Patriotism? Recycled Again

Following is the eleventh recycling of a blog post I first posted, here, twenty years ago, and subsequently ten different times over the years on or around July 4 — most recently last year, here.

My preface to that first post explained how it had come to be published eleven years earlier, in 1991, as part of a symposium on patriotism in The Nation. Yes, that Nation. (I won’t repeat that explanation here; anyone curious about what I was doing in those left-wing precincts can just follow the link above to that twenty year old post.)

In order to continue the theme of my post of a few days ago — “The more things change…” — and because there may be a reader or two here who will not recall the 1991 controversy that generated the “Solidarity in Support of Diversity” banner to which my post refers in closing, I will add one annotation that has not appeared in any of my previous recyclings:

“A white law student’s allegation that black students attending Georgetown University’s law school are significantly less qualified than whites has shaken the Washington campus,” the New York Times reported on April 15, 1991.

The student, Timothy Maguire, raised the issue last week in an article in The Georgetown Law Weekly, a publication managed by students. In the article, which was labeled commentary and ran under the headline, “Admissions Apartheid,” Mr. Maguire asserted that the university used a separate and less demanding standard when considering black students for admission into its law school.

He went on to say that blacks applying to the Georgetown Law Center routinely score substantially lower than whites on Law School Admission Tests and have lower college grade-point averages. And, he said, that, in general, blacks admitted have lower test scores and grades….

Mr. Maguire wrote that the average white student accepted to the university’s law school had a Law School Admission Test score of 43 out of a possible 50 and that the average score for black students accepted was 36. Regarding grade-point averages, black students showed about 3.2 out of a possible 4, the article said, while whites had a 3.7 average.

Although the expression “cancel culture” had not yet been coined, there were predictable demands that Mr. Maguire be expelled. Dean of The Law School Judith Areen lamely replied that all accepted students were “qualified to be here,” but to the school’s credit did not expel the whistleblower. Mr Maguire wrote shortly thereafter that he “came out of [his] encounter with the politically correct all right, I guess,” having received “only one death threat.”

Georgetown’s recent treatment of Ilya Shapiro suggests that despite (?) thirty years of “diversity” its law school is less tolerant than it used to be.

The more things change….

And now for the 11th recycling:

FOR TOO LONG THE LEFT HAS TOO EASILY REGARDED patriotism as the first refuge of scoundrels. Perhaps the main source of this longstanding discomfort with patriotic sentiment is that patriotism celebrates, at least in theory, the national community as a whole while the left, especially in theory, is oppositional, outside, dissenting. Traditionally class based, with workers viewed as the engine driving society to a better future, the left is now largely a collection of racial, ethnic and gender interests plus some academic defenders of multiculturalism–progressives all, but with no agent of progress and hence no real reason to believe in progress, in sight or in mind.

With little to unite it except opposition to the dominant culture, the left today has lost both the desire and the ability to lay claim to any significant portion of the landscape of American values. Equal opportunity? It has a disparate impact. Free speech? It protects racist and sexist epithets. Self-determination? A principle useful only for bashing the Russians or protecting oil sheiks. This is overstated, to be sure, but not by much. From what precinct of the left today could an authentic voice claim something like “This land is your land, this land is my land . . .”? Patriotism is an expression of solidarity, a principle long favored on the left, but the term itself reveals our predicament. Solidarity of whom? With whom? For what? It is a far but revealing cry from “Solidarity Forever” to “Solidarity in Support of Diversity,” a banner displayed during the recent controversy over affirmative action at Georgetown Law School.

That’s a hard flag to rally around.



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