Once among the West’s most prestigious institutions, Stanford and Yale are now beset with addicts of ideology who bring them to shame. Recent crises there are vivid episodes in the decline of Western institutions, which now face a choice: Will they, like libertine scions, insist every hungover morning that their namesakes hide their spreading notoriety? Or will they sober up?
At Stanford Law School last month, Judge Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit came to speak on the rather academic topic of inter-court dialectic. A federal judge of any stripe used to be welcomed on a law-school campus like a legal celebrity. Federal judges have reached the pinnacle of their careers, and learning how they think should be the keen interest of would-be lawyers everywhere because persuading federal judges is how top lawyers get paid top dollar.
But at Stanford, supposedly a top training ground for future lawyers, Judge Duncan was greeted like a nun in a crack house by the school’s Woke cartel.
Students heckled him. “We hope your daughters get raped,” one shouted. Another screamed, “you scumbag!” One stood up and said, “I f— men. I can find the prostate. Why can’t you find the cl–?” Judge Duncan was unable even to begin his remarks before federal marshals had to whisk him off campus.
Before a few years ago, law students almost never acted this way. If they did, they regretted it. At the University of Chicago Law School, one student led the heckling of a speaking event, and he got expelled. But now, at law schools that are supposed to be our nation’s best, heckling is common—while consequences are scarce.
At Yale Law School last year, hundreds of students heckled a panel of Supreme Court lawyers. They raised their middle fingers. They stomped their feet and banged on the walls. One even screamed “b–ch!” None faced discipline.
These are students who have hit rock bottom, and the mark of their rock bottom is the mark of any addict’s, whether of substance or of ideology. It’s angry self-abasement. Their public vulgarity is their point because it’s a revenge they exact at the expense of their own dignity. By covering themselves in muck, they can say to their targets, “welcome to the pig sty: this is where you belong.”
Dispelling hopes that the over-pedigreed hogs were but a fringe minority, two days after the Yale imbroglio, 60 percent of the law school’s entire class signed an open letter backing the hecklers. After the Stanford scandal, a third of the law school’s class dressed up in masks and all black like Antifa to line campus hallways and stare down the school’s dean, Jenny Martinez. They were jilted when Martinez apologized to Judge Duncan for their classmates’ brutishness.
America can suffer Stanford fools. She can even suffer a Stanford or a Yale without free speech. But if the American people ever see our would-be leaders as self-loathing drunks who’ve lost their last care—as heedless wretches grabbing for the steering wheel with one hand and gripping a bottle of Woke-branded gin in the other—they will retake control. When they do, their fringes will vie, often violently, to succeed in power.
America would be better off with respectable elites content to shepherd our national-family business. Instead, our would-be elites are content with nothing and lack respect even for themselves.
As Judge Duncan put it, “If I talked to a dog the way those students talked to me, I’d feel ashamed.”
A professor at George Washington University Law School has begun elite society’s necessary defense. He’s lodged a complaint with the California bar against the Stanford hecklers. An applicant to the bar must prove that he can conduct himself “at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.” Law schools have no business graduating anyone who can’t.
But Stanford’s Dean Martinez has gotten it backward. Perhaps cowed by the Antifa stalking her in Stanford’s halls, she’s put aside the question whether her students breached norms of civil discourse, saying that that’s a matter she can’t police.
But the whole country relies on elite schools to produce leaders who follow objective social norms. If Martinez cannot enforce incontestable norms, she might as well graduate students who refuse to wear pants in public. She could do so if she’d like, but a school of pantless alumni is not elite.
And as it stands now, Stanford and Yale are elite no longer. Until the scion admits that he’s come to be defined by his own humiliations and no longer by his father’s success, he cannot hope to be elite again. And until Western institutions admit that they’ve squandered a noble heritage, they will drag a civilization that has birthed history’s greatest men down into the abominable mire of feral brats.