Commentary | Eeyore’s Cabinet: The Obscene Word “Merit”


By Victor Davis Hanson 

Just appearing this week in the news are stories that our elite colleges have sent out letters of admissions. White applicants at many universities have been accepted at historic lows of about 28 percent (of a population base of 68-70 percent), despite the supposedly cherished tradition of ‘proportional representation.’ 

Will the most aggrieved at the new racialist discrimination and reduced slots be the suburban, bicoastal white liberal professional classes? They put a high premium on the quality and branding of their children’s education? Did the Left, then, strangle many of its own? 

If a teenager works nonstop for four years, achieves all the requisites that universities say they require, from grades to test scores to “community activities,” and then is rejected by these schools due to being a white or Asian male, will it work to say, “Your rejection is a small sacrifice that America must pay to become truly diverse?”

We should assume that when athletes and legacies (e.g., their alumni parents or grandparents gave a lot of money) are factored in, the new admissions will also eliminate entirely the white lower- and middle-classes, who without privilege lack both the correct appearance and the money, influence, and leverage to navigate around the woke gospel.

If admissions are now adjudicated by race (and not just merit, class, or intellectual diversity), do grades and test scores either no longer matter, or have to be arbitrarily “adjusted” for the necessary beneficiaries?

Does this ying prompt a yang? That is, if thousands of highly prepped students are being turned away from tony colleges for reasons other than their transcripts and scores, would not the beneficiaries be a Hillsdale College or other superb but often neglected traditionalist campuses that enshrine merit as still essential for admission, while appearance is incidental? Should we not see these alternatives even further ascend? 

Are there larger currents here? United Airlines will now institute pilot training by racial allotments. Are they assuming that the old meritocratic standards were unnecessary constructs, and thus those who did not meet them still had the requisite skill, in the age of computers, not to crash planes and kill passengers? 


Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won and The Case for Trump.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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