• Foundations of Truth

The Faltering “Wisdom” of the Ivy League



In 1 Kings 4:29-30, the fabulously wealthy King Solomon is described thusly, “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt.”


While King Solomon was blessed by God and was certainly worthy of this praise, such a high view of the wealthy and the elite has been commonly imitated throughout history and assigned to those who were of lesser merit.


The version of this view used to describe other monarchs holds that, not only are the powerful blessed by God, but they are infused with superior virtue. It is this belief that led to L. Cassius Dio’s description of the Roman emperors being worshipped as gods and to European monarchs like King James I invoking the Divine Right of Kings. [1][2]


In present-day America, we do not have formal titles of nobility or a definitive elite class. However, we do have a meritocratic stand-in represented by ivy league education, selective galas, and the airs of finishing school.


At one of those ivy league institutions, Brown University, its students have assumed their gatekeeping role over virtuousness by persecuting The Graduate Center Bar (also known as the “Grad Center Bar” or “GCB”) over an alleged incident of racism. The GCB is a fixture at Brown’s campus and caters almost exclusively to students of the University. [4]


The excitement following the bar’s much anticipated post-pandemic reopening was overshadowed this spring by allegations made by Okezie Okoro that he and a friend had been loudly ordered by a bouncer to stop playfighting while waiting to enter the bar. Okoro claims that when he later expressed displeasure with the employee’s tone, he was asked to leave. [5]


Ultimately, Okoro shared the story on Instagram and called for a boycott of GCB, alleging that racism was the root cause of his ejection. In the end, GCB was forced by the court of public opinion to issue an apology. [6]


Nonetheless, Patrick Cull, assistant manager of the GCB, had a different story to tell:


“‘When there are anywhere from 20 to 120 people and only two to five staff members’ at the bar, the staff tries to ‘make sure we’re both firm and loud,’


When Okoro returned to the entrance to speak with the employee, the employee became frustrated that Okoro did not understand how playfighting could be an issue, Cull wrote, adding that ‘one stray elbow or a slapped away fist can hurt someone.’


‘The conversation continued, with neither side agreeing on the situation,’ Cull wrote, adding that Okoro was ‘ultimately asked to leave.’” [5]


A quick scan of GCB’s website reveals an interesting caveat at the bottom of its homepage: “no refunds will be offered in the event of…being a total jerk to the staff or other GCB members.” [3]


Not to point fingers, but it seems Mr. Okoro was being a “total jerk” to staff members and that this is the very type of behavior the bar sought to preempt.


Even after reading the article from Brown’s student newspaper, it is unclear how this incident reflected “racism” except for the fact that Okoro happens to have darker-colored skin. This does not represent the spirit of the wisdom of Solomon, nor does it bode well for the competence of “elites” like Okoro to lead our country.


The book of Proverbs is known as “wisdom literature” for a reason. It declares in 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Clearly, the students sought to “stir up anger,” and it does not seem to have occurred to the students in question that they might have been at fault.


If Okoro’s attitude is emblematic of what we can expect of ivy league schools, then perhaps we should reconsider the merit of those institutions. Clearly, they have not imbued Okoro, or the other students who boycotted GCB, with the Solomon-esque wisdom to know when to accept correction and when to respond with a gentle answer to those in positions of authority.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

[1] https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/cassius_dio/59*.html; “He arrayed himself in a manner beneath his rank, then fell at the emperor's feet with tears and lamentations, all the while calling him many divine names and paying him worship; and at last vowed that if he were allowed to live he would offer sacrifice to him.”

[2] https://www.britannica.com/topic/divine-right-of-kings

[3] https://www.gcbpvd.org/

[4] https://www.browndailyherald.com/article/2021/11/graduate-center-bar-to-reopen-for-first-time-since-pandemic#:~:text=The%20Graduate%20Center%20Bar%20will,according%20to%20owner%20Susan%20Yund

[5] https://www.browndailyherald.com/article/2022/05/following-student-boycott-graduate-center-bar-announces-changes-to-diversity-inclusion-policies

[6] https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc3E6OvsQy6/


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