high, a fact he strangely omits) by trashing the entire discipline. At one point, after reading the degree description from the University of Pennsylvania, he remarks: "Now, I don't know about you, does not make me want to sign up for a major in this."

Of course, that was only after sending his staff to track down what classical studies is. Because up to that point, Rush didn't know:

"Tell me, any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the hell is Classical Studies? What classics are studied? Or, is it learning how to study in a classical way? Or is it learning how to study in a classy as opposed to unclassy way? And what about unClassical Studies? Why does nobody care about the unclassics? What are the classics? And how are the classics studied? Oh, cause you're gonna become an expert in Dickens? You're assuming it's literature. See, you're assuming we're talking classical literature here. What if it's classical women's studies? What if it's classical feminism? Who the hell knows what it is?"

Not to worry, Rush. You wouldn't be able to hack it in classics anyways: learning Latin and Greek requires a certain amount of logical rigor and attention to detail, the sort which you routinely abandon every time you sit down in front of a microphone. Indeed, because the reputation of these languages precedes them, classical studies grads often go on to law school or medical school, or any number of other post-baccalaureate pursuits. And those who enter the job market immediately often do rather well, especially in largely liberal-arts occupations like, I don't know, media commentary? Other benefits are socio-political: how about being able to read the New Testament, which you use to justify all manner of social policies, in the original language? Or understanding the ideas and systems of government from which the founders of the United States drew?

What's your college degree in, again, Rush? Oh that's right.

A classics degree affords students with a number of opportunities thanks to the breadth of knowledge that the discipline entails: knowledge like what blowhard demagogues were like even back in ancient Athens, and why they should be viewed with a grain of salt.

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