Phi Beta Cons

The Joke’s on Harvard

This story, told by mystery author Tony Hillerman in the weekend WSJ (subscribers only), recalls Margaret Mead’s misadventures in Samoa: How would you characterize the Navajo people you know?

Mr. Hillerman: I’ve never known a greedy Navajo. Never. Also, I’ve never known one who didn’t have a great sense of humor and who didn’t love practical jokes. I once asked a Navajo friend about something I’d read in an anthropological study. He laughed and asked about the author. Was he from Harvard? I said yes. He said his maternal uncle had latched onto the Harvard fellow years ago. The uncle told him all these stories he’d made up. If the stories came out in a book, his uncle got a great joy out of it. That’s typical of their humor.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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