As a critic, I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that people hate criticism, and, for that matter, critics. If you point out that much science-fiction has a less than ideal historical relationship with imperialism, you will get lots of sci-fi fans lining up to tell you that you are awful for trashing something that gives them joy. If you say that Dead Poets Society cheerfully encourages young men to embrace sexism and fascism, fans will complain that you are preventing them from being as awesomely inspired by Robin Williams as they should be. Even relatively positive appraisals of, say, romance novels, can invite pushback.
For that matter, here I am complaining about people criticizing me. Why oh why don't they simply lean back and bask in my wonderful brilliance? Why do they have to quibble and cavil? Criticism: Even critics don't want it.
It was, then, not a surprise to see Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth taking to the New York Times to launch a criticism of criticism. Roth laments that his students read Rousseau and Emerson only to contradict them:
Instead of trying to find mistakes in the texts, I suggest we take the point of view that our authors created these apparent “contradictions” in order to get readers like us to ponder more interesting questions. … Yes, there’s a certain satisfaction in being critical of our authors, but isn’t it more interesting to put ourselves in a frame of mind to find inspiration in them?
A big reason people are critical, Roth writes, is to show "that you will not be easily fooled. It is a sign of sophistication." He goes on to warn that "fetishizing disbelief as a sign of intelligence has contributed to depleting our cultural resources." Question Emerson and America will fall, or at least be depleted.