In case you missed it, the big news at Yale University is that the school has suspended Dean June Chu for remarks she made (of all places) on Yelp. Great fodder for the headline writers, such as “Yale dean once championed cultural sensitivity. Then she called people ‘white trash’ on Yelp” and the more succinct “Yale dean loves diversity except ‘white trash’.” In her pontifications on Yelp, Chu managed to, if you will, trash poorly educated whites (must mean lesser education than hers) and inner city blacks.
Yes, of course, dumb, dumb, dumb, and disgusting. However, the punishment was maybe a little harsh, in the sense of being hypocritical.
I would submit that such elitist attitudes are commonplace in elite universities. Chu’s problem was that she was stupid enough to make her remarks publicly (not even using a pseudonym on Yelp). There is so much disdain for the common people. You may recall MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare, who said that Obama was able to enact the policy by taking advantage of the “stupid American voters” who didn’t understand it. In my view Obamacare was a needed first step, but Gruber’s execrable attitude, likely common in that administration, speaks volumes.
According to Eileen Pollack’s book about her undergrad years at Yale, only “high class” people would be appointed as deans, meaning tall, patrician, good-looking men. Chu’s appointment as dean may show that Yale has made progress (and maybe shows that Yale’s hiring of her was more for “diversity” than for character), but her remarks reflect the chi-chi circles she moves in there in New Haven.
Interestingly, Chu’s PhD in sociology is from my own institution, the University of California, Davis. I claim that Chu didn’t pick up her elitist attitudes at Davis, particularly in the Sociology Department. According to a colleague there, that faculty is populated mainly by people with working class roots, and who are proud of their background. No, Chu largely acquired these attitudes from Yale, I believe.
I’ve stated many times here that the biggest problem in DC is the total lack of connections of Hill dwellers — both politicians and the press corps that covers them — with the common people, what is termed the laobaixing (Old Hundred Surnames) in China. The pols and journalists are people who have never experienced an extended period of involuntary unemployment, for instance, or the fact that most Americans could not come up with $400 cash if an emergency were to arise. And a disproportionate number of those pols and reporters come from the elite universities.
And then those same clueless people are shocked that Trump won the election (I was not), and couldn’t figure out why the plebian Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money (literally) in the primaries. The elite were perplexed (even in tears), unaware for instance that many former Obama voters went for Trump. The Democratic post mortem found that Clinton, she of the Wall Street largesse, was viewed as the consummate elitist, dismissing commoners as “deplorables.” And need I remind you that Clinton is a graduate of Yale Law School?
None of this exonerates Dean June Chu. But really, she is a scapegoat. I wonder how many of Chu’s critics can cast the first stone.