Frat Race

Sometimes I wonder how new TV programming is pitched. Take a new silly sitcom called Glory Daze. It’s a show chronicling the trials and tribulations of frat boys in the 80s. I can hear the front man for the idea now: “It’s about four frat brothers who go through rush and survive as pledges, building friendships and learning the ropes of college together while having lots of good, mostly clean American fun.”

That narrative is okay unless you went to college and weren’t in a fraternity. Then you know the reality was more like this: “It’s about four superficial freshman waifs who go to college and join a fraternity, pay for like-minded superficial friends, attend cheesy, lamely-themed “greek” parties, get dizzy, superficial coeds drunk and have sex with them (conscious or unconscious) and paddle and/or urinate on each other in foolish, clandestine fraternity rituals” (Just ask Rand Paul.).

I saw Animal House before I went to college and was able to enjoy it for that simple fact. Once at the university myself, I quickly realized what wankers most fraternity boys were, carefree and confident on their daddy’s nickel, polishing their social skills instead of their intellect and learning how to  play the game rather than challenge it or level the playing field for everybody involved.

Frat boys and the entire fraternity system actually advocate for just the opposite. Exclusivity and privilege are inherent in their shabby concept of “Greek” brotherhood. Each little club-play pretends like its special and unique and only grants membership based on each aspiring individual’s specialness and uniqueness. Except no one who is impressed or susceptible to the entire charade is special or unique in any profound or meaningful way. Special, unique people don’t travel in superficial, exclusivist, chauvinistic or classist circles. Special, unique individuals usually go their own way, without self-insistent delusions of their own worth and entitlement.

Why do I bring this up? Brace yourself.

There are roughly 310 million people in the United States as you read this. Less than one percent of us are  frat boys. The first social fraternity was formed in 1825. Since that first superficial incarnation, all but two U.S. presidents and two U.S. vice presidents have been frat boys.

Eighty-five percent of all U.S. Supreme Court Justices in the last 100 years were frat boys. Forty-three of the nation’s 50 largest corporations are headed by frat boys. And seventy-six percent of all sitting U.S. Congressmen and Senators — you know, that gridlocked, purblind, quasi-legislative branch of our government — are frat boys.

If you went to college and you weren’t in a fraternity, you probably have a better idea of why our country is in shambles. You recognize the unimpressive, superficial lads at the helm as the same frat boys who valued toadyism over transcendence back then, and you have a historical perspective in your understanding of why they prefer cronyism over qualification today. Frat boys have always thought they were better than the rest of us and entitled to more than rest of us, and the current have to have-not ratio perfectly reflects their world view.

In college, if you showed up at one of their parties uninvited or were invited but deigned to question or challenge their sense of superiority or entitlement, especially in front of their “brothers” or prospective, drunken conquests, you were likely to take a collective beating. Nothing has changed. Ask Move-On.Org activist Lauren Valle. Ask outed CIA agent Valerie Plame or her husband Joe Wilson. Ask the seven U.S. Attorneys (all Republicans) that the Bush Administration fired because they refused to pursue politically-motivated investigations of Democratic politicians. Ask current Secretary of Veterans Affairs and former Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinsecki; he was denounced by the Rumsfeld-Cheney Iraq “War Room” when he suggested we weren’t sending enough troops in the initial phases of the campaign.

It’s the frat boy way. If you don’t fall in line, you take a fall or get felled. And they get away with it because they have their manicured fingers in every aspect of our governance.

They expect deferential treatment and they get it because the race is rigged in their favor. The climb to the top is almost impossible unless you’re one of them or play by their rules. They’ve greased every rung on the ladder and, unless you’re pretty slimy yourself, it’s practically impossible to navigate.

Which makes President Obama exceedingly interesting. Whether you like or dislike him, he’s one of the two presidents in the last 185 years that didn’t spring from the privileged ranks of frat boy frivolity. That makes him one of us. That makes him different and that makes him dangerous. Of course, frat boys and their hapless minions want to see his birth certificate. Of course, they want us demanding our country back. It belongs to them and Obama is a problematic exception to their rule. But even he is surrounded by frat boys.

We don’t have a two-party political system in this country. We have a frat boy entitlement program. That’s  why our real problems and concerns are so rarely represented, respected or addressed.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

9 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. kanomi said on December 2nd, 2010 at 2:37pm #

    I wish I didn’t always sound so harsh in my replies! I appreciate all the authors who write. And I’m glad I was never greek! :)

    But is this a case of mistaking the forest for some trees? Joe Blow in Idaho, who rushed Sigma Pigma and punched a hippie in the face may be symptomatic of a diseased culture, but he’s hardly the root of all evil in this forest of corruption. There are fraternities, and then there are *fraternities.*

    It’s probably hackneyed and boring to repeat once again how both George Bush and John Kerry were members of the same secret society at Yale, a secret society that ranks well above any fraternity, at an elite school that ranks well above any cow-town beer garden for the future salesmen of America. But it’s true, and so worth repeating.

    The CFR, the Bilderbergs, the Trilaterals, the Bohemian Grove – these are not imaginary organizations. They exist, and they exist as nexuses of power far more important than the drunken neanderthals of Alpha Beta Bro. They exist as a pool of upper echelon “talent” – if you want to call it that – for the kleptocracy to pull its next level of useful idiots, paid liars, and willing accomplices for their centuries old games of usury, political corruption, enslaving of the masses, and war profiteering.

    As for Obama, at the very least, he came out of both Harvard Law School and the notoriously corrupt Chicago Democrat political machine, so it should be no surprise if he’s being blackmailed or controlled, or simply sold out long ago. Whether he was a frat boy or not hardly matters, as I just explained. He is CFR, chosen by the CFR, approved by the CFR.

    These apologias for Obama are getting old. He is not “misguided” or “mistaken” – he flat out doesn’t care about you. At all. He was handed a job, a fantastic job, but he’s still a frontman, a spokesperson for an aggressive gang of globalist dictators.

    Who is enforcing policies that dictate endless wars of aggression, abduction, torture, assassination, illegal detention, illegal search and seizure, etc., etc. – the Chug-a-Lug Brothers at Kappa Kappa Dumma, or the Democratic Leadership Council and their paymasters at Goldman Sachs?

  2. E.R. Bills said on December 2nd, 2010 at 3:07pm #

    kanomi:

    apologias? gimme a break.1st, I never said the Dems had no frat boys. 2nd, I’m not happy about O’s performance thus far, but I prefer it to the alternative. the dude passed the equal pay legislation for women and put TWO on the supreme court. he’s done a few things contrariwise and to his credit. the american government is not designed for drastic change and drastic change here has hardly ever been achieved. lately, some progress has been made incrementally, and within O’s political means. the paymasters at goldman sachs did not want a healthcare shake-up. or equal pay for women. or restrictions place on credit card companies. etc. etc. has O done enuff? no. but you can’t tell me he’s pushed the same agenda McCain would’ve. or palin. or your typical frat boy. don’t worry about the harshness of your replies–we’re all big boys and girls. but check the naivete. the purist approach is virtually always doomed to fail. especially in politics.

  3. Hue Longer said on December 2nd, 2010 at 5:57pm #

    Hello E.R.,

    I enjoyed your piece but wasn’t impressed with what seemed to be a sympathy for the recalcitrants you used-all of whom fall under a similar if not the same loathing I have for the frat boys. You even stated, ” The climb to the top is almost impossible unless you’re one of them or play by their rules” Then went on to say Obama is one of us?

  4. bozh said on December 2nd, 2010 at 6:32pm #

    pols come and go, but u.s governance stays the same. as far a yaw off course by u.s, tell it to palestinians, pashtuns iraqis what they think of socalled obamas boogie-woogie.
    preferring u.s–oops, O’s footsie to mccain’s side-step [povided it wld have even happened] to the right wld have amounted to about the same thing to ‘aliens’ and most americans.

    if we have writers on D.V. who cannot or won’t face the fact that one shld not compare a happening with smthing that might happen, devil help us!
    are editors also in on this ruse? tnx

  5. Hue Longer said on December 2nd, 2010 at 6:45pm #

    bozh,

    if you drink, stop
    if you don’t, start

    please

  6. Deadbeat said on December 2nd, 2010 at 7:47pm #

    I agree with Hue and Kanomi. It defies commonsense to suggest that Obama is “one of us. And just because he nominated two women to the Supreme Court is mere pandering to feminism rather than anything that is supportive of the working class.

  7. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2010 at 4:54am #

    The Skull and Bones fraternity;

    “They all engaged in “certain occult rituals of the ruling class,” unknow author

    Rituals of the ruling class like golf, orange chicken, no not chicken crap, tennis, learning to speak in tongues could be one ritual driving a golf cart is a big one am sure. Speaking in public another big one.

    “Capital is money, capital is commodities. By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.”
    Karl Marx

    Ok let’s go with it they lay golden eggs and maybe while doing it chant gobblygook
    gobblygook gobblygook babble babble babble then yell double- speak. Heck this doesn’t sound to hard maybe we could start a fraternity.

  8. Don Hawkins said on December 3rd, 2010 at 5:28am #

    We would need a symbol let’s see maybe a flag to symbolize labor kind of like the labor department it could have a person washing dishes and planting seeds lot’s of bright colors and then music how about drums maybe a saxophone we will make it work. Heck meet twice a year in the light of the day sing and dance and make plans for the next six months again we will make it work. I guess we will need a name well since there is nothing new under the Sun this is a hard one. Wait just call it 2010 then the year after 2011 and off to the stars. Ruff draft. A skull and crossbones I think not gobblygook gobbygook gobbygook babble babble babble heck we could write a new book call it the book of knowledge I’ll bet a few wouldn’t like that you know the layer of golden egg’s.

  9. E.R. Bills said on December 3rd, 2010 at 9:13am #

    I think I may agree with hue and kanomi and everybody else. since O wasn’t in a frat back then, he was arguably one of us back then. now, who knows? it’s obviously a good point. but he may still be more like us than them. that doesn’t means he’s looking out for us or sympathetic to the huddled masses he sprang from. I’m not sipping on kool-aid, but I still contend he’s not a frat boy or less of a frat boy than most of our leaders, but we can agree to disagree. perhaps my original piece should simply have stated he was more like us than them when he was young. I obviously need some editors, but I don’t think I could afford you all. this is a tough audience. and that’s a good thing.