This Comically Bad Op-Ed

I’m taking a break from studying and writing final exams to share this gem with the world. When I saw that Michael Mukasey had written an op-ed about how feminists are like jihadis for not liking “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” I knew I had to read it. Mukasey is a former federal judge and Attorney General. He really hates terrorists. So when he’s comparing feminists to terrorists, you can infer that he isn’t so fond of feminists, either.

In this op-ed, you get one paragraph about the song and contemporary discomfort with it at the beginning, then a bunch of stuff about Sayid Qutb and how he hated the song (and any intermingling between the sexes). And then at the end there’s a paragraph about how Qutb would be happy to see all these feminists carrying on his mission. There is almost no discussion of why some people are less comfortable with the song now. He just acts as if the fact that both Qutb and feminists don’t like this song shows that they are the same.

It’s stupid and I can’t believe it was published anywhere, let alone in the WSJ.

There are some good reasons to criticize the backlash against the song. For the most part, the song’s critics misinterpret it. Twenty-something-year-old listeners read rapeyness into the lyrics because they have been taught that, when it comes to sex, everyone says what they mean and means what they say. We have to watch videos in college about how each sexual act needs to be explicitly and enthusiastically consented to, and that consent can be revoked immediately, at any time. That kind of clarity in communication about sex was just not expected of anyone until very recently. It is something that we have devised in an attempt to make casual sex safer for both men and women.

But it just does not make any sense to compare contemporary critics of the song with Sayid Qutb. Some people nowadays want to encourage more explicit communication about sex so that casual sex is less risky. Qutb, on the other hand, was disgusted by the intermingling of men and women and revolted by the prospect of an unmarried man and woman spending the night together. Qutb and the feminists dislike the song for completely different reasons, and it makes no sense to use this song as a point of comparison between them.

This op-ed epitomizes bad right-wing commentary. It makes superficial comparisons so that less-discerning readers will start to associate the “enemy” of the day with people who are actually evil. It’s like how Dinesh D’Souza wastes so much paper printing his books about how the Democrats are actually the Real Nazis. The WSJ and Mukasey should do better than that.

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Greed

When I graduated from college I was happy just to be done. And when I got my first job, I was happy just to have a job. It didn’t matter much to me what kinds of opportunities that job would open up for me. I didn’t really care whether the work was interesting. Mostly I just wanted to have something to pay the bills that wasn’t unbearable.

But then something happened. I started studying for the LSAT and found out that I would likely score very high. And then I actually took the LSAT and applied to law school. I got into Harvard. And then I went.

This little taste of success and prestige in the law school application process has made me hungry for more. Now I’m not content with being a student at Harvard Law; I need to be a top student. It’s not enough for me to get a high-paying job at a prestigious law firm in New York; I need to get a job with one of the most selective firms. It’s not enough to clerk for a federal judge; I need to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice.

In short, I’ve gotten greedy.

Instead of being content with the amazing opportunities that I know I will have as a Harvard Law graduate, I am focusing exclusively on the opportunities that I might have if I graduate¬†magna cum laude, make law review, and get stellar recommendations from my professors. And to some extent, that’s spoiling my experience. I’m not able to just enjoy the fact that I’m here, that I have this incredible opportunity to learn law at such an elite institution.

If you had told me when I was a senior in college that I would be studying at Harvard Law school, I would be pleasantly surprised. I started considering law school a little bit before I graduated, but I had assumed that I wouldn’t be able to get into the highest-ranked schools. Because of that, I wasn’t even sure I would end up going to law school. I was worried I wouldn’t get into a program good enough to justify the exorbitant cost.

Now I tend to take it for granted that I’m here. The novelty has worn off. And I find myself feeling ungrateful because I worry that the most elite and prestigious outcomes will end up being out of my reach.

My first final exam is tomorrow. I’ve been studying hard. But I’ve also been trying to refocus myself on why I’m here. I’m here to become a lawyer. I want to do my best on exams, but it’s not like this whole thing is a fruitless endeavor if I’m a typical HLS student rather than an exceptional one. Typical HLS grads get great jobs and become great lawyers. The fact that they don’t have Latin honors on their diploma is immaterial.

In fact, the reason I want the best grades and the honors is not because they will open up opportunities that I want. It’s mostly a matter of my pride. I want the grades because they will help me to prove how great I am to myself and to the world. That’s a stupid reason to want good grades.

So I’ve been praying that God will give me humility and contentment with whatever grades I might end up getting. I want to be grateful for the opportunities I have instead of grasping at vain honors.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
-Ecclesiastes  4:6