Of the responses I have gotten on campus to my blogging about Milo, the most revealing of the stakes in our current culture wars came to the fore this week: I threaten medieval studies. I threaten lots of other things, too, I am told: our students, my colleagues, the culture of diversity and inclusion that they would like to foster. But worst of all, I threaten medieval studies.
Mind you, the burden of the letter that they published in the campus newspaper last Friday was to make various demands of my colleagues in the Divinity School: to include students on the Diversity Committee at the Divinity School, to have more programming at orientation “to proactively combat current climate issues,” and to conduct annual surveys of the members of the Divinity School “to maintain transparency as we continue to define our institution in the future.”
But mainly, of course, they are upset with me. So much so that sixty of them--four anonymously--signed the letter. I guess they won’t be taking any classes with me. (Not that I have any slated for next year that they could take for their Divinity School requirements. My faculty appointment is in the Department of History; I only cross-list some of my courses with the Divinity School.) But neither does it seem that any of them knows anything about what I tea…
Okay, maybe not since I was a baby, but certainly since I was five. I told you about chasing my little sister down the hall for leaving her stuff on my side of the room. I didn’t tell you how my parents responded when I pushed her into the dividing wall and she ended up needing stitches in her head.
My father was a surgeon. He scooped my sister up and we all piled into the car to take her to the emergency room. My mother stayed in the car with my little brother and me while Dad and my sister went inside. They came out full of stories about how brave my sister had been under the needle--Dad did the sewing. Everybody ignored me. Except, of course, my sister.
She spent our childhood telling everyone the story about how brave she had been and how bad I was for pushing her. “Look,” she would say, pulling aside her bangs. “This is what Rachel did to me.”
And I believed her.
It got worse when I was eight. We were the new kids in the neighborhood…
Our primate ancestors lived in trees. For primates living everywhere other than Madagascar, there were snakes at the bottom of those trees. Snakes who, if they had been able to speak, would have called our ancestors “lunch.”
Lots of fascinating things happened in those trees.
Our male ancestors competed with one another for dominance, just like lobsters, with whom they (like us) shared ancient serotonergic systems. (That means our brains have lobster-like elements for detecting social hierarchies, pace the social constructionists.)
The better our male ancestors competed with each other, the more likely the females were to look kindly on them and choose them as mates. They might even offer them fruit. (Which put a premium on competing well long before Wall Street was a twinkle in our great-great-great-grandfather's eye, pace those convinced that capitalism invented competition.)
Sometimes, however, things got even more exciting. Maybe the snakes started climbing the trees. Maybe ou…