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Miranda Frum

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Which Is More Useless: Limbaugh or a Classics Major?

Posted: 11/02/11 01:49 PM ET

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

I see you have let your own educational insecurities shine through in your latest rant in which you "bravely" attempted to decipher the "sad-sack story" of a Classical Studies scholar. Bravo. If only you had taken a philosophy course about the Sophists, you might have been better at debating your point. Unfortunately, your rhetoric fails you and you blunder through your argument, proving the limited grasp you have on the concept of higher thinking.

You reference a picture you came across on the Internet (I believe, sir, that is called a 'meme'). The picture shows a letter written by a Classics student, whom you assume is a woman (thus also managing to offend feminists and male Classical scholars worldwide), detailing the lack of prospects "she" has, even though this person has a degree and understands Latin. This is heartbreaking, but it's not necessarily news. Nor does "she" speak for the numerous individuals currently studying Classics. These students know there is no money guaranteed from obtaining a degree in Classical Studies. They study Classics because they want to understand the roots of Western thinking (quite patriotic of them, isn't is Mr. Limbaugh?), or they love the stories and works of great thinkers (works conservatives used to encourage others to read). They take Classical Studies for the same reasons other students study history or political philosophy -- to widen and inform their thinking, and to better understand they world they live in.

"What the hell is Classical studies? What classics are studied? Or, is it learning how to study in a classical way? Or is it learning how to study in a classy way as opposed to an unclassy way? And what about unClassical studies?"

All right Mr. Limbaugh, I'll tell you. I was a Classical Studies student; I'm no expert, but I took the courses. Classics is a branch of the humanities that examines language, literature, philosophy, history, art, culture, and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world. You know, the Greeks. The Romans. The guys who the Founding Fathers were crazy about. The guys who inspired... democracy. THOSE GUYS. The students who dream of having a Classics-based job understand that most of them will be in school for a majority of their lives and will have to be professors; others will take this knowledge into other fields with them -- politics, physics, archaeology, medicine (it's less socialist than you think Mr. Limbaugh), they can extend their education in terms of modern politics, writing, physics, and medicine. Those who believe in instant wealth if they study Classics are idiots -- the exact same idiots in other classes who fully expect that a job and a $500,000 a year paycheque are in their immediate future.

Indeed, there are uses for Classical Studies in all aspects of life. Workplace politics are much less stressful if you can think to yourself, "Well, at least this isn't the Roman Senate, and the jerk who steals my lunch from the communal fridge isn't plotting my assassination! Whew!" Or, if you are wondering "Why on earth did the United States choose democracy over a monarchy?" Classical Studies has your answer. Classical Studies explains the basic concepts of math (I'm assuming then the Pythagorean theorem wasn't easy for you, Mr. Limbaugh, just as you assumed the Classical Studies student was a woman. It hurts, doesn't it?) as well as science.

You pointed out that there will be no degree to change a useless person into a useful person. This is true. There are hundreds of useless engineers, writers, politicians, historians, and mechanics. There is also at least one too many useless broadcasters.

 

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