Sometimes, it just takes a little sharp humor to clarify our current situation.
Well, to understand the Sonia Sotomayor fracas you have to realize that the timespace confundulum has actually fractured into two frozen moments, one having to do with the sudden appearance of emotional, abrasive Latinas and their strange cuisine amid the eating clubs of Princeton, and the other having to do with ungrateful women of color getting named to positions where they can dole out their reverse-racist versions of “justice.” Yes, that’s right, it’s always 1972 and it’s always 1993–and at the same time.
I didn’t get admitted to anything in 1972.Â But in 1974, I was a freshman at Regis High School in New York, where I heard one of my more conservative classmates say, in the course of a discussion about affirmative action, that he had been the victim of reverse discrimination for too long.Â Exasperated to the point of flummoxation, I noted in reply that (a) affirmative action showed up only yesterday, (b) you’re thirteen years old, d00d, and (c) you’re attending an elite, tuition-free Jesuit high school that does not admit women.Â And the reason I remember that moment 35 years later is that it has never gone away: guys like Stuart Taylor and Fred Barnes are still thirteen years old, still the victims of reverse discrimination, and still questioning the credentials of smart women while campaigning for the protection of conservative white men under the Endangered Species Act.Â Taylor graduated from Princeton in 1970; Barnes from the University of Virginia in 1965.Â Neither of them had to compete with women for admission; Princeton started opening its doors to that half of the population in 1969, Virginia a year later.Â That’s why guys like these worry so much about the decline of standards in college admissions since 1970, you understand.Â Because things were tougher and people were smarter when white guys only had to compete with 44 percent of the population for admission to elite colleges, positions of power and influence, and so forth.
He also reminds us that Clinton caved in when faced with a similar situation during his presidency. Let’s hope Obama is made of sterner stuff.