Rush Limbaugh Attacks Classical Studies

It’s difficult to imagine a major more beloved by conservatives than Classical Studies. The one bulwark against all those trendy majors has always been a nice dose of Greek and Latin. So it was strange yesterday to hear Rush Limbaugh denouncing Classical Studies as part of a vast left-wing conspiracy and announcing, “If you go to college, do not do classical studies.” Inspired by an Occupy Wall Street protestor with a sign about how worthless her Classical Studies degree is, Rush denounced her: “somebody shoulda told you that from the moment you declared the major in Classical Studies.”

Rush asked: “Tell me, any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the hell is Classical Studies?” It became painfully, and embarrassingly, obvious that Limbaugh had no clue what Classical Studies is: “And how are the classics studied? Oh, cause you’re gonna become an expert in Dickens?” He added, “What if it’s classical women’s studies? What if it’s classical feminism? Who the hell knows what it is? One thing I do know is that she, the brain-dead student, doesn’t know what it is, after she’s got a major in it.”

Limbaugh declared that Classical Studies was a devious plot within the leftist conspiracy to destroy America:

The socialists that run universities dilute the education, they offer useless majors, and then they lie about the quality of these useless majors. They lie about the happiness and the jobs and the money that awaits you after you get the degree in something like Classical Studies….I think this is part of a strategy that the left has had….They got great degrees like classical (raspberry) studies! They’re un-hireable, unemployable, and that’s just unfair and unjust — and ergo, here comes the clamor and the clarion call for socialism, for government to fix it.

This kind of lunatic conspiracy theory (which is not in any way meant jokingly) has become a daily ritual on Limbaugh’s show, where he imagines Barack Obama is plotting to intentionally destroy the American economy, among other crackpot assumptions of a Manichean worldview.

During a break, Rush looked up classical studies on the internet and found that it involved the study of ancient Greece and Rome. Incapable of admitting that he was wrong, Rush instead decided to take a McCarthyite tactic of guilt by association, declaring that “Karl Marx was a classical studies scholar.”

Later in the show, Limbaugh announced that “Queer musicology is a degree at UCLA” and “You can get a degree in Star Trek at Georgetown.” There have been classes on queer musicology at UCLA and a class on “Philosophy and Star Trek” taught at Georgetown, but obviously not a degree. Perhaps when Rush denounces “you idiot college students,” he ought to take a long look in a mirror. Limbaugh is so uneducated he doesn’t know what Classical Studies are or even the meaning of the word “degree.”

In my book about Rush, I cite about case after case where Limbaugh’s views are not merely wrong, but entirely ignorant. The leading conservative voice in America is a monument to stupidity who denounces even the most conservative-friendly major in college. All of us, left and right alike, should be concerned about the state of conservatism in America and the move led by Limbaugh to new heights of anti-intellectualism on the right.

Crossposted at LimbaughBook.

4 thoughts on “Rush Limbaugh Attacks Classical Studies

  1. his point was you can;t complain about not being able to get a job in this type of economy with a classical studies degree…..you focused solely on rush’s ignorance of what classical studies is and not on his main point…..

  2. You don’t think that Limbaugh’s complete ignorance of what Classics actually is, is relevant to his argument that it’s useless? How can he argue that it’s a useless major if he doesn’t actually know the content of it?! I studied Classics in undergrad (and am now in a completely funded PhD program) and my friends from the department are almost all employed (or pursuing funded higher degrees) in a wide variety of fields. Some people are more lucky than others, but Classics is actually an incredibly employable humanities degree (and in fact, Classics majors have some of the highest acceptance rates into both law AND medical school), and my friends in Classics are doing better than average, in this economy.

  3. tk: Before the present economic collapse, Classical Studies majors were ranked among the most employable of Humanities majors. The “real world” doesn’t only need engineers, nurses and accountants; it also needs white collar administrative workers of all kinds and lots of them. In a 2008 survey of top employers, the trait ranked most desirable in potential employees was the ability to think critically. Classical Studies, with its detailed focus on language and its interdisciplinary outlook, develops critical thinking skills very well (arguably better than a lot of other college majors). I am told by friends in the UK that MI5 and MI6 have historically preferred to hire Classical Studies majors because of their attention to detail and ability to think critically.

    Rush should have at least found out what the major was before he argued that it was irresponsible for the protester to have majored in it. What if he didn’t know what Actuarial Studies were? Would it be reasonable for him to assume that it was useless before knowing what it was?

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