Fiddling While Georgetown Burns

This past semester The Georgetown Academy was critiqued four times in The Hoya. 

The first came from Lexi Dever, in response to this piece about the University’s celebration of LGBTQ History month and promotion of the transgender lifestyle.  TGA responded here, addressing the issue in light of medical science and Catholic teaching.

The second swipe came back-handed from “The Hoya Historian” who thought there was a need for TGA at Georgetown, but then published rumors about us and associated us with hate crimes.  This was itself a journalistic hate crime given that according to The Hoya’s own archived reporting, the said hate crimes never occurred.  If it weren’t Christmas we would call The Hoya’s ethics morally depraved. 

The third criticism came from what passes at GU for a free speech advocate, and we swatted down that mosquito here.  

But it was the fourth op-ed in The Hoya that really stung us.  We still feel hurt, offended, deeply disturbed, personally insulted, triggered, unsafe, and, frankly, a little gassy.  Experience tells us, however, that this will pass. 

The counsel came from two scions of the campus right, Patrick Musgrave and Ken Nunnenkamp, whose critique centered on TGA’s tone and, perhaps more to the point, the utter contempt and rebellion we direct at the hysteria-mongers and carnalists in the Leavey Center and the Georgetown faculty who place the minds, souls, bodies, and futures of Georgetown students in peril every single day—a whole-person approach to corruption of youth that we are calling cura personalis.

Since we are offered counsel by those who think that we are part of the conservative family, we would like to return the favor to our Stockholm-syndrome-suffering cousins.   Not so much for the benefit of just two College Republicans who braved the elements to dress us down, as they prepare to leave Georgetown to pursue bold careers dedicated to persuasion informed by lifetime subscriptions to First Things and Garden & Gun, but for every Hoya.     

Our comments are not personal.  They do not have to be.  The two authors’ views are a good example of those of the Millennial generation who, over the past 10 years, have done nothing to stop Georgetown from losing its soul.  Busying themselves, no doubt, with GUSA-like pursuit of goods and services and the University-qua-spa, while Georgetown’s particularity and ethos burned.  

The views expressed by Musgrave and Nunnenkamp represent those of a generation of student leaders who have done very little of note to advance anything meaningful or lasting at Georgetown, much less conserve that which is important.  Let’s not forget it has been on their watch that students (and their parents) have been saddled with “diversity” political indoctrination in the form of a mandatory two-course requirement! 

This is a criticism we don’t limit to the CRs.  The Knights of Columbus have not had a church militant new initiative since 2000.  As a result, Catholic culture is now a small, happy, happy ghetto, squeezing into Father Fields’ classes and wanting to be Cheshire-cat-smiley Fr. O’Brien’s friend. 

We are gladdened, however, that the CRs have been changing under new leaders, strong, confident women who have made the campus proud.  They must be commended for bringing Christina Hoff Sommers to campus and for showing backbone once again.  

In the past, TGA partnered with the College Republicans to effect major cultural change on campus; most notably the restoration of Crucifixes to classrooms, and we hope to partner again.  (The College Democrats opposed restoring crucifixes!)  Our past issues show that even the Crucifix movement required being loud and bold, taking a position, risking being accused of all kinds of things.  Something that Millennials have shown that they lack the cojones to do.  

When you want to shake things up, some people will think poorly of you.  When you aim only for popularity you lose the battle for the culture around you.  Musgrave and Nunnenkamp’s views are representative of all those conservatives at GU whose silence has lost our alma mater.  Their concern for tone and image is the reason why universities are no longer great marketplaces of ideas, but now just bargain basements for only some people’s approved ideas.

Let us respond to Musgrave and Nunnenkamp by addressing a few of their incorrect premises.  

First, TGA has no interest in being a “sober, dispassionate observer.”  Our founders made the University end its scandalous funding of a pro-abortion advocacy club by shedding light on the scandal ceaselessly.   By contrast, Musgrave and Nunnenkamp’s “sober and dispassionate” has brought us a funded abortion club again.  We are up against well-trained, well-funded, and amply supported activists.  To meet that with Marquess of Queensbury kabuki is to lose.     

Second, TGA is not a “big C” conservative publication.  If anything we have been historically libertarian, tirelessly defending speech and association rights, and standing up against the illiberal encroachments on student liberty and education.  Our editors have numbered atheists, Jews and other non-Catholics, and yet all have been firmly committed to Georgetown’s authentic Catholic identity.   And we are solely about Georgetown; we could care less about climate change and the flat tax.  

Finally, our critics are wrong to think that the need TGA must fill, or that which Georgetown most needs, is a publication that aims soberly to persuade.  Our past issues and this online edition are full of reasonable argument and extraordinary editorial advocacy.  Persuasion, however, is not what Georgetown most needs from us.  That comes second.  Our task is to expose.  Expose, expose, expose. 

Every generation of TGA editors has the opportunity to say that they will now do better, and we welcome it to be said of us if we have disappointed.  One thing is certain, however, that what has defined TGA in its best years, from 1990 to 2005, and will again in the future, is the desire to be advocates using all the tools of advocacy journalism, including both reason and satire, aiming always to shed disinfectant light on our University’s stinky parts.  

The Georgetown Academy is an association of students and alumni, all men and women in the arena.  We might on occasion trip in the sand, and then have to suffer fools who jump up to lecture us when we do.  The current iteration of TGA will evolve, but certainly not with the help of buttoned-down conservatives who are scared of controversy.   We will not shy of naming things what they are or meeting aggressive rhetoric with aggressive rhetoric. 

Why? 

Because someone has to.  

We have a duty to do so, rather than leave new generations of Hoyas to fall with the Balrog into the abyss.       

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