Two images of William Jennings Bryan have settled into the public memory, neither of them flattering. One is the fundamentalist mountebank familiar to viewers of Inherit the Wind, with its fictionalized rendering of the Scopes trial. In it, the character based on Bryan proclaims himself “more interested in the Rock of Ages than the age of rocks.” He is, in short, a crowd-pleasing creationist numbskull, and nothing more.
The groves of academe now echo with howls of outrage over The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America --a new book from Regnery Publishing, a conservative press, by David Horowitz. All over the country, scholars have turned its pages with mounting fury, indignant at not being listed. One prof even did a podcast just to (in his words) “spit n’cuss about being left out.”
About 10 minutes into last week's now legendary episode of Oprah (the show that made it to the front page of newspapers; the one that left "memoirist" James Frey on the verge of confessing that he possibly made up his own name, but couldn’t be sure), one part of my mind was riveted to the tube while another part wandered off to conduct an intensive seminar about the whole thing, complete with Power Point slides containing extensive quotations from Foucault’s late writings on the "technologies of the self."
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