Ed Driscoll

InstaPodcast On Campus

Glenn Reynolds and Helen Smith’s next InstaPodcast is online, featuring an interview with Evan Coyne Maloney on independent documentary production.

There’s a priceless tip for anyone who wishes to do with Maloney has done contained within the podcast: when Evan was preparing for his first documentary, he rented a large, very professional-looking camera to shoot it, even though the sort of small camcorder you can purchase for a few hundred dollars at Best Buy would have done much the same thing. But having a cameraman following him with a bulky piece of hardware in his mitts would make him look far more like A Serious Professional Documentarian than any tiny camera.

Maloney is doing yeoman work opening up what I dubbed “The Culture War’s Newest Front” when I interviewed Brian Anderson for TCS Daily about his South Park Conservatives book last year:

With some measure of parity achieved in the media, what’s the next front in the culture war? Academia of course, which is where Anderson chooses to end “South Park Conservatives” (before an index and a volley of footnotes, including — full disclosure time — me, for this TCS article).

Anderson’s ultimate objective isn’t to achieve some sort of ideological reversal, where conservatives dominate campuses in the same fashion that the left currently does. Instead, he’s trying to ensure that academia “isn’t a machine for left-wing political advocacy”. Anderson says that students “are trending to the right on issues from how to view capitalism to attitudes about abortion and many view campus PC orthodoxy with abhorrence — which is why so many of them love South Park.”

Anderson concedes that reforming academia is going to be a long slog. “Changes are only just underway, and the prospects for any quick turnaround somewhat remote”.

You know colleges have a problem when a man in a San Francisco audience can say to Tom Wolfe at a lecture to promote his fictional account of on-campus PC run amok, “Mr. Wolfe, I’m a father, and my daughter is going off to college. I don’t mind if you lie to me, but tell me it’s not going to be Sodom and Gomorrah U”.

How could a correction of sorts play out in the next few decades? Last month, one of Mark Steyn’s readers emailed him concerning the Red States and collge indoctrination:

Demographics of blue state composition no doubt do indicate falling numbers. However, red staters continue to send their children to universities for indoctrination. They, too often, come out of those institutions as blue staters, even if they return to red states. This, in my opinion, counteracts the demographic trends.

Steyn replied:

There is a degree of truth in that. However, the loathsome propagandizing of the educational establishment rests in large part on the fact that the academic elites have a political party whose beliefs are broadly the same. The 2010 census will further reduce representation in the north and east and transfer it to the south and west, and so will the 2020 census, and after that, unless they change, the academy will risk becoming a kook fringe unsupported by either party, increasingly abandoned by parents, and less and less able to justify their huge public subsidies.

If what Steyn predicts becomes a reality, then Evan’s documentaries (and the groundwork laid by books such as Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons, and the granddaddy of ’em all, William F. Buckley’s God And Man At Yale) will have succeeded in their ability to point out the wild hypocrisies of modern day college.

As I said, it’s a long slog, but it’s not an impossible one: would anybody five years ago have predicted the way in which a new medium would bring Dan Rather’s career as a network anchorman to its ignominious conclusion?