Monday, February 20, 2006

Tytler's Brain War

Is it a matter of style or substance? I'm not sure yet, but the theme is unmistakable. So far, Bruce Tytler's campaign is all about the Brain War.

The phrase "brain war" appears in almost every article about the Tytler for Congress campaign that I've seen. Over the weekend, for example, a new article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch quotes Tytler as saying, "We won the Cold War. We can't afford to lose the brain war."

I presume that when Bruce Tytler talks about the Brain War, he is speaking in favor of support for public education. The analogy between the struggle to fund education and the Cold War is interesting to me because it has three degrees of separation from actual war. Let's remember that the Cold War was itself not actually a war. So now, Bruce Tytler is comparing educational advocacy to a long simmering competition that was in turn likened to a war.

If we are to use a war metaphor for education, what components will it include? Will there be the rocket propellled grenades of science and the roadside bombs of intelligent design theology? How about the trenches of fast food in school cafeterias? Do pep rallies become like USO shows?

I'm not sure whether Bruce Tytler will be able to pull off the brain war metaphor yet, but I have this much to say in favor of the concept: At least Bruce Tytler has come up with a memorable phrase tied to progressive policy. It helps him distinguish himself from the other candidates a little bit, and in this crowded primary field, that can't be bad.


Anonymous said...

The "brain war" refers to the competition between the US and Asian giants in the number of math and science graduates each country produces.

It's not going to do anything for the guy working two jobs with no health insurance coverage.

Here's a quick google find:

It's of interest as a long term economic policy issue, but in the end American corporations, whether staffed by reams of American PhDs or Chinese PhDs, are going to be shipping production overseas to Chinese laborers instead of American laborers.

The same article in the OD states that Tytler again supports the "war on terror" aka "Bush's War" in Iraq. In the same article, Tytler references "winning the Cold War" which is purely Reaganesque speak. I'm guessing this might make Tytler your closet liberal in neo-con's clothing.

So the question is why would you want to replace a Rockefeller Republican like Boehlert with a psuedo Reagan Democrat?

Anonymous said...

Poster and Blogger are over- thinking the brain war (sorry, couldn't resist). As an educator I am intrigued by the brain war concept and I like the in your face tone of it. If we are going to commit money and time and, most importantly our young people, to a fight, let's pick one worth fighting. Our troops deserve good body protective gear and all that but imagine the wonderful possibilities if our money were going to fund a brain war not a senseless territorial war for oil and to avenge W's daddy (whether daddy wants it or not). I'm not advocating violence, but what's wrong with strong warrior language in support of money, other resources and just plain fighting for our kid's education?

24 Independent said...

Good question. I don't question Bruce Tytler's motives, but I do think that summoning nationalism as a motivation for education is not a good idea. It reminds me too much of the Nazis and Fascists. I think that education should be something that brings people together, not something that is likened to a weapon.

Educational competition is okay so long as it is just viewed as a game. When it's emphasized too much, we get results like the Korean scientists who faked stem cell research results.

I think that we Democrats can find better metaphors to motivate people than war.

Anonymous said...

Educator poster misses my point. changes in economic policy, even if enacted beneficially, would take a decade to have a material effect.

How does Mr. Tytler propose to deal with this endless war which will likely lead to the use of nukes within ten years? Isn't the use of metaphoric war an enabler of a mindset of the acceptance of war as normal?

Secondly, what does Mr. Tytler propose that would have a material, positive economic benefit on the residents of the 24th District.

Anonymous said...

Blogger, wasn't the war on poverty a good notion? Aren't there societal evils worth fighting? Our culture applauds vanquishing enemies. We can abhor violence personally, but if people want to fight somebody or something, turning that energy toward a conceptual enemy, e.g. ignorance or an impoverished educational system, is preferable to fighting real people for no good reason

Anonymous said...

This is strange because the Oneida paper referred to it as the "brain-drain war". The brain drain referred to a physical out migration of highly skilled workers.

Two possible theories emerge. One is that the reporters (one or more) actually injected a hidden bias of their own by substituting their own words for Tytlers.

The other theory involves Tytler not really knowing what he was saying and saying two entirely different things. Since he filed in two different Congressional districts, I could see that...