On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, NationalReview.com (who two years ago ran one of the three pieces I wrote on New Orleans) has posted an interview with Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, a politician and living cultural crossroads of special interest to me for multiple reasons.
–First, Jindal attended Brown while I did, and (unless my memory is way off) I was briefly his writing tutor.
Certain classes were assigned mandatory consultations with so-called Rose Faculty Writing Fellows like me, and we tutors had to train for a semester to do the job, spending an inordinate amount of time hearing about how the tutoring program was a first step toward the deconstruction of all professorial authority and its replacement with radicalized peer-based learning, one of Brown’s many hippie-era ideas that has endured, in considerably yuppiefied form, into the modern era — I recall the class being appalled that I thought George Orwell’s “On Politics and the English Language” was one of the best essays ever about writing, since circa-1989 Brown was the pinnacle of deconstructionist, politically-correct thinking, and Orwell argued against politicizing language — ironically getting labeled fascistic by at least one of my ignorant young cohorts. The one guy in the class who clearly sympathized with me was my friend Andrew Corsello, now of GQ, who wrote an essay about the class dynamics, likening the group to the robot called Nimrod on Star Trek [CORRECTION: Nomad, as noted in the Comments below], who regarded all those who thought differently than himself as a contagion to be destroyed (I’m told Corsello was still so peeved about the class a decade later that he tried to slip into a GQ piece a reference to me as one of the greatest minds of our generation, presumably out of a lust for vengeance, but it may be for the best that that bit got edited out, and I am grateful regardless).
Our instructor, English professor Rhoda Flaxman, would end even the most philosophically radical discussions of relativism and egalitarianism in the class by insisting that we had, as a group, achieved “consensus” on the issues under discussion — and in a private conference, she insisted that my continued apostasy on certain philosophical and pedagogical issues was inhibiting the ability of other class members, particularly females, to freely speak their minds — though they not only spoke their minds, they even in at least one case wrote a condemnation of me in the school paper. Imagine if they had to deal with a real reactionary, say, someone who actually believed in God or was profoundly traditionalistic instead of me, an anarchist-atheist who was a vocal admirer of the Enlightenment.
Brown was a psychotic, left-wing moron-factory, and no matter how preppie those photos in the alumni mags look, I won’t be easily convinced that much has changed in the past two decades — but more about that in October, both on this blog and at Lolita Bar, where we’ll debate the merits and demerits of the Ivy League (unlike next week, specifically Sept. 5 [8pm], when we’ll discuss the merits and demerits of Islamic immigration, and I hope you’ll join us). Now let’s get back to one of Brown’s success stories…
–Jindal’s parents are from India, as are the parents of my girlfriend Koli and one of the parents of my ex-girlfriend Indrani.
Interestingly, Jindal has converted to Catholicism (I can’t recall if I knew about this at Brown, though I believe he was involved in student government or political writing and that many of his views were well known at the time) but still isn’t mainstream enough for Papist-hating northern-Louisiana Democrats, who have been running ads calling him an enemy of Protestantism, according to an earlier NationalReview.com article.
–Jindal is a free-market Republican.
What is more amazing than Louisiana producing a non-white, son-of-immigrants, reformist, free-market Republican is Brown University producing a free-marketeer (some close friends and I were libertarians but were definitely not the norm despite our concerted effort to sound like 1/3 of the campus political dialogue all by ourselves — an experience not so unlike, though slightly philosophically different from, the experience of being a lonely Republican at Brown, as described with great passion and too little editing in the self-published memoir Out of Ivy by Travis Rowley [like Jindal, Catholic], which some conservative editor reading this blog really ought to snatch up and revise for a second edition; Rowley’s opening anecdote is about meeting a recent Brown grad at a bar and angering her — after she describes what she does for a living — by pointing out, accurately, that she is a pimp [or madame or pimpette or whatever the conventional term is for a female of that profession], while she insists that she is merely a provider of paid, hands-on orgasm-counselors [or something like that] to repeat customers, the former being grotesquely patriarchal and the latter solidly feminist, in keeping with Brown’s enlightened, progressive values [you don't want to know how many strippers, prostitutes, and dominatrices that ivy-covered institution has produced]).
–Jindal explicitly wants to treat this troubled juncture in New Orleans’s history as a chance to rebuild in a free-market way, sweeping away decades of corruption and bureaucracy.
I can’t help thinking how inspiring it would be on multiple levels if a free-marketeer rebuilt New Orleans, simultaneously becoming a beacon of hope to despairing Republicans, stealthily politically-incorrect Brown students, non-leftist immigrants, and beleaguered New Orleans residents, while overcoming racial and religious divisions in Louisiana to boot — and helping undo the biggest domestic blunder of the Bush era. Not to put any pressure on you, Bobby.