La Trahison desnClercsnby/.O. TatenTenured Radicals: How PoliticsnHas Corrupted Our HighernEducationnby Roger KimballnNew York: Harper & Row;n204 pp., $18.95nThe state of higher education in ourncountry is best passed over innsilence, in order to avoid both uselessnexasperation and any provocation ofn”reform.” The mess we are in is thenresult of a parade of fraudulent reformsnand movements, of a national, political,nand social corruption so pervasive that Insee no basis for hope of the restitution ofnnorms in the educahon industry. Thencorruption is systemic and has longnsince metastasized to a point past redemption.nHarboring no dreams of annarmed uprising by the “people” — onlynthe homeless and the dead have evadednthe totalitarian mindlessness of “education”n— I only suppose that there mightnbe some groups of private individualsnwho may revive ancient ideals of learningnby banding together in secret.nRoger Kimball has not chosen silencenas a way of dealing with outrage.nAnd since he has taken one of the mostndisagreeable of topics for his exposition,nthe sheer readability of Tenured Radicalsnis greatly to his credit. Who wouldnhave expected that a book on the tendentiousnlongueurs of pompous ideologuesnwould be so funny? But so it is.nMr. Kimball’s method for dealingnwith a host of inversions, gnosticisms,nnon sequiturs, mendacities, opacities,nand howlers is a sly if simple form ofnjudo: he quotes them. Reading thenbook will show just how effectively Kimball’snreproductions of abuse and exposuresnof betrayal work together to supportnhis uniting theme. His quotationnof Margaret Ferguson of ColumbianUniversity is a representative example:n36/CHRONICLESnREVIEWSn. . . [Professor Ferguson] pointednout that success in thenuniversity, especially for womennand minorities, comes at antremendous psychic cost. Shenconfided that she herself hadnhad to internalize a code ofndecorum and manners tonsucceed in the academy; almostnsadly, she assured the audiencenthat she was not going to standnand swear at us . . . much asnshe might want to at thenmoment; part of the price ofnbeing there on the podium wasnbeing trained not to do suchnthings. And in case we didn’tnget it the first time around, shenreminded us that she regardednthe real problems in thenacademy as political problems:nquestions about the canon ornpedagogy or education inngeneral were merely fronts fornpolitical issues.nRoger Kimball does a similar numbernon Professor E. Ann Kaplan of SUNY/nStony Brook, whose probing and reconditenanalyses of rock videos he cites withnforce and point:nWho would have thought itnpossible that a woman entrustednwith teaching college Englishnand directing a humanitiesncenter at a major universitynwould make her scholariynreputation writing aboutn”Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,”nthe rock videos of Madonna,nand “Gender Address and thenGaze in MTV”?nRoger Kimball’s dissections of absurditynremind me of some of thenperformances of Richard Mitchell, then”Underground Grammarian,” andnthere’s a sense in which his study isnrelated to William F. Buckley, Jr.’s Godnand Man at Yale of some forty yearsnago. Kimball finds the academy neithernivory nor towering, but a sanctuary fornthose whose professing dishonors andnnndegrades the Western culture that theirninstitutions were founded to uphold.nThe truth is that when thenchildren of the sixties receivedntheir professorships andndeanships they did not abandonnthe dream of radical culturalntransformation; they set out tonimplement it. Now, instead ofndisrupting classes, they arenteaching them; instead ofnattempting to destroy ourneducational institutionsnphysically, they are subvertingnthem from within. Thus it isnthat what were once the politicalnand educational ambitions ofneducational renegades appear asnideals on the agenda of thenpowers that be. Efforts tondismantie the traditionalncurriculum and institutionalizenradical feminism . . . nowntypically issue from the dean’snoffice or Faculty Senate, notnfrom students marching in thenstreets.nKimball is quite right to insist that thenpresent state of confusion is often to benattributed to academic administrators,nand not only to faculty members. But Inquestion whether he should assumenwith such facility that there was annidentifiable time when “the canon” andnthe heritage of Western culture werensuccessfully transmitted by our nation’sncolleges and universities to eager eyesnand ears. The great tradition of beernblasts, panty raids, and football gamesnwas not exacdy one of Oxonian elevation,nto my mind. Nor should Kimballnassume either that there’s any monolithicn”tradition” to be identified, but rathernmany countervailing strands of passionatencontroversy instead.nEven so, Roger Kimball’s TenurednRadicals is an energetic and entertainingnessay. Kimball is essentially rightnabout the decay of academic discourse,nand he is quite correct in identifyingnour nation’s elite schools as sources ofncontempt for this country and hatredn