“POLITICALLY CORRECT” isnthis year’s catch phrase, and beforenChristmas it will be as stale as the newnminiskirt or yesterday’s George Will.nAlways willing to outdo themselves inngullibility, decent Americans are routinelynwriting letters to the editor orncalling up Rush Limbaugh to protestnthe infamy of thought control on thennation’s campuses. Even though thenplatitudes of Allan Bloom, RogernKimball, and Dinesh D’Souza keepnpopping up in all the fashionable places,nno one—certainly no one in thenconservative press corps — has thenleast suspicion of what is going on.nAs Frank Brownlow makes all toonclear in this issue, the corruption ofnacademic life is not a new story. Sometimenafter the First World War universitiesnmoved quickly to abolish requirements,nlower standards, and introducenbogus disciplines like home economics,nsocial work, and physical education.nForeign languages and philology werenreplaced with soft courses in literaryninterpretation, and by the 1960’s studentsnwere taking for credit courses innmystery novels and world literaturensurveys taught by professors who hadnlearned none of the necessary languages.nI spent twenty years hanging aroundncolleges and universities, first as studentnand then as professor. I havennever regretted my departure. With anfew distinguished exceptions, mynteachers and colleagues were dullwitted,nlazy, and militantly anti-intellectual.nThe brighter students catch onnearly, and in my last year of full-timenteaching, one of them asked me — asnpolitely as he could — if a grown manndidn’t have something better to do withnhis life than pander to students andnhang around with losers, by which henmeant my colleagues.nThe problems of higher educationntoday are not the fault of Marxists,nfeminists, or minority scholars. Mostnfaculty members are ignorant boors,nand the radicals are no exception, butnthere are intelligent feminists and incompetentnconservatives. As I oncen8/CHRONICLESnCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSntried to explain to a chapter of thenNational Association of Scholars, theirntask was to de-politicize, not to repoliticizenthe academy, and every timenthey hired or promoted a colleague onnthe basis of politics, they were augmentingnthe enemy’s strength. Better anwise Turk than a, foolish Christian.nBut the crusade against political correctnessnproceeds on the opposite principle,nand instead of seeking to reformnour institutions of higher learningnmany disgruntled liberals and theirnlite-conservative allies wish only to replacenthe leftist hegemony with thencentrist liberal hegemony that ruled thenacademic roost until the end of then1960’s.n— Thomas FlemingnTHE OBSCENE CARNIVAL ofndigging up an American hero who diedn141 years ago has come to an end. Nonarsenic was found in Zachary Taylor’snremains, proving that he was not poisoned,nwhich any competent and sensiblenhistorian could have told you withoutnthis grotesque and impiousnexercise. (Even if significant traces ofnarsenic had been found, it would, innfact, have meant nothing. Arsenic wasnan ingredient in many medicines andnembalming fluids in common use inn1850, and its presence would not havenproved conspiracy and poisoning.)nWe did not learn anythirig aboutnAmerican history before the Civil Warnfrom this business. There was nevernthe slightest possibility that we wouldndo so. The affair tells us a lot, however,nthat will never be acknowledged, aboutnour intellectually and ethically degradednpresent; more specifically, it revealsnthat what passes for the official view ofnearlier American history is not onlynignorant but warped. No society hasnever devoted more resources to historicalnstudy than modern America, andnno society has ever so wantonly cutnitself off not only from understandingnbut from identification with its ownnpast.nThis foolish exercise should nevernnnhave been permitted by Taylor’s descendants.nThere used to be betternstandards. It is little known, but in theneady 19th century there was an effortnto remove George Washington’s remainsnfrom Mount Vernon to thenCapitol. It was quiefly but firmly refusednby the family, backed by overwhelmingnVirginia public opinion. It pnwould have been an unseemly andnunrepublican spectacle, an invasion ofnprivacy that would have made Washington’sntomb hostage to whatevernband of politicians happened to getncontrol.nIt was alleged that President Taylor’snsymptoms at the time of death suggestednpoisoning, doubtless by proslaverynadvocates. Any historian familiar withnthe period knows the imprecision ofnmedical data and records from that era,nand would be extremely cautious inndrawing any conclusions from them,nespecially one so drastic as a presidentialnassassination. But what gave anfraudulent plausibility to the story wasnsomething that is in the air: the belief,nor rather faith, on the part of vastnhordes of petty intellectuals that anynand all evils and enormities, real andnimagined, must be traced back tonSoutherners, and particularly to Southernnslaveholders.nThe issues that were current inn1850 were quite complicated. It wouldntake several pages to explain themnfully, and even then it would be beyondnthe intellectual capacity of antelevision news anchor or congressmannto understand. But, broadly speaking,nthey did not involve being for ornagainst slavery, contrary to what thenmedia have repeated ad nauseum, fornin fact almost no one respectable wasnagainst slavery, except in mild andnmarginal ways. The differences involvednthe political and economic balancenof power between the North andnSouth in regard to the future of thennew territory acquired in the MexicannWar, further complicated by the effortsnof two political parties to maneuver fornadvantage while muddling and compromisingnthe issues, as American poli-n