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Nonsense as Nationalism

"There is always something new from Africa."
—Pliny the Elder

By the early 1970's, I had come to the conclusion that American higher education could not get any worse. Most of the young and not-so-young Ph.D.'s in the humanities were intellectually anemic. What few brains they possessed had been starved on a diet of bogus theories and textbook generalities; hardly any of them had the fund of general learning that used to be expected of any gentleman, to say nothing of "a gentleman and a scholar." Feminism and structuralism had already raised their ugly heads, and it was not too hard to predict the wave after wave of French theoretical scum that would wash upon the desolate shores of the American mind.

In thinking that the humanities could only get marginally worse, I was guilty of an uncharacteristic optimism. I had failed to correlate the rising tide of minority rights with the falling standards of scholarship, the perfect formula—as it turned out—for multiculturalism in general and Afrocentrism in particular. Even in the late 80's, as Afrocentric books began to make a stir, I paid no attention: despite the low estate of American scholarship, the universities still contained dozens, even hundreds of philologists and archeologists who would give Leonard Jeffries and Martin Bernal the ridicule they deserve. Once again 1 was naive....

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