April 6 2017
As we all know, a high school senior in New Jersey got into Stanford University (my alma mater!) by writing "#BlackLivesMatter" a hundred times as his application essay.
Here's the tale, as narrated on NBC:
After completing his Stanford application, high school senior Ziad Ahmed realized an important component was missing amid a flurry of standardized test scores and extracurricular activities: his voice and passion.
That's when Ahmed took a gamble. In response to a question asking "What matters to you, and why?" the teen wrote "#BlackLivesMatter" exactly 100 times.
Last Friday, Ahmed received an acceptance letter from the California school and tweeted a photo that quickly went viral.
And just to top it off, the Bangladeshi-American Ahmed isn't even black.
Now, you might think this is a story about how pointless it is to spend hundreds of hours polishing that application essay--or having your parents or a paid tutor polish it for you. Or about how college admissions committees will fall for any trendy social-justice trick--although you'd be right about that.
What Ahmed's story is all about is what I call the Hoyt Thorpe Syndrome. Hoyt Thorpe is the numero uno despicable frat-boy sleazebag in Tom Wolfe's 2004 campus novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons. Thorpe had figured out that the way to get yourself into a prestigious elite university is to burnish your resume with policially correct social justice-oriented activities. So Thorpe invented the "Protein Patrol," in which he and a high-school pal delivered stale bakery bread to a homeless shelter and--most crucially--got themselves photographed in a feature article in their local newspaper wearing their Protein Patrol T-shirts and hugging some homeless men. The gullible admissions committee at Wolfe's snooty fictional Dupont University bought that one hook, line, and sinker--and Thorpe was a shoo-in at Dupont.
Well, it seems that Stanford's admissions committee falls for resume-burnishing about as heavily as the fictional Dupont's. For, as blogger Steve Sailer points out, the #BlackLivesMatter applications essay was hardly Ziad's first attempt to make himself irrestible to the socially conscious powers that be (and believe me, most powers that be these days are nothing if not socially conscious). Ahmde's been working on his resume ever since he was a freshman at the private Princeton Day School (his hedge-fund manager father can swing the tuition easily), Sailer reports--and the results have been spectacular;
For example, as a 14-year-old freshman at Princeton Day, he began capitalizing on his Muslim religious identity to create Redefy, a website "where people can share their experiences with prejudice and post reflections about different current events stories where stereotyping and acceptance are part of a national and/or personal conversation." And believe me, Redefy is victims' paradise: Muslims, gays, transgenders, whatever.
By the time he was 16, Ahmed was getting interviewed on MTV News over his "battle against stereotypes." In June 2015 he was dining with President Obama at a White House end-of-Ramadan dinner. And by 2016 he was working as a volunteer on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign--and getting his picture taken with the Democratic candidate.And then there was his tearful endorsement as a 17-year--old Muslim of Hillary in the Huffington Post last October:
I won't be at the polls, but my future is on the ballot.
Take that, Hoyt Thorpe and your Protein Patrol!
Yes, that's my alma mater. They say that obvious brown-nosing of the powers that be never works. Except when you sit on a college admissions committee--where it works over and over, as long as the powers that be are suitably politically correct.