February 24, 2006
The Phrenologists of Cambridge
My old man got into Harvard, but his parents wouldn't let him go. Cambridge was too far from Joisey. He ended up at NYU, where he seems to have had a high old time, and eventually went to Harvard Law.
Naturally, he wanted me to go to Harvard. If I had spent another year at Andover and matured, perhaps I would have gotten in. I was, however, impatient, and went to Columbia. My college experience was definitely a mixed bag, its deficiencies mostly my own fault.
At the time, and generally since then, Harvard was, by reputation and prestige, THE place to go to college.
This week, its brilliant, quirky and slovenly president, Larry Summers, was forced to resign, mostly by a result in the Arts and Sciences faculty. Summers, of course, is the guy who speculated about differences between men and women in the distribution of high-level scientific aptitude, got pilloried for it, and then caved, finding $ 50 million lying around to appease the diversocrats. All this I discussed here. Apparently Summers's remarks, the reaction, and the cave-in were the beginning of the end.
Summers's real crime, of course, is that he kowtowed only reluctantly and inconsistently to the current orthodoxies of the faculty, mostly feminism and other forms of identity politics. Let it be known: whatever its origins, this complex of ideas has degenerated into a cult, whose practitioners are more interested in imposing their ideas by "hate speech" codes and votes of no confidence than by reasoned debate. These ideas are as much of a cult as any in the past, such as phrenology or Freudianism.
Oddly enough, these soi disant radicals are the gatekeepers for the meritocratic middle bourgeoisie.
And except for an unworthy and probably misdirected ambition for them to make the connections to enter this class, why in the world should I work into my seventies to pay tuition for my girls to a place run by nutters like these?
And what are we to make of the zillionaires that continue to subsidize it?