Category Archive 'Judith Schiff'

25 Sep 2022

The Yale Alumni Magazine Asks: “Tell Us Your Thoughts About This Article.”

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Judith Schiff 1937-2022, Chief Research Archivist, Sterling Library, Yale University.

OK.

The latest Yale Alumni Magazine arrived yesterday. Its key feature article this issue is a tribute to Judith Schiff who had contributed a popular “Old Yale” column to the alumni mag since 1987.

There is nothing wrong with the eulogy to the late archivist in itself. But there were all those little infuriating details that get the blood pressure of an elderly alumn seething.

In the midst of noting the admirable contribution those 219 “Old Yale” columns constituted over the long decades, Alumni Mag editor-in-chief Kathrin Day Lassila ’81 (the ever reliable source of left-wing self gratulation and cant) clocks in to gloat over persuading Ms. Schiff not to omit a pious condemnation of the Pro-Slavery views of John C. Calhoun, Class of 1804, in a column actually discussing Calhoun’s role in leading the House of Representatives in the direction of a Declaration of War against Britain in 1812.

Representatives of the Woke Left, like Ms. Lassila, never overlook any opportunity to point fingers in condemnation at, and to preen in moral superiority over, the errors of persons long dead. How can one possibly say enough about the spiritual magnificence and boundless generosity of members of today’s Community of Fashion in refraining from owning and trafficking in any slaves and their bravery in forthrightly denouncing an institution extinct for over a century and a half and absolutely lacking any current defenders?

Personal Tribute No. 1 comes from a member of the Class of 1971, a transfer who became one of the first female graduates of Yale College, and who “received the Yale Medal for projects highlighting Women and Minorities.” IMHO, there ought to be a much bigger medal for persuading whiny minority identity groups to go away and shut up for a change.

The Schiff article includes several warm personal tributes from Yale functionaries and factotums who were personally acquainted with the lady which are in themselves perfectly fine. However, the faithful reader discovers that Personal Tribute No. 2 is the product of the collaboration of one chap (M.A. 89) who is a “New Haven-based cultural organizer” (a term that inevitably tempts any right-thinking alumn to start reaching for his revolver) and another guy (’87, ’93MDiv) who is the Beinecke Library’s “director of community engagement.” What in hell is a Rare Book Library doing throwing away an annual full-time salary on paying somebody to “engage” the inner-city welfare/criminal class of New Haven? Are gang-bangers, coke dealers, hip-hoppers, and the ever-dwindling actual working class of a ruined rust-bucket small city supposed to have some sort of healthy and legitimate interest in the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio, or some really cool manuscripts in Carolingian Miniscule?

Tribute No. 5 is from a member of the Class of 1979, ’84MD, and an adjunct psychiatry prof at Yale, who (inevitably) wrote a book about Yale and the Jewish Question, who tells us Ms. Schiff was a terrific help in researching one whiny identity group issue after another after another. That, of course, is what research universities and research university libraries are really for.

And it goes on and on. “When Judy Schiff went to work at Yale there were no senior women teaching at Yale College and no women undergraduates. There were no women officers in the university.” begins Tribute No. 6.

In Woke University-land and Woke-Alumni-Magazine-land, the entire universe, the entire corpus of human learning, and the whole focus of history is centered upon the amour propre, the grievances, and the glories of the triumphant elite establishment representatives of the sacred ressentiment-based Identity Groups.

It’s not that most articles are bad in themselves. It’s the fact that the rancid, worm’s-eye-view perspective of leftist grievance politics permeates everything and is accompanied by an inevitable associated tone of orthodoxy and dogmatism.

The great minds running Yale these days, and editing its publications, obviously never read John Ruskin:

Of all the insolent, all the foolish persuasions that by any chance could enter and hold your empty little heart, this is the proudest and foolishest,–that you have been so much the darling of the Heavens, and favourite of the Fates, as to be born in the very nick of time, and in the punctual place, when and where pure Divine truth had been sifted from the errors of the Nations; and that your papa had been providentially disposed to buy a house in the convenient neighbourhood of the steeple under which that Immaculate and final verity would be beautifully proclaimed. Do not think it, child; it is not so.

Bang! All over America, you can hear the sound of one more issue of the Yale Alumni Mag flung from the hand of an older male alumn hitting the circular file.


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