Yale Law professor Amy Chua cruised to wide attention several years ago for a supposedly satirical book about shaping her kids into child prodigies with brutal hazing. She recently wrote another book about the dangers of tribalism, arguing that American democracy was fraying due to people developing stronger attachments to various group identities than they have to the national one. Both books were of the dubious, vaguely insipid sort that the Aspen Ideas crowd is expected to crank out every now and then. But there is one group in the United States that displays the near-absolute loyalty to insiders that motivates Chua's critique of tribalism — the American aristocracy of which she is a very prominent member.
Her defense of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is an extraordinarily telling demonstration of the corruption of that aristocracy, and the damage it inflicts on both the nation and its own members.
Chua — though she is supposedly a liberal Democrat — initially served as a glowing character witness for Kavanaugh as part of the conservative propaganda rollout. She wrote in The Wall Street Journal that "his role as a mentor for young lawyers, particularly women," was evidence of his unimpeachable integrity and honor. It was of a piece with his initial testimony, during which the girls basketball team he coaches sat behind him.
These stories about Kavanaugh and young women got a much darker cast when Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post that he had sexually assaulted her when he was 17 and she was 15. It seemed as though his media defenders might have known something like that would have come up. Still, perhaps it was just a coincidence — maybe he had changed since he was 17, and he really did just like being a mentor.
But on Thursday, The Guardian reported, based on multiple sources, that Chua herself had informed Yale Law students that it was "not an accident" Kavanaugh tended to select female law clerks who "looked like models" and she offered them beauty tips to land clerkships with him. (Yale is investigating, and Chua has denied the report.)
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