It seems that Rush Limbaugh has gone and made a bit of a fool of himself. On reading the preceding statement, some of you may be outraged, whereas others may be thinking, “So what else is new?”
Once upon a time (around 1991), when my car had a working radio and I didn’t mind listening to commercials for 30 minutes out of every hour, I tuned in to Limbaugh occasionally. I still remember being persuaded by him that George H.W. Bush was a conservative (I was more gullible in those days), but I haven’t paid any attention to him in a long time.
However, I’ve learned that a few weeks ago Limbaugh went on a rant against classical studies on his program:
Any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the **** is classical studies? What classics are studied? Or is it learning how to study in a classical way? Or is it learning how to study in a classy as opposed to unclassy way? And what about unclassical studies? Why does nobody care about the unclassics? What are the classics? And how are the classics studied? Oh, so you’re going to become an expert in Dickens? You’re assuming it’s literature? You’re assuming we’re talking about classical literature here? What if it’s classical women’s studies? What if it’s classical feminism? Who the **** knows what it is? … For all of you young skulls full of mush out there, … when you go to college, do not do classical studies. What the **** is it anyway?
Whose skull is full of mush here, exactly?
So that my exasperation does not lead me to say any more uncharitable things, I’ll stand aside and let Martin Cothran of Memoria Press respond to this diatribe in a temperate manner:
The classics are the natural ally of conservatism, and when a prominent conservative like Limbaugh uses the excuse of the liberal assault on him to assault them himself, he is only contributing to the decline of the civilization he prides himself on defending.
In fact, in many ways Limbaugh’s attack on classical education was an unfortunate case of friendly fire. Before the advent of the modern education agenda we see at work now, studying the classics was what education consisted of—almost exclusively. In fact, we ought to be glad the founding fathers didn’t have Limbaugh’s attitude about classical studies, since it was through their knowledge of classical political theory that they were able to frame the government which we still enjoy to this day.
Read the rest of Cothran’s thoughtful response here. And if you are interested in learning more of the classical political theory that influenced the Founding Fathers, we just happen to be working our way through Aristotle’s Politics during the next few weeks (see yesterday’s post for more details).