Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #142 (January 31st, 2007)

Dave Sim's Collected Letters Volume 2 will be released in late spring/early summer 2007. Until Dave (who currently has the flu) is feeling better – and to whet your appetite for the book! -- The Blog & Mail will run two-page excerpts from the manuscript each day.

Today: Pages 101 & 102:

Douglas A. Jeffrey

22 June 04

Dear Mr. Jeffrey:

Thank you for your note of earlier this month welcoming me as a subscriber to Imprimis. I have already sent a photocopy of the first issue you sent, the April number, to one of my reader/correspondents and have quoted it to another. A most extraordinary, thoughtful and clear-thinking publication. I enclose my contribution and the addresses of two more possible subscribers.

I have to admit that the only thing that dismayed me in reading about your institution was the statistic that you have 51% female enrollment and 49% male enrollment. This was the only area where I saw you as violating your mandate as a liberal arts college in the original sense of the term. Female representation is certainly something to be acknowledged and accepted everywhere and by everyone in a free society, but I would maintain that a one-to-one ratio can only be achieved through the skewing and lowering of standards. After all, even the United Nations is only calling for 30% female representation in the world's legislatures — and is everywhere falling well short of that goal because of the (to me, anyway) self-evident overall lesser aptitudes, interests and inclinations of the female of the species in the required areas of genuine achievement.

I only remark upon this because I noted with great interest and approval that Hillsdale refused to adopt affirmative action in the 1970s, was the only college to publicly refuse to sign the Title IV compliance forms and has chosen to forego all federal funding — even indirectly — in order to maintain this principled stance.

To go through all that and then to have a nearly exact 50-50 gender mix in your study enrollment, strikes me as being about as sensible as going eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviets in 1962 until they blinked and then spending the next 20 years trying to find ways to appease them.

I enclose one of my more controversial essays, "Tangent" from 2001. Mr. Seiler is a reader of mine of long standing and I'm sure that he (quite rightly) guessed that — apart from the above-mentioned foundational disagreement between our positions on gender — Hillsdale College and its publication would be exactly my "cup of tea."

Jeff Seiler

22 June 04

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your note of June 14. And thanks as well for putting my name in for an Imprimis subscription. What a gratifying breath of fresh air was the speech by Maurice P. McTigue in the April number, particularly in the middle of a federal election campaign here in the Land of the Pink and the Home of the Quavering. I'm enclosing my letter to Douglas A. Jeffrey, the Hillsdale College Vice President for External Affairs. This will be the acid test as to whether they get all huffy and indignant about my not believing in gender interchangeability. Just have to wait and see.

Also, thanks for the Internet print-out of the text of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's eulogy for President Reagan. I would be willing to bet that it was Mrs. Reagan's idea. I suspect she was dropped like a hot potato by most of the people she would've considered friends — which just wouldn't have been in Mr. Mulroney's nature — when the President fell victim to Alzheimer's. And I think that Mr. Mulroney's staying in touch on a regular basis, justifiably, brought him up to a higher level in her eyes and probably motivated her to give him the signal honour for which any number of Republicans she hadn't heard from in ten years would've traded their eyeteeth.

Mr. Mulroney is something of a mixed bag, a labour negotiator by background, which is to say a horse trader of the LBJ school. It can be a valuable quality in government — we wouldn't have gotten the Free Trade deal without him — but it can also verge on the ridiculous. He was the architect of the failed Meech Lake Accord which was supposed to bring Quebec into the constitutional fold and which largely foundered because it ended up looking like the most over-stuffed and half-baked omnibus pork-barrel bill in North American history — as if the American Constitution was rewritten by getting all 50 senators to write down a wish list of demands. Yeah, picture that. He's also a complete and total feminist as can be seen by his references to men and women ("wise men and women") as if they were interchangeable commodities on the world stage. He really thought that passing the reins of government to Kim Campbell would obviate the disasters of his second term and bring about a Canadian golden age. In Canada they are (hopefully were) called Red Tories — socialists who are conservatives, for the most part, in name only who believe that Conservatives can only get elected by imitating Liberals and socialists as closely as possible. The fact that the party was called the Progressive Conservatives for decades is a good clue as to how bad the situation had gotten. But there is no question that Brian Mulroney was a good and loyal friend to the United States of America which, unfortunately, makes him very much the exception that proves the rule and, fortunately, guarantees him a place in history.


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