The National Review Has an Ivy League Problem

As the brain-child of a disenchanted Yalie named William F. Buckley, Jr., the National Review has never had an easy relationship with the eight schools from which it draws much of its writing talent, like Nathan Harden (who recently published “Sex and God and Yale”), Eve Tushnet (the gregarious Catholic writer), Maggie Gallagher (the gay marriage conspiracy theorist), and of course Buckley himself. Add to that managing editor Fred Schwarz (a Columbia grad), who articulates “the true, the fundamental conflict in Obama’s soul”:

Is he a Columbia asshole or a Harvard asshole? The answer is important, because those are two very different types of asshole. Both are obsessed with showing you how smart they are, but the Columbia asshole does it by telling you everything he knows, while the Harvard asshole does it by acting bored with whatever you say. The Harvard variety is at least laid back, and the Columbia variety can be interesting; but put them together and you have a world-weary pest. That may not be an exact description of Obama, but he’s certainly getting there.

The salty language surprised us—even us!—because, in his discussion of a recent Pundits prank at Yale (involving a character called “Wilma Dickfit”), IvyGate hero Nathan Harden confers NR the distinction of being “family-friendly” (really):

You won’t believe what they’re up to in New Haven. The latest example of a Yale’s depravity is so graphic that I can’t even mention much of it on these family-friendly pages. It involves an innuendo-filled flyer that appeared all over campus this week, advertising a fake event by a female author of a sex-themed book supposedly entitled “Let’s Find Out The Hard Way.” Crude, and woman-demeaning, this is comic material worthy of a 13-year-old’s intelligence and sophistication.

(Contra Harden, we think the National Review’s audience will believe.) Back to Schwarz: Read the rest of this entry »

Sex and God at Yale Author Rejects “Eww, Sex” Characterization

We wrote last week that Sex and God at Yale is based on author Nathan Harden’s disgust for sex, or at least the public discussion of it. Yesterday, Harden addressed our take  on Twitter:

So here’s the problem: Harden’s argument for Yale’s decline rests heavily on the menace of the “for-profit sex industry,” which refers to, among other things, manufacturers of condoms, sex toys, and pornography. Here is an instructive passage from chapter 3 (“The Business of Sex Ed”):

To this day, men around the world are debauching themselves over a scene in which [a porn actress] likely contracted the virus that will one day kill her. As for her and the others who contracted the virus during the [2004 HIV outbreak in the porn industry], porn producers are profiting from their damaged lives and, in all likelihood, early deaths.

Now, it’s obvious that Harden thinks this is an indictment of the “for-profit sex industry,” in that it increases and tolerates the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases. (And, clearly, he’s counting on the reader to retch at the fact that people use porn to masturbate.) But Harden is making a far more powerful indictment against capitalism. He has simply discovered that the porn industry throws the worst flaws of capitalism—in particular, the way it rewards exploitation—into a particularly high relief. Read the rest of this entry »

If You’re Ok With Sex, ‘Sex and God at Yale’ Will Confuse You From the First Chapter

Nathan Harden, Yale ’09, just released his first book, Sex and God at Yale: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad. The book has some street cred, as Harden is a Yale man himself, and the foreword comes from no other than fellow Bulldog Christopher Buckley, Class of 1975.

However, all of Harden’s arguments are based on the basic principle of “eww, sex.” And if you don’t hold his views, Sex and God at Yale gets real confusing, real quick.

In the introduction, which is puzzling for a whole host of reasons, Harden attempts to identify with an imagined freshman girl at Yale, exploring the weird, wild world of the university. Harden-as-freshman-girl discovers Olympic gold medalists and African orphanage builders scattered around her dorm, so how should she, just a simple small town girl, separate from the pack?

“Let me give you a clue,” Harden says. “You had better throw any ideas you have about self-respect and women’s equality out of the window.” Because, lest you forget, this is Yale, where people play by their own rules. And those Yale boys want one thing: sex.

“Time to get with the program, sister.” Read the rest of this entry »