Kevin MacDonald: Elena Kagan’s impending confirmation on the Supreme Court has produced several comments on the decline of WASP America. Writing in the Wall Street Journal (“That Bright, Dying Star, the American WASP”), Robert Frank’s article is an expression of Jewish triumphalism and contempt for WASPs. Discussing the New York banking elite, he points to the bad old days when “the strictly homogenous crowd of Protestant blue-bloods spent their mornings comparing golf scores and vacation homes.” Among several causes for the decline of the WASPs, Frank mentions the decline of family connections and the rise of a meritocracy.
This is a favorite aspect of contemporary Jewish self-conception — the idea that Jews replaced WASPs because they are smarter and work harder. But this leads to the ultimate irony: Kagan is remarkably unqualified to be a Supreme Court Justice in terms of the usual standards: judicial experience, academic publications, or even courtroom experience. Rather, all the evidence is that Kagan owes her impending confirmation to her Jewish ethnic connections (see also here).
So we are replacing one type of ethnic networking with another. At least the WASPs’ ethnic networking had a certain legitimacy given their percentage of the population and their role in founding the country and defining its culture for much of US history.
Frank also quotes a passage from E. Digby Baltzell’s The Protestant Establishment:
A crisis has developed in modern America largely because of the White-Anglo-Saxon Protestant establishment’s unwillingness, or inability, to share and improve its upper-class traditions by continuously absorbing talented and distinguished members of minority groups into its privileged ranks.
Perhaps. But that wouldn’t explain the eclipse of the WASPs, only that they resisted the inroads of others — futilely, as it turns out. Mr. Frank, of course, finds the passage useful because he sees himself as a member of a certain upwardly mobile minority group that he feels was not greeted warmly enough by the WASPs.
Baltzell’s comment is quite consistent with my view that that the WASPs did not voluntarily cede control but were pushed out by a rising Jewish group whose base of influence was the academic world, finance, the legal profession, personal wealth, and the media (where anti-WASP movies became a staple at least by the 1960s; see also here).