Archive for the ‘ivy league schools’ tag
Media Matters recently posted a video clip titled, “Buchanan has ‘no problem’ with legacy systems, says ‘working class whites’ are ‘the ones discriminated most today,’” in which he supported Ivy League colleges which let kids in because of who’s child they were, not just on academic merit. Or, as Buchanan put it, their “clout.” He also said “white working class folks” (to correct the Media Matters headline) are “discriminated against most today” (to again correct Media Matters):
To put it bluntly, inserting race into the issue makes Buchanan’s claim, which cites no evidence, seem even more distasteful. How does he justify in one sentence, talking about how privileged college kids (the majority who earn bachelor’s or higher degrees are white) are and should be admitted to prestigious institutions based on clout and connections, provided they pass a test, and in the next sentence, talk about the rights of working class people (Using the word “folks,” as many politicians do, to sound more convivial and down to earth)? I would be curious to know how one defines “working class” in the first place. Blue collar? White and blue collar? Anyone who can hold down a job making less than Obama’s $250,000 benchmark?
Buchanan uses the “working class” line (like so many others interested in pushing a political mindset) to apparently lionize those of the laboring order (Buchanan is not, of course), when Buchanan, in nearly the same breath, appears to favor the notion of success by proxy. I’m reminded of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” which Buchanan would probably write off as some socialist anthem.
According to Lennon himself, the song is about the pressure to succeed, to go to college, to pick a career, and how maddening that pressure can be, when in the end, one’s efforts are often in vain (“But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see …”) unless, of course, one is willing to “learn how to smile as you kill | If you want to be like the folks on the hill …” But that’s, of course, a paraphrase and an estimation of what Lennon actually meant.
Side note: Here is an interesting analysis of Green Day’s own take on the song. The comments that follow are intriguing as well. But as the posters and repliers don’t seem to note, song lyrics aren’t essays or news articles. They don’t always have a specific and defined meaning. Take The Beatles’ lines, “He’s got feet down below his knees” or “He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football | He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola” or any number of lines from the White Album, great as it is. Stream of consciousness, daydreaming, drugs, personal stories or any number of factors can account for lyrics that don’t jibe or are hard to decipher.
But back to race, Slate offers an article on the seeming decline in Ivy-league schools, which notes the proliferation of solid programs at public institutions, like Northwestern, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, and University of Virginia. Buchanan likely has affirmative action in mind when he made his comments about the white working class. True, blacks generally have a higher acceptance rates at colleges than whites, but college attendees, especially of the sort Buchanan mentions, are hardly “working class folks.” College is a privilege, not a right (though it should be), in this country. As such, most don’t earn college degrees:
According to new tables released on the Internet titled Educational Attainment in the United States: 2004, 85 percent of those age 25 or older reported they had completed at least high school and 28 percent had attained at least a bachelor’s degree — both record highs. — U.S. Census Bureau
What about the black working class? Affirmative action is used too often as a crux to explain away some white people’s anger. Note these two bits from Policy Almanac:
Over the past three decades, minorities and women have made real, undisputable economic progress. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the median black male worker earned only about 60 percent as much as the median white male worker; (10) by 1993, the median black male earned 74 percent as much as the median white male.
There has not been an improvement in the employment-population rate of black workers relative to whites since the 1960s. If anything, there has been a deterioration in the relative employment-population rate.