21.8.05

HE'S GOT A LITTLE LIST. Bernard Goldberg's 100 People who are Screwing Up America provides Book Review No. 34. It's a polemic, and it's easy to come up with a list organized around a different conception of screwing up. In some places Mr Goldberg's list is a bit strained; there's a lot of Big Media and coastal insider stuff, and the illustrations he comes up with from sport (Latrell Sprewell and John Green, the fan who provoked the basketball brawl in Detroit) are only symptoms of a bigger problem; curiously Mr Goldberg does not pay more attention to the follies of the sports "journalists" in his field. ("Tough day, Coach.") Some of the more visible suspects from the academy surface (Sheldon Hackney, Ward Churchill, Paul Krugman) but, again, these individuals attract more notoriety for their non-academic work. The last complete list of people who are screwing up the academy is here; I must collect all the updates since then in one place.

Mr Goldberg's main gripe is with the consequences of judging "judgmental" a gaffe greater than hollering some obscenity at a sports event, or televising the unraveling of a love triangle among the less fortunate as entertainment for the groundlings, or otherwise carrying on in ways that might be hurtful to others. (Those who would go out of their way to prevent anything that might be hurtful to selected others also merit mention.) These are serious points, worthy of consideration, and his assessment that the common culture was once upon a time better because it marginalized the coarse rather than reveling in it is one that I share.

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