Settling for Lehigh Isn’t the Worst Thing That Could Happen

In Caitlin Flanagan’s interesting piece on the college admissions scandal, she makes this statement that jumped out at me:

I just about got an ulcer sitting in that office listening to rich people complaining bitterly about an “unfair” or a “rigged” system. Sometimes they would say things so outlandish that I would just stare at them, trying to beam into their mind the question, Can you hear yourself? That so many of them were (literal) limousine liberals lent the meetings an element of radical chic. They were down for the revolution, but there was no way their kid was going to settle for Lehigh.

“Settling” for Lehigh is what my grandfather did; he graduated in 1912.  The legacy he left in aviation and yachting alone is so spacious that it’s taken two generations of my family to really get out from under it.

chw-lehigh-2
My grandfather (right) at Lehigh.  He probably earned a “Gentlemen’s C” while there, but what happened afterwards is another story.

But my grandfather lived in a different country: today all of our Presidents (including the current one) and Supreme Court justices are products of the Ivy League, to say nothing of much of the upper bureaucracy and of Congress.  For my part I passed up the Ivy League, to the catcalls of my prep school.  Given the course that our privileged few have led us this past half century, to say nothing of the attitudes on display that Flanagan experienced as an admissions counselor, not being complicit in that is a relief.

I think that Flanagan’s bottom line on why the privileged few went for broke in the admissions scandal is accurate:

But what accounted for the intensity of emotion these parents expressed, their sense of a profound loss, of rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs? They were experiencing the same response to a changing America that ultimately brought Donald Trump to office: white displacement and a revised social contract. The collapse of manufacturing jobs has been to poor whites what the elite college-admissions crunch has been to wealthy ones: a smaller and smaller slice of pie for people who were used to having the fattest piece of all.

I think that’s part of the problem I witnessed at the Church of God, which expedited my departure.  I think that the world is changing; we should celebrate what we have, move forward with those who are with us, and forget about what color they happen to be.  But that’s easier for a Christian engineer whose spent much of his life on the “outside” to say than someone who’s heavily invested on the “inside” that’s fading away.

Leave a Reply