cynicism, politics

Hey, you’re an elitist! And stupid! And not dumb enough!

No, I’m not reviving Mostly Modern Media as a political ranting blog. It’ll still be mostly about modern media, which can include everything from newspapers to iTunes. (I am also going to make an effort to put more funny things on here. No point in keeping my wit confined to Facebook when I can inflict it on others as well.)

Over the weekend, The Washington Post ran a truly wretched Outlook piece by Charles Murray, who has resurfaced 16 years after causing an academic shitstorm with The Bell Curve. Murray basically claims there’s a “New Elite” that’s actually rather stupid and out of touch with mainstream America because we don’t watch NASCAR and MMA. (How about one out of two?)

The Economist‘s bloggers came up with two responses. Democracy in America runs one that’s a little unfocused but effectively skewers Murray for simultaneously sympathizing with Tea Partiers’ resentment of the “elites” while reinforcing the notion that the “elites” are, in fact, better:

“Attention all tea-partiers: Charles Murray thinks Barack Obama is smart, and you’re dumb.”

A more concise and more effective response comes from Lexington, which questions Murray’s right to tell us who’s a “mainstream American” and who isn’t.

America is surely too vast and complex for authenticity to be appropriated by any particular social group or pattern of behaviour.  Sarah Palin claims to represent “real” American values. But how many Americans have really skinned a moose (or whatever else she claims to do)? And, really, what does it matter?

That nails it.

I went to an elite school (my mom didn’t, and my dad went to a top-flight state school). I even got a master’s degree. Where I live, that makes me typical, not an exception. I don’t think any of my neighbors, classmates or colleagues need to hear Murray, Sarah Palin or anyone else telling us we’re not mainstream Americans. And I don’t think the media ought to be giving them such a megaphone to tell us.

But we “elites” tend to be either postmodernists who want to give everyone a voice or simple masochists.


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