Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Ezra Klein steps in it:
I grew up among academics. And I have never since met a class of people so contemptuous of teaching. You'd think they were being asked to chew mud.
Rob and Erik both respond to this, but I think it's just a silly argument to begin with. Of course, teachers come home and bitch about their students. They do this not because they have an ingrained contempt of the profession, but because in a class of 10 undergraduate students you're guaranteed to have at least one drooling moron, or worse yet the arrogant douche who thinks his reading of Ayn Rand prepared him to go mano a mano with the Political Economy prof.

Ahem. Not naming names.

But this is a universal phenomenon: waitresses complain about their diners, doctors complain about their patients, bus drivers complain about their passengers, and believe me that booksellers complain about their customers (many of whom are, based on the evidence of many years, functionally illiterate. Why they come to a bookstore is a mystery for the ages.)

Fuck me, reporters in newsrooms complain about their idiot readers/viewers/listeners, people whom they almost never have any direct personal contact with. (Yes, I have heard this talk directly. If you don't believe me, read Matt Welch.) You want to talk about a class of people who can whine over trivial affronts to their dignity...

I'm not surprised that Ezra Klein's family in academia came home and bitched about their jobs. I am surprised that Ezra has apparently never worked in a job that sucked enough to bitch aloud to anyone within earshot. Or else, he never connected the two experiences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Personally I like (and I see that Dave at LG&M makes this connection too) how Ezra immediately generalizes from the handful of academics that he knows - and who knows what kinds of academics these folks are - to all academics everywhere.

And of course Ezra leaves out all of the academics who are teachers first and foremost and researchers second (or even last) in his "class" of academics. Nevermind those of us who have an actual goal in life of teaching at a nice liberal arts university that doesn't have an intense research focus - apparently we aren't "academics" to him (perhaps we're some kind of sausage, or possibly a kind of aardvark).

Ezra writes a lot of stuff. Some of it is good, some of it is kind of dumb, and a lot of it betrays his personal privilege and narrow world view. But this is the first thing I can recall him writing that is just so mind-numbingly stupid that it makes me think his critics are right and that he really is just a privileged rich kid who doesn't know squat about anything and needs to get out into the world and live a little bit more.