Monday, October 25, 2010

The New Elite?
Kevin is right. This Washington Post piece is ridiculous. Charles Murray tells us that a "new elite" in this country is "ignorant", "isolated" and "not of (America)". He starts off with all the usual elitist suspects: Harvard grads, etc. But then turns his fire toward a broader cultural (I guess) block.
Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows -- "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven't any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they've never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

They can talk about books endlessly, but they've never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans).

They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn't be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.
This is so tired and stupid. People are different and have different tastes, and yeah those tastes might reflect different sensibilities and sensitivities. Some like Nascar and Ultimate Fighting. Some of us prefer baseball (I guess loving America's game is now un-American?) and like our fights integrated into hockey games. And there are actually some Americans who prefer to actually participate in sports and exercise, as opposed to just watching millionaires on TV. Some like fiction that reinforces their evangelical outlook, and some like TV shows like The Sopranos. And there are plenty of people that cross these lines and like things from both sides.

Not so long ago, as Kevin points also describes, the elite went to the opera and played bridge, for example, and wouldn't have been caught dead at the local cinema for a weekly Western serial. If all it takes to exist in the new elite is HBO and biking trails, it's not so elite anymore is it?

The Tea Party needs to get this into their heads, somehow: If there is an elite in this country, it's not the 54% of us that voted for Obama. (Or the 48% or so that still approve of the job he's doing.) That's, you know, the opposite of an elite. It's called a majority.

If there is a troubling "elite" among us, it's the one-tenth of one percent of Americans that own more than 10 percent of the wealth in this country. If we could find a way to focus our political energies on understanding why we have let that happen at the expense of the middle class, instead of wondering why so many people opt for premium cable channels, our elections would make a lot more sense.


Wyatt said...

I think all we need to know about this clown is that he wrote The Bell Curve.

Don said...

Good point, Wyatt - forgot that was him!

stevie t said...

Don't even know where to start with this.... The New Elite must be the people not taken in by this most excellent straw man argument, and the people who are not against masturbation, which means I am a card-carrying member.