|Choate Headmaster Seymour St. John (left) greeting Yale President Kingman Brewster (right) - photo from TDP archives.|
“What our new meritocrats have failed to evince—and what the older WASP generation prided itself on—is character and the ability to put the well-being of the nation before their own... Doing the right thing, especially in the face of temptations to do otherwise, was the WASP test par excellence. Most of our meritocrats, by contrast, seem to be in business for themselves.
Trust, honor, character: The elements that have departed U.S. public life with the departure from prominence of WASP culture have not been taken up by the meritocrats. Many meritocrats who enter politics, when retired by the electorate from public life, proceed to careers in lobbying or other special-interest advocacy. University presidents no longer speak to the great issues in education but instead devote themselves to fundraising and public relations, and look to move on to the next, more prestigious university presidency...
Thus far in their history, meritocrats, those earnest good students, appear to be about little more than getting on, getting ahead and (above all) getting their own. The WASP leadership, for all that may be said in criticism of it, was better than that.”
- Joseph Epstein, The Late, Great American WASP, The Wall Street Journal