Many of us here at the IWF are huge fans of Camille Paglia. What? You thought she wasn’t our type? In a brilliant column, Rod Dreher makes the case that Paglia has a lot in common with the late scholar Russell Kirk, another favorite of many IWFers. Sound unlikely? Read on:
“Dr. Paglia, a professor at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts who made her name in 1990 with the publication of Sexual Personae, is no conservative–in fact, she’s an atheist libertarian Democrat who extols the virtues of pagan sexuality. But she’s downright Kirkian in her contempt for the egalitarian instinct and in her roaring disgust at modernity’s disinterest in, or even contempt for, Western tradition.
“And she holds her own tribe –American humanities professors–chiefly responsible.
“‘I remain concerned about the compulsive compulsive denigration of the West and the reductiveness so many leading academics in the humanities have toward their own tradition,’ she tells me. “They reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia. That’s an extremely small-minded way of looking at culture and a betrayal of the career mission of these educators, whose job is to educate students in our culture.'”
The elite classes are blasé about Western tradition. The atheist Paglia is distressed that only students from poorer backgrounds know the Bible:
“If the elite class sees nothing in the West to defend, we’re reproducing this situation of the late Roman Empire, which was very cosmopolitan and very tolerant, but which was undone by forces from within,” she says.
What are those who want to conserve the traditional Western humanities as a refuge from cultural barbarism supposed to do? Said Dr. Paglia, emphatically: “It’s up to people to educate themselves.”