Instead, he took a cheap shot at the favorite punching bag of people who deride higher education in general and the liberal arts in particular. He attacked art history. “I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” he said.
It was the cheapest of cheap shots because, as I noted in a column two years ago, almost no one majors in art history. Art history majors account for less than 0.2 percent of working adults with college degrees.
It was also a cheap shot because art history isn’t a major naive kids fall into because they’ve heard a college degree — any college degree — will get you a good job. It’s an intellectually demanding major, requiring the memorization and mastery of a large body of visual material, a facility for foreign languages, and the ability to write clearly and persuasively. And it’s famously elitist.
In fact, the reason pundits instinctively pick on art history is that it is seems effete.
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