Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alito's mad-CAP adventures

Samuel Alito went to Princeton University. Some time after graduating, he joined a group that called itself Concerned Alumni of Princeton, or CAP, with Concerned in the same sense as Concerned Women for America. When I was an undergrad, we preferred to expand the name just a bit: Concerned Reactionary Alumni of Princeton, which we felt gave a much more fitting acronym.

Undergrads living on campus were treated to free copies of the official alumni magazine, Princeton Alumni Weekly, and also of CRAP's magazine, Prospect, edited by Dinesh D'Souza. How, exactly, D'Souza came to be editor of Prospect remains a bit of a mystery, since, although he was clearly a concerned reactionary, he is not in fact an alumnus. He went to Dartmouth. As one of my Princeton t-shirts proclaims, "Duck Fartmouth!" D'Souza addressed the issue of a non-alumnus editing an alumni magazine in the pages of Prospect, but his case amounted to little more than "why not?"

CRAP and its mouthpiece Prospect yearned for the glory days of Princeton when it was the exclusive province of wealthy white males. If your name was Cohen or Levy, your odds of getting into Princeton were drastically lower than for Miller or Baker — the admissions office didn't ask directly if you were Jewish, but tried to guess from your surname. But it was coeducation that drew the special wrath of the Concerned Reactionary Alumni. First, hippies smoking pot and celebrating free love in Golden Gate Park, and then before you knew it, the first alumnae were popping out to sully Princeton's reputation. (I mean, it's not like any of them went on to be CEO of EBay or law professor at Drake University or Queen of Jordan.) These girls were taking spots that should be reserved for sons of alumni, as God intended.

The fact that Alito was a member of CRAP is worrisome indeed, but only to those who value such ephemerae as diversity and the ascendance of personal merit over inherited wealth.

The fact that Alito listed his membership on his résumé is a bit more illuminating: after all, it's only slightly outshone as a qualification by his captaincy of the naked tiddlywinks team.