Yesterday, Richard Just, editor of the American Prospect Online wrote this:
THE GOOD OLD DAYS. One page of National Review’s new special supplement on higher education is, I think, worthy of special recognition. The supplement is filled with ads for various schools — mostly obscure religious institutions such as Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. But on page 18, there is an ad for Hillsdale Academy, a kindergarten-through-12th-grade school located in Michigan. The top of the ad reads, “Want to Bring Back ‘The Good Old Days’?” and beneath it is a photo of six white kids.
You can look at the ad and decide for yourself exactly what kind of good old days the folks at Hillsdale Academy are seeking to bring back. I didn’t think the message was too thinly veiled.
I did look at the ad myself and I drew one inescapable conclusion: I think Richard Just is a bigot. Time and again the bloggers at The American Prospect have simply asserted that conservatives are motivated by cartoonishly villainous motives. Remember their nonsense about how liberals oppose a military draft for high-minded reasons, but conservatives oppose the idea because it would make America a better and more just society? But this is just appalling. So unless he ate some bad clams, he has no excuse. And he should certainly apologize.
I don’t normally call anti-Christian conservative types bigots because I tend to think it plays into the language of victimology – something the right should avoid – and because it removes ideas from the equation. But I can’t avoid the conclusion that Mr. Just thinks “the message” is obvious because he works from the assumption that “obscure religious institutions” like Christendom College must be bigoted and a conservative school talking about the “good old days” must be referring to those rightwing wonder years when Amos and Andy were on the radio. Never mind that Just clearly knows next to nothing about Hillsdale Academy (which is not a religious school). I’ve been there. I even spoke at their graduation. This tiny school resides in rural Michigan in a county that is .4% black and a long drive from anywhere. Perhaps the lack of black students might have something to do with the fact that many black parents don’t want to send their kid to school two hours from the nearest city or can’t afford to board them there?
Whatever the reason, Mr. Just sees no need to inquire because he already knows “good old days” + “white kids” = nostalgia for Jim Crow. Well, for the record, most of the kids I met were the children of professors and other folks connected to the school. A smarter and more decent bunch of high school kids, I’ve never met. The conclusion they were racists or the children of racists or the product of a racist institution could be based only in ignorance – which liberals like Mr. Just usually insist is the cause of prejudice anyhow. The President of Hillsdale is Larry Arn, for Pete’s sake. He’s a full-blown Lincoln-worshipping West Coast Straussian.
But yes, do look at the ad in question. Look at the 7 point checklist the school includes to help flesh-out what they mean by “Old Days.” Is it so inconceivable that this is what they had in mind rather than the perfervid racial subtext Mr. Just sees so clearly?
And one last thing, would Just assume racism if he saw similar ad for a historically black college?