I Guess Indoctrination Failed..

I was reading a recent column by Dana Milbank--and appreciating the snark–when it hit me. Milbank was engaging in (very appropriate) takedown of several Republican high-profile opponents of those snobby American “elites,” and pointing out that all of them turn out to be privileged White male members of that same elite.

But the column brought to mind an even more annoying hypocrisy than the one Milbank was highlighting–the persistent Republican attacks on higher education for “indoctrinating” students with liberal ideas–accusations leveled by individuals who clearly escaped that supposedly inescapable indoctrination.

The charge has always been bogus, of course, for a number of reasons. As someone who taught at a university for more than 20 years, I can attest to the fact that just imparting facts–let alone inculcating ideologies at odds with those the student came with–is a lot harder than it looks. For that matter, the opportunities for “indoctrination” are pretty limited. As a recent column from the Palm Beach Post put it, most courses have nothing to do with social policy or politics. There’s no potential for “indoctrination” in algebra, construction management or chemistry.

The United States has thousands of small colleges and universities, many of them quite religious, that are less frequently accused of planting “socialist” predilections in their students than the Ivy League, elitist, hard-to-get-into universities. What about those hotbeds of “woke” philosophies? That’s where the indoctrination is occurring–right?

Um…not so much. Milbank brings the evidence.

He quotes Senator Tom Cotton who, during the confirmation hearings, said he “doesn’t want a justice who follows the “views of the legal elite,” (would that mean rejecting a nominee who pledges to follow precedent?) and later complaining that “a bunch of elite lawyers” such as nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson “think that sentences for child pornography are too harsh. I don’t and I bet a lot of normal Americans don’t, either.”

And where was this representative of “normal Americans” educated? Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Then there’s Louisiana’s John Neely Kennedy, who routinely attacks the evil “managerial elite” of media, academics, bureaucrats and corporations. (Typical accusation: “This cabal think they are smarter and more virtuous than the American people.”)  This “man of the people” has a “degree with first class honors from Oxford University (Magdalen College),” and was Phi Beta Kappa at Vanderbilt. That was before he got elected by denouncing the “goat’s-milk-latte-drinkin’, avocado-toast-eating insider’s elite.”

Of course, we already know about Ted (“Do you know who I am?”) Cruz–who Bret Stephens recently described as a” one-man reminder of why sentient people hate politicians.” He graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law, and regularly inveighs against the “coastal elites.”

We’ve also seen more than enough of Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, formerly of Stanford University and Yale Law School. Hawley, as Milbank reminds us, fancies himself standing with the proletariat in “the great divide” between the “leadership elite and the great and broad middle of our society.”

Cruz, Hawley and Cotton are all contemplating presidential runs — where they might meet in the Republican primary another man of the people, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law, he wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Don’t Trust the Elites,” and he rails routinely about “elites” trying to shove this or that “down the throats of the American people.”

Milbank has a number of other examples, and students of stunning hypocrisy will find his column well worth reading in its entirety. Whether you focus on the humbug of men who are obviously part of the “elite” pretending to be “just folks” or whether–like me–you ponder the abject failure of schools like Harvard, Yale and Stanford to properly indoctrinate these strutting peacocks, a couple of conclusions are inescapable.

First, institutions of higher education are rather obviously failing to turn out graduates who’ve been successfully indoctrinated with a liberal philosophy. (For that matter, they don’t seem to be doing all that well instilling civility and simple honesty…Perhaps we should acknowledge that both sets of values come from a variety of sources outside the classroom.)

Second, despite how ridiculous they sound to many of us, these men aren’t stupid. They are promoting policies that they clearly know  to be dangerous and unfounded, and they are asserting “facts” that they just as clearly know to be out-and-out lies.

Stupidity is unfortunate, but inescapable and thus forgivable. A willingness to prostitute oneself for electoral advantage, a willingness to undermine democracy in order to appeal to an ignorant, frightened and angry GOP base– is not.


  1. Milbank’s piece clearly illustrates Michael Gerson’s critique of the GOP that hypocrisy first requires standards.

  2. Another good example of just why I am leaving the US as democracy, another of the liberal ideas, is on a fast track to be destroyed by these and other fascists.

  3. Come on Sheila, being a graduate of an Ivy League college just makes them a higher-priced whore for the Oligarchs who use them to get what they want. Hasn’t everyone considered booger-eating Ted Cruz to be a man of the people? The man flies his family to a Villa when the power goes out in Texas and then blames it on his daughter. Isn’t that a sign of being of the people?

    However, can you name one politician in Washington who isn’t dripping in hypocrisy due to their tidy cash haul in campaign donations from the Oligarch’s lobbyists?

    Biden calling Putin a “butcher” is the ultimate hypocrisy considering the innocent civilians the US War Machine has killed over the last 50-60 years.

    The best way to alleviate this maddening hypocrisy is for the media personality with the microphone to address their college education on the spot. If the media did their jobs, these phonies wouldn’t be so eager to rush to a microphone.

    This is democracy’s red line. However, it’s failed. The 4th Estate sold out for the same reason the government sold out. Now it’s just a free for all. It’s a phony media interviewing phony politicians…adjust your expectations accordingly.

  4. There is a time to follow precedent and years of change can bring evidence of the time to set a precedent. As RBG proved time and time again during her years on SCOTUS. Ignoring science, medical advances, climate change and changing needs to advance education at all levels has been swept under the proverbial rug by Republicans to advance their personal political power and control. This has been going on for generations at lower levels; the Republican racism, sexism and bigotry indoctrination by my parents failed miserably with me. It wasn’t stupidity or lack of higher education which closed their minds to new ideas; their super-glued mind-set worked for them, they and most of their generation and before, had no aspirations to set higher goals or standards for our generation and beyond. It was their “do as I say or else” which we never questioned but our children’s generation learned our parroted “or else” was an empty threat and they began setting higher goals for themselves and following generations.

    Today, Todd’s comments are the reincarnation of Gopper and a few others who left the blog when they couldn’t wear us down. He has no higher aspirations than being the media personality with his microphone in the sad little town of Muncie, Indiana. He is trying to hold us back with him; does the higher level media he consistently complains about not accept him and his past century beliefs? His attempted indoctrination today provides no expectations to improve our lot in this political battle to save democracy for the nation.

  5. At the age of seventeen, I enrolled with US Army Civil Affairs and was almost immediately attending lectures on counter insurgency tactics including indoctrination by nefarious regimes. I began to discern indoctrination when bombarded by extremes at school, church and community. Made me wonder whether it might be a good idea for all young Americans to be trained in counter insurgency … with a notion that the enemy has already infiltrated the ranks!

  6. In a manner similar to the mining of cryptocurrency, where you have to use the particular currency specific programs to mine the particular currency you are after.

    If you are mining litecoin, or dogcoin, or bitcoin, or feathercoin, or, any or all, your program has to be compatible with what you are trying to mine and cultivate.

    If one could somehow meld together all of the programs to mine all of this crypto simultaneously, you would have a really good opportunity to become wealthy and powerful. And, it takes time, a foundation has to be laid, a preparatory necessity for the next step.

    Does that sound familiar? All of the conspiracy theorists, all of the wackadoodles, are there for a reason. Qanon✔️ religious zealotry ✔️ self-aggrieved ✔️ self-righteous ✔️ willfully ignorant ✔️ weak-minded and power hungry ✔️ are just waiting to be mined (ears tickled) using the proper programming.

    So the foundation has been laid and the program has been refined. Now you see the process!

    How do you hack into that programming? How do you refute that programming? The truth! The truth will set you free. But, it seems there are those who are afraid of the effort. So, free and unfettered access to that cache of human crypto has no competition.

    One mining operation has Rows and Rows and Rows of electronic mining equipment, the other mining operation has one piece of equipment and they forgot to plug it in! A simple secular parable but, it kind of describes the reality of the situation.

    Another analogy, the full court press. How do you stop the fast break? The full court press. It slows down the game, allows the other team to set up the defense and it’s counterpunch.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen. Because, it seems as if there is an unseen hand, directing Maleficent movements and dissolving societal cohesion. Then those with a self-idolized Messianic agenda look to fill the void that they themselves have created. They speak in a self-created prophetic manner to mislead those who they are mining.

    Scripture actually refers to this as “unclean inspired expressions.” These are designed to mislead, or, to appeal to those who desire to be willingly misled, i e, willfully ignorant and self-righteous!

    All this is a “Sign of societal decay” that affects powerful civilizations throughout history, it just keeps happening over and over again.

    Mortality is the enemy of continuity. When a society dies off because of its self-destructive actions, the next society doesn’t learn. The same with recent history. The first world war, the second world war, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam war, Iran, Iraq, I mean we can go on and on. When those generations become old, or they die off, The Young ones, those that some claim are intellectually gifted, lol, will do the same thing every previous generation has done, (how many times can one reinvent the wheel) until there is nothing left to fight over or control. Human connectivity has created influencers of all sorts, they control millions of followers! (They target the cache of human crypto) Never in human history has this been accomplished until now. Adapt or die; End of the line!

    People claim they don’t believe in God? Actually, they do! And they’ll follow the gods that they have created right off the precipice!

  7. Wayne,

    LOL! I hope Stan finds his panacea, but, in this world we live in, you can run but you can’t hide. The authoritarian butcher Duarte, wishes he could be more like Myanmar, and, he’ll probably succeed.

    It’s always best to deal with the devil you know, that really is some sound advice.

  8. These are just the kind of leaders we need when we are seeking to be the nuttiest moron at the Planters’ party. Look at Ginni Thomas as a perfect example, moving from cult to cult until she finally reached the cultist’s apex with 45.

  9. It’s always fascinating to see John twist himself into a pretzel applying Biblical verses to the daily topic. I can imagine John getting Biblical inspiration while dealing with weeds in his garden or fixing a plumbing problem in his home.

    Is Todd saying Putin isn’t a butcher? Or, does Todd give Putin a free pass because the United States has committed atrocities also?

  10. Ok, those guys are just lying mostly, speaking at their base.

    But… I think part of the issue is that when they were in those prestigious schools with lots of other hard-working and intelligent people, it bothered them how many of those people thought their political views were crap. They may well think that a lot of those people were “indoctrinated” along the way. If so, it likely doesn’t occur to them that those other people have actually thought about the issues and come to very different conclusions.

    I’m generalizing from my own university experiences where most of the people in my classes were very liberal. Not all, but definitely a significant majority, particularly in the advanced years.

  11. Alfred, Todd is saying that when butchers call others men butchers, it’s, in fact, hypocrisy. Or, for fact’s sake, we could look at the damage inflicted on others by the USA vs. Russia since WW2.

    Clutching our pearls or flag makes no difference when it comes to the facts. However, the game of Imperialism, the one we’ve been playing since WW2, has run its course. We overplayed our hand in Afghanistan for opium and again in Ukraine.

    I suspect Taiwan will be our next scuffle and loss.

    Then the real consequences begin. We won’t be able to print enough money to save ourselves when nobody wants the dollar. It’s coming…

    As the Chinese would say, we are a Paper Tiger.

  12. While republican leadership in Congress remains silent about the nonstop propaganda lies they spew on radical right wing tv stations Fox, Newsmax, OANN and BS radio stations, they decided that Josh Hawley went too far when he claimed to be invited by fellow members of congress to orgies and cocaine parties. They are saying to anyone that will listen that Hawley went too far this time.

    Not only do I find this to be entertaining, but I now believe Hawley’s cocaine/orgy party assertions to possibly be the one time he has spoken the truth.

    Brace yourselves – Sarah Palin just announced she is running to be Alaska’s only member of the House. Personally, I can’t stand the thought of her being back in the news. If we are lucky she will only appear on radical right wing fake news stations.

  13. Todd, I agree with many of your points. For example, I see the corruption in both political parties. There are very few state and national politicians that didn’t make deals with the devil to raise the necessary funds to successfully run for office. The majority have corporate masters that they must answer to. All countries, not just the United States have atrocities in their past and many in the present. BUT, that wasn’t my point in my earlier post. I’m just curious about the love that appears to be shown for Putin. If you cannot show outrage at the current situation in the Ukraine you are as much a hypocrite as those you criticize.

  14. Addiction to Murdoch Machine Republican advertising over the last 40 years is obvious in a large number of Facebook posts that I stir up. There are significant numbers of people who just need to hear and see that what they wish was true actually is. Once that itch is scratched it doesn’t go away though, it itches more. That’s literally the definition of “addictive”.

    I don’t know, and off-hand can’t cite any research that reveals, what the folks with that itch have in common. I suppose it’s not a single thing but several factors that go into it.

    In my experience, one of the causes of it is related to the human imperative to replace fossil fuels to avoid the consequences of failing to do that rapidly enough, which are greater than the costs of doing it. After admittedly large upfront infrastructure investments, there is a high return on investment by not having to pay for fuel anymore, and, the more rapidly that we pull it off the higher the return is because we will also mitigate the more costly consequences of an unprecedented climate for civilized humans.

    There are many causes of wanting to hear differently in that case, like employment in the fossil fuel business or a related one. However what I hear more than that is, because it’s based on human knowledge, it’s a liberal cause. and owning libs is a passion for some. (Like owning blacks?) It’s anti-intellectualism, which seems to be historically popular among authoritarian causes.

    What motivates some people to want to “own” others, either metaphorically or literally? The motivation is deeper I’m sure than my pop psychology reaches, but what we call it politically is power and there is a great example in the current world of the results of it unchecked in the conduct of Putin’s War.

  15. Nancy:
    It wasn’t Hawley, it was Madison Cawthorn, the paraplegic youngest member of the House.

  16. Alfred,

    By all means, untwist my pretzel, lol! Go back through the comments over the past 4 years, and I will guarantee you, there are no twisted pretzels there either. Be informed be diverse and be relentless. That in itself is quite eclectic and unpretzel-like.

  17. Years ago we were told that to be a successful politician you only needed to graduate from Harvard and turn left; now it appears that one need only graduate from an Ivy League school and turn right. What bothers me more than the political position taken by the likes of Cruz and Hawley and Cotton is the hypocrisy involved. These are not the dumb people they pretend to be in order to attract the truly dumb and easily manipulated; they are smart – and thus hypocrites. They know better, but pretend otherwise. At least the Boeberts and Greenes of this world are honestly dumb.

  18. Alfred,

    As I’m sitting here eating my pretzels and having a beer, I have to admit, pretzels aren’t so bad! Anyway, you have a good weekend also! 🥨🍻😁

  19. This all reminds me of an old (1963) RomCom starring James Garner as Harry Tyroon, a Yale educated Easterner who pretended to be a stereotypical hick, Texas oilman because that was how he could succeed in business.

    Republicans attacking educated elites is an old one (Nixon calling Stevenson an “egghead” anyone). Republicans have been tapping into a long standing streak of anti-intellectualism in America for decades.

    For real indoctrination in higher education, we would be better off looking at many of the “Christian” colleges. I would suggest that the real fear of “elite educational institutions” is the simple fear of change. These institutions, ideally, teach their students to ask questions and may even teach “crap detection”. How can you cling to the past if uncomfortable questions are asked, hence some of the newly passed laws on teaching history and discussing gender identity?

    I can’t remember who said it, but in comparing “creationism” to “evolution”, the comment was that the science of evolution starts with questions and looks for answers, while creationism starts with the answers.

    I maintain that this is also the difference between the “good” conservative “think tanks” and the “evil, elite liberal think tanks”. The liberals ask liberal questions, like how to help end poverty and look for answers. The “conservatives” start with answers (laissez faire capitalism) and then look to reinforce their views.

    Both “think tanks” are staffed by highly educated individuals, often from the same schools (although economics did have that “fresh water” (U of Chicago)/”salt water” (Harvard & Princeton) divide.

  20. Indoctrination strikes an authoritative tone to many i.e. indoctrination into the armed sevices, or into a conservative religion. It seems the elite schools would value not what to think so much, but how to think? Problem solving means gathering data, making a plan, initiating that plan & reevaluation after the fact. Many hard working Americans do this on a daily basis. In these volatile times being able to look at and discern what’s going on is vital to one’s well being.
    With regard to Hawley & Cruz and the level of their education, seems like they know exactly what they’re doing. They are playing with lies to GOP base to chase the votes. I don’t think it takes a genius to realize that suspending the truth, and basing ones aims on lies will lead to disasterous effects. No progress from that stance. Progress has to deal with facts.
    It’s egregious to lie to people to validate harmful conspiracy theories, and manipulate voter blocs for selfish intentions.

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