I’ve touched on this before, and while I know many of you kids don’t believe me, there was something cool about being a conservative in the 80s, at least within the imaginations of producers of popular culture. Nowadays Nick Gillespie and stripey shirt guy are the only ones even trying but consider this: Alex P. Keaton lost his virginity to an older, sophisticated red-head that he met at a Milton Friedman lecture.
The most surprising thing to me about CommencementGate (or should that be CommencementGhazi) was the fact that these assholes can get paid 35K to give a speech. That said, I was hoping that we wouldn’t be stuck with the Tim Egan/Olivia Nuzzi/Damon Linker “more in sorrow than in anger…STFU kids” pieces everyone’s been talking about, that some real dinosaur from the ’80s would rear his head, come into the airspace of the United States of America, and drop some Reagan era anti-PC jive (trashing college kids was a staple of 80s discourse) on us. And who better than P. J. O’Rourke to do it:
1989 happens to be when the Berlin Wall fell. I know, I know, most of you weren’t born, and you get your news from TMZ. A wall falling over can’t be as interesting as Beyonce’s sister punching and kicking Jay Z in a New York hotel elevator. But that 1989 moment of “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (and I’ll bet you a personal karaoke performance of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” that you can’t name the poet who wrote it) had interesting consequences. Stop taking selfies and Google “Berlin Wall” on the iPhones you’re all fiddling with.
Do you know Milton Friedman graduated from Rutgers? Do you know who he is? Won the Nobel Prize for economics. I checked your Department of Economics website. Courses are offered in “Economics of Crime,” “Income Inequality,” “Women in the Economy” (Condoleezza Rice won’t be getting her honorarium for speaking at this ceremony), and “Game Theory.” (Useful on Xbox? Or not so much?) But I don’t see a course called “Capitalism and Freedom,” also the title of the book by Milton Friedman that has been shaping economic debate in this country for half a century.
There’s a dumb Santayana/Santana pun, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and a bit about pony-tailed hippies. Epic!
If you want to know what Reagan era cool conservatism was like, this flips the track and brings the old school back.