The Evolution of Elitism

In 1979, John H. Bunzel penned a piece in Newsweek titled "The Badge of  'Elitism.'"  Bunzel was president of a state university in California from 1970 to 1978.  Here's what he had to say 

Thus I am an elitist if what is meant and understood is that I recognize there are differences in individual talent and capacity. Further, it is silly to pretend that anyone who acknowledges these differences is somehow an 'anti-democrat.' And it is just as foolish to claim that anyone who recognizes there are different physical and behavioral traits among various groups is a racist. 

He further asserted that "one can oppose racism without believing that people are equal in abilities.  Put another way, there is a world of difference between  'discriminatory practices' and 'discriminating standards.'"

Today Mr. Bunzel would be hounded for his perfectly logical ideas.

Now under the domination of Marxists,  progressives and Communists,  people must "assume that the existence of any differences constitutes prima facie evidence of inequality — and since in a democracy 'all men are created equal' these differences are presumed to be a self-evident indictment of democracy." 

Colleges boast of programs dealing with diversity, inclusion and equity.  Here is a sampling.

  • "Reimagining Higher Education in Times of Change."  The twin pandemics of our time--Covid-19 on the one hand and, on the other, structural racism that is giving rise to ascendant acknowledgment — are compelling a rethinking of higher education's pedagogy and mission."
  • "Join the Social Justice Committee for a conversation with Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner, who was killed by a New York Police Department officer.  Carr is a member of the Mothers of the Movement and a voice in the Black Lives Matter movement."
  • "Save on the book AngryNomics by Eric Lonergan and Mark Blyth who 'rightly call for a reset of our current model of capitalism' and 'channeling the righteous anger of the moment into lasting economic change.'"
  • "Join these leaders as they 'encourage diversity and inclusion on your campus.'"

and, finally, the utterly vague drivel below

We are pleased to invite you to a workshop where teachers 'will differentiate between authentic assessments and traditional assessments, [and] observe how assessments can be modified to increase authenticity and real world application.'

Each has the goal of destroying free market capitalism, pushing a decidedly anti-American curriculum and pitting racial groups against each other.  It cannot be emphasized enough that equity is not equality. In actuality, equity is one of the fundamental tenets of the critical race theory training that is rampant in schools and businesses --- even in COVID treatment.  In reality "equity is the pretext for racial discrimination."  It goes completely counter to the ideas of equality as expressed in our foundational documents. Yet, Stanford University is one of many leading the pack. Even the "United States Navy's official curriculum will include books on 'anti-racism' and 'gender politics' that will further push the message of social justice in the military."

John Bunzel emphasized that "[i]f the university were to follow the democratic principle of treating students and faculty alike ... the students would have a greater voice in determining who should be hired and what should be studied."

How far American education has fallen.  In fact, administrators have all but defaulted on maintaining high academic standards and students do have much greater control regarding who should be permitted to teach.

How prescient Mr. Bunzel was when he wrote "I have heard it said that if students majoring in English voted to remove Shakespeare from the curriculum because he is no longer relevant, . . . the faculty should concur."

Indeed, almost five decades later "[f]or the new breed of teachers, Shakespeare is seen less as an icon of literature and more as a tool of imperial oppression, an author who should be dissected in class or banished from the curriculum entirely."

'This is about white supremacy and colonization,' declared the teachers who founded #DisruptTexts, a group that wants staples of Western literature removed or subjected to withering criticism.

The anti-Shakespeare teachers . . . say readers of Shakespeare should be required to address the 'whiteness' of their thinking.

If Shakespeare must be taught, these educators say, then it should be presented with watered-down versions of the original or supplemental texts focused on equality issues.

Elizabeth Nelson, who teaches English at Twin Cities Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, told School Library Journal that she gives her students Marxist theory when reading Shakespeare's tragedy 'Coriolanus' about the Roman leader.

Sarah Mulhern Gross told the journal that she delivered 'toxic masculinity analysis' to her students reading 'Romeo and Juliet' at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey.

But the radical left-wing ideas begin even earlier.  Hence, "your first grader will be learning about 'injustice at the institutional or systemic level' and 'your middle-schooler will be drilled in how his identity is a function of his skin color.'" 

They will be well prepped by the time they reach college.

Schools should be places of learning, not propaganda.  Yet, in the fall of 2016, California's then "Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a mandate to develop an ethnic studies program for high schools in California.  This, despite that California's public schools have the most ethnically diverse student body in the nation, with three-quarters of students belonging to minorities and speaking over 90 languages. Luis Alejo,  Assembly member . . . , hailed the law, the first in the nation, as an opportunity to 'give all students the opportunity to prepare for a diverse global economy, diverse university campuses and diverse workplaces [.]'"  In fact, "Elina Kaplan, a former high-tech manager who had just stepped down as senior VP of one of California's largest affordable housing nonprofits, believed that this 'offered students the chance to learn about the accomplishments of ethnic minorities, as well as to address issues of inequality and bigotry.'"

But three years later, when the first draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) was released, Kaplan couldn't believe what she was reading. In one sample lesson, she saw that a list of historic U.S. social movements—ones like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Criminal Justice Reform—also included the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (BDS) [.] She was shocked that in a curriculum that would be taught to millions of students, BDS's primary goal — the elimination of Israel — was not mentioned. Kaplan also saw . . . Arabic verses included in the sample lessons [that] were insulting and provocative to Jews.

Hypocrisy abounds. So while claiming concern for all groups, anti-Semitic left-wing ideology is now foisted onto American students under the guise of  "addressing bigotry."

Bunzel understood that the Left despises Jefferson's belief that education should encourage and cultivate leaders of "virtue and talent." In fact, "in today's terms, Jefferson believed in equality of opportunity based on personal effort, but not in an equality of results."  Jefferson would have "dissented vigorously from any suggestion that individual merit should be sacrificed for a quota system or its functional equivalent."

Moreover, Bunzel's concern about the "rise of vulgarity disguised as freedom" and the "contempt for grammar" highlights what has happened to schools.  Far too many students are functionally illiterate and remediation programs exist in most institutions of higher learning. In fact, the chair of the English Department at Rutgers University believes that the failure to master English grammar should not be held against students  "so as not to put students from multilingual, non-standard 'academic' English backgrounds at a disadvantage."

Nothing is more important than resisting the continuing dumbing down and radicalization of American students if we are to have an honorable future in these United States.

Eileen can be reached at

Image via Pexels.

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