Rush Limbaugh recently went on a little rant about classical education. He was riffing off the protest of an Occupy demonstrator, whose sign bemoaned her “useless” classical studies degree, and his basic response was that anybody who was dumb enough to get a classical studies degree deserved whatever they got, good and hard. Now as a recipient of one such degree, allow me to rise, however briefly, to the defense. Keep in mind that Martin Cothran of Memoria Press has already answered Rush in quite a capable fashion here. My purpose is a tad different. My purpose is simply to dance around the room a little bit, pointing out a few objects of interest on the walls as I go.
Rush said, among other things . . .
“Any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the bleep is classical studies? What classics are studied? . . . What are the classics? . . . For all of you young skulls full of mush out there . . . when you go to college, do not do classical studies. What the bleep is it anyway?”
Thus far the gentleman on the radio.
This is what might be called a major hoot, but only in a sad kind of way. You know, a sad hoot, like Obama talking about jobs. One of the most vocal defenders of our Western civilization has joined the rabble in giving the raspberry to the study of dead, white guys. Gentlemen, we must now retreat to the inner city, and defend the gates from there.
What good is a classical education? Well, one thing it can do is enable you to draft the kind of Constitution that will allow its foremost defenders two and half centuries later to not know what the heck went into it. Let’s not forget that.
Look. I like Ronald Reagan. But defending the right wing of your civilization from Reagan on down is like appealing to the ancient lineage of Gondor — you know, way back to Denethor’s grandfather. Three stewards in a row.
There is one thing worse than an Occuhippie with a classics degree and no job, and that would be a radio talk show host with cultural amnesia — in charge of organizing our cultural defenses.