Virtue Signaling at ‘Hedgefund Academy’

A place we will call “Hedgefund Academy” (boarding tuition: $64,800) is a tony New England prep school we have visited before. Recently, the school invited Philip McAdoo, a self-described black queer man from the South, to speak in honor of Martin Luther King Day. The mind reels. McAdoo spoke to the students online, but before he did, three students read their favorite Martin Luther King quotes. 

Student one—we’ll call him Aaron—picked this one: “We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. Capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.”

Student two—we’ll call her Bebe, and she was quick to announce her pronouns—said this was her current favorite MLK quote: “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

Student three—we’ll call him Cici, but he identified himself as co-head of the Latinx club at Hedgefund, which requires a diversion. “Latinx” is how the wokerati refer to people of Latin American culture or ethnic identity (while at the same time patting themselves on the back for being so sensitive). But the good people at the Pew Research Center tell us that “Latinx” (a fabricated term with no basis in ethnicity, culture, or race) is used by only three percent of Hispanics, which means that people who used “Latinx” are only virtue-signaling to each other. Cici picked this quote: “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there 40 million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. . . .”

The students are too economically untutored to know that their favorite MLK quotes make him look stupid. But that was just the beginning.  

Then one of the students introduced McAdoo: “Doctor Phillip McAdoo is an educator, author, activist, and former Broadway actor currently serving as vice president of the DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] at Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. As an activist, McAdoo fiercely advocates for the rights of LBGTQ youth, families, and educators. He joined politicians, civil rights activists, and Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) in support of Every Child Deserves a Family Act, congressional legislation that would lower some of the barriers faced by LBGTQ couples who want to adopt children from foster care. Dr. McAdoo specializes in character development particularly from the perspective of diversity and inclusion. He’s a proud father, and author of two books: Every Child Deserves and Independent Queers: LGBTQ Educators at Independent Schools Speak Out.” On the cover of Every Child Deserves, it says, “Written by Zaden and his two Dads.” 

Again, the mind reels—comforted, perhaps, by the knowledge that the $64,800 tuition is coming from someone else’s bank account. 

Where to begin? At the top. King was a brave man, and he could speak eloquently, and he was an inspiration to many. But he was young (39 when he died) and he was not an economist: he was neither tutored in nor experienced in economics. His woeful ignorance is displayed, painfully, in the quotes the Hedgefund students read—and it’s embarrassing. King was also not a student of music. And it would seem equally strange if, on Music Day (is there one?), students were to quote King’s critiques of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. 

What’s the explanation for McAdoo? Maybe he’s just responding to market forces. Maybe McAdoo’s just a charlatan who’s found a gig: persuading guilty rich white people to fly him around to pontificate on racism and discrimination. Predictably, very predictably, he praised the “beautiful” summer of 2020—you remember, the one during which at least 18 people were killed in riots, and which caused more than $2 billion in property damage. Verrrry beautiful. Still, you wonder.

Blacks in America, although they have made great progress, still have great problems decades after King’s death. The nightly slaughter in Chicago—of blacks, by blacks—is an embarrassment to a civilized nation. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among blacks is now 77 percent, which almost guarantees poverty for most of them, and crime for many young men growing up without fathers. Given that illegitimacy rate, who could possibly expect “a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children”?

McAdoo’s bag is not economics but homosexuality, which affects about 4.5 percent of the population. If the problems that blacks face are really as terrible as the quotes selected by the “Hedgefund” students suggest, why is McAdoo wasting his time trying to normalize the abnormal.

It’s easy, and tempting, to blame the students for being so tone-deaf, and so economically clueless. But it’s mostly the adults’ fault: the faculty who teach them and the parents who entrust their kids to that faculty. 

February is Black History Month. How will McAdoo ever keep up with the demand for woke speakers at tony schools—assuming they’re allowed to be open? And who will be invited to speak next at Hedgefund? 

About Daniel Oliver

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was executive editor and subsequently chairman of the board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review. Email him at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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