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Rick Santorum
American Taliban (Sarah Conard/Reuters)
This is yet another one of the things Rick Santorum says that he says often enough that it counts as an actual talking point, as opposed to the deranged ramblings of a tattered mind. Well, I suppose it could be both:
“I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely [...] The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”
Santorum's point, as near as can be discerned, is that getting an education is bad. It's bad because "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it," which sounds like one of the 82.7 percent of statistics that were simply pulled out of someone's posterior. It's bad because college indoctrinates people, presumably to believe in math and literature and the tensile strength of various metals, and we can't have that. No, really. He's genuinely put out about it:
President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob," Santorum said as the crowd howled with laughter and applause. [...]

"That's why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image," Santorum said to more applause. "I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."

Seldom has the conservative hostility to general book-learning been rendered so tersely. In addition to the apparent conviction that faith and knowing stuff cannot possibly coexist, there is also the general presumption of children as empty objects. They should be indoctrinated, and "remade"; the only question in Santorum's mind is who should do it. The beliefs Rick Santorum intends to pour into his children are apparently so fragile that they cannot survive exposure to literally any other contrary knowledge. He will homeschool his children; they will grow up to have random "jobs" that reflect the jobs their parents wish them to have; they will correctly fear and despise the suspicious black president, because their parents tell them to.

The forms of "indoctrination" students are exposed to in American colleges are never clear. I have at this point heard countless conservatives rant about it, but never with any explanation attached to it that made a lick of sense. Something about secularism (apparently Jesus would solve math problems differently), or liberal professors (scores of liberal professors, doing liberal things like ... what? Citing statistics that make people feel bad? Giving interpretations of history that clash with the preferred One True Narratives of the parents?) or college-aged students, gone away from their parents, who suddenly engage in terrible, contrary-to-parental-advice behavior the moment they leave home.

Whatever it is, Rick Santorum is, as usual, up to his eyeballs in it. It almost impresses me how uncannily Santorum reflects all the worst aspects of modern Republican conservatism. From the theocracy-as-freedom pronouncements to his own religious hypocrisies (don't ask him about any Catholic social doctrines not revolving around sex, because he couldn't tell you them), to tax cuts as regimentally required magic fairy dust, to the evils of social programs, and the scandalous doings of women nowadays, and outright hostility toward scientists and teachers and pretty much every other post-Dark-Ages invention of society. He is the perfect social conservative candidate. And that scares everyone except his base.

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