Sunday, October 28, 2007

Out of your League

A while back, I read the following and was sort of like, huh?* From Oxblog's David Adesnik:

The simple case for Walt and Mearsheimer runs as follows:

Two distinguished Harvard professors believe that the US alliance with Israel damages US security by provoking terrorists to attack us. The terrorists' anger is a result of Israel's horrific abuses of Palestinian human rights.

If that's all that most people remember about this small episode, then it is a victory for Walt and Mearsheimer. (Especially for Mearsheimer, who actually teaches at Chicago.)

Ooh, touché! Is everyone associated with the University of Chicago, or anywhere other than Harvard, for that matter, crying himself to sleep each night? (She types, wiping away the tears.) Megan McArdle discusses the state school-Ivy asymmetrical rivalry. There, at least the non-Ivy Leaguers can pride themselves in down-to-earth, up-by-bootstraps, of-the-people qualities possessed only by those who've attended public schools all the way through; those who teach at them can in turn be seen as supporting social mobility. But what of graduates of and teachers at private non-Ivies? Is it really as tragic as Adesnik makes it out to be?

Admitting a certain amount of bias here, I'd have to say, no, it is not tragic in the least. First off, and to please fellow UChicago folk, I should note that some non-Ivies do better than some Ivies in some much-obsessed-over-rankings. But more to the point, sometimes people really do care about whatever it is they're doing at a college or university enough that they are not obsessed with how people will react to the name on the alma mater sweatshirt they wear when they jog through Park Slope. Not that there aren't moments when it would be nice to have a one-word way to convey to strangers that one is brilliant,** but it would be a pointless thing to obsess about.

*Because that is the extent to which a non-Ivy education permits me to express myself articulately.

**If I get desperate, I can always mention my high school, but that's contingent on not leaving the NYC area. Proud as I am of having attended, it is the result of a score on a test I took 11 years ago, and so as accomplishments go is at this point mostly irrelevant.


Withywindle said...

I have some lurking high school pride myself. Sadly, it doesn't get much mileage, even in NYC.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Are you clear that it's the high school and not the college? Name-dropping must be precise.