Thursday, December 02, 2010

Quotations of the day

Nothing had been so hateful in the sight of these mobs as the man of learning, at first because they had served the princes, but then later because they refused to join in the bloodletting and tried to oppose the mobs, calling the crowds "bloodthirsty simpletons."

Joyfully the mobs accepted the name, took up the cry: Simpletons! Yes, yes! I'm a simpleton! Are you a simpleton? We'll build a town and we'll name it Simple Town, because by then all the smart bastards that caused all this, they'll be dead! Simpletons! Let's go! This ought to show 'em! Anybody here not a simpleton? Get the bastard, if there is!
--Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

I hope [the committees] will reconsider funding [of the Smithsonian Institution]. After all, why should the working class pay for the leisure, e.g., going to museums, of the upper class? We don't subsidize professional wrestling, yet the working class has to pay for the leisure of the rich. --William Donohue, Catholic League president

Donohue (no relation!) pushed the point further in an NPR interview that I'm trying to find a transcript of, in which he states baldly that only "elites" visit museums. "Regular" people simply prefer professional wrestling and shun museums. He himself never visits them, he says.

That may come as surprise to my father, who grew up on a farm, and my mother, who worked part-time in the local town hall and was otherwise a full-time mom. Neither attended college, though my mom went to secretarial school. (Does that make her an elite? I'm not sure where the lines are drawn these days.) They drove me down to Washington, D.C., and we saw the Capitol, the U.S. Mint, and, yes, the Smithsonian. I loved, loved, loved the Air and Space Museum, and that trip was one of the highlights of my youth. I remember it vividly, decades later.

Does Donohue even believe the crap he spouts? Does he really think schoolkids don't get inspired by seeing Betsy Ross' flag or the lunar module and would be better off seeing an exhibit of Randy Savage's singlets? I suspect it's just condescending bullshit to get donations from the rubes, but what do I know? (I do believe him, though, when he says he never visits museums.)

I despair. Truly.

UPDATE: Here is the quote from NPR:
"Why should the working class pay for the leisure of the elite when in fact one of the things the working class likes to do for leisure is to go to professional wrestling? And if I suggested we should have federal funds for professional wrestling to lower the cost of the ticket, people would think I'm insane. I don't go to museums any more than any Americans do," Donohue said. --NPR

Emphasis mine. (Way to recycle a quote, Bill.)

UPDATE UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan on the exhibit in question. He describes the item that offended Donohue toward the bottom.


grokagain said...

I'm looking for the full quote also. I had the exact reaction you did. Of late I was beginning to wonder when anti-intellectualism would begin embracing itself instead of standing on the false platform that they are the thinking, and that 'liberals' are feelers. This has a long, cyclical history. For a great understanding read Richard Hofstadter's "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life"... a very readable but scholarly look at the history written in 1962.

I'll continue looking for the full quote, as I want to use it in my weekly column I write for a small newspaper.

Jim Donahue said...

Let me know when column is online, and I'll link to it.

grokagain said...

it may not be worth linking to. if it seems ok i'll do just that though. appreciate the offer.

by the way, damn i'm enjoying your blog. found it by googling about the donohue quote we both heard on npr. i'm not blog connoisseur (bloggosseur?) but yours is sharp.

i see you're a writer/publisher/editor type so i suppose that explains the good entries.

Jim Donahue said...

Thank you!