Cowards, the lot of us?

So then, after all the excitement of Tom Garvin’s piece in the Irish Times last week, along comes Kevin Myers in the Irish Independent to lend some support. But his support is I think a little off message. It’s all about how academics are cowards and don’t jump to the defence of those being assaulted by the political correctness brigade, or worse still, by those who quite like gender equality. In fact, Kevin thinks we are all scumbags:

‘Intellectual courage is as much a characteristic of Irish academe as arm-wrestling is the preferred sport of an oyster bed.’

I can’t even think what to say. But then again, at least Kevin doesn’t think it’s all just about UCD.

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7 Comments on “Cowards, the lot of us?”

  1. John Says:

    Usually Myers’ articles just induce sniggers at his grotesque ignorance and philistinism.

    But for this paid reactionary hack to criticize the “commercial ethos” and “intellectual cowardice” of the universities is nothing short of bizarre.

    • Chris Cummins Says:

      Um, Myers does NOT criticize the “commercial ethos” in his article–his view is more nuanced. He uses the phrase to characterize Garvin’s argument: “a new commercial ethos — the one that Garvin so deplores.”

      Myers may be a philistine, but he certainly isn’t grotesquely ignorant of anything besides the unwritten yet highly rigid consensus among Irish elites of what one can and cannot say/write in public.

      On intellectual cowardice, I’d love for you to demonstrate how in fact Myers’ view is “bizarre” for intellectual cowardice. I really don’t think you can argue that there exists a legitimate diversity of opinion within Irish universities on the major political and social questions facing this State.

      Never mind Summers; in the US, professors can and do take positions that challenge established orthodoxy on all sides of the political spectrum (hoorah for tenure!) There are those who claim that the US government was responsible for 9/11 (Ward Connerly), and those who claim that blacks are genetically inferior to whites (James Watson). Have you ever seen an Irish professor take a position REMOTELY as daring?

  2. kevin denny Says:

    Well it was a typical Myers piece, lots of overblown rhetoric & tiresome bluster but with just enough of interest to make it worth reading. Myers did history in UCD, I believe, where they certainly did not teach him to write like that. A pity, really.
    So in a nutshell its trahison des clercs that we are all guilty of? I suppose the question is whether academics are any more obliged to speak up than bus-drivers? Well the easy answer is yes, we have this priviliged position in the academy, we are (hopefully) experts in various fields. If we don’t speak up then who will?
    But if you look in my job description, it doesn’t say spout off in public. It says something about teaching, research. Thats what we are expected to do and thats what I like to do. Service to the community is not required and is not necessarily rewarded. A lot of academics get involved in public life where their expertise is relevant, such as law, medicine, economics etc.
    Personally I don’t see the point in me speaking out about things that I do not have any professional expertise in which is a few fairly specific areas of economics- nor do I feel any obligation to either. Thats the difference between academics & newspaper columnists. Why should anyone care about my opinion about the arts, censorship, architecture or the meaning of life?

  3. Vincent Says:

    His position viz. the Tinkers caused me to halt reading his about ten years ago and the IT about six or so while he worked there. I see little reason to start reading his stuff again.
    Overall his position is that of a French person from Lorraine having a gra for the glory days when Imperial Germany ran the place.

  4. Mark Dowling Says:

    If he ever decided to write a nuanced column, he would be reminded that that was not why he was poached from the IT and given a fat salary.


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