Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Based on what  I heard as a young man of the 60s from the SDS and other left wing radicals , it appears to me that the leadership and extreme supporters of the NRA also hate America. The anti -US and anti- military rhetoric of the NRA borders on the kind of thing that was called treasonous as applied to radicals by conservatives and others back then.

The term "love it or leave it" was popular then , and easily applies as a response to the kind of stuff we hear from the NRA leaders and their extreme followers today about America.

While they clearly hate Obama and the democrats, they aren't so happy with Bush and the republicans either. These zealots apparently do not trust the police or the military to protect us . In truth , they seem to view the government as more of a threat to their safety than criminals !

I know they would differentiate between the country and the government , but what is a country if not it's elected government ?

They are no less revolutionaries than the SDS or other radical groups of the 60s and 70s that I witnessed. Those radicals also "loved" the country but "hated" the government. They were attacked as being disloyal by the media and the politicians . Why aren't these right wing radicals treated the same way?


Monday, May 6, 2013

Higher Education Opportunity Myth

There is a pervasive myth, mostly in progressive media, but also accepted in the mainstream, that higher education opportunities in America are getting worse for minorities, and lower and middle classes students, than what they used to be .

The mantra is that the "level playing field" in higher education was better in the past then now.

I think not. Memories appear to have faded, but not mine.

When I went to college in the 60s and 70s, the "unlevel playing field" was much worse then it is today.

First of all, there was no such thing as diversity or affirmative action, and, outright discrimination still existed. At elite schools, the "greased skids", "old boys network" still predominated.

There were few African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or even Women, at elite schools. In fact there were still thought to be quotas for Jews, at least unofficially, at many such schools, including Northwestern. Even good, but not elite schools, had few minorities.

Women did have their own restricted "separate, but equal" elite schools - with few, if any, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and a limited number of Jews.

Here's an example from personal experience how the traditional elites were more advantaged then than now. My Dad was a high school math teacher, so while we didn't have a lot of money, education was always a priority for my sister and me. We went to Proviso East High School in Maywood , Illinois, a racially mixed , working class suburb of Chicago.

It's long story, but I began dating a girl from New Trier High School, a highly regarded pubic high school in one of Chicago's wealthiest old line North Shore suburbs. It was our senior year in high school and she told me that 33 boys in her class were going to Harvard, with a proportionate number going to the other Ivies and girls to the Seven Sisters.

I now live in that school district , and I know that if 3 or 4 ( boys and girls) go to Harvard a year from New Trier , that's a lot. While it's true family connections and support are a critical advantage, at least today's well connected kids have to be very smart and accomplished to get into the best schools.

No one from my very racially and economically diverse high school class went to the Ivy League when I was there. Frankly, you never even thought about it. If you wanted to go to college , you went to "The Pier" ( today UIC) or Northern Illinois ; if you were good in math, maybe you thought about IIT; and if you were really smart, you went to the University of Illinois in Champaign.

That was it. I know this because I asked a college guidance counselor at Proviso East about going to an Ivy League school and he just about thought I was out of my mind ( yes, my grades and test scores were good enough). Few students from Proviso East went out of state , let alone to the Ivy League. Of course there was no financial aid to speak of , but it's true costs where a whole lot less. My parents valued education, and my sister and I went out of state to Big Ten schools, but that was rare at Proviso.

Today, top students at Proviso East, and similarly racially diverse schools in low income neighborhoods, are very much in demand by elite colleges across the country, with great financial aid available.

Turning to my own law school experience at Northwestern University School of Law, 1968-71. Out of a class of 150, there were 10 women ( only 1 woman in the class ahead of me), 3 African Americans, 2 Hispanics, no Asians and, in fact, only 3 or 4 Poles and Italians. A group of us liberal law students actually did that analysis.

It's clear that  there are many more women, minorities and lower income students in elite schools today than in the not so distant past when I went to school. Nevertheless the myth of the worsening of the level playing field persists and is getting stronger than ever.

Have we gone through a complete collective loss of memory in this country?

Of course things need to improve for minorities and poor and middle class kids, and the cost of higher education is the biggest problem; but that doesn't mean we have to harken to a past that didn't really exist.

Why can't we acknowledge that advances have been made, even if more needs to be done?

Instead we have another example of people talking about  the "good old days" that doesn't square with what really went on.