March 18, 2002
Bookburning In America

In today's edition of NRO's On the Corner, Stanley Kurtz writes:

Josh Mercer's new CampusNonsense site is more than just a conservative campus blog. It aims to be a kind of clearing house for conservative blogs nationally, which are linked in the right-hand column. Click on Arizona State’s “Collegiate Conservative,” for example, and you’ll read the story of yet another conservative paper theft. Many of these papers were burned. (The Left seems to have entirely forgotten the terrible images of Nazi book burning.) CampusNonsense has also got a bunch of links to campus conservative papers.

There's more, and it's all good, but this is enough to hang my comments on:

1. I think the proper word for a clearinghouse of blogs is 'metablog'. Last I heard, everything else on college campuses was meta-something-or-other.

2. I'm not totally convinced that the campus Left has forgotten about Nazi book burning. They may prefer to use Nazi methods for the shock value, like the adolescent morons they are. They may have found that burning things provides a bigger thrill than other methods: Butt-Head's even stupider friend Beavis had strong pyromaniacal tendencies. Or it may be that the urge to burn conservative journals, rather than running them through a woodchipper or throwing them in an outhouse, has subconscious roots. In their hearts, these guys must know they're acting like Nazis. (Their heads are likely unaware of this, as of so much else.) I still remember when I first heard or read Yale deconstructionist Paul de Man's line "the resistance to theory is a resistance to reading". As a hopelessly retrograde atheoretical reader, my immediate reaction was "if I'm the Resistance, what are you, a f***in' Nazi?" Little did I know. Since his sordid history of collaboration back in occupied Belgium was revealed a few years later, I've often thought that maybe de Man, or his deep-buried conscience, was trying to tell us something.

3. While we're looking for subtexts, here's something else I've been wondering about. Am I the only reader of On the Corner who finds himself humming Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner" whenever he goes there? (Not a band I was particularly eager to be reminded of, though not as bad as some I could name.) Older readers, and those who listen to Oldies stations (assuming there is any difference), will recall who was down on CCR's corner: "Willy and the Poorboys" (lyrics here). Would the title of NRO's collective blog be an obscure allusion to patrician yachtsman William F. Buckley and his crew of ill-paid (or at least always-complaining-about-their-pay) scribblers? Or have I spent too much time in academe?

4. In looking up De Man on the web, I ran across a tedious 1996 argument on the definition of Fascism that incidentally includes the delightful coinage 'lumpenlibertarian'. Thank you, Rich Graves, whoever you are. Now I have to find someone who fits the description, so I can use it myself.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 18, 2002 10:10 PM