Kaavya, the New Jews, and the Serial Meritocracy

Something else bears mentioning re the Viswanathan story. Just about everyone is an Asian-American. David Zhou, the kid from the Crimson who went on national TV after he broke the story is Asian-American. Viswanathan is of course an Asian-American. So, I’m guessing, is my horse, Jon Liu of the Independent (who has teamed up with Shane Wilson on what they call Kaavyagate).

I’m late on everything—I live in the woods—but it interests me because my tribe, Jews, were the first great beneficiaries of the meritocracy: We joined the Establishment thanks to the SAT trifecta. Nicholas Lemann chronicled some of that in The Big Test, a generally fabulous work of reporting and analysis. I say some of it because while Lemann correctly identified the last Tribal Order of the Ruling Class as “the Episcopacy,” thereby identifying them not just as WASPs but as Episcopalians, he peeled away from any religio-ethnic identification on the New Ruling Class. In his book he characterized it as a fuzzy rainbow mosaic, Jews, Asian-Americans, other ethnics. That was a bail. The arrival of Jews in the Establishment was clear to anyone who went thru Harvard in the ’70s. Jews had podiumed, as they say in the Olympics, and the Jews who had podiumed didn’t want to say as much. Might bring negative attention. As if no one had noticed.

Now it really does seem that Asian-Americans have crowded the aisles at the Meritocracy Fairway, and more power to them. Maybe it’s a serial meritocracy. A You-go-next kind of thing. Maybe some day these Asian-American kids will exert some equitable influence over our Middle East policy!