Letters

Letters I seldom write editors concerning articles in their publications except by way of a response often, I fear, vitriolic in tone. It is such a pleasure to write and commend you and its...

...To return to my sporting analogy, it is as if the crowd booed a batter for striking out, even though he never had a chance to come to the plate...
...Thatís good because I hope you practice what you preach because I want you to print this letter even if it isnít written too good...
...Maybe you do practice what you preach...
...Layers of well-insulated self-interests at the top, and a sense of defeatism and selfhate at the bottom will likely render Mr...
...But he has set forth in straightforward terms both the parameters and the seriousness of the problem...
...DERRICK A. BELL, JR...
...I didnít count this paragraph...
...And even though you say you donít like meritocracy you donít let any bad writing get into your magazine...
...Thomas Massey, on the article in your February 1978 edition, ďThe American Class System and How to End It...
...Massey was trying to do, pick up a nice piece of change with his long article by saying with his title an idea you like to hear even though he ends up rejecting it...
...In such judgments there is cruelty, but they seem to me far kinder than the current ďmeritocraticĒ system...
...Iím not a good writer...
...By clinging to the myth of true competition, while giving advantages of birth and rearing such tremendous weight, the ďmeritocracyĒ gives us the worst of two kinds of cruelty...
...ERNEST ROSS1 Portage, Michigan The author replies: My objection is not to judgments about performance -d ra wing distinct ions between good and bad writing, for example-but to a ďmeritĒ system in which those judgments play too small a part...
...Maybe one of us dumb guys got to be one of those many, many editors of The Washington Monthly...
...I bet you do after all discriminate against people who donít write good...
...At the same time, these fields more readily welcome a person who can perform, despite his spotty background or early failures, than does, say, the foreign service...
...Massey who tells us in the beginning what a bad world this would be if all the really good people would be on the top and all the lazy and dumb people would be on the bottom...
...But you seem to let people in your pages who donít think good...
...Itís just a business paragraph...
...This paragraph is free...
...Or a good talker...
...Like Mr...
...But I read pretty good and after reading Thomas Masseyís ďThe American Class System and How to End ItĒ1 see again that you donít like meritocracy...
...In these competitive fields, itís possible to tell a good job from a bad one...
...is a professor at Harvard Law School...
...For that he deserves our thanks and the personal commitment of those of us who remain concerned about the injustice of class in a classless society...
...At 5 cents a word, I figure you owe me $17.15 if you print this...
...Masseyís suggested solution to the American class system impossible to implement except during periods of national emergency, such as war...
...Imperfect and biased as their standards often are, such fields as sports, competitive small business, and, yes, writing come closer to measuring performance than does the general system of pay, status, and professional advancement in the United States...
...I always read The Washington Monthly from cover to cover and itís pretty clear that you donít like titles, or merit badges, as you call them, even though everyone of your stable of writers is called an ďEditor...
...As I say, I donít write too good, but I know you will practice what you preach and let some of us poor writers into your magazine...
...Good for us...
...I understand that some magazines pay their writers 5 cents a word and maybe thatís what Mr...
...a worthy pedigree or a background full of promise will not long protect the person whose product costs too much, whose batting average is falling, who shows poor editorial judgment in putting out a magazine...
...It is such a pleasure to write and commend you and its author, Mr...
...And then later he says that Performance is what counts and what we need is a true meritocracy in which all the really good people would be on the top and all thelazy and dumb people would be on the bottom...
...Maybe you didnít see this when you read the article...
...Cambridge, Massachusetts Derrick A. Bell, Jr...

Vol. 10 • May 1978 • No. 3


 
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