I get a lot of newly-published books in the mail, as well as press releases about books. Today a press release arrived from Princeton University Press, about a book by Jill Lepore called The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History. Ms. Lepore is a professor at Harvard who also writes for the New Yorker, a deadly combination. If the press release is any guide, her book is a breathtakingly arrogant attack on the Tea Party movement:
[Lepore's] remarkably fresh perspective on the Revolution offers a wholly new explanation for the moment we find ourselves in now; in the midst of a battle being waged–on the streets, in the news, and at the polls–to reshape American politics. …
Lepore traces the roots of the far right’s reactionary history [Ed.: I guess they're talking about the Tea Party here.] to the bicentennial of the 1970s, when no one could agree on what story a divided nation should tell about its unruly beginnings.
Do you remember the Bicentennial that way? I don’t. Ms. Lepore was in the fifth grade, by my calculation, in 1976.
Behind the Tea Party’s Revolution, she argues, lies a nostalgic and even heartbreaking yearning for an imagined past: a time less troubled by ambiguity, strife, and uncertainty. In short, a yearning for an America that never was.
That strikes me as rather grandiose. A lot of the Tea Partiers I know would settle for the America that existed before the Democratic Congress and the Obama administration blew away all prior records for spending, budget deficits and federal intervention in the economy.
The Whites of Their Eyes reveals that the far right [Ed.: Must be the Tea Party again] has embraced a narrative about America’s founding that is not only a fable but is also, finally, a variety of fundamentalism–anti-intellectural, ahistorical, and dangerously antipluralist.
What a crock! I doubt that Ms. Lepore knows as much about the Tea Party movement as the average American. Her venomous approach–I assume that Princeton’s press release is an accurate account–demonstrates nothing except how clueless and out of touch she and her trifecta of liberal institutions–Harvard, Princeton and the New Yorker–are.
UPDATE: This story, via InstaPundit, seems relevant in an oblique way: Only 23% of Courses at Harvard Have a Final Exam. Something tells me Ms. Lepore’s classes are among the 77% that make do without a final.
By the time I attended Harvard Law School, Harvard College had already slid badly downhill. At that time the Law School enjoyed a reputation for intellectual rigor. Today I doubt that any institution affiliated with Harvard even aspires to such a reputation. Today’s law school, like the other schools at Harvard, would no doubt pride itself on a reputation for diversity, multiculturalism, and cookie-cutter leftism enforced with a Stalinist zeal.
One wonders for how much longer parents will be willing to pay to have their children indoctrinated, in the sloppiest possible way, by ill-informed goofballs like Jill Lepore. This is one aspect of the higher education bubble about which Glenn Reynolds has written so persuasively.