The Corruption of the US Ivy League

The Corruption of the US Ivy League. By Roger Kimball.

I have always admired the tag corruptio optima pessima: the corruption of the best is the worst. Take the Ivy League. These super-rich, super-prestigious institutions are so wealthy and so beguiling because, once upon a time, they represented and — more to the point — successfully transmitted to their students the prime civilizational values of our culture. …

Today, they are utterly bankrupt — not financially, of course. No, in a good old greedy capitalist sense, they are filthy, stinking rich. It is only in an intellectual and moral sense that they are bankrupt. They are, all of them, totally in thrall to what we have come to call “woke” ideology, which has poisoned the well of their intellectual pretensions by subordinating the life of the mind to identity politics.

All the old liberal virtues — disinterested inquiry, due process, colorblind justice, advance according to merit, not some extraneous racial, ethnic, or sexual quota — all that has been rebranded as the invidious patent of reactionary and therefore impermissible vice. In sum, the educational establishment in its highest reaches is today a cesspool, contaminating the society it had been, at great expense, created to nurture.

Still, parents are willing to climb naked over broken bottles and impoverish themselves to send their children to this cauldron of iniquity. The light from those extinguished stars still, for a short while yet, beams down upon us, and people still utter the words “Harvard,” “Yale,” “Princeton” with something approaching awe.

That will soon change. …

Cancelling western culture by making examples of one professor at  a time:

The pathetic dean of the [University of Pennsylvania] law school, Theodore W. Ruger, only has things that [Professor Amy Wax] has said, or is said to have said, to go on. His bill of indictment, which has now been handed over to the Faculty Senate, would be hilarious if it were not in earnest. Amy Wax has said things that the minority students at Penn do not like. …

She must be harassed, publicly humiliated and possibly stripped of her tenure.

But like Katz, Wax’s real tort lay elsewhere. A few years ago, Wax co-wrote a much-cited article in praise of bourgeois values — values like thrift, hard work, punctuality, fair dealing and honesty. Such things, she argued, were the best guarantee of personal and social success — and the fact that some groups embodied such values while others did not went a long way towards explaining the differences in their achievements. That piece and what she said about it in some interviews on Glenn Loury’s show were her real torts. …

Woke doctrine: all large groups of people are statically identical (and if not, that’s evidence of racism):

It would take a very long column to address all of Dean Ruger’s accusations, so let me focus on the one that seemed to cause the greatest offense: the idea that not all cultures are equal. “All cultures are not equal,” she wrote.

Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a first-world, twenty-first-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans.

If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

Is there any syllable of that paragraph that is not true? And yet it is for stating such obvious truths that Wax is being dragged into the Star Chamber at Penn.

Woke doctrine: no one is better than anyone else at anything … no feelings may get hurt:

Re-reading that paragraph, I thought of a passage from William A. Henry’s 1995 book In Defense of Elitism. Henry, who died just before the book was published, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a “card-carrying member of the ACLU,” as he put it. But, liberal though he was, he understood, as we all know, that not all cultures are equal, nor are all people. “The simple fact is,” he wrote,

that some people are better than others — smarter, harder working, more learned, more productive, harder to replace. Some ideas are better than others, some values more enduring, some works of art more universal. Some cultures, though we dare not say it, are more accomplished than others and therefore more worthy of study. Every corner of the human race may have something to contribute. That does not mean that all contributions are equal… It is scarcely the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose.

Fortunately for Mr. Henry, he is not a tenured professor at one of our premier reform schools. It’s not the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose, but just try writing that today from an academic perch.

All that without even mentioning IQ, or differences in group averages — the best studied question in the social sciences, with mountains of empirical evidence going back over a century. Even an anti-PC writer like Kimball fears to mention it.

hat-tip Phil