Columnist's Form of Social Darwinsim is Appalling

by Casey Noga | 10/23/97 5:00am

I fail to see the logic in Abiola Lapite's laughably-titled opinion piece "Inequality is a Force for Good" [Oct. 22, The Dartmouth.] Lapite tries to make a case for social inequality, but he does so in a very unconvincing manner.

My eyes widened in disbelief as I read through the article, contradiction by contradiction, and I thought: what is it he's getting at? Is he trying to say that schools should cut back on financial aid to students unable to afford tuition?

If not for the financial assistance of Dartmouth, I wouldn't be here today, and believe me, I have absolutely no intention of dropping out before graduation. Lapite mentioned the high dropout level, and seemed to attribute it solely to those who are on financial aid, which is one of the most flawed assumptions I have ever heard. What about the wealthy students (whose parents, no doubt, earned their money through "persistence and ruthlessness," certainly not through inheritance, exploitation, or just plain bad business...) who don't complete their college education? Or are there none? Sure would be news to me.

It would make more sense to say that those students on financial aid have the higher graduation rate, because they can't waste the money given to them or they will be back in their dead-end towns working their dead-end jobs in no time.

Lapite also insinuates that those of low social stature deserve lives of mediocrity -- who gave him the authority to judge others this way? Did he think to consider the children of the poor, whose intellectual development is impaired simply because the low-income areas in which they reside are entirely non-conducive to learning? Does he truly believe that everyone has the same opportunity to become successful, regardless of social class?

Which child is going to end up with an Ivy League education: (a) the kid born to rich parents, raised in a wealthy Northeastern suburb, sent to a fancy and expensive East Coast prep school, who has every earthly need provided for him with no hassle or (b) the kid born in the ghetto, raised in a crime-filled, poverty-level neighborhood, sent to a poorly funded inner-city school that's even more crime-ridden, and who has to beg his parents for enough money to buy food and clothing. I didn't think anyone at this school would be so misguided as to pick (a). Apparently I was mistaken.

This is why we give to charity -- to help raise the living conditions of those who lack the money to escape the abandoned areas of every town. (These areas are not forgotten -- we know the slums are there, we just refuse to become involved with them.) When you lend support to the "needy," you're not helping the "lazier and less reflective individuals" of society, you're trying to ensure that each child born into this world at least has THE OPPORTUNITY to succeed. Nobody is born due to some sort of divine placement plan: we randomly appear and must make the best of what he have.

More inequality of wealth only creates more misery for the underprivileged, and thus less of a shot at the American Dream. It is not necessary to completely divorce oneself from those less fortunate in order reach one's full potential in a capitalist society, and nor does it make a person a communist to strive for less of an inequality in wealth. So save your self-righteous justification of parsimony for somebody else without compassion, Mr. Lapite; I, for one, am appalled by your complete and utter lack of respect for the basic rights of every human being.

Social Darwinism, even in the diluted and convoluted form Mr. Lapite presents it, is still an unethical, unjustifiable philosophy.