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Ed Driscoll

Do Art History Majors Hate America?

February 18th, 2014 - 3:08 pm

“Obama Apologizes for Smearing Art History Majors,” Jonathan Chait of New York magazine writes today, quoting the president’s letter to University of Texas art history professor Ann Collins Johns:

Ann —

Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed.

So please pass on my apology for the glib remark to the entire department, and understand that I was trying to encourage young people who may not be predisposed to a four year college experience to be open to technical training that can lead them to an honorable career.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

First of all, it seems strange to see the president begin a letter on official White House stationary with “Ann,” rather than Ms., Mrs., or Professor, but perhaps that’s simply a sign of the new informality* of modern times (ushered in during the 1970s, as David Frum wrote in his book on that endless lost weekend of a decade). But what’s even stranger is former BDS sufferer Chait’s postscript to the president’s letter. At the conclusion of his post, he writes:

The Obama apology tour continues! Basically, any group of people that hates America and gets worked up about it — Europeans, Muslims, art history majors — Obama will apologize to you.

So his core voting block, in other words. Nice of New York magazine, which put the phrase “Radical Chic” into wide circulation almost 45 years ago, to clarify.

But do the bulk of art history majors hate America? Or perhaps we should ask the flip-side of the equation: which college majors aren’t being taught to hate the nation?

(Via Virginia Postrel.)

* Oh to be a fly on the wall of the Oval Office if Johns wrote back a letter that began with “Barack” or “Barry” rather than “Dear Mr. President.”

Update: “Leave it to this guy to finally uncork a mea culpa on the very least of his sins as president, in a matter where he actually had half a point” regarding the exploding costs of higher-education, Allahpundit adds.

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It was Tom Wolfe (writing for New York Magazine) who put the phrase "radical chic" into wide circulation. I may be splitting hairs, but the estimable Mr. Wolfe does deserve the credit.
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