Some e-mails on “Ignoble Savages,” my July 20 post on Mark Steyn’s column about “Before the Dawn,” the new book by Nicholas Wade in which a new breed of historians turns to Swiss cheese the popular (and politically correct) academic idea that primitive peoples were egalitarian pacifists whose peace-loving, in-tune-with-nature ways were destroyed when dead white Europeans discovered their existence.
First, my writer-friend Tom Alderson:
“But the high tide of all that, I believe, is behind us. If you think about the reception Edward O. Wilson got in the 1970s, versus the veneration he enjoys now, it’s clear that the Darwinist image of man as a battling animal has prevailed even in the academy. The long reign of [postmodernist heavyweight Michel] Foucault is ending.
“In fact, there’s a danger now that biological determinism will replace ‘social construction’ as a simplistic reductionist shorthand. The clearest sign is how it has invaded pop culture, and is now resorted to constantly to explain, among other things, relations between the sexes. (‘Caveman,’ etc.) The academy, far from leading the way, is fighting a rearguard action, which makes Kissinger’s ‘stakes are so small’ crack even more pertinent.”
Gosh, Tom, let’s hope so. Meanwhile, I know from experience that the zany academics who think that “gender” is just a “social construction” invented to keep male patriarchs in power aren’t going to go away until someone drives a stake through their hearts. That’s the problem. Everyone on the outside knows their theories are absurd–but they’ve got tenure.
And this from regular e-mailer W.W.:
“Imagine the life of the Plains Indians before the horse. Imagine the life of the Plains Indian women before the horse.”
Well, I can imagine: Plains Indian women were the horses.