My Grandfather Elmer Elton Savage was born to sharecroppers in the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. He attended school right over the border in Elgin, Kansas - he and his brothers would avoid walking two extra miles by taking a rope swing Tarzan style over the Caney River. He graduated the sixth grade before beginning his career as a "roustabout" on oil rigs. Difficult, dirty, dangerous work and my Grandad started when he was 13, ending his career some 50 years later as Regional Production Superintendent in the Permian Basin. In a real sense he was a key man in the industry that makes our cars go. So you can understand why when one of his Grandsons (moi) matriculated University he would refer to me as a "Yalie" (particularly when I would say "who? Moi?") even though I never got near Yale, attending Tulsa and Chicago (now my father nearly became a Yalie which may have influenced Grandad's rhetoric - sort of a retrospective warning). When I said or did something particularly egregious (which you'll be shocked to know actually happened) he would call me a "candyass Yalie" - although always with a mischievous grin.
But I think if Grandad had witnessed the utterly unhinged howling and shrieking on display at Yale this last week he would have apologized for associating me with any of them. Because if I had displayed that type of childish - no toddlerish - behavior in front of him he would have kicked my ass all the way to El Paso.
And so I must take some modest credit (jointly with their mother, Diane) for saving my children from the Yalie fate. You see I'm a libertarian conservative and by and large I taught my kids to interpret the world that way. So when they toddled off to school and now University (not Yale, thank God and Man) they had a proto-world view that their much more left wing teachers and professors constantly challenged. They never had the luxury of having their every bias and whim validated for them in every forum they attended. And while I don't think they were ever taught by avowed Marxist Leninists or Radical Islamists, I believe they were exposed to some of the widest range of worldviews available in America today. Which will serve them in good stead as they navigate life's slings and arrows (Is that a mixed metaphor? How can you navigate slings? Or arrows? Oh well).
The problem with leftish thinking in America today is not so much that the left critique of our society is all wrong but that because of the nature of our educational system and news media it's the only meta narrative that you tend to hear in public (outside of churches and Fox News, that is) and going through childhood without ever having your preconceived notions challenged makes for very weak and emotional thinkers. I have great, guilty fun debating friends who have been marinated their whole life in the standard vaguely leftish received wisdom. I flummox them, I rabbit punch them, I pull the Ali "I am the greatest rope a dope" on them. It is so much fun but quite illegitimate. Because I'm no smarter than them. It's just that I've spent most of my life sparring with teachers, professors and Phd candidates and doing lots of two and three on me's with friends. It makes you tough and teaches you your opponents' weaknesses and most importantly: your own.
And that's what I did for my kids - not because I thought of it but because it's who I am - I'm stupid lucky that way. Look, I don't know where my kids are going to end up on the political spectrum but I know they won't ever behave like the panicked, shrieking, cursing, spitting leftists at Yale. They're too tough for that.
So Grandad, I guarantee that your Great Grandkids will never, ever be "Candyass" anythings.