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Frat boy hijinks at the New York Times

By Nicholas Stix
web posted May 31, 2004

Oh, that Pinch Sulzberger! Such a kidder! The New York Times publisher's latest little excellent adventure was in running an op-ed arguing that George W. Bush took conservative college juniors, and in one year flat, turned them into socialists. Instead of having frat boys go in drag, Sulzberger would dress up liberals as Republicans, who then, miraculously, morph into … liberals!

The op-ed, by Joshua Foer, a senior at Yale, was entitled, "Enter Right, Exit Left." Based on the title, one would expect the piece to be about how the writer and his ilk entered school as young Republicans, only to graduate as socialists. Well, not exactly. "Of my 11 junior-year suite-mates, a racially and geographically diverse group of Democrats, only three opposed the war in Iraq."

"A … diverse group of [11] Democrats"? As best I could determine, Joshua Foer was not writing with tongue in cheek. Posing as a spokesman for his generation, Foer cited a poll suggesting that students are leaning more leftwards than they did a year ago.

"According to a poll released last month by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, college students are no longer more supportive of President Bush than the population at large, and their support for the war has dropped sharply from 65 percent a year ago to 49 percent last month. But the most notable change, which suggests just how deeply young people have been affected by recent events, is that the percentage of students who describe themselves as liberal has increased significantly over the last year — from 36 percent to 44 percent."

College students, who day in and day out, live under a ceaseless barrage of leftwing, anti-Bush, antiwar propaganda, may have become less supportive of the President and the war than they were a year ago. Who'da thunk it?!

So, is the author a recovering College Republican? And how would one determine that about a college student?

Thank God for Google! Joshua Foer, it turns out, is the offspring of a well-connected, liberal, Washington, D.C. family. His brother, Franklin, writes for the liberal magazine, The New Republic, and is a former staffer at the liberal Web site, Slate, which led to Joshua getting an intern gig there in 2001, following his freshman year at Yale. (Nepotism is so rampant at Slate, that some staffers joke about it in print. But then, as neocon alumni brat Adam Bellow might say, nepotism makes the world go ‘round.) Foer's other brother, Jonathan Safran Foer, sold his first novel, a Holocaust-oriented story, Everything is Illuminated, for $500,000 three years ago at the age of 23; his second novel, The Zelnik Museum, will appear later this year. Father Albert is the president of the American Antitrust Institute.

It turns out that Joshua Foer did not "enter right, exit left." The prolific young man has left such a long paper trail that we know that he entered college a lefty, and exited the same. In his freshman year, just before interning at Slate, he was already attacking the notion of the Left incorporating Darwinian perspectives, and following his sophomore year, he called for nationwide gun confiscation, based on the needs, as he saw them, of his hometown of Washington, D.C. (Foer apparently believes that white folks can be trusted to handle guns responsibly, but that black folks cannot, and that whites must defer to blacks' needs.)

In spite of Foer's experience of diverse Democrats, he provided no hard or even anecdotal evidence that America's college students are turning left. If anything, twentysomethings tend to gravitate to the right after they graduate, especially once they marry, have children, and become thirtysomethings and fortysomethings.

One of the enduring myths of the 1960s, is that the Vietnam War radicalized (as in, radical left) a generation of young people. Nothing of the sort took place. Otherwise, ultra-dove, leftwing Democrat George McGovern might have won the 1972 election, rather than losing in a landslide to cold warrior, centrist Republican Richard Nixon. Rather, the chronicling of that generation was monopolized by radicals who projected their prejudices onto their peers, whom they silenced. The point of Foer and Sulzberger's sophomoric prank was to recycle the ‘60s myth in the case of the Iraq War, in seeking to induce in today's young people a herd mentality, so that they would think that voting for John Kerry (?!) was the hip thing to do.

To Sulzberger and Foer, I say, Don't kid a kidder!

Nicholas Stix can be reached at Add1dda@aol.com.

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