October 25, 2005

Review Reviewed Redux

The Review is clearly on a decline this year. Compared to the past two years (my only experience of the Review), the arguments are unsubtle, little researched, and underwritten. The issues they tackle are hot topics that seek to do little more than satisfy their geriatric donors.

They take on these controversial issues, but don't look past their own talking points. The only real research comes from their historical resurrections of Dartmouth traditions, which are to journalism what the Moody Blues are to music--tediously long and awkwardly dramatic.

In the latest issue, there are basically two topics worth mentioning besides the aforementioned "Dartmouth was so swell back when our grandfathers were here--please make donations to..." section and the Review sports section, which is the verbal equivalent of an attaboy ass-slap from the waterboy to the quarterback.

The first topic is ROTC, which is covered by Michael Ellis.

He says,
The administration’s error with regard to the ROTC is one of omission rather than commission. While undergraduates’ apathy might be the chief problem, the administration can and should do more to encourage students to join ROTC, especially in light of their staunchly pro-military rhetoric.
I agree wholeheartedly, but I don't agree with why he's saying it. It's a way to get at the Wright administration, an effort which I partly sympathize with, but not by using the ROTC program to do it and by posing as concerned, patriotic citizens who, unlike the administration, "make military service a priority."

Still your furious pen, Mr. Ellis. I haven't noticed the Reviewers taking a particular interest personally in military affairs of late or even of patriotic duty. I'm sorry, clerking for the Bush campaign or the Heritage Foundation is not patriotic, and that has nothing to do with my political differences. It is career advancement; the Review derides the administration for paying "lip-service" to military service when they do little more. This is just one more example of the arcadian "everything was better before Freedman" rhetoric, not an actual argument.

Oh, what? I’m not in the armed services either? Well, I’m not the one who’s using the ROTC program as simply another way to berate the Wright administration. I think ROTC should be supported with full scholarships because I think it would be a valuable way to diversify the student body and give some kids a chance to go to Dartmouth who otherwise couldn’t afford it, not because I’ll confute Jim Wright wherever and whenever I can.

Want proof that that’s what they’re really up to? In the editorial covering the topic, President Wright appears in the first sentence, but military service not until the fifth (and these are long, long sentences), and ROTC not until the 222nd word (of 857, or 26% of the way in).

In addition, Ellis plays fast and loose with vague statistics, obliquely accusing the administration of keeping Southern and Midwestern student numbers down to keep the ROTC program down.
“A culture of hostility to the military is also partly to blame for the lackluster size of the ROTC program. Less than a quarter of Dartmouth’s students hail from the South or the Midwest, regions that typically produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s armed forces. Over the past fifty years, the College has gone from a training ground to prepare the scions of the wealthy northeastern establishment for careers in national leadership to the finishing school for scions of wealthy suburbanites to prepare themselves for a few years of community service to ease their noblesse oblige-inspired guilt before they head off to their "real" career.”
Suburbanite scions—hmmm… know anybody like that, Mr. Ellis, of Silver Spring, Maryland?

The other major topic is the Harvey Mansfield/Peter Travis "debate" on manliness. I'll take that on in my next post.

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