October 17, 2010
How Good Schools Go Bad
I had the good fortune of attending what may have been America's best high school in the 1960s: Regis by name, a Jesuit high school located in New York City's upper east side.
As the first kid in my Newark grade school to be accepted -- it is an all-scholarship school -- I felt too honored not to go. My quickest commute involved a local bus, a local subway, a train to Manhattan, and the subway uptown, 75 minutes on a good day. It was a tough slog, but all in all worth it. For four years, the Jesuits benignly hammered the Nicky Newark out of me, and I emerged at the end of the day as a better Christian and a passable scholar.
Although the Jesuits still take education seriously, what they no longer take seriously is their faith. I first noticed this trend about a dozen years ago. I had produced the first ever high-end documentary on the recently revived Latin Mass, Tradition, and I volunteered to send a copy to the school principal. He informed me that he was not interested in seeing it. In turn, I informed him that after about twenty or so consecutive years, I was no longer interested in donating to Regis.
In 2004, I was doing research on intellectual fraud for my book Hoodwinked. That same year, the movie Kinsey debuted. Thanks to the work of Judith Reisman and others, director Bill Condon was not able to not make this film in a vacuum.
Too much of the world knew how the famed "sexologist" Alfred Kinsey had lived and what kind of science he had performed. In its preview, even the New York Times acknowledged Kinsey's masochism and his use of pedophiles to perform "research" on small children. In addition, he manufactured numbers to justify his own perversions. Still, that did not deter the filmmakers from portraying Kinsey as a "Promethean figure, liberating Americans from ignorance, superstition, and hypocrisy."
The deeper I got into Kinsey's troubled life, the more I wondered what kind of background the director must have had to make such a movie. Lo and behold, as I soon discovered, Condon had the same background I did. He went to Regis, too, though a little later.
As I also discovered, he was lionized in the school's gay underground website, a place where alumni and students got together to "chat." Although not endorsed by school administrators, the website could not have been unknown to them, either.
This week, I visited the school's official website on a totally innocuous mission. I had been reading the dazzling new book by Michael Walsh, aka David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives, and I inquired to see whether Walsh too was an alumnus.
Upon turning to the Alumni section, I was confronted with the "Alumni News." The first item detailed how Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney visited to celebrate the official opening of Regis' new "Green Roof." Swell.
The second item highlighted a Regis grad with a recent article in the Huffington Post demanding "respect for Muslims" in response to the apocryphal "rising anti-Muslim sentiment." Reading the Alumni News seemed for all the world like reading...well, the Huffington Post.
From there I wandered into the section called "Alumni Clubs and Organizations." There are four listed. One is "Open Regis." Having forgotten my password, and thinking this a way into the alumni list, I clicked in. Oops! Open Regis, I learned, is a networking group for gay alumni "who may feel alienated from the Regis community because of their sexual orientation."
In that the Catholic Church considers homosexuality a "disorder" and homosexual acts sinful, gay alumni might have a right to feel alienated elsewhere in the Church, but obviously not at Regis, where their group is listed with the Media Network, the Bar Association, and the Business Network as part of the happy official Regis family. If there is a "Life" club, I was unable to find it.
The school's "Religious Formation" page suggests that faith here is altogether elastic. Students learn that "it takes different shapes in different individuals and it cannot be coerced or manufactured."
In Rules, faux narrator Kahane quotes G.K. Chesterton to the effect that "tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions," and yes, Regis, like so many educational institutions, has become an extremely tolerant place.
Had I not been reading Rules, I would have been inclined to ignore the school's sad drift into moral indifference, but Rules, like the very best of satire, makes the reader angry at the same time it makes him laugh.
Throughout the book, the narrator taunts the reader for letting leftists transform American society through their "incessant posturing and preening and preaching." The Kahane figure is so annoying -- Eddie Haskell on steroids -- that the reader wants to get off his butt and smack him. In its second half, the book tells us how to do just that.
Allow me to start today with my own humble contribution. I only regret that I can't make alumni Jug Night on October 29.