diet coke for breakfast

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Posted by Jake
Bred for Power

David Brooks reminisces about the good-old-days:

Unlike today's top schools, which are often factories for producing Résumé Gods, the WASP prep schools were built to take the sons of privilege and toughen them into paragons of manly virtue. Rich boys were sent away from their families and shoved into a harsh environment that put tremendous emphasis on athletic competition, social competition and character building.

Listen, Mr. Brooks. I like your stuff. But you must realize the skepticism you are going to create when you fall into the pundit rut of appealing to an earlier time when people were just plain tougher. You have a Dad, and my suspicion is that he would rant in an astonishingly similar way.

I will grant you that the political correctness rampant at today's institutions isn't doing any favors for prospective leaders. Yet in spite of that I have met some fairly competent people who didn't need elite boarding schools and an aristocratic background to be promising. I guess we will see who is right, but I am with David Adesnik from OxBlog on this:

At both Yale and Oxford, I met countless young Americans with a fierce and principled commitment to making America a better nation, both at home and in its behavior abroad. These students spanned the political spectrum, left, right and center.

Moreover, America's top schools produce so many potential leaders precisely because they abandoned the cruel and unusual methods that Brooks seems to cherish. While still athletic and sociable, abandoning excessive competition in those fields has given today's students more time to focus on A) their studies and B) happy, fulfilling friendships and relationships. As a result, we now have students whose better adjustment to academic and social life gives them a stronger foundation on which to build their civic commitments. So don't worry, Mr. Brooks. When your generations runs out of momentum, ours will be ready to take the reins.


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