Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
July 22, 2012
Once when I was in college, I had a professor (George Meese) invite me to some sort of academic paper-review function. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I think the point was a paper that a professor had written. Other professors (who presumably had read the paper) were there to ask the author questions. Well… “questions” only in the grammatical sense that they ended their long-winded statements with a question mark. Mostly it went something like this: The person began talking by introducing him/herself (including full educational credentials), opined about something only marginally related to the topic, embellished said topic with stories of personal triumph, dropped in a word like “pedagogy” or “rubric” to bring the educational crowd back in, and finished it all with a “don’t you agree?” to ensure the answer. It was horrible.
On the way out, Professor Meese asked me what I thought. I told him exactly what I thought. Which is to say, it was BS. He was startled for a second, and I realized he was asking about the actual topic of the review. I started to backpedal (because, frankly, I was so caught up in the meta-properties of the event I really hadn’t thought at all about the topic). He kind of held his hand up to stop me and said, “Wait. What do you mean?” And I said, “Are all “reviews” like that?” He smiled and said something like, “Not all. But too many.” (He was a good teacher — that wasn’t the lesson I came for, but he was pleased I had learned something of value.)
Anyway, that sort of bloviating, “I know it all and you simply don’t have the capacity to understand” behavior is stereotypically associated with those who self-identify as liberals (say, college professors). And it’s annoying as hell. But if Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld taught us anything, it’s that it’s not exclusive to your political ideology. So I intended to call out our state attorney general, Bill Schuette, here. He has taken a pretty hardline against the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare law to the point now of actively circumventing it (and patronizing the citizens of Michigan in the process). If calling him a liberal doesn’t change him, perhaps I will have to draw him in a tweed jacket, smoking a pipe, and driving a Volvo.