Here is a blog spot bite of the finale of Part One of VDH's series. Save time to read it all followed by the link to Part 2.
VDH's Private Papers::The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Part One
"The result in the modern Western world is the end of the old standards: no one any longer thinks that admission to the Ivy League or Stanford is based entirely on merit, or, its corollary, that completion of a blue-chip degree means that the recipient is really educated. I don’t necessarily associate excellence in ethics with a Nobel Peace Prize, journalistic excellence with a Pulitzer Prize, or academic excellence with an endowed professorship at Princeton.
How odd that the World Series or the Super bowl is a far more honest arbiter of excellence than the current academic and intellectual industries.
When the NBA begins to demand diversity — one Asian center per team, 30% so-called “white” guys on the team, 20% Latino coaches — or the Tour de France demands 10% African-American participation — shudder (or is all that already happening?). Why then do pure merit-based considerations seem to count in things like (the more trivial) sports or (vital) brain surgery and aircraft piloting, but not in the manner in which we train our youth, write our news, or conduct our intellectual life?
We could be even more reductionist about the therapeutic mind — and think that our penal system would improve should we build prisons next to universities (easier for professors to rehabilitate prisoners, better to have an informed nearby community to nurture parolees.) Think of the possibilities of matching word with deed: the Obamas’ children go to the D.C. public schools; the Harvard humanities Dean is put in charge of hiring for all the nuclear power plants of New England; Chris Dodd and Barney Frank submit their expense budgets instantly to thumbs up/down, on-line public approval; Nancy Pelosi flies commercial…"
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson
VDH's Private Papers::The Ugly - Part Two