I wonder if Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal has any idea how mean, cranky, and stupid his ill-tempered, ill-mannered, ill-written open letter to the graduating class of 2012 makes him sound? He met an Ivy graduate who didn’t know who was President in 1956. Horrors! From this he concludes that the current graduates “are probably the least knowledgeable graduating class in history.” Really? Compared to the Glorious Fifties, when the Ivies were stuffed with jocks and legacy admits and quotas kept the Jews and Asians out? Somehow I doubt it.
Here’s an invitation, Mr. Stephens: Try taking the final exam from my intro to policy analysis course, or my drug policy course, or my crime control course. They’re not essay exams: they ask for factual knowledge and analytic concepts. If you can outperform the median UCLA undergraduate who takes any of those courses, I’ll give $1000 to the Know-Nothings, or the Klan, or the Tea Party, or whatever your favorite political cause might be.
If you’re not willing to take up the challenge, please STFU and stop embarrassing yourself by slandering your betters.
Of course, this is part of the broader conservative War Against Knowledge, launched at full throat by Sen. Santorum, and enthusiastically backed by Mr. Stephens’s paymaster, Rupert Murdoch, whose business is peddling ignorance. Conservatives know that higher education is among the solidest parts of the American social system, as evidenced by the hunger of foreigners to study here and of foreign governments to contract out the process of building universities to American outfits who have already done it. And they hate the fact that institutions of higher education aren’t very friendly to some of the false ideas they so cherish.