Princeton University Has Disgraced Itself by Firing Free Speech Hero Joshua Katz

Newsweek – “It is our collective responsibility not to shrug our shoulders” or accept “the normalization of untruths,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Princeton’s 2022 Class Day on May 23. That same day, Princeton’s Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of its President Christopher L. Eisgruber, fired star classics professor Joshua Katz after nearly 25 years of employment.

In July 2020, in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing, Katz criticized a Princeton faculty letter demanding preferential treatment for minority faculty members, the disbanding of Princeton’s security, and the creation of faculty panels to police colleagues’ work for supposed racism. Katz was immediately branded a racist and ostracized by his colleagues. Eisgruber condemned him for having used his freedom of speech “irresponsibly.”

Princeton grudgingly admitted that Katz could not be sanctioned for his dissenting statements, but wasted no time finding a pretext to dispose of him. The student newspaper spent months muckraking through Katz’s private life and confidential university business, and discovered that he had once been suspended for a consensual relationship he had with an undergraduate student, way back in 2006. Casting due process to the wind, Princeton reinvestigated the matter and cryptically determined that Katz had “misrepresented facts or failed to be straightforward” the first time.

Along the way, in August 2021 Princeton produced a mandatory “anti-racist” internet feature for incoming freshman that placed Katz in the same category as slaveholders among Princeton’s founders, segregationists among its later leaders, and discriminatory admissions policies, among other sins. A group of Katz’s colleagues filed a complaint on his behalf last October, but the university’s diversity bureaucracy dismissed it out of hand without appeal.

In a moment worthy of Orwell, Eisgruber refused to remove the language about Katz, suggesting that doing so would “censor” the free speech of those who wrote it. A few days later, Princeton’s Board of Trustees praised Eisgruber for his purported commitment to free speech and renewed his $1 million annual contract for at least the next five years.

Earlier this month, Eisgruber recommended Katz’s termination to Princeton’s Board. He and other university officials have sheepishly denied that it had anything to do with Katz’s public speech and instead insist that it resulted from a personnel matter dredged up from 16 years ago that just happened to resurface at the exact moment the speech issue emerged.

If you believe that, I have an ivory tower to sell you. To anyone even mildly capable of critical thought, Princeton appears to have transparently resuscitated a personnel matter to punish a dissenter for exercising his right to free speech while attempting to shield itself against legal claims.

As Katz’s lawyer Samantha Harris put it, his abysmal treatment “will have a powerful chilling effect on free speech, because anyone who might wish to express a controversial opinion knows that they must first ask themselves if their personal life can stand up to the kind of relentless scrutiny that Dr. Katz’s life was subject to.”

Free speech advocates agree. “I’m embarrassed I went there,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller, a Princeton alumna and leading advocate for free speech, upon hearing of Katz’s termination.

Katz has told the New York Times that he believes he was treated with “gross unfairness.” He is understandably “angry and heartbroken.” In a letter to the Wall Street Journal published just hours after he was fired, he convincingly lamented that Princeton “fed me to the cancel culture mob.”

His legal claims are strong, however. “The law in New Jersey,” Princeton alumnus and former New Jersey state Superior Court judge Andrew P. Napolitano told me, “requires private schools disciplining faculty members to follow basic due process. Punishing Prof. Katz again for a matter for which he has already been punished is an egregious violation of the law.”

The internet slurs associating Katz with Princeton’s history of racism also suggest a strong defamation claim. Colleges and universities routinely lose such cases these days, and Princeton will be hard put to deny that it branded Katz a racist and thereby caused him significant reputational harm.

Nor is it a foregone conclusion that Katz cannot recover. Last week, the University of Central Florida was legally compelled to restore psychology professor Charles Negy to employment and tenure (with back pay) after he was fired for criticizing tenets of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Regardless of the legal outcome, Professor Katz can also take comfort in Princeton’s grotesque myopia. By firing him from a prestigious job he loved for reasons that look absurd and downright shifty, it has simultaneously made him a figure of national importance, with almost every major news outlet covering his story. Once the sting fades, he may well realize that he is now a public intellectual of greater stature and higher moral authority than all other classics professors in America combined.

Shorn of his affiliation with a disreputable university that exerts a frightful amount of control over the speech, behavior, and private lives of its employees—and no longer weighed down by the groupthink of creepy conformist colleagues there—he now has the ultimate freedom to say and do what he wants without reference to a failing academic culture that will soon be dead and buried.

It smarts to lose a job, but it is wonderful to be handed a megaphone. Let us look forward to hearing Professor Katz use his.

Elon Musk and the End of #MeToo

Newsmax – Until last week, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk was merely the savior of free speech. Poised to buy full ownership of Twitter, he stood on the verge of liberating the influential social media platform from pervasive, politically-biased censorship by its woke employees.

As a senior engineer at Twitter candidly admitted on video, his colleagues do “not believe in free speech” and are “actually censoring the right and not the left.”

Leftist attitudes soured further when Musk posted a series of tweets criticizing Twitter’s old management for its aggressive wokeism and apparent manipulation of algorithms to control the flow of information.

He suggested significant layoffs, hinted that former president Donald J. Trump might be allowed to return to the platform, and revealed that he will from now on vote for Republicans instead of Democrats because he believes the Democrats have become “the party of division & hate.”

Powerless against Musk’s billions, and confronted by mounting evidence of unsavory practices at Twitter, cranky legacy media scolds could only cringe at the prospect of fellow citizens exercising their civil rights and indulge in unconvincing bouts of reductio ad Hitlerum whenever Musk’s name was mentioned.

Musk is a smart man and knew what was coming next. On the same day he signaled his new political allegiance, he presciently tweeted “political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months.”

As if on cue, they arrived within a matter of hours. The next day a “friend” of a former SpaceX flight attendant divulged that Musk’s space exploration company had paid $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by the former employee, who had signed a nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreement in exchange for the payoff.

According to the allegations, in 2016 Musk exposed himself to the flight attendant during an in-flight massage and suggested that he would give her a horse if she sexually gratified him.

There is no evidence that the alleged incident ever happened. Musk admitted no amount of guilt as a condition of the settlement and has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

This would not have saved him in an America where #MeToo continued to be a potent force, however. In the sanctimonious “reckoning” foisted upon our society by social justice zealots hysterically seeking revenge for Trump’s election five years ago, Musk would have been presumed guilty, forced out of his companies, erased from public recognition, compelled to issue a platitudinous apology to all those whom he may have hurt, and vaporized out of public life.

Twitter would have been spared his purported right-wing whims, horses-for-happy-end quid pro quos, and toxic masculinity. More importantly, it would have continued to function as an unchecked censor of disfavored people and views.

That certainly seemed to be the intention of the leaker, who moralized that “someone with that level of power causing that kind of harm and then throwing some money at the situation, that’s not accountability.”

But none of the usual consequences materialized. The magnitude of the Twitter deal’s free speech implications, together with Musk’s unabashed political statements on the eve of the revelation, left little doubt about what this #MeToo eruption really was — a desperate attempt to blacken his name and possibly prevent a massive liberation of free speech in an important public forum.

Musk has remained defiant and connected the dots for anyone dense enough not to see the obvious and predictable. “The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens,” he tweeted to the general public, “this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.”

He offered multiple logical analyses of the allegations — if he’s a sexual harasser, why did nobody say so at any other time in his 30-year career? Why did the accusation only surface at the most politically sensitive moment of his life, and not years ago, when the harassment allegedly happened?

Astutely realizing that tyranny cannot withstand ridicule, Musk proceeded to mock the allegation. “Finally, we get to use Elongate as a scandal name,” he tweeted, cheekily observing, since he was alleged to have flashed a full erection at the complainant, that the word “elongate” was “kinda perfect” to describe his current problem.

He challenged his accuser — “the liar” and “far left activist,” as he called her — to “describe just one thing” on his body “that isn’t known to the public.” He also doubled down on legal protection, announcing a new “hardcore litigation department” at Tesla that will “directly initiate & execute lawsuits.”

This is the finest defense against defamation we have these days, but Musk also benefits from the parallel drama of Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard, whom Musk coincidentally dated just after she split from Depp. For all its nauseating vulgarity, the Hollywood court battle, in which Musk’s name has come up, has independently cast powerful doubt on the premise that all women should be believed.

A few leftist commentators have argued that Musk manipulated the timeline and declared himself a Republican opportunistically, only after he learned the leak was coming. But hardly anyone of consequence is convinced.

Musk’s companies show no sign of any shareholder revolt or human resources intervention. Nobody in the legacy media has urged Musk’s destruction. No activists have emerged to femsplain the discredited canard that women never lie about sexual harassment.

Mainstream outlets have cited expert opinion that the allegation will have little or no effect on the Twitter purchase. Even The New York Times has finally admitted that #MeToo has seen “muddled cases” of “overreach and backlash” that might have been handled wrongly.

The former paper of record’s new opinion writer Pamela Paul admits “we still haven’t thought enough about how to handle all accusations with proportion and fairness.” The plain truth is that many no longer believe them any more than they would believe witchcraft allegations leveled against the good people of Salem, Massachusetts.

And for that we have Elon Musk to thank.

Left’s Tears Over Twitter are Those of Joy, Victory for Right

Newsmax – “All they have is censorship. Their ideas don’t hold up in debate,” tweeted Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert on April 26.

Hers was one of the more incisive comments in the media storm around Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for the staggering sum of $44 billion.

Real conservatives, along with libertarians and some non-woke liberals, are rejoicing with an ebullient cry of freedom that the world has not heard since communism’s fall.

The reasons are plain to see. For “free speech absolutists,” a category in which Musk readily includes himself, Twitter censorship is a thing of the past.

Over the last few days, conservatives have reported that their Twitter followings are no longer limited, that they are no longer subject to unofficial “shadow bans,” and that mysterious algorithms that they have long suspected kept their tweets from normal accessibility no longer appear to function.

Some are testing the new regime, tweeting such taboo statements as “Trump won” or “There are only two genders” to see whether these widely shared but Twitter-proscribed opinions are still flagged as “misinformation” or violations of policy.

So far, they no longer are.

Conservatives who were banned from Twitter  in some cases permanently  are now enthusiastically appealing their bans.

It remains to be seen whether the most famous of them all, former President Donald J. Trump, will seek to return to the platform, on which he had over 88 million followers before Twitter banned him in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021 events.

While Trump was banned, Twitter placed no apparent restrictions on the governments of Iran, China, Russia, or North Korea, and even allowed the murderous Taliban to tweet with impunity.

Musk himself has decried the suppression of critical news stories, including vital pre-election coverage of the Hunter Biden laptop story, which legacy media outlets now consider credible, and which some 25% of voters say would have influenced their votes had they known of the story before casting their ballots.

Twitter’s new owner characterized the decision to suppress the story as “obviously incredibly inappropriate.”

Musk laudably hopes that “even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”

America agrees with him. A majority believes that Twitter censored free speech under its old management, while 57% approve of Musk’s purchase.

If the massive chorus of cheers reveals a conservative movement more confident and more united than it has been for years, progressives and, unsurprisingly, their small allied community of Vichy conservative confederates are in a tizzy.

The New York Times, which recently editorialized that America has a “free speech problem,” now maintains that free speech on Twitter is inherently problematic and should not be allowed.

One scold at the former paper of record dismissed Musk’s buyout as “a problem masquerading as a solution,” while another of its hysterics suggested that loosening Twitter’s speech restrictions would turn it into a “cesspool” and prove to be a bad business decision.

The Washington Post, which is also solely owned by another billionaire  a billionaire who has not had the poor manners to advocate free speech  fears that Musk will “ruin” Twitter and “change it for the worse” by allowing speech to resound freely.

The saturnine Bulwark, largely staffed by refugees from the failed Weekly Standard, which went out of business in 2018 after adopting a puerile Never Trumper line, fantasizes that a free Twitter may take the wind out of the sails of alternative social media platforms to which right-wingers have gravitated.

For that petty reason, but not for the prospective restoration of free speech, Bulwark offers “half a cheer” or “a mild affirmative grunt” for Musk’s ambition.

A number of progressives have announced that they will leave Twitter, albeit in the same unconvincing way that they offered to make America a better place by moving to Canada after Trump’s first election to the presidency, in 2016.

Perhaps the most hysterical reactions came from within Twitter itself.

Project Veritas, a hardnosed investigative outlet that was itself banned from Twitter in February 2021, revealed a leaked audio recording of an internal “all hands” virtual meeting in which Twitter employees were deeply troubled by the prospect of free speech.

One who obviously lacked much of a civics education asked whether there was “an updated definition” of the concept that may have eluded the company’s workforce.

Board member Bret Taylor, who sounds like he has thoroughly researched alternative definitions of masculinity, reassured Twitter’s disconcerted employees “I just want to acknowledge all the emotions of today.”

Those emotions were raw.

One loaded question from an employee asked how Twitter’s new owner would deal with a predicted “mass exodus” of colleagues “considering the acquisition is by a person [Musk] with questionable ethics,” a category that apparently includes commitment to free speech.

Another employee demanded to know “who will keep Elon accountable and how,” without elaborating to whom the company’s new owner should be held accountable, and without mentioning what means might be used for that purpose.

Still another found that returning to open discussion of controversial topics threatened to put Twitter “in a very difficult position.”

Obviously, that “very difficult position” involves the left having to defend its views in free discussion rather than simply eliminate those who disagree.

All Twitter’s nervous CEO Parag Agrawal could do was offer to arrange for Musk to answer employee questions at a future meeting.

The episode was so embarrassing that Twitter’s chief marketing officer Leslie Berland took to her personal Twitter account to disclaim that any of the views expressed in the recorded meeting were hers or the company’s.

Twitter’s general counsel Vijaya Gadde, who reportedly played a major role in banning Trump and other figures, was said to have broken down in tears over the potential consequences of Musk’s acquisition.

With inquisitors like her, who needs heretics, but how long will it be before she pleads that she was only following orders?

The night the masks came off

The Spectator – At last we’re free from the government’s performative safetyism.

My wife and seven-year-old son were halfway to Boston to catch a connecting flight to Ireland on Monday when the news came down. Or, as it were, went up, as Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the Biden administration’s widely reviled but recently extended mask mandate on public transportation.

After receiving instructions from the ground, the pilot on their plane emerged from the cockpit and announced that masks were no longer required. He then invited the passengers to “go ahead and throw them in the trash.” There was a swell of cheers as the passengers and crew were overcome by a euphoria of deliverance from the tyranny of overzealous Washington. For nearly two years, they had demanded compliance, despite “the science,” which had shown again and again that masks are of little to no use in stopping the spread of Covid and can cause serious psychological harm.

Mme du Quenoy offered up a celebratory “woot” as she and young Master Charles breathed freely again.

By the time I’d heard her secular version of the Easter season’s triumph of light over darkness, two other friends on planes had messaged me with similar stories. Within minutes, social media lit up with videos of Americans applauding and cheering as the news reached them at 30,000 feet.

It is hard to settle on which post was the most moving. Candidates include one plane’s flight crew blasting “Celebration” after the announcement was made. Another featured two flight attendants embracing because they could see each other’s faces for the first time after months of working together. In still another, a man exclaims “Finally!” after the pilot announces that masks are to be consigned to the dustbin of aviation history.

For many, the emotional effect was like the Berlin Wall coming down. “It’s just glorious,” said Robert Mihlbaugh, a pilot with a major airline who told me he was “overjoyed,” adding, “it’s a great day for free choice!” “Vive le dix-huit avril!” wrote an Éric Zemmour-supporting French friend, as though the date of Judge Mizelle’s ruling were a grand journée in a new revolutionary epoch. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in whose freest of states Judge Mizelle issued her ruling, spoke for the country he will likely lead one day when he praised her decision to follow the law, tweeting, “airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end.”

Alas, not all Americans are freedom-loving anymore, and the Biden administration clearly wants the misery to continue. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who is leaving her job for an equally objective role at MSNBC, announced that the administration was “disappointed” by Judge Mizelle’s ruling and urged the flying public to continue wearing masks.

To be fair, the administration seemed dazed by the countermanding of its cruel edict. It was still reeling from yet another embarrassing video, this one of a visibly confused Biden being led away from a reporter by an official dressed in an Easter Bunny suit.

But further down the American left’s rotting food chain, those who were happy to live under near-house arrest for two years doubled down on the hysteria they would like to make a permanent national characteristic. The public transportation systems of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and, of course, New York announced that they would continue to enforce mask mandates. Some claimed to be “studying” Judge Mizelle’s ruling, but by defying it they have raised the awkward question of whether they are now in violation of federal law.

Rather than challenge her legal reasoning, the intolerant left has tried to demonize Judge Mizelle personally. The ever-courageous Daily Beast derided her as “Trump’s worst judge” for having the audacity to exercise her constitutional role. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern tweeted that “no sane democracy would permit this system of government,” meaning one in which a woman confirmed by the United States Senate can reach a legally binding decision he disagrees with.

Others took issue with Judge Mizelle’s age, arguing that her thirty-five years — despite meeting the constitutional age requirement to hold the American presidency — were insufficient to make big decisions best left to octogenarian medical bureaucrats. Failed former secretary of education Arne Duncan was reduced to begging his Twitter followers: “For my safety, and for the safety of my family, friends and everyone I come in contact with, please keep wearing a mask when you travel.” He promised “to do the same” and sanctimoniously thanked his followers for “saving lives.”

The Biden White House is so insular, conceited, and tone-deaf that it may yet try to have Judge Mizelle’s ruling overturned. But whether it does or not, whatever pretense of moral authority it once claimed is now gone for good. Free Americans will never again submit to the power-hungry tyranny lurking behind its performative safetyism.

When my wife and son boarded their connecting flight to Dublin only a few hours after the ruling was issued, no announcement had to be made that masking was over. In all probability, we will never hear its like again.

New York City’s desperate attempt to lure Floridians

The Spectator – Mayor Eric Adams says ‘come to a city where you can say and be whoever you want.’ Yeah, right.

In his latest desperate attempt to prove that New York is “back,” the city’s hapless mayor Eric Adams has taken a hysterical potshot at Florida — a much happier jurisdiction to where many of his constituents have had the good sense to move.

Adams announced that private funds made available to his cash-strapped city would be used to place billboard and digital ads in five booming Florida markets: Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. These ads invite Floridians to “come to a city where you can say and be whoever you want.”

The jibe is directed at Florida’s recently approved Parental Rights in Education bill, which prohibits instruction in sexuality and gender identity for children from kindergarten through third grade. Opponents have labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” even though the word “gay” does not appear anywhere in it, and none of its provisions would prevent anyone from saying the word “gay” or any other word. In lockstep with the progressive left, of which he is a typically mindless member, Adams has angrily denounced the Florida law as a weapon in a “shameful, extremist culture war targeting the LGBTQ+ community.”

Mayor Adams is delusional: he requires two-year-old nursery school students to be masked, burdens his groaning subjects with America’s highest tax rates and instructs those horrified by a sharp rise in subway murders to “change their perspective.” Yet Adams has convinced himself that people will voluntarily return to the ghastly concrete gulag he presides over because of an education bill that bars six-year-olds from learning about the vaginoplasty options.

One may rightly wonder why Adams and those who share his politics are so emotionally invested in expanding the sexual horizons of small children. Regardless, relying on leftist zeal to boost New York’s declining population and tax base is just poor salesmanship. According to a recent poll that accurately relates the language of the Florida bill, 61 percent of Americans — including 55 percent of Democratic voters — support it, while only 26 percent agree with a mayor 1,200 miles away who thinks it should be legal to teach second graders about dental dams.

Even Floridians tempted to relocate would be hard-pressed to find New York a place where they could “say and be whoever you want.” They might solicit the opinion of former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennett, who was forced to resign in June 2020 after he greenlighted an op-ed by a US senator suggesting the army be deployed to control Black Lives Matter riots — a fully constitutional measure supported at the time by 58 percent of Americans. Would-be New Yorkers looking forward to shoplifting deodorant with impunity may wish to consult, too, with star Times editorial writer Bari Weiss, who followed Bennett out the door after suffering enormous harassment for defending the principle of free speech.

Dissidents from Florida might also want to ask former New York Magazine contributor Andrew Sullivan why he was forced to leave his publication after opposing critical race theory in print. And speaking of publications, a down-on-his-luck Floridian who cannot find a job in a state with functional full employment but thinks he has better prospects in a city with 8 percent unemployment would be well advised to take a close look at New York’s publishing industry. There, he would have the pleasure of working with hundreds of colleagues who signed an open letter demanding that people who served in the Trump administration “not have their philosophies remunerated and disseminated through our beloved publishing houses.”

Anyone willing to trade Florida’s extraordinarily clean, efficient and privately operated Brightline train for the horrors of Metro-North would be ushered into a city where New York’s literary elite are sacked for “saying what they want.” Literary agent Sasha White was fired from her job in August 2020 after tweeting that “denying biological sex” was something less than “wonderful.” In April 2021, Paul Rossi, a math teacher at the once-prestigious Grace Church School, lost his job after criticizing the school administration’s embrace of woke ideology, a program that included deriding “objectivity” as a characteristic of “white supremacy” and dropped the words “mom” and “dad” to refer to parents.

A Floridian exile dreaming of the good life may also be disappointed by a New York Times investigation of wokeness in New York City private schools, which found no teachers and only one parent willing to go on the record, with many citing fears of serious consequences if they spoke out.

Miami party people willing to move to a place where dining after 9:30 p.m. has all but disappeared due to lack of interest would not find a lively, intellectual community secure in its constitutional right to “say whatever it wants.” Rather, while wallowing in fond memories of days at the beach, our adventurous Florida expat would see that in Eric Adams’s New York, one cannot even repeat someone else’s words without fear of reprisal. Columbia University legal scholar Dinah PoKempner was fired from her teaching position and unrelated job as general counsel of Human Rights Watch, a left-leaning advocacy organization, because she uttered the N-word while reading aloud to her class from the case record of a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the Ku Klux Klan.

Not even the most optimistic citizen willing to increase his state and local tax liability from 0 percent to 14.778 percent to help Adams out could fail to admit that members of the mayor’s own administration are equally vulnerable to cancelation. Just five weeks ago, LGBTQ activists protested three appointments to posts in New York City’s offices of faith-based and immigration affairs due to the officials’ past opposition to gay marriage. All three men were reportedly put on notice that their views are “unacceptable” and that they may only continue in office if they do not state them. These men cannot “say whatever they want.” Less fortunate was their short-lived colleague Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, who lasted just six hours as a member of the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy before it was revealed that she had published anti-gay comments in a book released in 2014.

If Floridian readers are still tempted to become New Yorkers, I leave you with this: on the very day Adams announced his Florida ad campaign, city legal counsel Daniela Jampel was fired after daring to ask the mayor when he would “unmask our toddlers.” At the time, the unamused Adams was standing beneath a banner that proclaimed, “Come to the city where you can say whatever you want.” Any Floridian who believes him should immediately book a flight, secure in the knowledge that he is no loss to the freest state.

Oberlin College’s Legal Defeat Is America’s Triumph

Newsmax – Reckoning with the neo-Marxist “march through the institutions,” some conservative commentators are in despair.

In their pessimistic view, the woke monster is an unmovable Leviathan, sure to dominate every aspect of our lives under permanent one-party rule.

Recent events in Ohio, however, suggest that such pessimism may well be misplaced and that resistance is far from futile.

On April 1, the owners of Gibson’s Bakery, a fifth-generation small business operating since 1885 in Oberlin, Ohio, won a massive legal victory over neighboring Oberlin College, one of the country’s most progressive institutions of higher education.

At stake was Gibson’s business with Oberlin and general reputation.

In November 2016, Jonathan Aladin, a Black student at the progressive college, attempted to shoplift two bottles of wine from Gibson’s while trying to purchase additional alcohol with a fake ID.

The clerk on duty, the son of the bakery’s owner, confronted him about the attempted theft and threatened to call the police. Aladin slapped his phone away, struck him in the face, and also struck the clerk’s father, the bakery’s legal owner, before fleeing the scene.

The clerk chased Aladin when he fled and tried to hold him, only to be attacked by two other Black Oberlin students who joined Aladin in beating him until the police arrived and arrested the trio of assailants.

All three Oberlin students pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespass.

None was sentenced to jail or fined. All three were released upon a promise of restitution and future good behavior.

They also issued a statement declaring that Gibson’s was right to act as it did, and that its personnel’s actions were not racially motivated.

Local police records indicate no history of racial profiling at Gibson’s and document that only six of 40 suspects arrested for shoplifting over a five-year period were Black.

None of this mattered at Oberlin. The next day hundreds of students and some Oberlin faculty members protested, as, allegedly, did Oberlin’s Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo.

Oberlin’s student senate declared that Gibson’s “has a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike,” and called upon the college to sever all business ties and publicly condemn the bakery.

Oberlin’s administration temporarily suspended its business contracts with Gibson’s and indulged in victim blaming, declaring that “Gibson bakery’s archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests.”

In a meeting with Gibson’s owners, Oberlin said it would resume the business relationship if Gibson’s agreed not to press charges against first-time shoplifters and report their behavior to university officials instead of the police.

Behind closed doors, Oberlin’s administrators were even more arrogant. Raimondo reacted to an Oberlin professor’s call on her to apologize to Gibson’s by writing in a university e-mail “F*** him. I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”

In another internal e-mail, Oberlin’s communications director Ben Jones attempted to rationalize the incident, writing “all these idiots complaining about the college hurting a ‘small local business’ are conveniently leaving out their massive (relative to the town) conglomerate and price gouging on rents and parking and the predatory behavior toward most other local business. F*** ’em.”

In November 2017, Gibson’s owners sued Oberlin and Raimondo, ultimately convincing a county court jury that Oberlin had groundlessly violated its contractual relationship with Gibson’s, engaged in tortious interference with its other business dealings, inflicted distress, and slandered and libeled it within the meaning of Ohio statute.

In June 2019, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $44.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages, a greater sum than Ohio law allows.

The trial judge reduced the sum to $25 million, the maximum allowable by law, but the jury subsequently added another $6.5 million in legal fees.

Oberlin appealed the judgment, with its president Carmen Twillie Ambar announcing to the college community that “none of this will sway us from our core values.”

One might wonder whether Oberlin’s “core values” are worth its $78,000 annual cost of attendance, but on April 1 a three-judge Ohio state appeals court panel unanimously upheld the county court’s ruling.

Oberlin could appeal to Ohio’s state supreme court, but, with broad discretion in deciding which cases to accept, it is extremely unlikely that it will agree to hear the case.

After a slight reduction to the legal fees awarded, the family that owns Gibson’s stands to collect $31.3 million, making it rich enough never to have to deal with Oberlin again, or ply the baked goods trade at all if it wishes not to.

Having lost tens of millions of dollars due to its fanatical commitment to wokeism, and with a relatively anemic endowment of just over $1 billion, Oberlin may feel properly chastised even if it might have donors, alumni, trustees and aspirational parents stupid and self-serving enough to replenish its depleted coffers.

Raimondo went on sabbatical in April 2021. Six months later, she announced that she would not return to Oberlin and would instead move to a similar position at Oglethorpe University, a much less prestigious institution in Georgia.

It is unclear whether Oglethorpe is aware of Raimondo’s troubled legal history, but its endowment of only $33 million is less than the amount awarded to the Gibsons.

Granted, giving this black eye to wokeism did not come easily. Litigation took five and a half years and cost millions in legal fees with the outcome far from certain.

Two members of the family that owns Gibson’s died without ever seeing justice done.

But in the end, justice was done. All it took was courage and the majesty of the law.

From Florida, Looking North Is Like Peering Over the Berlin Wall

Newsmax – In his State of the State address on Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis correctly proclaimed Florida a “free state,” using the word “free” twelve times in his 35-minute speech.

The last time we talked about “free states,” the opposing term was “slave states.”

As the pandemic enters its third year, and the Greek alphabet seems to lack enough letters to accommodate COVID-19’s ever increasing number of variants, looking north is rather like peering over the Berlin Wall.

Once united by a common language and culture, people stuck on the other side of the divide appear to have evolved into a dystopia ruled by a heinous ideology.

In full view, we see them required to present official papers to participate in almost all forms of civic life.

Varying levels of centrally mandated social control regulate their freedom of movement and association, while also constantly reminding them that their liberties are tentative and revocable rather than absolute and innate.

Their media and educational institutions are controlled by ideologues who insist on strict conformity of opinion and swiftly punish even minor deviations from dictated speech and behavioral norms.

Vices that keep the general population docile are tolerated, while virtues that might encourage critical thought or community outside of state supervision are subject to unprecedented control.

Dissenters are routinely demonized by the authorities and ostracized by their peers. The authorities themselves are occasionally purged through administrative processes that punish words and deeds that have become taboo, or that can be made taboo at the stroke of a pen.

Creative life sags, with artists, entertainers, and thinkers forced to toe the official line in both their personal and professional lives for fear of career-ending consequences. Those who disagree cower in the proverbial smoky kitchen, fancying themselves an “underground” that might one day reclaim its inalienable rights.

Ideas, culture, habits, and customs out of step with the new ideology are swept away by administrative fiat or at the hands of crowds whose rage is channeled specifically toward that destructive purpose.

Government resources, including medical care as of last week, are distributed on the basis of personal characteristics favored by the regime for ideological reasons under the banal guise of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” nebulous terms that the regime reserves the exclusive right to define.

Due to economic policies that opponents are too weak and too intimidated to oppose, shortages of basic goods — including meat, eggs, milk, and medical supplies, according to my recent correspondents on the other side — are a reality of life amply documented but vociferously denied by the regime and its defenders.

This new economy of scarcity, combined with broad official toleration of all but the most serious crimes, fuels atomization and fear, which only reinforce popular dependency on the regime.

Here in Florida, meanwhile, a steady stream of alienated and dissatisfied people arrives from the north in numbers large enough to shift the demographic balance of the country.

All too often, the new arrivals have endured abuse, suffered ostracism, and broken relationships to come.

Almost all of them have horror stories to tell before effusing gratitude for their new and improved circumstances. They can be overheard in our free public spaces remarking positively on how different everything is and congratulating each other on what they often call their “escapes.”

Once in a while, we even spot bossy northern apparatchiks in our midst, maskless and smiling as they enjoy the many freedoms they so cavalierly deny their frozen subjects.

When confronted, the party bosses can rely on their media surrogates to bury the news or celebrate the brazenness of their hypocrisy to eager viewers conditioned to hold them in awe. Lesser figures can just run away, as CNN host Don Lemon recently did when videoed lounging in Floridian splendor at Palm Beach’s iconic Colony Hotel.

Granted, we do not yet have an American equivalent to East Germany’s criminal law against Republikflucht, i.e., fleeing the country. But those who have not yet left for the South would do well to recall that the Berlin Wall went up overnight.

The Woke Road To Kabul

American Greatness – If stagflation, rising urban crime, and a weak Democratic president did not remind us enough of the 1970s, we now have our very own fall of Saigon.

To the astonishment of many naïve observers, especially those among the polite and orderly caretakers of America’s decline (for whom I suggest the acronym “POCAD”) now so foul misplaced atop our discredited foreign policy establishment, Afghanistan’s Taliban shrewdly—and predictably—waited until U.S. forces had nearly completed their withdrawal from the country before launching a massive offensive that has conquered almost all before it.

Outside Kabul’s precariously held airport, the capital has fallen. Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani fled the country and was within a matter of hours replaced by a Taliban mullah. U.S. diplomats destroyed the secret papers (and, reportedly, images of the American flag) while pusillanimously begging the new regime not to attack the embassy, over which the colors no longer fly. Taliban fighters are joyfully lounging in captured bases where they have won huge caches of American military hardware for use against their doomed countrymen, or to supply whatever other terrorist groups take refuge with them.

The Biden Administration rushed in 3,000, then 5,000, then 6,000 troops to cover a helter-skelter airlift of U.S. personnel and vulnerable Afghan allies so numerous that video shows them trying to hold onto C-17 military transport planes rather than the traditional helicopters.

The blame game has already started to assign responsibility for this catastrophic blow to American power and prestige.

Is it the fault of Donald Trump, whose administration negotiated what many regard as a one-sided agreement that ceded the initiative to the Taliban by announcing a unilateral intent to withdraw?

Is it the fault of Joe Biden, who implemented the agreement on a hasty schedule that publicly named the exact and highly symbolic date by which America would withdraw, ignored evolving and diligently reported strategic realities on the ground, and coincided with the most favorable campaign conditions for the Taliban?

Is it the fault of Afghanistan’s fallen government, headed by the newly exiled Ghani, an American University of Beirut graduate with a Columbia Ph.D., which squandered some $1 trillion in U.S. aid over the past 20 years only to find itself defenseless and abandoned before the very same enemies who were removed in 2001?

Should we blame our shifty military, security, civil society, and media elites, who systematically lied about their supposed achievements in order to keep a gravy train of budgets, grants, and consultancies flowing in what they hoped would be perpetuity?

Do we drag elderly neoconservatives out of their worthless think tanks and ridiculous Weekly Standard successor publications to berate them for thinking that they could create a Madisonian democracy by loudly declaiming the Federalist Papers into the caves of Tora Bora?

All are culpable to one degree or another, and their finger pointing will bore us as the chattering classes churn through yawn-inducing New Yorker features, latte-fueled far-left Atlantic diatribes, and soporific CNN specials, with the usual cast of self-proclaimed “experts” offering contrived “fresh takes” that they will claim to have known all along?

No serious investigation will trouble official Washington. The top brass in the Pentagon, who are looking moon-eyed at deep troughs of post-retirement consulting and directorship cash, have way too much to lose.

Congressmen who couldn’t be bothered to examine a largely pork-barrel, trillion-dollar domestic infrastructure bill last week will scarcely wonder about $1 trillion dumped down a faraway rabbit hole over the past two decades, especially if investigating means having to admit that they were easily fooled for longer than many of our recently withdrawn troops have been alive.

Meanwhile, the president is marking our biggest strategic setback in half a century by vacationing at Camp David.

As Biden hides from reporters with tough questions that he probably lacks the cognitive ability to answer, and his feckless military chieftains demoralize our remaining armed forces with critical race theory instruction and contemplate the causes of “white rage,” POCADs up and down the totem pole continue to preen “woke” values that have long made a mockery of any realistic attempt to deal with the Taliban.

Already coursing unchecked through academic, institutional, and cultural life, critical theory has infected security policy as well. It is now almost unthinkable for the standard Washington wonk not to have been required to learn that his/her/their country is racist, imperialist, and generally bad, and that radical Islam is merely a natural and even deserved response to “Western aggression.”

Through that pernicious lens, the Taliban, which created and will now restore a brutal medieval theocracy, must be seen and addressed as a rational actor with a valid point of view. Rather than extirpated, the POCADs feel it should be engaged and treated with respect and even empathy. To do otherwise, they believe, would be racist and wrong, a reprehensible “othering” of what they consider an equally valuable branch of our universal human family, whose natural state is, of course, peace and harmony.

Is it any wonder that Ross Wilson, now in his final hours as our acting ambassador in Kabul and arguably one of the most inept diplomats in American history, could spend the last 10 days tweeting appeals to the Taliban to “respect human rights” while professorially cautioning that their violent ways “have never been sustainable forms of governance” and will only lead them to suffer “international isolation?”

His boss, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, hummed the same tune, less-than-heroically tweeting that he found reports of Taliban mass killings to be “deeply disturbing.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unconvincingly praised Biden for his “wisdom” while intoning to equally little effect that “the world is watching” the Taliban’s actions.

And did we really hear White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (who is apparently “out of the office” this week) suggest that the Taliban should worry about their future image in the international order, presumably lest they feel embarrassed at cocktail parties?

Even lower-grade fools like Jennifer Cafarella, a national security fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, whose board includes Bill Kristol and David Petraeus among other GOP establishment has-beens, posted recommendations that her colleagues “not share images . . . likely to cause trauma,” and to “reach out” if they experience emotional “trauma” in their cubicles (or, more likely these days, their parents’ basements), and prevent “triggering PTSD symptoms” by, for example, “avoiding the news.”

So much for the quality of today’s conservative policy community, but by every measure of today’s milquetoast D.C. values she is in store for a long and prosperous career in national security.

One hopes that stronger and more stable people may one day lift two decades of American foreign policy out of humiliation and ruin, but until they do the Taliban’s triumphant road to Kabul will remain paved with woke intentions.

Much Ado About Hungary

American GreatnessWhy Vichy conservatives fear a small country in Central Europe.

“Hungary is no model for the American Right,” declared David French in his column in the Vichy Conservative publication The Dispatch last week. While very few people, excepting David French, would even try to argue that he—the man who called drag queen story hours a “blessing of liberty” and more recently tried to advance a “conservative case” for teaching public schoolchildren that they are racists—would know what a good model for just about anything is, he touched a nerve among his confederates.

A number of real and far more popular conservatives—including Rod Dreher, Patrick Deneen, Tucker Carlson, and Dennis Prager, among others—have recently visited Hungary, a European parliamentary democracy, EU member state, and NATO ally governed since 2010 by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s center-right Fidesz Party. This has French’s hair on fire.

In a lengthy article, the Vichy French (pun intended) analysis proceeded with highly selective data trying to prove that Hungary—which had enjoyed nearly five percent annual GDP growth in each the six years prior to the pandemic, has increased its citizenship by about a million people since Orbán came into office, and has experienced one of the world’s greatest flowerings of cultural and intellectual life in the past decade—is in fact a miserable, benighted wasteland of horror and hypocrisy where no respectable person would ever want to be.

There is no indication that French has ever visited Hungary, but the idea that leading figures of an American political movement in which he no longer possesses even a crumb of influence or credibility feel affinity for that country clearly angers and frightens him.

Not to be outdone, the far-left Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, an old neocon hand, was so affronted by Carlson’s one-week visit to Budapest, which culminated in a televised interview with Orbán, that she could not attribute his interest to anything less than the wicked desire of a “nihilist” to show “how much he despises the United States, its Constitution, and its heritage;” “annoy Americans and everybody else who believes in the ideals of America;” and, simply, “make people angry.” We can pause here to note that Applebaum’s previous Atlantic article offered an apparently serious argument that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell “really could destroy democracy,” so her paranoid hysteria might not be Tucker- or Magyar-specific.

Heroically posting on Twitter, George W. Bush Administration alumnus David Frum piled on that Americans who admire Orbán really admire “plunder of the public for the benefit of a complicit few; suppression of media that report the plunder; racism and reactionary religion as cover for the gullible and/or hypocritical.” One could wonder what he thinks about Hunter Biden’s laptop and paintings, but in addition to being off limits in his current job at MSNBC, such musings might be overwhelmed by a subsequent post in which Frum claimed, based on one visit to Hungary in 2016, that people he encountered there feared for their jobs for expressing the wrong political opinions. For a man of such sensitivities, it is probably a good thing that he does not hold government, corporate, non-profit, or academic employment in the United States, where polls indicate that nearly half the population employed in the white-collar professions actually do have that fear.

Sometime neocon fellow traveler Matthew Yglesias also pronounced on the issue, sententiously declaring that “Hungarian nationalism is not the answer” and ominously suggesting that American “reactionaries” are so twisted and cynical that they have “turned against the country” and “might want to import dictatorial methods to the United States.” Yglesias admits to having little knowledge of anything bad that people say might be happening in Hungary, but still compliantly chimed in on why he believes American liberal democracy is better than Hungarian conservatism.

On the surface, the Vichycons’ ire is perplexing. Just as they angrily denounced Orbán’s government, they also denigrated Hungary as a backwater, a “second-rate” and “rinky-dink” country, as Yglesias called it, boasting a population of just under ten million and living in the landlocked shadow of faded Habsburg imperial grandeur. The Vichycons have long since given up on political pragmatism, but assuming for a moment that they could muster even a modest figment of strategic thought, would a physical, or even just spiritual, exodus of red-meat American conservatives to Budapest not be a welcome development for them, depleting, as it would, the ranks of their main opponents in today’s media?

This paradox raises a question that no one has yet answered—though New York Times token conservative columnist Ross Douthat came close in a thoughtful if inconclusive op-ed on the subject. If Hungary is, in fact, so very small and unimportant, why are his disoriented colleagues so exercised by it? Would it not be better simply to ignore or dismiss right-wing engagement with that country as a bizarre flight of fancy, much as the American Right long regarded leftist interest in equally small and arguably unimportant Scandinavian social democracies as a distraction so whimsical that it scarcely merited discussion?

Instead, the Vichycons write with a confusing mixture of fear and fury, as though World War II-era quasi-Nazi Arrow Cross militants were deployed out on the Pannonian plain training American agents in the service of some kind of Fascist International to be saboteurs of a neoliberal world order so self-evidently good and precious that anyone who would even slightly disagree with any of its tenets must be some kind of dangerous subversive.

Lest this mirror image of pernicious Soviet propaganda efforts sound like an exaggeration, it is hardly a coincidence that Frum meretriciously compared those on the American Right who have recently visited Hungary—a democratic ally of more than two decades—to “Western intellectuals who toured and gushed over Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s PRC, Castro’s Cuba,” while Applebaum scolded her audience of Atlantic-reading wine moms with a similarly accusatory comparison to “intellectuals and journalists who were disgusted by capitalism and democratic politics, and who believed the Soviet Union’s lies about its own prosperity.” “Orban’s visitors” she intoned to those still awake after reaching the end of her article in bed over yet another bottle of Sancerre, “serve the same end as Stalin’s.”

Therein lies the answer. Vichy conservatives are well aware that their status is the contingent product of a Faustian compromise. As long as they concede unquestioned social, cultural, and ideological hegemony to the progressive Left, their jobs, careers, board memberships, expense accounts, and blue state social lives are safe. Like Vichy accommodationists, they even enjoy some space to dissent on policy issues that matter to them provided they accept the dominant party’s leading role in the prevailing new order and lose graciously on demand. Unlike conservatives who resist, they will never be harassed at home or in public, doxxed on social media, targeted by hit pieces in mainstream publications, or place their livelihoods at risk—all without ever having to list their pronouns in their Twitter profiles or submit to any of the other litmus-test indignities that leftist intellectuals must suffer to climb the ladder.

In a paradox that not all Vichycons may grasp, they also closely resemble the thin sliver of non-communist intelligentsia types who survived in Cold War Central Europe, able to practice their professions amid a nominally hostile larger group provided they mouth the right shibboleths in favor of “social progress” or “world peace” or whatever other mantra necessary to qualify as “one of the good ones.”

Perhaps worst of all for the Vichy conservatives, they must reconcile themselves to the reality that populist nationalism—centered on the patriotism, pro-growth economic policies, traditional social and cultural values, and national pride—was not merely a fluke of American politics in 2016, but a broader international trend that they could neither foresee nor successfully combat.

With a reinforced pro-Trump Republican sweep looming in the 2022 midterms, the near-total elimination of anti-Trump Republicans from national politics (likely in the coming months), and a real contest for the presidency in 2024 on the horizon, the idea that they might be as wrong about America as they have been about Hungary can only terrify them. They face the prospect of being even less relevant to the Right and more vulnerable to the Left than they already are. And with Orbán’s muscular example flourishing on the Blue Danube, they are clearly aware that “it can happen here.”

Freddie deBoer Wants to Make College Even Dumber – deBoer’s new book on the failures of American education takes aim at the role of the educated elite—and misses the mark.

At a recent soiree in Florida, where we have been allowed to have parties for some time now, an unemployed millennial in her late twenties asked me through a dimpled smile what I thought she should read next. “Tolstoy!” I suggested.

“Who?” she replied cheerfully and without a hint of self-consciousness.

“He wrote War and Peace,” I told her, with an astonishment that only extreme self-control could conceal.

“Ohhhhh,” she cooed, pretending to recognize the title.

By the current standards of our educational establishment, my poorly read acquaintance—who graduated from my prestigious alma mater and attended a New England prep school similar to mine—should be perched at the very pinnacle of achievement, a high priestess consecrated for life in what Fredrik deBoer, a self-described Marxist journalist who also works as an unspecified “administrator” at an unidentified public university, calls “The Cult of Smart.”

The Cult of Smart: How Our Broken Education System Perpetuates Social Injustice is deBoer’s searing book, which militantly seeks to undermine our society’s near-uniform valorization of intellectual achievement as the primary signifier of individual worth. DeBoer, who has gathered fans from across the political spectrum by presenting himself as a dissident voice from within the progressive orthodoxy, argues that our Academic-Industrial Complex (my term, not his) misses a fundamental point: that innate intelligence, largely determined by genetics and early childhood acculturation, plays a much greater role in the outcomes of people’s lives than does any of the schooling and testing and enrichment activities that the otherwise unemployable Ed.D.s, virtue-signaling politicians, and worried parents who listen to them can conjure.

As a result, he suggests, we are propping up an outdated and deeply flawed system of “sorting” in which “merit” is so subjective as to be largely meaningless. To its shame, the system claims to be fair and objective but in fact boosts children already born into “privilege” while cruelly stigmatizing and oppressing those who are too disadvantaged to compete. In an ironic twist, he argues, it often fails even as an unfair sorting mechanism because predetermined intellectual ability tends to assert itself over whatever temporary advantages higher education bestows on the innately less gifted.

If you ask deBoer, then, high-end education fails because our prospects in life can only be slightly altered by what we do and how we study. What he fails to grasp is that even the nominal “winners” in his zero-sum game will likely not rise to unqualified success either. Before grandly prescribing the public distribution of these so-called “elite” privileges, he might consider whether they too are part of the American affliction—and, if they are, whether what he is prescribing for those less fortunate may, in fact, be as bad for them as it is turning out to be for everyone else.

Admittedly, deBoer takes a risky stand in our current cultural climate. For the past few centuries, liberal thought has held that human beings are “blank slates,” each equally capable of reaching unlimited potential if they would just try hard enough in an environment free of obstacles. “You can be whatever you want to be,” millennials were told by helicopter parents who monitored their every move, and by “snowplow parents” who push all barriers out of their way, even to the point of the criminality uncovered in last year’s college admissions scandal, which is where deBoer starts his book. Rather recently, however, every discipline of behavioral and cognitive science, with the ironic exception of education, has reached the contradictory conclusion that about 40% to 50% of a person’s intelligence is determined by heredity, with much of the rest decided by early childhood environments that precede formal schooling. Put simply, the school you attend and the teachers who instruct you cannot really make you more intelligent than you were by about the age of seven.

This flies in the face of just about everything we have been told to believe since the Enlightenment: that all people are created equal and deserve equality of opportunity; that apparently less-intelligent individuals can improve and be improved; that there are no group-based variations in intelligence; that identities are determined socially rather than biologically, and that even suggesting otherwise opens the ugly path to racism and eugenics. The recent fates of Charles Murray, Amy Wax, James Flynn, and other scholars who have invoked solid empirical data about the prescholastic determinants of academic performance have massively chilled policy discussion that could lead to any meaningful change in how we measure outcomes or conceive of education. “Following the science” on this unique topic can literally cause one to be violently attacked, as Murray was, or face “cancellation,” as Wax and Flynn certainly did. What politician could hope for reelection if he dared speak the likely truth that most people are not suited for college, an idea that radical egalitarians have only tried to put over on us in the past 30 years or so? It is much easier and more appealing to say the opposite, that everyone should go to college, particularly if the politicians already know that most of us either will not go or will fail to complete a degree if we do. DeBoer diagnoses this gnarly problem and does it well—with a combination of rigor and sensitivity that is uncommon and exemplary.

Unfortunately, when it comes to offering solutions, his white-knuckled attachment to classical Marxism—seemingly the one idea the otherwise curious thinker refuses to question—clouds his judgment. And so, to borrow a Marxist phrase, his arguments end up collapsing on their own internal contradictions.

In a relentlessly accusatory tone, he demands to know why we tolerate a system that excludes untalented “losers” from the happy and fulfilling lives so enviably enjoyed by talented “winners.” But like many a revolutionary before him, he prefers postulating a universal utopia to truly learning whether the non-elite population really is unhappy and unfulfilled. Describing his own lower-middle-class Midwestern childhood, he makes the mistaken assumption that since he found life on the wrong side of the “elite” divide unhappy and unfulfilling, all others must, and do. In this way, he has inadvertently embraced the self-serving assumptions put forth by the very elite he so righteously and correctly skewers elsewhere.

This reductive analysis buys heavily into debunked economic determinism, which erroneously indexes happiness to income and other purely material factors. We know, however, that happiness is largely a function of positive interpersonal relationships and quality leisure, neither of which, fortunately, is controlled by our failing educational establishment. Income makes some difference up to a relatively low comfort threshold (i.e., about $75,000 per year), yet family, faith, culture, nature, entertainment, purpose, community, and other less quantifiable but readily available variables play enormous roles in one’s satisfaction with life. We should take bracing note that Marxist regimes uniformly try to take total control of all of these forces.

Indeed, one should ask if the educated “elite” to which deBoer repeatedly alludes truly is happy and fulfilled. They certainly seem to want everyone else to believe they are. But signs point to no. Levels of depression, anxiety, personality disorders, suicidal ideation, and other psychological complaints stand at record-high levels—and are expanding rapidly among young people who otherwise did very well in the Cult of Smart, only to find that the intense competition never ends and often fails to confer the expected rewards. In 2017, 70% of Yale Law School students self-reported some form of mental health problem before graduating in large numbers to grueling Big Firm associateships that likely have done little to improve their psyches since then. Some two-thirds of academic women never become mothers, in significant part because the average length of time to complete doctorates and become comfortably established has stretched to the age at which childbearing ends. Employment in media, finance, consulting, public relations, and other ostensibly high-prestige fields is stressful, uncertain, time-consuming and, in relative terms, often far less well-paid than it was a generation ago. Just holding these positions usually requires residence in environments with high taxes, exorbitant living costs, rising crime, and other undesirable factors. Romantic love is widely seen as a distracting obstacle to professional fulfillment. Gen Z slang refers to the feelings involved as something one “catches,” like a disease. Sex, of which they have less than previous generations do, is often perfunctory and detached from emotion. Living with parents is considered normal.

Nor are deBoer and his fellow “elites” in the media even particularly free. In the midst of the Great Awokening, urban professional speech and behavior, in and outside of work and even at remote pastimes, are subject to pervasive surveillance and extrajudicial policing by standards that frequently shift and are arbitrarily applied. Egged on by activist faculty members whose approval they must court, an alarming percentage of young people oppose First Amendment rights, if they can even correctly list them. Regardless of how many Cult of Smart hoops a “winner” jumps through, an injudicious tweet, a tasteless joke, a misspoken word, and even pure hearsay can cause the purported transgressor to be swiftly “canceled” with major consequences. Indeed, deBoer need look no further than his dozens of proletarianized co-generationalists featured on the “Shitty Media Men” list, a briefly published database of largely anonymous sexual harassment allegations against male media professionals. His irritatingly repeated insistence that he is not a racist when discussing the possibility of group variations in intelligence painfully reveals how vulnerable he knows he is and what would probably happen to him if activists at his unnamed university quoted his book out of context. I can’t imagine he wants or would accept sympathy from a reviewer, but that’s what I feel witnessing how thoroughly he and his peers are in many ways victims rather than beneficiaries of this system. That he wants to open this putrid system to still more people, people with even fewer resources to defend themselves from its toxicity, seems at best misguided. At worst, it is perverse.

But deBoer badly wants to remain a committed man of the left and to make sure people know that he has more substance than the downbeat provocateur persona he has cultivated for much of his career. He concludes with what he claims are “revolutionary” solutions to realize a more just society in which all people know happiness and comfort, at least as he would define it. Ending the Cult of Smart, he argues, will require far-reaching social reforms to distribute society’s resources in a way that may obviate participation in a relentlessly competitive educational environment. He hopes that a universally strong socioeconomic foundation will make the categories of “winners” and “losers” so unimportant that they are no longer relevant and that everyone, regardless of intellectual ability, could occupy an equally valued and dignified place. He ignores that human societies, and even the societies of our primate relatives and ancestors, almost uniformly form hierarchies, but his solution is nothing new. John Kenneth Galbraith made substantively the same argument in The Affluent Society, published in 1958. Even earlier, most of the American labor movement conceded that the best way forward was to negotiate for a slice of the growing economy big enough that blue-collar workers could sit as comfortably in the middle class as white-collar workers. DeBoer merely dresses it up with the talking points of today’s progressive left, which wants single-payer health care, student debt forgiveness, government guarantees of employment or minimal income, and other ambitious policies that the Democratic Party inevitably abandons as soon as it cycles back into power and realizes that they are impractical, unsustainable, and even unpopular on any significant scale.

Reading deBoer’s obvious frustration felt like being cornered at a dull party by an aging Bernie Bro whose girlfriend just dumped him and left him angrier at the world than usual. As for the process of education itself, he advances palliatives that others have suggested, such as replacing competitive college admissions with a lottery system, moving away from standardized tests, and lowering academic standards so that more students are graduated. The trouble is that we are already doing this on a mass scale, with the most discernible result that even more students get to leave college feeling let down, when there is so much in life that could lift them up.

American society may one day reach a point where it does away with inequality, or at least manages it better. Lucky for today’s young people, there are multiple right answers—many more than they have been told—and exploring any one of them could be a more productive use of time than looking to this book, or the educational galaxy it seeks to uphold, for a solution.