Friday, February 24, 2006

A young Ellsworth Toohey?

Do you remember Henry M. Bowles III, that kid I bloged about from Northwestern University who wrote in his campus paper that less intelligent people are better equipped for the military positions because they have "less to lose." Well, he's at it again, this time claiming Ayn Rand as an early influence--that is, before he turned on to religion and then on to postmodernism. [Hat Tip: Randex]

According to a wonderfully self-absorbed young Henry,

My sources were primitive-Internet news, think tank sites, Ayn Rand-and I argued in clumsy strokes. Still, I was the only political dissident at the school, and before long I was having nasty fights with the admissions director over affirmative action, and with just about everybody on abortion. Debate consumed my life.
That's of course before young Henry went to college and really learned how to think.

By the time I started at Northwestern, my interest [in evangelical Christianity] ceased to be purely academic, and I was experimenting routinely with these people: Bible studies, prayer groups, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the Evanston Bible Fellowship on Sunday mornings. However fascinating I found them, though, the appeal of radical Protestantism was ultimately limited. I like my religious experimentation best alone. I've only reached points of spiritual ecstasy in solitude and am more a mystic than anything else.
OK, so young Henry makes it up as he goes along. Despite his spiritual conflict, his conservative zenith was soon to be:

I had been elected president of the College Republicans at a time when campus conservatism was anemic. . . . [T]he only speakers that conservative groups would help bankroll were flaccid party insiders like Ken Starr and Ralph Reed.
OK, young Henry has read Ayn Rand, so is he going to figure out that conservatism is dead and instead turn to a rational philosophy. No!

If any principle underlies my attitude toward politics and, yes, sex, it is my rejection of the notion that identity is something that needs defining and resolution. Identity should be conflicted, fluid, and even painful-postmodern. And is there such a thing as a "postmodern conservative?" Of course not.
In short, young Henry is totally unprincipled, but nevertheless sought to be chairman of the College Republicans and lead his fellow students toward their political goals. Young Henry claimed Ayn Rand as a source of inspiration, yet he embraced mysticism and utterly rejected Rand's case for reason.

"Identity should be conflicted, fluid, and even painful-postmodern." Ah, identity should be non-identifiable. So while young Henry has a personal relationship with "spiritual ecstasy," he's not quite on speaking terms with verbs of being. And somewhere in the processes of young Henry's "conflicted, fluid, and even painful" brain, he insulted members of the armed forces and became notorious.

Ladies and gentleman, I think we might have the makings of a young Ellsworth Toohey. All our young friend need do is name his campus newspaper column "One Small Voice" to make his journey complete.

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