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Don’t Apologize, Dude

How to get into trouble in today’s morally bankrupt academic culture.

by
David Solway

Bio

October 5, 2013 - 12:42 am
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Canadians are clearly among the world’s most fortunate people. Compared to the majority of peoples around the globe, we enjoy a leisurely and indolent existence. True, we have our delicate sufficiency of social problems: aboriginals who insist on favored treatment and hold the government to ransom with hunger strikes, land claim protests and violent occupation of entire communities, Muslims engaged in stealth jihad and sporadic terror, high taxation levels, so-called human rights tribunals that act as kangaroo courts, and a modest degree of unemployment. But running down the alphabet from Algeria to Zanzibar, it is plausible to suggest that we live in halcyon climes, and indeed, Canada is one of only three countries — Norway and Israel are the other two — that managed to ride out the recent economic meltdown and emerge in a comparatively robust posture.

This may explain why Canadians are naturally prone to grow ludicrously exercised by relatively inconsequential issues, which can fairly be described as tempests in a peepot. The most recent such trivial controversy to raise our pro forma ire has to do with David Gilmour, the Canadian fiction writer and part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto. Now it should be noted that Gilmour boasts a pretty decent reputation among our literary elite, having won the coveted Governor General’s Award for a thoroughly undistinguished novel, one among many. (His new novel, Extraordinary, is about assisted suicide and the relation between siblings.)

Gilmour is a stock Canadian writer: overhyped, almost unfailingly dull, and eminently forgettable absent media inflation. But he has recently leaped into prominence by being guilty of an unforgivable breach of political — and literary — correctness. In an interview with Random House’s Hazlitt magazine, Gilmour said:

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. I’ve never found — Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one short story from Virginia Woolf. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would teach only the people that I truly, truly love. And, unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women…usually at the beginning of the semester someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I’m good at is guys….very serious heterosexual guys. Elmore Leonard, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy guys…Henry Miller. Uh. Philip Roth.

In uttering so insensitive and inexpiable a preference, he drew down upon his weary, tousled head the unrelenting fire of the professoriate, administrators and students, both women and men, the former the shrieking viragos of Canlit and the latter those blenny-mouthed pram-pushers terrified of violating the feminist and multicultural bromides of the day. For it is not only a frenzied band of women who are primed to join the bacchanal and tear Gilmour limb from limb, the Pentheus of Victoria College — feminists like Gillian Jerome, chair of Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA), for whom Gilmour is proof that “we live in a deeply sexist and racist culture”; Angela Esterhammer, president of Victoria College, who regrets Gilmour’s having “expressed his views about teaching in a careless and offensive manner”; student activist Miriam Novick, who declared “we want to make sure the rest of the university community and the public at large knows that Gilmour is not representative of our institution or of the academy, and to encourage Victoria College to seriously reconsider his continued employment”; and author Anne Thériault who, according to the report in the Toronto Star, won’t be letting pass “this kind of blatant sexism.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Solway writes: "Canadians are clearly among the world’s most fortunate people. Compared to the majority of peoples around the globe, we enjoy a leisurely and indolent existence." And he then goes on to describe a creepy thug culture that drives normal people into seculusion or, in my case, to the relative paradise of the Amazon in Peru where life is so far better that the very thought of returning to Canada makes me sicker than gulping the completely legal (in Peru) jungle drug ayahuasca and have it as Big Gulp if I care to. I can jay-walk to the lodge, smoke a stinking cigarette on the way, without being bothered, and I can pay for everything I do by starting any number of businesses just because I can.

Freedom. I have it in the Amazon. And though it rains here, it is not the miserable constant punishment of a Canadian climate, changing or not. Canada sucks. Everything about Solway's essay shows that. Normal people who care to live private lives should pack up and leave. Bolivia is paradise compared to Canada. Peru is heaven. Canadians don't know what they have lost when they allowed the gradual encroachment of petty thuggery to take over completely what has always been a nasty little country.

Peru is better. Bolivia is better. Paraguay is sort of better. Canada, as Solway shows, is hell.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...the shrieking viragos of Canlit and the latter those blenny-mouthed pram-pushers terrified of violating the feminist and multicultural bromides of the day"

Here in the lower 48, feminists blew their cover when they continued to support Billy Clinton through serial philandering and intern diddling in the Oral office.

He was their guy on "the issues" so all was forgiven, or glossed over.

Reportedly, women in the state of Virginia are about to catapult the crooked Terry ("desperately seeking a new gig") McAuliffe into the governorship because, like Kathleen Sebelius and Barry Obama, he never met an abortion he didn't embrace. And, like a good fellow traveler, McAuliffe supports Barack's coal destroying agenda.

Kinda makes you want to repeal the 19th amendment.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who can argue with your take away message as it applies to the hypocritical academic intolerant caste in most humanities departments. "But then, admittedly, it takes chutzpah, genuine conviction, and intellectual muscle to be a guy guy in a domain ruled by self-righteous prigs and pathetic fellow-travelers of either gender."

This lesson strikes me as broader in application these days: "But then, admittedly, it takes chutzpah, genuine conviction, and intellectual muscle to be a Constitution-based outspoken conservative in a domain ruled by self-righteous prigs and pathetic fellow-travelers of either party."
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
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41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thumbs up Gilmour!

I know we are doing considerably well in comparison with the outside world, but I do agree with this article that we are being cowardly democratic. I use term democratic to describe the necesity to constantly treat people as equal. We are not equal. We have never been. To put everyone under the same scrutiny means loss of their own identity. And I totally agree that women writers are not as good as the male ones, at least for a guy in his thirties.

As a society, we have many problems that need our immediate attention. for example the houselhold debt, high mortgages [http://jaybanks.ca/vancouverrealestatenews/2013/08/20/mortgage-retirement/], oil or immigration policies. These problems really need to be treated involving the public, this is where people should express themselves. Not in some absolutely irrelevant discussions.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I can’t see Hemingway or Tolstoy prostrating themselves before a furious klatch of harridans and their male janissaries."

Academia tends to revolve around bullies defending politically correct "truths" and wimps willing to be bullied into submission. After a generation of emasculation and feminization, finding "men's men" today isn't easy. As much as I enjoy ABC's "Castle", the lead male character is a classic metrosexual - smart, caring and loyal, but unmoored before stronger male characters. How different indeed from AMC's "Hell on Wheels" lead characters Bohanan and Ferguson - flawed characters surely, but determined and fearless. Wimps they're not.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bravo! for writing that eminently sensible article on today's shallow, superficial "academe".

A breath of fresh air.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe Gilmour could include Ayn Rand's very fine novel We The Living. That would give Canadians an eyebrow raising. See http://clarespark.com/2011/01/12/ayn-rands-we-the-living/. A much underappreciated novel, and by a certified female!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
If he writes in tepid fashion, why would you expect him to provide an impassioned defense, or simply tell the complainants to sod off?

Why does he not absorb some of the content of this guy-guy literature? Easy. Lots of folks like westerns, and they may idealize cowboys, but actually living that way is a very tough gig.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
That one must be exhorted to be a guy guy is offensive in any context.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Solway writes: "Canadians are clearly among the world’s most fortunate people. Compared to the majority of peoples around the globe, we enjoy a leisurely and indolent existence." And he then goes on to describe a creepy thug culture that drives normal people into seculusion or, in my case, to the relative paradise of the Amazon in Peru where life is so far better that the very thought of returning to Canada makes me sicker than gulping the completely legal (in Peru) jungle drug ayahuasca and have it as Big Gulp if I care to. I can jay-walk to the lodge, smoke a stinking cigarette on the way, without being bothered, and I can pay for everything I do by starting any number of businesses just because I can.

Freedom. I have it in the Amazon. And though it rains here, it is not the miserable constant punishment of a Canadian climate, changing or not. Canada sucks. Everything about Solway's essay shows that. Normal people who care to live private lives should pack up and leave. Bolivia is paradise compared to Canada. Peru is heaven. Canadians don't know what they have lost when they allowed the gradual encroachment of petty thuggery to take over completely what has always been a nasty little country.

Peru is better. Bolivia is better. Paraguay is sort of better. Canada, as Solway shows, is hell.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Academic Freedom for ME but not for THEE.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...the shrieking viragos of Canlit and the latter those blenny-mouthed pram-pushers terrified of violating the feminist and multicultural bromides of the day"

Here in the lower 48, feminists blew their cover when they continued to support Billy Clinton through serial philandering and intern diddling in the Oral office.

He was their guy on "the issues" so all was forgiven, or glossed over.

Reportedly, women in the state of Virginia are about to catapult the crooked Terry ("desperately seeking a new gig") McAuliffe into the governorship because, like Kathleen Sebelius and Barry Obama, he never met an abortion he didn't embrace. And, like a good fellow traveler, McAuliffe supports Barack's coal destroying agenda.

Kinda makes you want to repeal the 19th amendment.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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