Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Stupidity Of Elitism

You mean someone thought this was good husband material??

Whenever I think of Princeton I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the brilliant writer behind The Great Gatsby. Although Fitzgerald never completed his studies at Princeton, he considered his time there to be one of the great periods of his life. In fact, his high opinion of the Ivy League school seemed to be right in line with one Susan A. Patton, who graduated from Princeton herself in 1977.

While Ms. Patton is nowhere near as well known as Fitzgerald, she's generated a good deal of press lately for having penned a letter titled Advice For The Young Women Of Princeton: The Daughters I Never Had. In said letter, published in the Daily Princetonian, Patton argues female students at Princeton should find a husband soon - from among the school's pool of male students, no less.

"You will never again," she writes,  "have this concentration of men who are worthy of you"

That's not all.

Ms. Patton goes on to inform Princeton's female students that "smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal." 

But that's still not all.

"As Princeton women," Patton adds, "we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are."

Funny how Ms. Patton only brings up intelligence and going to Princeton as "worthy" qualities for a potential husband. Let's get back to Fitzgerald, then, shall we?

As has been established, the author went to Princeton as a young man. He was also brilliant (not just anyone can sit down and write works like Babylon Revisited, after all). Little doubt, then, the young Fitzgerald would have fit Ms. Patton's stringent husband criteria.

And there's the rub. The fact Fitzgerald went to Princeton didn't keep him from making a disaster out of his life for close to two decades. The fact that he was a genius didn't do much to prevent the destruction, either.

Here's just a few of the legends attributed to this tragic alcoholic.

  • he passed out under a table in public at a New York City restaurant
  • he stumbled into a newspaper office in Paris late one night and started tearing up copy.
  • he passed out in Ernest Hemingway's fireplace
  • he was arrested in Rome
  • he died in in the apartment of a gossip columnist he was having an affair with - while his wife was in a mental institution
Of course, Ms. Patton may not have minded having a son-in-law like Fitzgerald. Perhaps his worthiness in her eyes would have rested solely on his intellect and on his academic background. That would make Ms. Patton the candidate for advice, however, not the current female population of Princeton.

A basic fact of life is there's a lot more to being a "worthy" spouse than brains and background. Unfortunately, however, it's clear Ms. Patton wasn't taught that at Princeton.

Truth be told, though, I feel sorry for this woman. She's well-intentioned, but misguided. Regardless, her words do a fine job of pointing out the stupidity of elitism.

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