June 28, 2010
Elena Kagan, Harvard Elitist
In Sunday's Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, staff writer Farah Stockman takes umbrage at the idea that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is an out-of-touch Harvard elitist, specifically singling out my American Thinker column "Elena Kagan and the Yale-Harvard Nexus" along with conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow and radio host Rush Limbaugh. Stockman contends that "elitist" is a "knee-jerk label" and a "lazy stereotype."
While I am flattered to be mentioned in the company of Sekulow and Limbaugh, and equally flattered that the Boston Globe staff reads American Thinker, I'm afraid that Stockman's criticism is way off-base.
Stockman, who describes herself as a 1996 Harvard grad, commits the classic liberal fallacy of equating "elitism" with "money," arguing that twenty percent of Harvard students come from families making less than $60,000 - as if this demonstrates how egalitarian Harvard supposedly is. She then makes an ad hominem swipe at Sekulow, who "reportedly earns more than $600,000 a year."
But nowhere does my column mention money. Elitism isn't about money, it's about power, influence, attitudes, and values. (Many elites do translate their influence into money, but conservatives do not hold income against them).
What makes Kagan's Harvard elitism problematic is that ideas and attitudes that are crucially important at Harvard are strange or offensive to many Americans. Kagan's record shows that she is seemingly obsessed with gay issues and with keeping military recruiters off campus because of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Harvard's Lawrence Summers was ousted after offending campus feminists, and when Harvard's Skip Gates mouthed off to a cop and got arrested he turned it into an episode of political theater that involved the president of the United States. Stockman herself cites a personal example in which a Harvard friend got arrested for stealing, then decided to become a lawyer.
In the rest of America, you don't steal and you don't get arrested because you might go to jail. The president will not come to your aid. In the rest of America, people actually have friends and relatives who serve in the military, own guns, and think homosexuality is wrong. In the rest of America, the Constitution means what it says -- it's not a "living document." Supreme Court justices ought to be able to take these sentiments seriously and understand why people hold them.
I hope that the Boston Globe staff continues to read American Thinker. Someday they might learn something from it.