Some of them I consider true friends. Many of the rest are just shitbaggers. Dickinson College recruits and educates monsters. The people who effectively ran the school as a social institution during my enrollment were of a shockingly bad character, and I’m sadly afraid that their successors haven’t improved the tone much in the subsequent decade, since I personally knew a number of arrogant, supercilious gobshites in the classes of 2007, 2008, and 2010. (If you’re taking this personally, don’t worry: I’ll reach out to you directly and forcefully if I have a serious problem with you, so simmer down.)
One of the bizarre things about Dickinson was that even though the vast majority of its classes were academically top-notch, its social and extracurricular milieu seemed almost completely detached from its academics, with the exception of International Business and Management (the get rich or die trying set; I knew people who actually said exactly that) and a few policy-oriented majors that harbored large numbers of meddlesome, holier-than-thou fuckwads. I.e., the robber barons and the moral busybodies, the latter of which were in fact for the most part even worse; C. S. Lewis, please report to a white courtesy telephone. Otherwise, there was rarely any evidence that the big men and women on campus had any intellectual interests. If anything, most of them were anti-intellectual. It was disgusting. I could take one look at some of them and know with certainty that they were wasting their educations. They were intellectually and morally hardened of heart. I knew people whose IQ’s I must have initially underestimated by thirty or fifty points because every word out of their mouths was so fucking foolish, if not downright retarded. I kept thinking that since I seemed to offend so many of them by betraying my life of the mind, maybe the school shouldn’t have admitted them, and maybe its actual admission criteria were intellectually and morally deranged.
My thoughts to this end at the time were inchoate, probably because it was all so fucking surreal, but I could tell that something was badly amiss. With an outcome like that, it seemed that there just had to be something wrong with the process. Hell if I knew what, though. To this day, I don’t think I have a very good sense of it. The best I can figure is that Dickinson and its alumni association are at the downstream end of an osmotic gradient that sucks in insufferably preppy shitheads from all directions. I found it mindboggling that a single college, and a fairly modest one by elite Northeastern standards at that, could collect so many students of such obviously bad character and temperament. I couldn’t recall having come across a thing like it before I matriculated.
This was especially amazing since I had spent all four years of high school at an expensive regional prep school with a mostly affluent-to-wealthy student body and extensive Brahmin-Optimate infighting among parents, administrators, trustees, and occasionally teachers and students. I didn’t imagine that I had graduated from Lancaster Country Day sheltered from the dismaying truth that rich people can be self-righteous grandiosities, authoritarian caste-enforcing creeps, or just petty dipshits. Having graduated from a prep school that harbored more than its share of rich people behaving embarrassingly, and having before that attended a middle school run by Ceausescu-in-December-looking tyrants who were scared shitless that they wouldn’t be able to adequately police up their hordes of wigger students, it was stunning to find myself at a supposedly modest liberal arts college whose most prominent students and administrators looked like creatures that had just swum up from the eighth circle of hell. It could be indescribably bizarre to be berated by Bill Durden with boasts that Dickinson was increasingly recruiting the best and then to look around at the socially-climbing brownnosers, and at Durden himself, and realize that Dickinson was without a doubt recruiting some of the worst and morally forming them into true monsters.
Everything about the bougie mythology of college, and especially the mythology of the liberal-arts college, had the effect of reassuring young people that this abundance of confidence men, crooks-in-training, cult dupes, anti-intellectual vulgarians in pastel corduroy, and whinging little Quislings was the last crowd that a reputable college would recruit as students, let alone mentor as student leaders. It was impossible to process this shit, to square the lofty ideal of near-peerless intellectual probity that Durden and his partisans proclaimed on Dickinson’s behalf with their own wretchedly base language, worldview, and behavior. College was supposed to be a refuge from the brokenness of the outside world, an institution that could and should be trusted, and yet I was clearly surrounded by the very worst people I had ever seen in positions of power who were not employed either by the public schools or as police officers.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating at all to say that the shattering disillusionment I felt as I came to realize just how entrenched this frankly evil rabble was in Dickinson’s day-to-day institutional and cultural operations, and the feeling that I dare not express this disillusionment in polite company for fear of gravely offending those close to me and stirring up a shitstorm, was quite similar to the experience that many cradle Catholics had as they came to realize that their dioceses were in the rotten death-grip of bishops who knowingly harbored pedophile priests. That’s how shocking, unconsionable, and, when I had the courage to give it any thought, frightening it was to realize that this meta-institution that I had been brought up my whole childhood and adolescence to trust without reservation had been so deeply and willfully corrupted, even by the presumably learned elders who had been in effect ordained by my alma mater and invested with the solemn duty to steward it, morally, academically, and administratively, to the best of their ability. I joined the Catholic Church in 2005, at a time when it was only starting to take stock of the pedophile priest scandals and clean house, and I was involved with some extremely religiously preoccupied and sexually repressed students in the Newman Club, a few of them frank lunatics, but overall I encountered less creepy cult bullshit in the Catholic Church than I did at Dickinson. Time and time again, the leadership I witnessed at Dickinson was the equivalent of having an entire church under the totalitarian command of its most freakish, most sexually inflamed, most extreme, most out-of-touch fringe elements.
As far as I knew, Dickinson had no organized reform lobby analogous to Voice of the Faithful. That was an overly reactive organization with a dyscivic understanding of criminal law, but something like it needed to exist. There were devout twentieth-generation Catholics in Boston who were of a mind to weigh the archbishop down in chains and throw him into the Charles River for assigning known child rapists to their parishes. Hardly anyone at Dickinson would even call Durden a sleazeball. That’s how craven and chickenshit everyone was.
Dickinson was an institution devoted to concentrating some of the worst social climbers imaginable under one roof and subsuming them into a single collective identity premised on a shared sense of narcissistic superiority and hubris. I doubt that it’s really stopped being such an institution and pulled its head out of Bill Durden’s ass. The refreshingly hopeful and down-to-earth comments on the current environment at the school that I solicited from a couple of current students on a train to Philadelphia last fall just may not be as representative as one should hope. I really can’t say because I’ve never hung out with current students. If their general character is anything like what I kept seeing in the Young Turks in the classes of 2001-2010, I don’t think I’d want a thing to do with them.
The people I knew there are just about the last ones who should be given a greater collective identity and brought together in fellowship. These are exactly the sort of obnoxious SWPL who seek out bogus collective identities as sports fans and more-local-than-the-mayor transplants to some hive of overpaid fuckery like Williamsburg or Adams-Morgan. If you follow Akinokure much (maybe not the wisest idea, to be fair), you’ve probably heard about these dipshits: the sort of overly-eager yuppies who barge into some gentrifying part of Pittsburgh, loudly proclaim themselves to be impeccable constituents of Yinzer Nation, and the only honest and self-respecting thing to say to them is dafuq, cracka, you’re from Overland Park. You might not believe how much of this local-yokel poseur shit goes on in parts of Oregon; I didn’t. Sacramento politics have been taken over by well-heeled fools who have been stupefied by the Kings and that money pit of a downtown arena, which costs, like, my lifetime to date worth of Regional Transit operating budgets. Fuck the Kings.
Yes, I said that. Remember, I live by the light rail station in Rancho. Like much of life for the poors, it’s an East of Eden thing, but that surprisingly bitchin’ ride is good to get my white ass down to the Capitol grounds to chill with my plants. If you live here, or have ever paid the not-exactly-redeemable deposit on Arizona iced tea in California, they’re your plants, too. This land is your land, and the Chippies may not even give you the bum’s rush for napping on the lawn. I’m trying to figure out a way to become a Sacramento Democrat, not a Eureka Republican domiciled in Rancho Cordova (no, I can’t fully explain this, either, but it’s true) in time for the Berning of California this summer.
At the very least, I’ll be changing the Republican part. As P. J. O’Rourke’s subnormal friend in Anacostia told his arresting officers, I lives here. Can I come in? This is California, so legally, the answer is hell yes. I haven’t spent so much as the equivalent of a week in Eureka in the past four years, but I’m still registered to vote out of that slumlord dump across from the Muni, and Humboldt County is still mailing my ballots to Oregon, where Joe Dirtbag sometimes gets them to me on time. California at least has the political will and rectitude not to forcibly disenfranchise citizens who demand ballots. “Behind that trash can by the rescue mission on Twelfth Street” can be a valid address; the registrar of voters just needs a way to tell you where your precinct is or maybe a working mailing address for your permanent absentee ballot, if that’s how you roll.
The mystery of how a crowd as functionally reactionary as the social land institutional leadership of Dickinson College can even superficially be so liberal is explained by the disturbing success that these people have at getting dissidents to shut up. This is quite similar to the successful campaigns by certain obscenely wealthy municipalities, including my native city of Palo Alto, to redline and sundown all the poor beyond the city limits. In each of these cases, privilege enforces itself, excluding all else.
This vicious, loudmouthed minority of high-hats at Dickinson does not want to be around people who are in any way noticeably unsuccessful. It certainly does not want to be forced to approach them as equals. A number of the snide comments that I’ve heard Dickinsonians make about the graduates of supposedly inferior institutions (including practically any state school) are crude outbursts of bigotry in exactly the same quantum as yelling about the blood libel, smearing blacks as nothing more than a bunch of violent baboons and indolent pickaninnies, or calling women a sex of hormonally unhinged lying sluts. If anyone said anything of the sort in minimally polite company on the Dickinson campus, the immediate and overwhelming sense of the community would be that it’s time to take that shit back to whatever internet cesspool birthed it. You know, go fume about it on Stormfront or r/theredpill, you creepy piece of shit, that kind of thing. Insinuating that the entire Millersville student body and alumni association was a bunch of certifiable retards was apparently kosher, though. That’s how bad the class bigotry was.
You have to assume that people who act like this towards other four-year college graduates are sloppy asswipes around the merely high-school educated, let alone dropouts. This isn’t just some high-minded concern for the social graces of people who ought to be refined enough to have some. It isn’t some angels-on-a-pinhead attempt to perfect the Platonic ideal of clubbable noblesse oblige. These people trash the labor markets where their fellow citizens are desperately trying to earn a living. They’ve done more than their share to trash the menial labor markets where I’m trying to earn a living, and I fucking went to their school. They’ll eat their own while encouraging those they’re ruining to consider grad school. They may not mean to be monsters, but they are monsters. Their condescension knows no bounds, other than the few strictly ethnic, sexual, and religious bounds they’ve been taught for the purpose of establishing a more superficially diverse hegemonic elite. Good intentions aren’t worth a damn when the results are so atrocious. This is the point at which these people have to be confronted and told, look, dude, you’re a moral failure and you’re destroying other people. This is not a time for excuses. These are people who get entire factory towns wiped out by heartless trade and economic policy and then slander the humble people they’ve thrown into idleness and poverty as a bunch of pig-ignorant, ass-backwards, Oxycontin-mainlining hicks.
Absurdly, we’re often expected to believe that this Rise of the Meritocracy hellscape is a form of liberalism, an assumption no less bogus than pretending that the Bourbons have been restored to the throne of France. This is because many of the bourgeois supremacists advocating and voting for it would be butthurt if they were accused of reaction or prejudice. While we’re at it, maybe we can pretend that I’ve never been fat or balding. Incidentally, these fuckers and their fellow-travelers have been trashing the Democratic Party since at least 1992, the saving grace being that the Democratic Party isn’t trying to feed its kids in a town where the mill was just shut down and moved to a slum in Honduras. Not coincidentally, the Democratic Party dropped its call for full employment from its platform in 1992 and has left it out since. If the alte kacker can’t outfox the disingenuous rich girl, maybe the whole thing should be burned to the ground.
Yes, the party of Lincoln, Hoover, and Eisenhower, too. It’s like having the fire department burn down a sagging old Victorian mansion that has been stripped of all its wiring and piping by mentally ill squatters who fence stolen cooper for crack money. It ain’t what it used to be.
Neither is the United States, or the American academy. There’s enough student debt outstanding to run Amtrak for a millennium. College administrators are using their employment contracts to engage in insider looting worthy of late twentieth-century Russia, while they increasingly pay their adjuncts the kind of money I make picking blueberries. The intellectual state of the academy, as I’ve belabored above, can also be horrific. Tom Wolfe wrote an entire novel about this, and unlike me in this essay, he was decent enough to include a few sex scenes, some of them kinda hot. One should hope that one of the marks of an educated person would be the discernment to recognize other educated, thoughtful, or wise individuals wherever and whenever they might appear, and from whatever institution, if any. A Dickinsonian who has been exposed to Bill Durden’s lectures, however, would be better off taking instruction from the homeless guy I met in Inglewood who thought that there might be a space warp swallowing commercial aircraft between Century Blvd. and LAX. At least that guy wasn’t too crazy to recognize that others had differences of opinion with him, and that these differences might be valid. That’s what happens when you’re admittedly “pretty much traveling between universes right now,” instead of believing that you and your institution are the universe. Not being able to agree with oneself is an intellectual improvement on demanding the agreement of others with some of the craziest, most fraudulent mental garbage.
Maybe Dickinson should adopt “We Are The World” as its Alma Mater anthem. That would be at least a bit self-aware. Realtalk, my classmates aren’t trying to engage something that they think should more properly engage them. These people need to learn that their shit stinks, too. What they really need to have beaten into their thick heads is that they don’t just owe it to out-of-work factory hands without advanced formal educations not to smear them as a bunch of incorrigible Dukes of Hazzard hillbillies, but that they owe it to their society as an act of minimal leadership and to themselves as educated people who ought to know better. There comes a point at which their class bigotry has to be shamed and suppressed by their peers in the public interest. As a society, we’re at least a full generation past that point by now.
What is it that Taylor Swift said about this? Love the player and hate the game? Eh, not exactly, but chica’s from Wyomissing, so she’d know a thing or two about rich girls.