Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Politics at the Brown-Columbia Game


The program at Friday night’s Brown-Columbia basketball game featured a biography of Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president, and along the way we encounter this diplomatically phrased sentence: “Bollinger was the named defendant in the twin Supreme Court cases — Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger — which respectively affirmed and clarified diversity as a compelling justification for affirmative action.”

This is correct if you (A) reverse the order of the two cases (Gratz is the one he lost) and (B) redefine some terms. “Affirmed” means “escaped being declared unconstitutional by a single vote, and even the majority opinion imposed a 25-year time limit on affirmative action.” “Clarified” translates as “the policy in question was so blatantly racist that not even Stephen Breyer could swallow it.” “Diversity,” “compelling justification,” and “affirmative action” can be interpreted in similar fashion.

Then, midway through the first half, Columbia’s student section started chanting, “Yes we can!” — a reference to Brown’s coach, who, as we all know, is Barack Obama’s brother-in-law. Shortly afterwards, Brown went on an 18-0 run, and they ended up winning the game easily.


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