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    School’s out

    Okay, so I’m as against statism as any Tea Party attendee, but can people please knock it off with the coarse, blanket hating on “Ivy Leaguers”? I know what you’re trying to say, and there’s plenty to it. Scratch the CV of a high-handed technocrat, and you’ll frequently find the letters y, a, l, and e in sequence somewhere. A lot of people dismissed Sarah Palin out of hand because her degree was from a school in Idaho. (It hardly mattered which one; no real person, this line of thinking runs, goes to Idaho for school. Unless maybe it’s ski school.) We’re all sick and tired of hearing how Obama’s Higher Being-ness is related to his bachelor’s from Columbia and law degree from Harvard. Fine. Points taken.

    But “Ivy League” refers to a specific athletic conference of eight specific schools. The University of Chicago is not Ivy League. Stanford is not Ivy League. Duke is not Ivy League. Neither is Johns Hopkins or Georgetown or Amherst or Swarthmore or any of the Seven Sisters, each of which is at least in the right region. The left-leaning big-government types churned out by those schools are every bit as ideologically committed as those churned out by Brown, but they are not Ivy League.

    Does that really matter? For the purposes of the arguments being made, not really. Nanny-statism sucks on its own terms. And yes, I went to Penn (the universally recognized safety Ivy in my day, but an Ivy nonetheless) and Columbia, and that may be the major reason I’m noticing; at the same time, I notice a lot of things that don’t particularly bother me because they don’t seem to represent any troubling tendencies. This, I think, in its own small way, does. These rants tend to come from the sort of people who get testy when you refer to Texans as “Southerners,” or mainstream Protestants as “Evangelicals,” or gun-rights supporters as militia members, and I don’t see why imprecision matters in one direction and not in the other. If sloppy name-calling is wrong, it’s wrong for everyone, and it’s good for all of us to try, even in the details, to be as scrupulously accurate as we can and not to throw terms around when we’re not reasonably sure we know what they mean.

    If you’re starting to feel as if I were stomping all over your fun, let me hasten to remind you that Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, Al Gore, and a host of other hopeless ninnies with earl-churl complexes really did go to Harvard et al., which means you can, with perfect justification, rail at them as being Ivy League ninnies with earl-churl complexes if you like. Nancy Pelosi (Trinity), Rahm Emanuel (Sarah Lawrence [!]), Robert Gibbs (North Carolina State), and others, you will have to be content with damning for their beliefs. And really, aren’t they enough?

    5 Responses to “School’s out”

    1. Sarah says:

      Ah. I have a degree from a school of no consequence!

    2. Sarah says:

      oh, no, it just occurred to me — blame cleaner’s fumes — that I come from a TRIPE LEAGUE school. (Long story, but my native city’s inhabitants were The Tripe Eaters. :-P) Giggling.

    3. Sean says:

      LOL. Sarah, you know this, but JIC anyone else misses the point: I’m not saying the Ivy League is better or worse than any other group of institutions one way or another. And certainly, in other countries, being denominated a “university” seems still to carry more meaningful weight than it does here in the States, where seemingly everyone “goes to college.” My only point is that people who are all righteously indignant at sloppy, reductive thinking on the part of coastal elites about flyover country could, with little effort, set a better example themselves by remembering that the Ivy League is not some kind of catch-all consortium that includes any university that granted a degree to someone they hate.

    4. Maria says:

      Let’s see there’s the big three–Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and of course, Brown, Columbia, and Penn…what are the other two? Can you believe it? I’m owning up to my Midwestern ignorance. 😉 Is Cornell one of them–or is that one of the wannabe’s? What’s interesting is how none of them started co-ed.

      I graduated, supposedly, from the first co-ed university in the U.S…

    5. Sean says:

      Yes, Cornell is one, and the last is Dartmouth. I didn’t know that about Hamline, actually.

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