Tuesday, September 23, 2003

The Culture: They should have quit while they were ahead

Andrew Sullivan took a cheap swipe at Rhodes Scholars when discussing Wesley Clark at his blog yesterday:

To my mind, the most important thing about Clark is that he was a Rhodes Scholar. Almost to a man and woman, they are mega-losers, curriculum-vitae fetishists, with huge ambition and no concept of what to do with it.
That's the kind of worthless hyperbole that most people dismiss out of hand--unless of course you are a mega-loser Rhodes Scholar. At the Volokh Conspiracy, they have three of them guest bloging today. Two of them have seen fit to respond to Sullivan.

Mega-loser, er, Rhodes Scholar Josh Chafetz provides exhaustive linked analyses of every complementary thing Andrew Sullivan has said about his Rhodes Scholar peers, as well as a list of Rhodes Scholars and their stations in life, just to show how much "diversity" exists in Rhodes Scholar ranks. Mega-loser, er Rhodes Scholar II David Adesnik then writes for about 1,200 words on the "intense religiosity" (among other virtues) of his class of Rhodes Scholars. “While I have not had in-depth discussions with all of my fellow scholars, I sense that their awareness of a greater force above them places the significance of their resume in proper perspective.”

I suppose some may find it reassuring that Rhodes Scholars are “diverse” and some are humbled by constructs that no honest intellectual ought to believe in, but I do not. Yet as one in the ranks of today’s elected, Adesnik nevertheless struggles with it. Speaking of some conservatives' view that “equality is the hand-maiden of mediocrity,” Adesnik writes:

[W]hy (other than having such a large population) has the US been able to produce constantly such outstanding inviduals (sic) in all of these categories? Because the meritocratic order taps the vast potential inhrent (sic) in that great unwashed mass once consigned to irrelevance by the old aristocracies.
Not really. Perhaps freedom might have something to do with it. Freedom does not mean rule by those with merit. It means the rule of reason.

So as far as the Rhodes Scholars go, perhaps if William Jefferson Clinton, the scholars' most prominent member hadn’t attempted to overthrow the definition of a verb of being during a sexual harassment deposition, it would be easier to respect the intellectual integrity of the Rhodes Scholars. While the crimes of the one do not reflect on the many, the fact of the matter is Rhodes Scholars are allegedly the best products of today’s educational orthodoxy. In my field (political philosophy), the sooner that orthodoxy is overthrown and replaced, the better.

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