December 12, 2018

The Meritocracy Against Itself

“A week ago, Elizabeth Bruenig of The Washington Post wrote a column about the dreadful feeling of being yanked back, thanks to the allegations of teenage sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, into the cliques and cruelties of high school: “And there we were, poring over the juvenile ephemera of a high schooler’s yearbook, trying to understand what it meant, what it means, with the same unsettled frustration of outsiders looking in on a clique’s jokes.”

There is only one feeling as grim as the one that she described, and it’s the feeling of being yanked back into a particular kind of college experience — the elite kind, the hyper-meritocratic kind, the Ivy League kind, the kind that inspires people to write insufferable columns like this one in which sociological observation becomes an excuse to remind your readers that you went to college “in New Haven” or “near Boston” or wherever Princeton is.

But here we are, with Brett Kavanaugh’s college drinking and his social place at Yale suddenly the terrain of discussion and debate while we await the F.B.I.’s reporting. And of course, like any other Ivy-educated journalist, I think I have something to contribute to this awful, privilege-mongering discussion.”

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