Thursday, November 24, 2005

One of the wrong sort of people
A lot us of approach the confirmation wars with a sense of dread. Our feeling is that if we beat one nominee back, Bush will just appoint someone worse. If anyone has any doubt that Samuel Alito is worse than Miers or even Roberts, I give you this:
[I]n 1985 Princeton graduate and conservative Republican Alito sought to impress his colleagues in the Reagan Administration, where he was applying to become deputy assistant attorney general, by touting his membership in an organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

Launched in 1972, the year Alito graduated, CAP had an innocuous-sounding name that disguised a less benign agenda, which included preventing women and minorities from entering an institution that had long been a bastion of white male privilege. In a 1973 article in Prospect, a magazine CAP published, Shelby Cullom Davis, one of its founders, harked back to the days when a gathering of Princeton alumni consisted of "a body of men, relatively homogeneous in interests and backgrounds." Lamented Cullom Davis: "I cannot envisage a similar happening in the future with an undergraduate student population of approximately 40% women and minorities..."

I'm sure the members, meetings, and tactics of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton were better mannered, and more genteel than the Concerned Citizen's Councils or the Klan, but their goals were the same--to preserve an archaic race and sex based social structure. In a way--by also admitting to their goal of preventing class mobility--they were worse.

But maybe this was just a passing expression of social insecurity, the sort of thing that many people do in a moment of panic when faced by rapid cultural change. In those days, many people expected total social chaos if the barriers they knew in their youth were allowed to be breeched. Many people have come to be embarrassed by things they said and did then. Is that the case with the Concerned Alumni? Nope.
By the time Alito was readying his 1985 job application with the Reagan Administration, the admission of women and minorities was well established at Nassau Hall, but this did not stop CAP from lamenting the consequences. "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place," fretted a 1983 Prospect essay titled "In Defense of Elitism." "Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children." By this point the editor of Prospect was Dinesh D'Souza, who brought to its pages a new level of coarseness aimed at those who did not know their place. "Here at Princeton homosexuals are on the rampage," complained a 1984 news item in Prospect--this after a gay student group had dared to protest being denied permission to hold a dance at a campus club

And even if the Concerned Alumni had come to regret their racist/sexist/classist past, Alito thought his participation was something to be highlighted in his resume. I'm sure this makes him a perfect representative for the modern conservative movement.

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