2020's Rhodes Scholarship recipients exemplify the left's cultural destruction
For people who are not overly engaged in the culture wars and can't quite understand why a Biden administration would be so devastating, this year's winners of the Rhodes Scholarship provide a useful snapshot of what leftism does to culture. Of the 32 winners, the majority were chosen because of identity politics. Their biographies are both awful and laughable.
Cecil John Rhodes, the diamond magnate who is strongly associated with the abuse of South Africans in their own land at the end of the 19th century, established the Rhodes Scholarship to bring together the English-speaking world. It was a purely imperialist academic venture that gave recipients post-graduate scholarships to study at Oxford, which was Rhodes's alma mater. In the beginning, women and blacks from Africa were excluded from the scholarship.
Initially, the scholarship demanded academic excellence as a prerequisite. Rhodes also required that, for each applicant, the committee assess:
- his literary and scholastic attainments
- his fondness of and success in manly outdoor sports such as cricket, football and the like
- his qualities of manhood, truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for the protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness, and fellowship
- his exhibition during school days of moral force of character and of instincts to lead and to take an interest in his schoolmates for those latter attributes will be likely in after-life to guide him to esteem the performance of public duty as his highest aim
Famous recipients included Bill Clinton, Wasim Sajjad (head of Pakistan), Tony Abbott (an Australian prime minister), Howard Florey (discoverer of penicillin), Pardis Sabeti (a genetic scientist), and Jennifer Gruber (a space engineer).
The worthiness of applicants has been declining for some time. Thus, other recipients are Naomi Wolf, Rachel Maddow, Ronan Farrow, Cory Booker, and Susan Rice — all people who are marinated in a supercilious, condescending, and almost mindless leftism and who have contributed little to the world but discord.
This year, though, the American-based scholarship committee truly went overboard when it came to focusing on things that only a leftist could love. The Revolver reports on the attributes that the Rhodes Trust found noteworthy in its selections this year (emphasis added):
Twenty-one of the 32 are students of color; ten are Black, equal to the greatest number ever elected in one year in the United States. Fifteen are first-generation Americans or immigrants; and one is a Dreamer with active DACA status. Seventeen of the winners are women, 14 are men, and one is nonbinary.
I'm certain that the people selected, in addition to meeting identity politic metrics, are all at the top of their various fields. The problem is the type of fields in which they excel. Here are just a few of the examples that The Revolver culled.
My favorite is Mr. Zibell's because, honest to God, I had no idea that Yiddish, the language of Europe's most oppressed people, was associated with imperialism:
Wilfried J.K. Zibell, Noorvik, is a senior at Harvard College where they major in Comparative Literature and Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. Wilfried comes from an Inuit (Nuurvik) subsistence village in the Alaskan arctic, and through education policymaking, language preservation and labor activism, has focused on the effects of colonialism. This past summer, he worked with his tribal association on its initial COVID-19 outbreak. His senior thesis compares comparative aspects of imperialism in Yiddish, in which he has done archival research, and Inupiat poetry.
There's Tyrese D. Bender, who's "been instrumental in drafting the first-ever Diversity Strategy designed to establish a more inclusive environment at the [U.S. Military] Academy."
And let's not forget Jamal T. Burns, who does research that "engages colonial influences on interpretations of the masculinity of Black boys in school settings." Oooo-kay. I guess. But what I really love about Jamal is that he "is a leading promoter of a new debate paradigm known as performance debate." Here's an introduction to performance debate.
There's also Carissa J. Chen, who sussed out the descendants of Harvard's slaves to "begin discussions on reparations and reconciliation to those families." Harvard last had slaves over 200 years ago.
I think that, as a true form of self-abnegation, Harvard should liquidate its $41.9-billion endowment, fire its employees, sell its buildings, and give all the money to poor blacks in America's inner cities. By doing so, the pathetic remnant of that once impressive institution would once again make a useful contribution to America.
Given that Cecil Rhodes is now a disrespected colonialist, there's something fitting about the degraded status of his scholarship. However, the scholarship is also a living emblem of the degraded state of education as a whole, and that's rather sad.
Image: Cecil Rhodes. Public domain.