Now that Jelani Cobb has contributed his two cents in The New Yorker Magazine to the discussion about the Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate racial quotas as a basis for college admissions, I’d like to contribute another two cents.
Cobb, you should know, happens to be a black guy who is Dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, who believes that affirmative action is “a sober, if imperfect, attempt to grapple with the abiding inequality in American society,” and its elimination will be “fewer students from traditionally underrepresented minorities on college campuses, particularly at the most competitive institutions.”
By using the word ‘competitive,’ Cobb is politely referring to the so-called ‘elite’ universities, meaning the Ivy League schools and a few others, whose sense of noblesse oblige toward our ‘lesser-endowed’ populations started to emerge as liberalism discovered the twin roots of racism and poverty in the 1960’s, thanks to Dr. King and his push for equal civil rights.
How did the first President of the 1960’s – Kennedy – signal his awareness of the importance and value of an ‘elite’ education? He brought down to D.C. a group of current experts with Harvard backgrounds whom he referred to as his ‘brain trust,’ i.e., the Dean of Harvard College, the Dean’s brother who was currently President of the Ford Foundation, and a couple of others with Harvard pedigrees.
When Lyndon Johnson took over, his first senior staff meeting was to discuss a request by the military who wanted a large increase in the number of combat troops going to Viet Nam. On the advice of the Harvard-educated, Kennedy brain trust, LBJ approved the request, and the United States spent the next ten years immolating large sections of Southeast Asia and its populations, never mind losing some 60,000 young American lives, whose names (including two of my classmates) are all on the fuc*ing wall.
To their dying days, not a single one of those Harvard-trained experts ever publicly evinced the slightest regret or doubt about having participated in making the biggest, worst and most inhuman foreign policy decision ever made in the history of the United States. And by the way, when I went to Europe in 1970, my fellow classmates at the Sorbonne told me that they no longer believed that America stood for what it had stood for when France was liberated during World War II.
What happens when you go to an ‘elite’ school like Harvard is that you are taught to believe and support whatever prevailing narratives the ruling class uses to decide what’s best for the rest of us, whether those narratives have any basis in truth, logic, history, or humanity at all. And the kids who tend to be the most vigorous and aggressive when it comes to indoctrinating the next generation with those myths are the kids who get into places like Harvard, Yale and Columbia but didn’t have the benefit of an elite background and need to prove that this is where they truly belong.
Know who we got after Kennedy’s Harvard gang went back to Harvard in 1968? We got Henry Kissinger, that’s who. Henry was raised in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and started college at the City College of New York. He transferred to Harvard after World War II and stayed there until he joined Nixon as foreign policy adviser in 1969.e He transf
Would Nixon have brought someone like Kissinger into the White House if Kissinger had completed his college education at City College and then gone on to a graduate degree at Fordham University or some other non-elite place? Of course not. And in fact, Nixon often talked about how Kissinger was his ‘protection’ against the scorn and criticism of him emanating from the ‘eastern elite.’
So, this is what we have gained from believing in the values and virtues of the role of academic institutions referred to by Jelani Cobb as the ‘most competitive’ schools, i.e., arrogant, and inhuman so-called ‘experts’ like McGeorge Bundy and Henry Kissinger, who truly have human blood all over their hands.
Is it such a bad idea if it was a little more difficult for the less-privileged kids to get into those so-called ‘elite’ schools?