Mediocrity and its Discontents

Via Ed West on Twitter, this remarkable find by Heterodox Academy garners Judge Macklin Fleming a first-ballot entry into the I-told-you-dumb-bastards Hall of Shame:

…Heterodox Academy member Amy Wax sent us the text of an astonishing letter written in 1969, at the dawn of racial preferences, from Macklin Fleming, Justice of the California Court of Appeal. Judge Fleming had written a personal letter to Louis Pollak, the dean of Yale Law School. Fleming was concerned about the plan Dean Pollak had recently announced under which Yale would essentially implement a racial quota – 10% of each entering class would be composed of black students. To achieve this goal, Yale had just admitted 43 black students, only five of whom had qualified under their normal standards. (The exchange of letters was later made public with the consent of both parties; you can read the full text of both letters here.)
Judge Fleming explained why he believed this new policy was a dangerous experiment that was likely to cause harmful stereotypes, rather than reduce them. His argument is essentially the one that Jussim and I made 47 years later. Here is what he wrote:
The immediate damage to the standards of Yale Law School needs no elaboration. But beyond this, it seems to me the admission policy adopted by the Law School faculty will serve to perpetuate the very ideas and prejudices it is designed to combat. If in a given class the great majority of the black students are at the bottom of the class, this factor is bound to instill, unconsciously at least, some sense of intellectual superiority among the white students and some sense of intellectual inferiority among the black students. Such a pairing in the same school of the brightest white students in the country with black students of mediocre academic qualifications is social experiment with loaded dice and a stacked deck. The faculty can talk around the clock about disadvantaged background, and it can excuse inferior performance because of poverty, environment, inadequate cultural tradition, lack of educational opportunity, etc. The fact remains that black and white students will be exposed to each other under circumstances in which demonstrated intellectual superiority rests with the whites.
But Judge Fleming went much further. He made specific predictions about what the new policy would do to black students over the years, and how they would react. Here is his prophecy:
No one can be expected to accept an inferior status willingly. The black students, unable to compete on even terms in the study of law, inevitably will seek other means to achieve recognition and self-expression. This is likely to take two forms. First, agitation to change the environment from one in which they are unable to compete to one in which they can. Demands will be made for elimination of competition, reduction in standards of performance, adoption of courses of study which do not require intensive legal analysis, and recognition for academic credit of sociological activities which have only an indirect relationship to legal training. Second, it seems probable that this group will seek personal satisfaction and public recognition by aggressive conduct, which, although ostensibly directed at external injustices and problems, will in fact be primarily motivated by the psychological needs of the members of the group to overcome feelings of inferiority caused by lack of success in their studies. Since the common denominator of the group of students with lower qualifications is one of race this aggressive expression will undoubtedly take the form of racial demands–the employment of faculty on the basis of race, a marking system based on race, the establishment of a black curriculum and a black law journal, an increase in black financial aid, and a rule against expulsion of black students who fail to satisfy minimum academic standards.
If you read Judge Fleming’s predictions after watching the videos of student protests, and then reading the lists of demands posted at, the match is uncanny.

I’m glad the good judge isn’t here to see just how effective his predicted black political agitation has been; so successful it’s adopted by other groups such as Hispanics, similarly mismatched by affirmative action. Likewise feminism and transsexual activism provide natural outlets for students with nothing to draw from real study but frustration. One can be a mediocre student or noble victim.
 The judge’s predicted black radicalization not only came to fruition, it spread like a contagion–because it works, and it works by taking failure to the disparate impact bank and cashing it in for victim points–the same dysfunctional dynamic keeping black civil rights–and black concerns–front and center always in American politics.

Failure and alienation are the common bonds making allies of feminists and Muslims, transsexuals and Blacks, foreigners and fat fetishists; the unstable and the unable united in an axis of mediocrity waging war on excellence in academe and beyond. Failure and alienation have become the point of progressive theory, and whether that’s always been the intention is almost beside the point. It seems to be an inevitable result.

But social justice, particularly on the campus, is where blacks and other “underrepresented” groups are over-represented and hold greater influence, where the reverence and deference, particularly for blacks, with which they are treated is being elevated to ritual. For an individual so favored this must be heady stuff, and leaving this environment must come as a shock. Social justice exists in large part so people who didn’t peak in high school get a second shot in college. Of course everybody sees they’e just getting a worthless participation badge, so they must distinguish themselves, within the progressive theory framework, and the way to do that is to be angry about oppression, ideally your own. The competition to stay must be brutal, and likely explains the professorship’s increasing radicalism, as radicalism itself is the point.

My limited contact with second-tier institution student activists confirms the impression I (and I imagine a great many others) get watching them on YouTube and elsewhere: they’re not very smart. Of course they’re emotional. But’s hard to tell how much is honest and how much is affectation; it’s hard to tell how aware many of them are themselves of this distinction, as they work themselves into a frenzy because it’s what they’re expected to do. The “special snowflake” explanation only goes so far also; they may speak the language of social justice when they wring another “safe space” out of an institution, but their subsequent glorying and redoubled disdain reveal they understand what is happening, and they love it: they are wielding power. They’re more scary than scared, and they know it. They delight in it.

5 thoughts on “Mediocrity and its Discontents

  1. Judge Flemming's prophecy is also true when sub-species of; plant, fish and animal are transplanted from one natural habitat to anothers. T. H. Marshall proposed a manageable package of social rights for working class anglo-whites, including education — perhaps in Law. The downside of this culturally sophisticated mutual concern deteriorated was sabotaged from within by alien and crypto-alien elements within the earliest phases of these rights.


  2. Mr. Dale, your irony can be of the finest ilk, I admit.Let us also admit it didn't take a genius, even in 1969, but just someone not attaching themselves any price, to realize what judge Fleming wrote.The point can be easily made that public figures and very intelligent people not giving themselves a price tag are about 10 (or 20? or 30?) rarer than public figures and very intelligent people alone (you may want to read Paul Graham's \”What you can't say\”, findable by a simple google search, and contrast it with his Twitter, for a paradigm).I am a youth, I navigate various social media for a lot of time, and I had realized what Fleming realized on my own, and quite simply.With the essential contribution of the propaganda machine, we are heading to a society having to deal with massive, widespread hate-based paranoia; a cultural and social nightmare, no less.We have dating and mating too.As Fleming would have expected, those who feel inferior do obsess into getting a mate from the group they feel inferior to, and which they, on the surface, never stop to despise.It's also natural that they get rejected more often than not (all it takes a white girl to reject a black pretender is some knowledge of statistics concerning rape, and other crimes), also because, as psychology studies have shown, fair complexion is the most liked by any ethnic group, worldwide.You have these indian youths and black youths obsessively posting pictures of comparably good looking white & black, white & indian, asking the poll takers who they do prefer, and reacting sickly to the results.\”Racists!\”, they scream… luckily unaware that underlying their behaviour is THEIR wild preference for getting a white partner.A fair understanding of human psychology is all what it takes; once you have it, humans become predictable, as individuals as well as groups.And it's psychology what tells us, alongside with our everyday experience, that the matter is broader.It doesn't concern only blacks, nor only the Ivy League academia.Humans crave power; people were hated if they owned beautiful estate amd cars, or boats back to a few decades ago.Capitalism-oriented media and propaganda succeeded completely in uprooting this kind of envy from the mind of the average individual.It has become increasingly clear that power, and a lot of things that thyme with it and that humans call \”success\” have a most tight correlation with intelligence (IQ, if you will).And then, intelligence becomes the myth, the Graal of our time.And then, well, as we know and Fleming said, as intelligence happens to be distributed along racial lines, you get a big powder keg.A big powder keg that looks like a windfall to some very super intelligent elite who nurse an ineradicable hatred of white people, coincidentally.How does it end? We can't know the complete answer, but we can know a part of it: not well.All of school is affected by the plague of socio-racial envy: is a read I really recommend.Finally, I want to say that I disagree with a certain elitism of yours.See… low IQ comes with its problems, and alters the personality, but very high IQ does too, althoughin different manner.There is an hardly covert sense of hatred for blacks (and low-intelligence people9 to your post.Blacks are the least responsible in all of this.I know it's hard for people like you to understand, too hard maybe, but \”losers\” are, like Emil Cioran wrote, right even when they are wrong.Blacks have been used, for decades, as toys… to serve white and Jewish liberal elite's deranged narcissism (or… criminal ethnic cleaning wishes…).Does anybody really think blacks would be as agitated as they are, if the high-intelligence masochists, and wanna-be ethnic cleansers, hadn't solicited them by all the means of their propaganda machine?


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