I left a trail of hostile professors in my wake when I graduated from UC Berkeley. I didn’t do that intentionally. I never set out to be obnoxious or disruptive. Back in the day, I marched in ideological lock-step with my professors. (Although even then I couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy of the Berkeley professors prating on about class warfare while making under-the-table payments to Mexican women to clean their houses and Japanese men to groom their gardens.)
The problem I had at Berkeley is that then, as now, I have a great reverence for the English language and, more than that, I’m a complete nincompoop when it comes to learning other languages. This means that I never mastered Marxist cant, which is as foreign a language to the good English speaker as are Chinese and French.
My inability to comprehend Marxism at a linguistic level meant that, when my history professor made some statement about “the alienation of the medieval peasant as resulting from the hegemony of the feudal infrastructure that dominated the commodification for the agricultural economy despite the destructive rise of the proto-petite bourgeoisie,” I didn’t nod sagely and scribble frantic notes as did the rest of my classmates. Instead, assuming that my class had some number fewer than 1,000 students, I raised my hand and said, “Excuse me, Professor Whatsit. I don’t understand. Can you please explain?”
This seemingly innocent question would result in another shower of Marxist gibble-gabble. At which point I, supremely confident in my mastery of the English language and therefore unfazed by my inability to understand, would repeat, “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand.” Eventually, parrot-like, I was able to repeat this nonsense with sufficient facility to garner a magna cum laude degree, but I never did internalize all this babble. And, as I said, many professors weren’t very fond of me.
In retrospect, I suspect that the professors looked askance at me because I played the role of the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” effectively pointing out that what they were saying had no meaning — at least with regard to the feudal, agrarian culture that existed in medieval Europe. Likewise, there was simply no Marxist way to make sense of Jane Austen. I must say, though, that my suitably Marxist English literature professor managed to do what many might have thought was impossible: he made Jane Austen dull.
I’m politically more astute now, but have just as little patience for Leftist gibble-gabble. That’s why, despite attempts to read Shari Motro’s NYT’s Op-Ed about “Preglimony,” I still can’t make sense of what she’s saying. Motro seems to argue that men will be less likely to get women pregnant if they had to pay for her . . . what? . . . pain and suffering or clothes or something during pregnancy. Heck, they might even be forced to help to pay the cost of killing their baby (emphasis mine). At least, I think that’s what Ms. Motro . . . or, should I say, Professor Motro, because this incoherent ideologue is a professor of law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. See what you make of this:
Since the 1970s it has been possible to genetically link a father and his baby with increasing levels of accuracy. Then, a test using amniotic fluid let us test a baby’s DNA before birth, but the procedure increased the risk of miscarriage. Now a prenatal blood test has made the process far easier. Since a small amount of fetal DNA is present in a pregnant woman’s blood, the pregnancy can be genetically linked to her partner through a simple blood draw from the woman’s arm.
One of the potential ramifications is that men might be called upon to help support their pregnant lovers before birth, even if the pregnancy is ultimately terminated or ends in miscarriage. They might be asked to chip in for medical bills, birthing classes and maternity clothes, to help to cover the loss of income that often comes with pregnancy, or to contribute to the cost of an abortion.
Frankly, I don’t see why pregnancy support would be any more of a deterrent than child-support. Having drifted away from her shopping list (clothes, medical bills, killing baby), Prof. Motro gets abstract, and I do mean abstract:
Rather than focusing on the relationship between the man and a hypothetical child, the new technology invites us to change the way we think about the relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive. Both partners had a role in the conception; it’s only fair that they should both take responsibility for its economic consequences.
Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).
Huh? An entire high-exposure op-ed to say that men who can’t be counted on for child support might pay for maternity clothes?
Despite having encouraged men to pay to abort their DNA (apparently yet another way to encourage them not to get women pregnant in the first place), Prof. Motro feels compelled to assure New York Times readers that her whole “preglimony” idea isn’t just a backdoor argument against abortion. After all, some might say that, if you’re arguing that both biological parents’ obligation to the fetus begins in utero — or, at least, that the obligation to make sure Mama is stylishly attired begins in utero — maybe you’re also arguing that the fetus has legal rights, including the right not to be aborted. Not so. In a paragraph that I still haven’t completely deciphered, Motro assures pregnant women that, even though men have an obligation to the fetus that bears their DNA, abortion is unlimited. Or at least that’s what I think she’s saying:
The most frequent objection I hear to this idea is that it will give men a say over abortion. A woman’s right to choose is sometimes eclipsed by an abusive partner who pressures her into terminating or continuing a pregnancy against her will, and preglimony could exacerbate this dynamic. But the existence of bullies shouldn’t dictate the rules that govern all of society. In the name of protecting the most vulnerable, it sets the bar too low for the mainstream, casting lovers as strangers and pregnancy as only a woman’s problem.
It’s also possible that preglimony could deter a different form of abuse by making men who pressure their partners into unprotected sex, on the assumption that the woman will terminate an unwanted pregnancy, financially liable for the potential result.
To which I again ask huh? Feel free to translate. I don’t know what she’s saying, except that Motro thinks a right to choose eclipses all other legal and moral rights.
This isn’t Motro’s only foray into incomprehensibility. Back in 2008, right before the election, Motro wrote a masterfully incoherent love letter to Obama’s promise as a healer. In it, Motro dissed her native Israel for being a hate-filled, racist land, rhapsodized the American South for its love-level, and vomited up the usual charges against Bush. Keep in mind as you read these excerpts that this woman is a product of higher education and that she teaches the next generation of leaders:
I grew up in Israel, and during my last visit there I felt the interconnectedness of the violence of that place in a way I never had before. I felt the hatred and the heartbreak and the hopelessness seeping like sap from everywhere, from the ambient near-fistfight atmosphere in every interaction. I felt it in the venom with which a minibus driver shouted at a migrant worker who didn’t want to pay for her five year old son “Go back to Africa,” and from the look on the boy’s face as he watched their shouting match quietly, resignedly, understanding that this is the world, a battle. I felt the poison walking on the beach in Tel Aviv – beautiful, sunny, blue skied Tel Aviv – because I knew that my mere presence there is so offensive to some people they want to kill me, want to kill themselves in order to kill me. And it hit me in Jerusalem, walking through bucolic, placid streets where Jews live in Arab houses, houses in which people who are still alive have memories.
Flying back from Tel Aviv to Richmond was, as always, soothing. Richmond, where you get to a four-way stop sign and everybody stops. And marching through campus with students and faculty on MLK day, I thought: these American feel-good gestures, which the Israeli in me rolls her eyes at, there’s something to them. These Americans, and the Richmonders I’ve met in particular, they get something right. With good will and gentleness, they are working hard, imperfectly, but working hard nevertheless at healing this bloody, bloody history which here in Richmond is so recent.
And what a gift it would be if we had a president who would stoke this flame.
And what a shame these past seven years.
Abu Ghraib and leaving the bodies of Katrina victims to rot in the streets while Brownie did a heck of a job and reading My Pet Goat as firefighters climbed up against the tide of fleers to rescue as many as possible.
How have seven years of Bush affected our hearts?
Imagine 9/11 with Obama at the helm?
The woman is a walking-talking and, sadly, teaching, spouter of Leftist platitudes and hypocrisy, untethered to either fact or logic. No wonder our children aren’t learning. With teachers such as Ms. Motro, they don’t have a fighting chance.