The Enemies of Horatio Alger “Are Out to Get the American Dream”

(p. A13) Of all the institutions for investigative journalists to put under the microscope, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans sure is a strange target.

The charity says it has awarded more than $245 million in college scholarships to 35,000 students since 1984. Its 300 or so members cross the political, cultural and business-success spectrum and include Michael Bloomberg and Oprah Winfrey.

So what explains the recent onslaught of critical press coverage? The New York Times has put eight reporters on the case and devoted two 4,000-word Sunday front-page pieces in the past two months to the Horatio Alger Association and its members. ProPublica, which styles itself “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force,” produced a 5,000-word article that credited four reporters.

The journalists and the advocates they quote say it’s a matter of judicial ethics, highlighting Justice Clarence Thomas’s role as an honorary board member of the Horatio Alger Association and his friendships with the association’s members, some of whom are prosperous.

. . .

The venom directed at the Horatio Alger Association, though, isn’t only about Justice Thomas and the court. The association’s critics are out to get the American dream.

The association’s website explains that its mission is to “educate all youth about the limitless possibilities that are available through the American free-enterprise system.” The group was founded to dispel the myth “that the American dream was no longer attainable.” Its members are “role models whose experiences exemplify that opportunities for a successful life are available to all individuals who are dedicated to the principles of integrity, hard work, perseverance and compassion for others.”

For the full commentary, see:

Ira Stoll. “Why the Left Hates Horatio Alger.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date August 11, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

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