There is a fairly long gestation period for alumni wrath, which does not fully come into being until the end of the year. That’s when every organization in the world calls or sends letters asking for a tax-deductible donation. With the chirpy dunning notices and billets-doux come the hard choices: do I send money to this charity or that university? Or do I go out and blow it all on entertainment, dinner, good Scotch, and a cigar? In recently deciding whether to opt for philanthropic responsibility or succumb to my own vices, one thing became clear: my alma mater, Vassar College, was clearly out of the running. 

Now, the politically correct administrators of Vassar may believe that I am being unduly harsh in declining to make an alumni donation this year, but as founder and brewmaster Matthew Vassar himself might have said, that’s the way the beer spills. With liberal colleges as with beagles: you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, or they’ll keep doing the moral equivalent of soiling the rug. Re cent actions on the Poughkeepsie cam pus have left a stink in the air, but since I can’t take a rolled newspaper to the tail ends of the administration, I’ll try sanctions. No money from me. 

The importance of this decision is moral, not fiscal. I’m no robber baron I come from the solid, thick-ankled Irish peasant stock of the shantier McSections of New York, so Vassar’s never the risk of having to name a wing of the art his tory library after me and my spawn. No, Vassar will have plenty of money to keep the lights on in Rockefeller Hall, and even have enough leftover to fund the usual fuzzy-headed, lefty nonsense like the United Marmoset Front’s Dinner Dance, the Christmas Picnic sponsored by Onanist Jews for Allah, and the Annual Veggie and Tofu Potluck of the Anglo-Aleutian Committee Against Steak. So be it. But if during the past year or so your college or university had been as boneheaded as mine, you might want to cut them off, too. Consider the case against Vassar-and keep in mind what your school has done recently. 

Senator Moynihan and I don’t see eye-to-eye. Well, I agree with almost everything he said before 1980 and dis agree with almost everything he’s said since. In fact, everything about Moynihan seems to split down the middle. On the plus side, I share the sneaking suspicion that the senator from New York might be a wee bit of a riot with a little whisky in him-with some prod ding, I can see him singing “Paddy McGinty’s Goat” in the back room and trading mean-spirited gossip about his peers in Congress. (“Hey, Danny Pat, shoot straight with me: what member of the animal kingdom does Pat Schroeder most resemble before her first cup of coffee in the morning? What’s the stupidest thing you ever heard Joe Biden say?”) On the minus side, his most startling negative is not that he’s become a party-line liberal Democrat; rather, he is guilty of a more heinous offense against sanity: he took his job at the United Nations seriously. This self inflicted malady, known in clinical circles as dementia woodrowilsonitis, is de fined as “a belief that world peace can be effectuated by allowing men in sandals and funny hats to hurl epithets at you and your country on the East Side of Manhattan, and then giving them money.” He would have won me over forever if he’d suggested razing the U. N. building, rebuilding the Polo Grounds on the river, and bringing the Giants back from the People’s Republic of San Francisco. 

In 1990, Vassar selected Moynihan for its Eleanor Roosevelt Chair, and he went up there to give a speech on civil rights and the status of women. In a question and-answer period after the speech, a black Dutchess County official of Jamaican descent apparently challenged Moynihan’s assertion that the United States was a model of ethnic cooperation. The senator is alleged to have said, “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you pack your bags and go back where you came from?” 

Cry racism and unleash the dogs of war! This rejoinder, snappy and apropos though it may have been, was greet- cd by the predictable stamping of left feet all over the Hudson Valley. A slew of student interest groups stormed the main building on campus, taking it over for days and preventing normal operations of the college. Their complaint: Moynihan not only was “racist” in directing his comment at a black, but his statement that the United States was “a model of ethnic cooperation” was also a mortal sin against the common liberal orthodoxy. Their demands, and I swear I’m not making this up: the resignation of the senator from the honorary chair, the return of the $1,000 stipend received by the senator, the formation of a task force on racism, the creation of a black student center and an intercultural center, the hiring of a rabbi, the establishment of a kosher dining center, wider accessibility for wheelchairs, information on how the college uses tuition funds, and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, I made up one of the demands. 

Vassar reacted in a reprehensible fashion, accepting the senator’s resignation from his honorarium. Vassar did not call in the Dutchess County police to throw the trespassers out of the building, they did not suspend the perpetrators from the college, they did not bring any charges of misconduct against them. They did nothing-nothing but fret and capitulate. 

The radicals, like any streetwise mugger, had sized up the fat and soft victim well. The spokeshuman for the groups a Canadian student-told the New York Times that several campus organizations had been meeting to seek a way to strengthen their role in dealing with the Vassar administration when L’Affaire Moynihan fell into their laps: “This was the perfect catalyst,” he said. 

Inspired by the senator, I’ve got something to say to that cheeky Canuck: Hey, Molson Breath, if you don’t like it here, why don’t you pack your bags and go back to your ice floe of a country-and bring those stinking geese that crap all over the greens and fairways of our country clubs with you! (I can see it now: twenty students in flannel shirts and jeans, long hair tucked up under Montreal Expos hats and orange hunters’ caps, sitting in my driveway until I agree to retract my anti-Canadian comments, buy a pound of Canadian bacon, and write one hundred times, “Acid rain is very, very bad.” In French and English!)

The end result of L’Affaire Moynihan: Senator Moynihan returned the thousand bucks and resigned from the Eleanor Roosevelt Chair. And the next day, the new rabbi wheeled a partridge in a pear tree up the newly installed dis abled access ramp, past dancing Dingas and hand-clapping Watusi, and plopped it smack in the middle of the new multicultural center. Kosher chow mein was served. And no one had to ask whether tuition was used to pay for it.

Then there’s the case of  the resident black separatists. Vassar College has placed itself at the vanguard of the separate but equal revival that’s the academic rage today by recognizing and funding a separate “Black Commencement Committee.” Consisting solely of blacks, the “BCC” organized its own separate hut equal events, such as a trip to an amusement park. The amusement park presumably did not require the black students of the BCC to ride separate but equal roller coasters and log flumes.

In  1991 Vassar held a separate cap and gown baccalaureate service for blacks with black speakers, black singers, black ushers with kente cloth bow ties, and black flower bearers called “The African Violets.” The African Violets were a separate but equal counterpart to Vassar’s traditional “Daisy Chain,” with one mi nor exception: the Daisy Chain has never based its composition on the color of one’s skin. The Reverend Jesse Jack son-are you really surprised he was the guest speaker?-spoke of “learning to live together,” which presumably meant separately but equally in accordance with that spectrum of the Rainbow Coalition that most nearly matches the shade of our respective cheeks. The good Reverend took the opportunity to speak of “reinvesting in America,” a familiar tenet of his eponymous Jacksonian Democracy, which is not to he con fused with the political doctrine of the same name associated with Andrew Jackson, our seventh President (so far as I can tell, the difference between the two is that Andrew Jackson wanted a chicken in every pot, while Jesse Jack son wants to shove my hard-earned chicken in someone else’s pot).

With Vassar’s administration  having demonstrated its lack of resolve in the face of threats in L’Affaire Moynihan, it is not surprising that the BCC had an easy time with its putsch. Apparently all one must do is disavow democracy, cry racism, and watch as the knees jerk. The bid for racial separation began in November 1990 when three black members of the Vassar’s 21-person Commencement Committee simply resigned because, as one member of the clique told the New York Times, “Using a democratic process, with only three black members on the committee, your ideas arc not necessarily going to be voted on.” I had to look up this startling revelation about democracy, but it seems she’s right: nowhere in my copy of The Federalist does anyone mention that if you don’t have the most votes, you lose. I wonder if Jay, Hamilton, and Madison were aware of this wrinkle.

By February 1991 the BCC had official sanction and $3,500 in their pocket. They didn’t even have to take over a building or threaten a dean. This amounts to progress in our institutions of higher education, from the 1960′ s to the 90’s: our administrators have gone from patsies to pushovers.

Of course, Vassar tried to  put the usual spin on its cowardice that liberal capitulators in our universities are so fond of using these days. They claimed it was really a celebration of ethnic diversity, multiculturalism, and one-worldism all while according special treatment to one ethnicity and one race. Student members of the nomenkatura were quick to toe the line, sometimes with unintended hilarity. In what must have been an incomprehensible commencement address, the student president of the graduating class, a Miss Lisa Collins, endeavored to explain the issue in terms of food: the United States was no longer a melting pot, she said earnestly, it was now a stir-fry wok, “where each ingredient retains its own shape, color, and flavor.” This is what happens when we al low 18-year-olds to elect a double major in political science and cooking. Pass the plum sauce, Miss Collins.

I can hear the cynics:  C’mon, pal, what do you expect-this is Vassar you’re talking about, not VMI or the Citadel. This criticism is, to some ex tent, true. Vassar docs have a history of flaunting its liberal intolerance. The Moynihan affair wJs, after all, really just a replay of an equally odious display by peevish lefties in 1980 that caused William F. Buckley, Jr. to resign from giving the commencement speech. The Black Commencement Committee out rage was preceded in 1984 by the creation of a separate but equal alumni organization, the African-American Alumnae/Alumni of Vassar College. In 1988, the conservative student magazine, the Vassar Spectator, was cut off from student funds because it refused to follow an “order” to refrain from opining on a controversial issue. And in the summer of 1991, Miss Catherine Comins, Assistant Dean of Inquisition and a Torquemada Fellow at Vassar, made a splash in Time by stating that false accusations of rape have a double edged utility: the victim benefits be cause she feels “empowered” by making the false accusation, and the falsely accused benefits because the false accusation causes “self-exploration” as to whether he could have raped her. No, Vassar ain’t West Point, that’s for certain.

What Vassar is, at its best, is a place of incredible intellectual challenge, vast academic resources, and strong educational tradition. The Irish playwright Brendan Behan, smitten by the articulate lovelies he met there in the 60’s, called Vassar his Tir na n-Og—Celtic heaven, place of the fairies-and it was that and more for me. If you can’t give a damn about people mucking up a place like that, you can’t give a damn about anything.

So I decided  to cut Vassar off, to lodge my displeasure as an alumnus. But having decided that Vassar was not a potential donee, the dilemma of who to benefit with my largesse remained un resolved. There I was at the moment of decision, sitting cross-legged on the floor going through a year’s worth of requests for donations and tossing the unworthies in the trash, like some Indian winnowing rice-or, if you prefer, like an Original American engaging in simple hut environmentally sound husbandry practices. I was hoping I’d fine.I something to catch when suddenly there it was, my eye, stuck  between a World Wildlife Fund panda sticker and a free bookmark from the Central Park Conservancy. A winner for 1991: I sent a check to the Vassar Spectator.