Where the Belmont Hill bell stood for 91 years, there now sits a marble bench bearing the inscription: “This bench represents our clear intention to engage with ideas and symbols from our past and establish a future that reflects inclusivity and a sense of belonging for all boys at Belmont Hill.”
And so, with the bell out of sight and out of mind, the School erected in its place a monument to DEI, a sop to the woke agenda, and specifically to “inclusivity”—too often today the justification for appointing (or electing) the second-best (or worse) to positions of responsibility.
Interestingly, athletics is one of the few remaining areas of life where the distinction between inclusivity and nondiscrimination on racial, religious or ethnic grounds remains quite clear. At the NBA level, teams are predominately black, but any would welcome another Larry Bird. By contrast, in the NHL, and notwithstanding serious efforts to attract more black players to hockey, teams remain overwhelmingly white, but any would welcome a P.K. Subban.
In sports, an individual’s ability is not only the primary determinant of success but also readily evaluated by coaches and fans. A competitive team has no place for the first of whatever woke category unless that player is also the best candidate available for the position.
No doubt a complete explanation of the obvious differences in coloration between NBA and NHL teams would cite many factors: socio-economic, historical, climatic, possibly even physical/racial given the premium that basketball puts on height. But when players are selected on merit under conditions of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity, such secondary factors recede into near irrelevance when forming a competitive team in any league.
On athletic teams in the lower grade levels at Belmont Hill, there may in some situations be an argument for inclusivity over ability, or at least equal playing time regardless of ability. But with the School’s varsity level teams continuing to post winning seasons as in the past, it does not appear that inclusivity at this level has in any way diminished skill and ability as the primary determinants of team composition.
But to take an example at the other end of the spectrum from athletics, the selection of judges leaves far more room for the lesser qualified to prevail over their betters simply because the quality of judges is less amenable to objective evaluation even by lawyers, never mind the general public. While the quality of the highest bench in the land cannot be enhanced by any single litmus test, limiting the choice to a black woman literally made the most recent selection turn on two irrelevant, not to mention constitutionally impermissible, factors: race and sex. Has any basketball coach ever recruited for a “white” guard, or hockey coach for a “black” defenseman?
From an educational perspective, however, far more troublesome than the woke monument’s text is its timing. The controversy over the bell largely took place during the COVID pandemic when the campus was essentially closed to all but faculty, students and staff, i.e., the last half of the 2019-20 and the 2020-21 academic years.
With a lot of hard work, planning and compliance with government directives, the School managed to offer nearly normal onsite learning in 2020-21, even including a reduced athletic program. Also, to its credit and unlike most of the colleges and universities in the Boston area and many nationwide, the School never imposed a COVID vaccine mandate. But with so much focus on the bell, it appears that critical scientific analysis of the pandemic and the response to it may not have received as much attention as it should have.
In August 2021 the School held its annual pre-opening day reception, its first public event following the pandemic. At this time the Head of School announced—to much applause—that 100% of the faculty and 97% of the students were “vaccinated” against COVID. Somewhat later when I visited Alumni House to discuss the removal of the bell, the staff felt compelled by some School rule to move our meeting outside because I was “unvaxxed”.
Being a nice day, I agreeably moved outside notwithstanding being generally opposed to any unscientific discrimination between the vaxxed and unvaxxed. However, especially given the lack of any School mandate, the 100% vaxxed rate for the faculty appeared anomalous, particularly when compared to the general population, many of whom were subject to mandates.
Although truly accurate figures are hard to come by, and with such figures as there are being complicated by different definitions of “vaccinated” and “fully vaccinated” depending on the timing and number of shots or boosters, it appears that some 20-25% of the adult population in the United States remains firmly unvaxxed despite heavy media pressure to do otherwise.
No informed individual should be criticized for his or her decision to be vaxxed or unvaxxed, wholly or partially. But one would have expected, as there was in the general population, a small core of Belmont Hill faculty—probably of conservative disposition—determined to remain unvaxxed. Instead, their unanimity in voluntarily submitting to the jabs can fairly be taken to reflect the widespread uncritical acceptance of the experimental vaccines that drove the mandates in many colleges and universities, where overwhelmingly liberal, left-leaning and, dare I say woke, faculties voted for them.
It is now clear that none of the COVID vaccines stops transmission or infection, but all carry a non-negligible risk of adverse events, including elevated risk of myocarditis particularly for high school and college age boys, a group at low risk of serious illness even should they catch the disease. See, e.g., F. Han et al., “What research shows about risks of myocarditis from COVID vaccines versus risks of heart damage from COVID,” CBS News (Mar. 13, 2023); G. Witberg et als., “Myocarditis after Covid-19 Vaccination in a Large Health Care Organization,” New England Journal of Medicine (Oct. 6, 2021).
Belmont Hill has chosen to celebrate its centennial with an emphasis on character development and the slogan “Working Together”, taken of course from the dedication address of Harvard’s president-emeritus Charles William Eliot in 1923. These two words began a sentence that concluded: “—of men with God, of men with prophets, leaders, and teachers, of men with one another, of men’s intelligence with the forces of nature.” (italics added)
My grandfather was a scientist, and I am quite sure that he would have had little patience with the federal and state governments’ wildly unscientific approach to dealing with the pandemic. Parenthetically, I note that my senior year, 1957-58, was the year of the Asian flu pandemic, and under the Eisenhower administration the school year proceeded in entirely normal fashion.
In any event, my approach to the COVID pandemic was what one might expect from a retired trial lawyer: consult the best experts. Scouring the internet in mid-2019, three stood out: two highly qualified cardiologists and a world renowned vaccinologist. What is more, as the fallout from the pandemic continues, their work remains current and relevant.
Dr. Peter McCullough, MD, MPH, one of the earliest physicians to publish protocols for early home treatment, currently is among the leaders on treating COVID vaccine injuries. His many published videos include a most informative one done under questioning by his co-author, Peter Leake, of The Courage to Face COVID-19.
Dr. Richard M. Fleming, MD, PhD, JD, a nuclear cardiologist and the originator of the inflammothrombotic theory of heart disease, not only was among the earliest advocates for early home treatment but also among the first to identify SARS-CoV-2 as a bioweapon. Today he is a leader in the fight to impose accountability not only for infractions of human rights and the principle of informed consent in connection with the COVID shots, but also for development of a bioweapon in violation of U.S. treaty obligations. See, e.g., here, here and here. For further discussion at the European Parliament (May 3, 2023), see here and here.
Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, DVM, PhD (virology), has broad experience in vaccinology, virology, immunology and evolutionary biology in both the private and public sectors. Analyzing the pandemic at the population level, he warned from the outset against the danger and futility of fighting an ongoing pandemic with mass vaccination, especially with a leaky vaccine that cannot stop transmission or infection. His recent book, The Inescapable Immune Escape Pandemic, is discussed with two other physicians in this video. In a subsequent video they consider further his grim prediction about the continuing evolution of the pandemic. His most recent advice can be found here.
To this point the whole COVID saga seems to confirm an observation often attributed to Mark Twain: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Prominent among the fooled were, and in many cases still are, the mostly woke institutions of higher learning, especially those with medical schools. They should have been in the vanguard with the brave physicians advocating early home treatment and with the signers of the Great Barrington Declaration trying to bring rational analysis, real science and common sense to bear on the pandemic response. Instead the majority of these once independent but now increasingly parasitic institutions were missing in action, awake more to their dependence on government grants than to a scientific approach to the pandemic.
As it turned out, despite its world famous medical complex, Boston was among the worst places to fall ill with COVID. Although a patient of Harvard Vanguard (and its predecessors) for over 50 years, my request for hydroxychloroquine and later ivermectin for prophylactic or home use was flatly rejected, forcing me to Canadian and Colombian sources.
As of August 2022, the websites for Harvard, BU, Tufts, MIT, BC and Brandeis (the first three with medical schools) showed that all six required students to be fully vaccinated as a condition of matriculating for the 2022-23 academic year. At the same time, Dr. Fleming was advising students to avoid any school with such a mandate and to go elsewhere to protect their health.
Unraveling the full COVID story may take decades. See, e.g., J. Cook, “Across the West People Are Dying in Greater Numbers. Nobody Wants to Learn Why.,” The Unz Review (July 18, 2023). However, early in the pandemic two points became clear to the medically and scientifically informed: (1) at the individual level, serious disease was largely confined to the elderly and persons with significant comorbidities; and (2) at the population level, mass vaccination with a leaky vaccine would pressure immune escape variants and slow or prevent development of herd immunity.
Within a few months of the initiation of the vaccination program, the VAERS data base had logged more than enough injuries and deaths to warrant terminating the COVID vaccines under historical vaccine safety standards.See, e.g., S. McLachlan et als., “Extended: Analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Death Reports from the VAERS Database,” ResearchGate (Jan. 2023).
Accordingly, by then if not sooner, a truly science-based approach to the pandemic by schools, colleges and universities should have focused on protecting older faculty, staff and others at high risk of serious disease, but allowing students and younger faculty and staff at negligible risk to make their own decisions on taking the COVID vaccines, freeing a portion of this group to develop natural immunity and leading eventually to herd immunity. See, e.g., R. Koerner, “How the ‘Unvaccinated’ Got It Right,” Brownstone Institute (Jan. 31, 2023).
Of course, to remain open these institutions would still have had to abide by government dictates on masking, social distancing, remote learning, etc., as unscientific and even silly as they were. But on the question of COVID vaccines, any school could have adopted the same voluntary policy as Belmont Hill, and could have made every effort to ensure that its students were fully informed as to the risks and benefits of the available vaccines, including the latest VAERS data on each.
Despite questioning whether the School’s response to the pandemic was as science-based as it might have been, no view is expressed here as to the conduct of any particular individuals, all of whom had the right to make their own choices—preferably informed—about the jabs. Some schools, however, took (and may still take) the view that students should be vaccinated in order to protect older, more vulnerable faculty members, thereby reversing the usual custom of the older sheltering the younger.
That juxtaposition of views brought to mind the last time that I spoke with Maynard Maxwell, fondly remembered math teacher at the School for almost 30 years. He had retired to New Hampshire; the Vietnam War was in full swing; students around the nation were protesting the draft. At a July 4 party given by Headmaster and Mrs. Hamilton, Mr. Max had a solution: “…draft all the old retired guys like me and send us to Vietnam.”
Mr. Max, of course, was from an era when Americans fought their own wars, and when boys graduating from Belmont Hill not infrequently looked to a future that included not only college but also the military draft. Wars in prospect, or even worse underway, brought a special tension to graduation for both students and parents.
Living in the era of the all-volunteer military, now supplemented by the use of proxy forces as in Ukraine, most Belmont Hill graduates today are spared what used to provide young men with an early first dose of reality. But in whatever way the real world may sooner or later test the School’s newly minted alumni, the less impaired their education by CRT, DEI and other woke fallacies, the better they will be prepared.
Update re COVID (8/23/23)
On August 17, a couple of weeks after publication of the above article, The Highwire with Del Bigtree released two related videos recorded on August 5 bringing up-to-date the thinking of Drs. Vanden Bossche and McCullough on COVID, the “vaccines” and their side effects, and the future of the pandemic.
In the first, “Is a Deadlier Pandemic on the Horizon?,” Dr. Vanden Bossche elaborates on his prediction that a future variant is likely to prove highly virulent to a significant component of the vaccinated population, i.e., those who received more than one shot and had no exposure to the virus prior to vaccination, especially in countries with high vaccination rates.
The second video, “McCullough & Vanden Bossche: Titans of the COVID Conversation,” presents a roundtable discussion between them, including a lengthy discussion of vaccine-induced myocarditis in young people, especially athletes.