Have you heard of Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis?
The second coming of Bonnie and Clyde, the two were arrested last month for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a police car in Brooklyn during the protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. What moved these young toy terrorists to take such a violent—and futile, and idiotic—step? Let’s consider the facts.
Rahman is a graduate of Fordham University as well as its law school. An immigrant from Pakistan, she found a comfortable home in America’s meritocracy, which provided her with generous grants to travel to Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, and the Palestinian Authority and write reports about injustices real or imagined. She made enough friends in high places that, immediately upon her arrest, her pal Salmah Rizvi, a former Obama aide, posted a quarter of a million dollars in bail. Just as charmed is the life of her partner in crime: The son of Jamaican immigrants, Mattis grew up in a poor New York neighborhood before attending Princeton University and NYU Law School. After a string of coveted internships—including with the San Francisco mayor’s office and with Microsoft—he landed a job with one of Manhattan’s top law firms, pulling in $250,000 a year.
Rahman and Mattis, in other words, are poster children for all that is right in America. They worked hard, overcame adversity, and reaped the kinds of rewards that most of us can only dream of. Why, then, did they risk it all and revert to senseless violence? Why did they harbor such hate for the very same system that elevated them so quickly and so high?
It’s a complicated question, but if you’re looking for a one word answer, here it is: college.
If you’ve spent any time in the sort of institution that shaped the pair of privileged pyromaniacs, you know that the view of America from the quad is grim. At Princeton and NYU, at Harvard and Columbia and Brown, no subject is worth studying unless it somehow leads to the inevitable conclusion that the land of the free is nothing more than a cruel colonialist cabal of exploiters and profiteers, happily raping the people and the land. Steep in such fetid ideological waters for four or six or eight years, and you, too, may eye a cop car and immediately reach for a bottle of Bud Light and a gasoline-soaked rag.
Here, then, is a modest proposal: Stop hiring college grads.
Sure, not all alums end up as Playmobil Bobby Seales. And sure, plenty of protesters, including some college grads, managed to express their moral outrage without fire and brimstones. But committing to hiring non-college grads exclusively will solve all sorts of problems in one fell swoop.
Take, for example, The New York Times. Stacked thick with graduates of elite universities, the newspaper, like virtually all of our legacy media outlets, has recently expressed its desire to abandon all traditional tenets of journalism and instead reimagine the newsroom as grad school seminar room, writing missives about why cartoon dogs, say, are problematic, or forcing out senior editors for allowing senators to express views shared by half the nation.
Now imagine a newsgathering operation staffed by human beings who were spared the silliness of academia. Imagine actual hardworking Americans, level-headed and fair, committing themselves to finding facts and reporting reality rather than dedicating resources to a creative fiction project that reimagines American history as a singular glut of racist greed.
Or imagine a Twitter and Facebook teeming not with overprivileged Maoists who scream out for curbing the speech of their ideological opponents but with thoughtful and polite high school graduates who are interested in helping people connect with each other effortlessly and respectfully.
Apply this thought experiment to nearly every sector of the economy, and you’ll see that an influx of diploma-free folks is the solution to many of our problems. Those who quipped, in the late 1960s, that the right occupied elected offices while the left marched on the English department had it precisely backward: Now, the English departments are factories for entitled radicals who are hellbent on remaking America in their fiery image. Remove them from the equation, deny them the comfort of a six-figure salary and social status, and you’ll quell much of the fire that’s roasting the American body politic alive right now. With the exception of doctors, engineers, and a handful of other professions that can be taught in dedicated schools, as is the case in most of the rest of the world, there’s no single skill set you can acquire in any of America’s best universities these days that you’d actually need to perform any high-paying job in our contemporary economy.
Oh, and if you’re truly serious about improving the lot of minorities in America, committing to hiring non-college grads only will be a huge boon to people of color: In 2017, for example, African American students made up only 13% of the undergraduate population, with only 8% of African American students attending an elite research institution. And while the percentage of white Americans aged 25 to 29 who earned a bachelor’s degree increased from 34% in 2000 to 44% nearly a decade later, only 23% of African Americans now hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Do away with the myth that you somehow require a college degree to qualify for a well-paying job, and you may very well see the number of African Americans finding high-paying jobs skyrocket as well. It’s little wonder, then, that several black intellectuals have taken the “abolish college” cause as their own. None, I suppose, would be too shocked to learn that while 49 percent of African-Americans oppose the profoundly idiotic idea of defunding the police, 43 percent of Americans with a post-graduate degree support it, a much-easier position to hold if the consequences of your radical chic aren’t likely to directly impact you or your family.
If this year’s college-gate scandal wasn’t proof enough that higher education is a decadent and depraved playground for the rich and sanctimonious, Rahman and Mattis are another necessary reminder that it’s time to defund the deans, dismantle the dorms, and give up on the farce that is American higher education, that bastion of bitter mediocrities.
Until colleges once again teach critical thinking and champion unfettered research; until they commit themselves to genuine intellectual diversity; until they do away with the byzantine tenure system that allows malignant dogmatists to reshape the campus in their image, we’ve no need for these failing institutions. The multitudes who took to the streets this month to demand real change have a point, and there’s no better path to reform than for companies large and small to hire only those Americans who did not waste their time and money learning the art of resentment in college.