Tag: Yale

What kind of person is our education system designed to create? Best-selling author and award-winning essayist William Deresiewicz discusses the failures of our higher education system, how it mis-conditions our elite, and fails to value the humanities, as well as his latest collection of essays, “The End of Solitude.”

Sign up for our event with Bill via Zoom in 1 week! https://jmp.princeton.edu/events/college-kids-are-not-ok-and-what-do-about-it-conversation-william-deresiewicz-end-solitude

Twixt Gentleman and Brigand


Our own Susan Quinn recently wrote an interesting post exploring the wisdom of Judge James Ho’s recent decision to disfavor Yale Law School graduates when seeking judicial clerks. In Should a Judge Use Cancel Culture to Boycott Cancel Culture?, Susan presents arguments for and against Judge Ho’s position (which echoes that of the late Judge Laurence Silberman).

Judge Ho’s position has been mischaracterized by some on both the left and right as a form of viewpoint discrimination: what the judge is doing, given this understanding, is rejecting a particularly left-leaning law school because it is particularly left-leaning. I disagree. What the judge is doing is, as I tried to make clear in my comments to Susan’s post, objecting to Yale’s institutional intolerance to diversity of thought. That’s a very different thing: the judge rejects a process that betrays our civilizational norms of open discourse and free expression. And well he should.

One good and two crazy martinis await today. Jim and Greg react to House Democrat Brenda Lawrence backing away from impeachment and now saying censuring President Trump would be more appropriate in an election year. They also try to figure out what Barack Obama’s 2020 approach is as he not only doesn’t endorse Joe Biden but in private is apparently slamming Biden’s inability to connect with voters. And they roll their eyes as Harvard and Yale students disrupt the annual football game between the two schools to protest both schools for investing in fossil fuels.

Why Yale Students Aren’t Ideologically Diverse


Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 8.54.07 AMThe New York Post has been giving Ed Boland a lot of press recently in advance of his soon-to-be-released book, The Battle for Room 314. The promotion began with an article headlined with typical Post subtlety, “My Year of Terror and Abuse Teaching at a NYC High School.” Reporter Maureen Callahan introduces her subject:

In 2008, Ed Boland, a well-off New Yorker who had spent 20 years as an executive at a nonprofit, had a midlife epiphany: He should leave his white-glove world, the galas at the Waldorf and drinks at the Yale Club, and go work with the city’s neediest children.

As I read the foregoing, another headline sprang to mind: Teacher Bludgeoned by Reality. But let’s hear Mr. Boland’s story:

Cultural Appropriation Is Sexy


Protest_Halloween-featIt’s difficult to imagine a more loathsome fad — or better exemplar of victim culture — than the current practice of crying “cultural appropriation” whenever a person identified with one culture uses ideas from another without approval. In the Washington Post, Cathy Young has an excellent piece cataloging some recent examples ranging from the controversy over “Kimono Wednesdays” at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to various artists and musicians being forced to kowtow to twitter mobs for the crime of offending the easily offended. We’ve seen the phenomenon repeated at Yale and Claremont McKenna, where students who wore Mexican-themed costumes for Halloween were criticized not so much for being lazy and crass, but for using cultural ideas that were not their own “inauthentically.”

Offensive-Costumes-620x300But besides the practice’s spoil-sporting and petty totalitarianism, it’s also fantastically stupid. As with biology and technology, culture thrives when different ideas are allowed to recombine in novel ways, and declines or stagnates when it closes itself to new ideas or new combinations of old ones. After all, the only truly “authentic” cultures are all barbarous and primitive. Indeed, Matt Ridley has made a career of pointing out that sexual-style admixture is the best model for allowing distinct things — be they biological, technical, or cultural — to combine and work collaboratively, rather than compete directly with each other:

How does evolution do cumulative, combinatorial things? Well, it uses sexual reproduction. In an asexual species, if you get two different mutations in different creatures, a green one and a red one, then one has to be better than the other. One goes extinct for the other to survive. But if you have a sexual species, then it’s possible for an individual to inherit both mutations from different lineages. So what sex does is it enables the individual to draw upon the genetic innovations of the whole species. It’s not confined to its own lineage.

Spineless Leadership at Yale


shutterstock_292573991When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, my many progressive friends frequently reassured me that his presidency would mark a transformation of race relations in the United States. That prediction has proved half true. Things have surely changed in the last seven years — but for the worse. Racial tension and discord has gone way up, resentments have increased, and the levels of violence, confrontation, incivility, and ill-will have risen, taking an immense toll on our political and social institutions. Throughout all of this turmoil, the President has largely remained aloof, even though strong leadership is urgently needed to stand up against the radicals attacking our social institutions.

Yet another example of how not to handle race relations came recently from Yale University, where I attended law school some fifty years ago in another period of national racial tension and unrest. The incidents surrounding the wearing of Halloween costumes at Yale has been well critiqued, but needs to be set into a larger perspective.

The incident began with an email from Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee, which advised students to be aware of the risk of “cultural appropriation and misrepresentation” by such acts as “wearing feathered headdresses, turbans, wearing ‘war paint’ or modifying skin tone or wearing blackface or redface.” The letter goes on to pay lip service to freedom of speech even as it decries these various forms of social insensitivity. A letter of this sort from an official body carries more than a hint of official disapproval of actions that do not toe the line.

A New College President’s First Address


shutterstock_261537968In a previous message, An Open Letter to Concerned Student 1950, I offered some comments about student protesters at Missouri’s flagship university, suggesting that in some academic hideaway, there might be a leader who wouldn’t put up with their rebellious ways. I signed the message, “A Concerned American, from a few generations in the past.”

However, let us suppose that such a person did magically show up, say, as a newly appointed interim-president charged with the task of dealing with contumacious crowds bent on taking over the university. As a public service, I offer the following comments for this individual’s first address to fellow administrators, faculty, and students:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

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Much has been written in the past week or so about the shrieking, militant Special Snowflakes at Yale and Mizzou. Many have placed the blame for their obnoxious behavior on today’s “helicopter parenting” – and that’s certainly a big part of it. Still, this stuff is taking place at universities, which at least market themselves […]

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Hire Those Brats! I’m Serious!


Do I really need to describe this? We all know what’s happening on college campuses. Whining, coddled, over-sensitive little brats demanding this and that, weeping over emails, that sort of thing.

And one of the more popular responses is — at least from folks who are roughly aligned with our point of view — Hey, those kids are in for a rude awakening and Who on earth is going to hire those entitled brats?

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I would contend that it’s a straight line from parents who gave in to their kids’ tantrums fifteen years ago to get them to behave to the delicate sensibilities and behavior of the college students we are seeing today.  That scenario by itself contains the kernels of so many factors now coalescing to create little […]

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With so much going on in politics and the culture, at the moment, there was a bounty of topics to choose from for this episode, but with our characteristic discipline, we stuck to a recap of last night’s debate, the bizarre events at the University of Missouri and Yale, and some free GLoP media consulting for the remaining Republican presidential candidates.

The boys close with some of their favorite TV shows, movies, and Vines (yes, you read that right) of the current season.

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In modern America, much evil may be committed in the name of “justice” or “equality” or, ironically, “freedom.”   All of us believe in some version of those precepts.  Thus, to oppose a strain of totalitarianism that gallops into town under a banner bearing the name of so noble an ideal would make one a monstrous bigot. […]

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God and Man at Notre Dame


The cocaine was in the back bedroom. NotND my scene. I have always been more of a shot and beer and a shot and a beer and a shot and a beer and a shot and a beer man, myself. I wasn’t in the market for a new habit that evening, so I declined my share of Colombia’s finest, comfortable in the knowledge that my comparatively abstemious nature would mean a healthier portion for someone with a better traveled nose than my own.

At Notre Dame, we are not above trafficking in portents (or narcotics…), so I was especially averse to dabbling in the illicit that particular evening. One ought not tempt the wrath of the Almighty by taking up law-breaking on one’s first night in law school. At least, that was what I believed. But looking around the room at my new classmates, it was clear there was a healthy diversity of opinion as to what constituted impermissible taunting of He under whose sign we had come to study. But what was never in dispute that evening or any other was the sign itself. Pablo Escobar may cater the mixers, but we all knew and would never deny that Christ Crucified quietly watched over even the snowiest noses at Notre Dame.

The Ivy League Makes Excuses for a Progressive Racist



Portrait of a racist, obscured for purposes of mystery (and emotional safety).

The murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, over the summer led to demands that public and private institutions stop displaying (or selling) the confederate battle flag and other symbols of the Confederacy.

At my alma mater, Yale, the debate took the form of a campaign to remove the name of John Calhoun from one of its residential colleges, as I posted here a few weeks ago. The connection between Calhoun and Charleston was somewhat attenuated: Calhoun died ten years before the outbreak of the civil war, and — unlike the stars-and-bars — Calhoun is not exactly an iconic symbol for white supremacists. Nonetheless, the Yale community has been eager to denounce Calhoun as an irredeemable racist.

An Evening at Yale with Ayaan Hirsi Ali


Last evening I attended a lecture at Yale sponsored by the William F. Buckley Program (its goal being to promote intellectual diversity at the school) and delivered by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, currently a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I’d been unaware of the scheduled lecture until reading about a controversy triggered by an open letter from Yale’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) which denounced the invitation to Hirsi Ali because of her alleged history of hate speech and intolerance. The letter backfired on the MSA when a number of the 35 other Yale student groups it claimed had endorsed the letter stated that they had done no such thing.

Although the MSA action received both local media and political blog coverage, there were no protestors outside the lecture hall tonight (though there was a Fox News Channel truck) and the audience, which contained Muslim students, was orderly.

Insanity and Guilt


When I was an undergraduate, I took my meals at Yale’s “kosher kitchen” in a basement on the periphery of campus. Dinners were popular, but lunch was… intimate. Depending on the day of the week, lunch could be a gathering of a dozen, or just three or four. One semester during my sophomore year, I got to know a third-year law student named Michael. Our schedules overlapped on one of those weekdays when lunch was sparsely attended. Michael was a little older than most law students, and his gravitas was enhanced by his quiet confidence and his full beard. But there was also something else about Michael. It was a kind of heroic intensity, similar to the vibe I get from ex-military guys.

Over the course of the semester, I learned a little of Michael’s story. He had some condition that caused periodic blindness. The law school provided him a reader, when necessary, to read textbooks aloud to him. Fortunately, Michael had a remarkable memory and could recall all the material. Michael was well-informed, intelligent, and reasonable. He had seen something of the world between his undergraduate days and law school, and was an engaging conversationalist. He was someone I often turned to for advice.