Thursday, November 24, 2005

Only White Guys At Princeton!

I must say that, since moving to New York, I've been impressed, though not really hampered by, the Ivy league world. In my industry, journalism, you constantly see Harvard grads helping Harvard grads. Really, it's not about the Ivy League, it's all about Harvard.

Harvard's Ivy League peer, though, the school that educated most of the family members who give me a pay check, is good old Princeton. I have fluffy bunny feelings for Princeton since F Scott Fitzgerald flunked out of there, back in the day.

Anyway, Samuel Alito, bound to get to the Supreme Court without really serious contention, went there too. And, it turns out, he was part of a campus organization that was way, way, too worried about women, minorities, homosexuals and even the disabled joining the Princeton community.

Fascinating. Okay, look, I believed a lot of whacky things in college and I'd not like to be judged, right now, by my college views. Yet, Alito had to go out of his way to join a xenophobic club, way back then. Also, long ago as it is, it's part of his record and something he should explain now, during his confirmation hearings.

For my own part, I've already described my college views as ideas from long ago, and I'm only 30. However, I probably am being too dismissive. I might not believe, right now, everything I believed in college but that doesn't mean that my college beliefs weren't formative. Even where I've changed my mind, what I believed then can be easily linked to what I believe now. I think that's true for most college grads -- those were the years of trying ideas on for size, after all, and for pursuing ways of thinking with minimal consequence. If Alito is anything like me, or like most people I know, what he believed back then is important, even if his opinions have since changed. College is formative, after all, by design.


At 4:28 PM , Blogger Jon E. said...

Mike, you're probably right that the stupid (or smart) things we say in college shouldn't stand in for proof of who we are or what we believe many years later. Some of us get smarter, some of us get dumber, and some of us just change our minds. I definitely said and thought a lot of things when I was twenty that now strike me as peurile or craven. So, although it raises my hackles, I don't automatically treat as proof of hateful views Alito's membership in a conspicuously retrograde, elitist, and hysterical association dedicated to white male privilege.

But I do hold it against him that he was so proud of belonging to that organization that he was still listing it on his résumé thirteen years after he left Princeton. By then he was in his mid 30s, and, barring a conversion on the road to Damascus, by your mid 30s, your opinions are pretty stable. And it's a pathetic defense to say that he wasn't racist or homophobic or misogynist but rather that he was just using his membership to get a job with people who were racist, homophobic etc. Aren't Bush and his "values" supporters always touting firmness of character as qualification number one for any job? If he put the club on his résumé 13 years later just to get a job despite having changed his mind about its stances, then doesn't that make you suspect he lacks that precious firmness of character? It sure makes me suspect it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home