Un-Personing Joshua Katz
Longtime readers will recall the terrible saga of Joshua Katz, the distinguished Princeton classics professor who was hounded out of his university by a woke mob. Not only did they cost him his job, but now they've un-personed the professor -- one of the most accomplished academics in his field -- within his profession. Katz writes today about speaking to a conference of classics scholars who had gathered in Greece; he spoke to them by Zoom, because his wife is pregnant and he couldn't travel:
So there I was a few days ago, Zooming in to the Academy of Athens, seven time zones ahead, where an assembly of European and British classicists, many of whom have known me for decades, had gathered. Some of them boycotted my presentation, walking out as I began to talk. This, of course, is generally the behavior of activist students toward an external invited speaker, not the behavior of distinguished professors toward a longtime and once-respected colleague. Because I wasn’t in the room, I wasn’t able to judge just how many people left. What I know for sure is how my talk started and how it ended. While every other speaker — there were nearly 30 of us — received a fulsome introduction, I didn’t receive so much as a single word: I was brusquely told to begin. I have attended well over 100 conferences in my life, and this is the first time I’ve ever witnessed such a thing. Equally unusual, and at least as rude, was this: My talk didn’t earn so much as a single clap, not even from the moderator. And far less unusual but perhaps equally telling: I was not asked a single question. Welcome to invisibility.
For those of you who do acknowledge my existence, let me tell you what I spoke about: “Classics: Inside Out and Upside Down.” Like most humanistic disciplines, classics is in trouble. Even at a tony institution like Princeton, fewer and fewer students care enough about ancient Greece and Rome to enroll in the occasional entry-level class about Athenian democracy or Augustan literature, never mind major in the subject. Of course, there are also far, far more classics Ph.D.s than there are tenure-track positions — or any academic jobs at all.
Prof. Katz said in his talk, he discussed the ideologically-driven collapse of authority and standards within the Classics discipline, and how left-wing activists were destroying it. More:
In my Zoom talk, I discussed what all this tumult says to students, parents, employers, funding agencies, the media, and the world at large. I tried to transmit a clear message about what has gone wrong, in my view, and what we might do to rescue the situation. But since no one who was present has spoken or is likely again to speak to invisible me, I will probably never know whether, as I suspect, the great majority of classicists agree with me and are just too scared to say so. I suppose I can console myself with this, though: At least when everything does go up in flames, I’ll be watching from a safe distance as my former colleagues burn.
To give you an idea of the kind of people who are ruining Classics as an academic discipline, take a look at this tweet from Mark Zuckerberg's sister, who is using her own considerable fortune to transform Greco-Roman studies by the jackhammer application of wokeness:
A "woman" got Mark Zuckerberg's sister pregnant by not ejaculating responsibly. It's quite a thread.
Get weekly emails in your inbox
As I said in the previous post here, I was part of a televised discussion on Slovak television this morning, which touched on my book Live Not By Lies. A scientist was on the panel, and he refused to accept that there is anything totalitarian about our liberal democracies today. He said he lived through Communism, and this ain't it, because we are free to say what we think without penalty. I told him that if this is the case in Slovakia, then he should be grateful for it, because it is not the case in America, and we Americans are living through the affirmative answer to the question, "Is it possible to have a totalitarian system within the structures of liberal democracy?" I don't blame the man, exactly. It is very hard for people in this part of the world to comprehend the cultural suicide of the United States. After the talk, I told one of my co-panelists, a venerable stage actress, about what happens normally in the US regarding children and transgenderism. Her jaw fell open, and she gasped. "Decadence!" she whispered. Yes, exactly.
In the previous post, I talked about what the faculty and administration of KU Law are teaching their students by embracing illiberal leftism, also known as wokeness. They are destroying liberal democracy, no question, and they are doing so with incomparably more effectiveness than any January 6 mob of yahoos on Capitol Hill. It's happening to within institutions like Princeton. You'd have to be a fool to study Classics there now. But this, I am told, is how the entire field is moving. (And this, by the way, is another reason why the sickening secret online behavior of the classical Christian school headmaster back home is so incredibly damaging: classical Christian schools are almost the only institutions now where the literature and culture of the Greeks and the Romans can be studied with appreciation. Those institutions, many of them quite poor, are like Dark Ages monasteries, keeping the light burning during the militant bleakness of the Woke Era. Everybody I've met in that field does what they do out of true love of the Classics -- but now that disgraced headmaster has given the enemies of intellection, the enemies of reason, and the enemies of the West ammunition to turn against men and women like Joshua Katz, and against these defenseless little schools.
We gotta fight, y'all. We gotta fight.