Noah Feldman, Harvard professor and The New York Times have joined together to officially announce the death of the WASP, the White Anglo Saxon Protestant who has run America from its birth.
In an op-ed in today's Times Feldman who the Wall Street Journal once described as " a legal rock star" cites the make up of the U.S. Supreme Court as the key harbinger of the massive change.
"The Supreme Court, like the United States, had a plurality of white Protestants. If Elena Kagan — whose confirmation hearings begin today — is confirmed, that number will be reduced to zero, and the court will consist of six Catholics and three Jews." Feldman notes.
Feldman says the WASP however, has gracefully stepped aside and allowed others, including Irish Catholics to take over.
"Unlike almost every other dominant ethnic, racial or religious group in world history, white Protestants have ceded their socioeconomic power by hewing voluntarily to the values of merit and inclusion, values now shared broadly by Americans of different backgrounds. The decline of the Protestant elite is actually its greatest triumph."
Feldman says that the Scots Irish were a huge part of the ruling elite.
"So, when discussing the white elite that exercised such disproportionate power in American history, we are talking about a subgroup, mostly of English or Scots-Irish origin, whose ancestors came to this land in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their forebears fought the American Revolution and wrote the Constitution, embedding in it a distinctive set of beliefs of Protestant origin, including inalienable rights and the separation of church and state."
Feldman admits however that WASPS did not give up entirely gracefully. "It is not as though white Protestants relinquished power quickly or without reservation. Catholic immigrants, whether from Ireland or Southern Europe, faced a century of organized discrimination and were regularly denounced as slavish devotees of the pope unsuited to democratic participation."
That is all in the past now Feldman says, citing the way that major educational institutions such as Harvard and Princeton allow all ethnic groups in.
This is "an accomplishment that must be remembered, acknowledged and emulated," he writes.