One of the benefits of being the editor in chief of a libertarian-conservative magazine is that I am almost never invited to an American university. Thus, when I do find myself on one of those lush fields of flamboyant poppycock, it is as an explorer looking into pristine wilderness and for the first time -- Christopher Columbus spying the natives of the Caribee, Ponce de Leon observing Florida. The campus' bizarre wilds strike the eye with intense vividness and leave a deep impression. What dialect is it that these profs employ? Could anyone in the outside world understand them?
Last week, I spent two days at one of the nation's most famous law schools, where what is called a "reunion" was being held. It was a memorable occasion.
Rarely have I been in such a lewdly self-congratulatory ambiance. Never have I witnessed such ravishing self-love, and I have been to Hollywood, Calif. Our nation's educators tell us of the incalculable importance of instilling self-esteem in their students, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that they extend this practice to themselves. Though let me add that after spending two days with such obvious ignoramuses I developed a pretty good feeling about myself, too. This self-esteem mania might be contagious.
Anyone familiar with how far university alumni publications depart from the reality of campus life when they depict it to potential financial supporters knows that for many years universities have been boldly deceiving outsiders. Most universities are, at least when it comes to educating undergraduates, merely delivering what was once thought to be a high school education. Moreover, those undergraduates are living in conditions not unlike those of a slum -- the facilities might be relatively new, but the petty crime and hygiene are deplorable.
Yet if my two days on campus are any indication, universities have now gone beyond deceiving outsiders. Today, their leading personages deceive each other, and no one seems to mind. At the law school reunion that I attended, I sat in on an evening panel-discussion of Brown vs. the Board of Education, that 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing "separate but equal" schools. It could have been a very interesting panel. The panelists, all alumni, had clerked for the Supreme Court justices involved in the case.