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: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:
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.