Ross Douthat, who graduated from Harvard, has an interesting column up this morning about the Kavanaugh fight as a civil war among America’s Ivy-covered elites.
His basic point is that everybody involved in the Kavanaugh fight is privileged in a way that sets them far apart from most Americans.
And with that question you’ve struck to the heart of the whole meritocratic game, which depends on a reproduction of privilege that pretends to be something else, something fair and open and all about hard work and just deserts. In this game the people whose privilege is particularly obvious, the boarding schoolers and New York toffs and Bethesda country clubbers, play a crucially important role. It’s not just that their parents pay full freight and keep the economics of tuition viable for everyone. It’s that the eliter-than-elite kids themselves help create a provisional inside-the-Ivy hierarchy that lets all the other privileged kids, the ones who are merely upper-upper middle class, feel the spur of resentment and ambition that keeps us running, keeps us competing, keeps us sharp and awful in all the ways that meritocracy requires.
Douthat goes on to talk about how a Yale alumnus who wrote an unflattering profile of Kavanaugh as a Yale student herself was a child of prep school privilege, as were her main sources. More:
But people also need to recognize that the “profile” we’re being given of Kavanaugh — a creature of privilege who drank a lot in college and sometimes struck other people as a jerk — isn’t the narrow profile of a rapist, and isn’t even the somewhat more expansive profile of a particular kind of arrogant preppy. It’s a profile that fits many of the same people attacking him today — and so part of what we’re watching is one group of meritocrats returning to their undergraduate resentments and trying to pin on Georgetown Prep graduates the vices that define our entire depressing class.
Tl;dr: most of the people attacking Kavanaugh for his “privilege,” and the way he may have behaved in college, are hypocrites. Read the whole thing.
She didn’t even know him, but she’s against him, alright, and went on TV as a Yale Law graduate to assert that authority against Kavanaugh.
If you work around American elites, you’ll learn to pick up on a particular kind of phony white person: the person whose guilt over their own privilege displaces itself by manifesting itself as do-gooderism at the expense of others, but never themselves. The political consultant Matthew Dowd, in his latest ABC News column, is a good example. Take a look at these excerpts:
Instead of waiting for the diverse population of America to keep pushing and prodding, I would humbly suggest that we as white male Christians take it upon ourselves to step back and give more people who don’t look like us access to the levers of power.
We don’t have to wait, and our country is in desperate need of more diverse leaders. It is that diverse leadership which will not only represent more of what America looks like today, but it will give us the opportunity to find solutions which homogenous models of leadership aren’t able to.
So: did Matthew Dowd resign his post as ABC News’s political analyst after writing this, to make way for a person of color? Of course not. If he really believed what he is saying here — and wasn’t simply virtue-signaling — he would have tendered his resignation, and in his letter to his supervisors urged them to hire a person of color in his place. Dowd didn’t do this because he expects other white men to lose their jobs, or to be denied opportunities, but not from himself. Funny how the kind of white people who push for what they consider to be “social justice” exclude themselves, and their own position and privileges, from the verdict and sentence.
Now, Matthew Dowd was not Ivy-educated, though he has evidently absorbed the prejudices of his professional and social class. His column, and the sociological phenomenon Douthat identifies in his piece today, explain why I get especially hot when I see, for example, Yale students boycotting classes, and so forth, to protest Evil Yalie Brett Kavanaugh. I think this has very little to do with Kavanaugh himself, and almost everything to do with the kinds of social resentments that are most prominent in high school and college. What is fascinating is how the people who hold the most privilege in this country fall all over themselves to assert solidarity with the people who are, in the hierarchy of the progressive left, victims of society.
You think any of those white Yale Law students taking to the barricades to stop Evil Yalie Brett Kavanaugh plan to drop out and give up their slot at Yale Law to a person of color? You think any of them, in the future, will insist that their kids apply only to Big State U. so as not to deny a slot at an Ivy League college to “one of the most vulnerable”? Please.
Do you think that Yale Law students who are people of color have the slightest recognition of their own extraordinary cultural privilege — which is quickly going to translate to economic privilege after graduation — relative to the overwhelming majority of Americans, including white Americans? Please.
I don’t think that Brett Kavanaugh is a Man Of The People, and I don’t care. Nobody who makes it to the US Supreme Court is ever going to be a Man Of The People, given the nature of the job. We shouldn’t want that, anyway. We should want men and women who have demonstrated an extraordinary mastery of the law, and who have good character (and “good character” is not assessed solely by how they behaved, or might have behaved, in high school and college).
I don’t think for one second that the Ivy League elites who are trying to knock off Kavanaugh’s nomination really care about his alcohol habits in college. They’re just throwing everything they can think of at him to see if anything sticks, and takes him down. For whatever reason, the “white male” has become a hate fetish among American elites. Kavanaugh — an elite white male — has become the scapegoat for other white elites, who project onto him their own anxieties about being power-holders within a worldview that considers them guilty by virtue of their own race (and, for some, their sex). If they can offload that guilt onto Kavanaugh, then they will restore their sense of order within their culture, and will have proved that Kavanaugh was a threat to the communal peace. In this way these white elites will have preserved their own privilege within the system, at the mere cost of destroying the ambitions and reputation of an innocent man.
What they don’t understand is that the same scapegoat mechanism that identifies the Republican Kavanaugh as guilty by virtue of his race and sex is eventually going to be turned on them too, despite their having demonstrated their liberal allyship. The revolution will eat its own. As Maximilian Robespierre, the original Social Justice Warrior, declared, “Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue.”
I hope that the next Supreme Court nominee will not have graduated from an Ivy League law school. The nation could do without the resentments and anxieties of these neurotic people poisoning the well of public discourse.
You know who I’d like to hear from on this question? Yale Law graduate J.D. Vance.