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Learning to dislike credentialed people: It’s easier than you think!
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Learning to dislike credentialed people: It’s easier than you think!

The recent disgraceful displays by the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT serve as a useful reminder that fools with fancy degrees presume to rule us. Why submit when we could point and laugh instead?

Harvard President Claudine Gay’s recent embarrassing performance while testifying before Congress reminded me why I dislike the “credentialed people.” Obviously, not all credentials betoken villainy, and admittedly, medical researchers and true scholars who have passed through our academic bedlam may well deserve the degrees and titles they hold. But there are other humans with titles and degrees who are less admirable and who flaunt their association with now-corrupted institutions. They also take their moral and social bearings from snobs like themselves and delight in parroting the dreariest woke opinions.

Although Gay disgraced herself before Congress and although even the anti-white agitprop she passed off as scholarship in preparation to become Harvard’s president seems to have been plagiarized, the Harvard Corporation stands by its president — unanimously.

When their preferred educational institutions came up in conversation, government workers sounded like ancient Egyptians stringing together parts of their godhead. Instead of “Amon-Ra,” they would utter sounds like “Harvard-Yale-Princeton.”

“It’s the faculty and students of the university who decide the president, not the billionaire people on Twitter," opined Ryan Enos, a Harvard professor of government and director of the Center for American Political Studies. And Gay’s auxiliary forces on “Saturday Night Live” even provided a skit in which she was depicted as a thoughtful intellectual trying to respond to Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s outrage at her perfectly rational remarks. After all, Gay was just “contextualizing” those calls from her prestigious community for the killing of Jews.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Gay still has stalwart defenders, which is also true of MIT’s president, Sally Kornbluth, who also beclowned herself before Congress. Such credentialed people have friends in our make-believe high society, and their well-wishers, including hundreds of faculty members, won’t let them down. At least for the foreseeable future, our two disgraced university presidents seem secure in their positions.

Particularly with regard to Gay, any trustee who would ridicule a culturally radical plagiarizer who is also, not incidentally, a black female might be accused of being one of them. By “one of them,” I mean those lowbrow normies who don’t get invited to parties thrown by the Obamas and the Clintons and who might even be crypto-MAGA Republicans. Those are not the people with whom those who went to the appropriate schools and now protest against homophobia, carbon emissions, and systemic racism would want to rub shoulders.

I first came across this type as a graduate student at Yale in the 1960s, when some of my classmates walked around with week-old copies of the pro-Soviet French newspaper Le Monde and lectured me on my boorish dislike for communist governments. I deepened my acquaintance with the snob class while residing in a Washington, D.C., suburb in the late 1980s. Government workers struck me as particularly obnoxious, even more so than politically correct academics. They filled their tedious conversations with talking points taken mostly from state radio (aka NPR). Some of these self-important people listened to NPR a second time in Spanish, lest they miss a fashionable opinion while hearing it in English.

My erstwhile neighbors and professional contacts held posts in a vast bureaucratic hierarchy. Although most of them never reached the heights of social and media recognition achieved by a Jack Smith or one of Biden’s multiculturally enriching cabinet secretaries, the fact that they were government employees who could afford to live in a predominantly white D.C. suburb made them “special,” at least in their own minds. Some of my neighbors even had “Ph.D.” attached to their names and flaunted that adornment whenever they could.

These state employees were naturally big on self-promotion and boasted about their meetings with Democratic Party bigwigs. (As one might surmise, 99.9% of these acquaintances were Democrats and usually associated with the party’s busybody wing.) They also attended demonstrations for abortion and gay rights and would proudly announce their attendance at these events when talking to other credentialed people.

Among their objects of special veneration were Ivy League universities. If it turned out that someone in their society had attended one of these institutions, they would never stop telling you. And if one of their offspring made it into such a paradise, they would place that information on a bumper sticker and ride around sharing it with others who couldn’t care less.

These socially insecure acquaintances also tended to string together Ivy League institutions when mentioning them. Acceptance at these hallowed halls of ivy was, for them, a rite of passage. It was a necessary step for those who would someday be taking the Metro to work in the federal bureaucracy in its, by then, even more grotesquely metastasized form. Sometimes when their preferred educational institutions came up in conversation, government workers sounded like ancient Egyptians stringing together parts of their godhead. Instead of “Amon-Ra,” they would utter sounds like “Harvard-Yale-Princeton.” This contraction was occasionally lengthened to include such lesser objects of veneration as Georgetown, George Mason, and American University.

The plan now bruited about by presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy to cut the federal workforce by 75% seems a good start. Perhaps Vivek, if he were elected, could send the rest of the swamp crew to the Noth Pole or, even better, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.