Monday, October 25, 2010

Hating Mainstream, Ctd.

Slightly anecdotal, but some further evidence of the sloppy thinking at work in Charles Murray's New Elites piece from yesterday. Here's Murray (emphasis mine):

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.

And here is Amy Gardner, on the front page Tea Party story from Murray's own newspaper and from which Murray's piece springs (emphasis mine, again):

"We're not wanting to be a third party," said Matt Ney, 55, the owner of a Pilates studio and a founder of the Pearland Tea Party Patriots in Pearland, Tex. "We're not wanting to endorse individual candidates ever. What we're trying to do is be activists by pushing a conservative idea."

Speaking for myself, I know dozens if not hundreds of people who share the views and interests of the "New Elite" and live in the Republican stronghold of Idaho, and even a few that watch UFC or (god help them) pro wrestling. I also know ardent conservatives with an interest in literature that extends beyond Left Behind.

Which is all to say that Murray's column amounts to a lot of hostile and reductive generalization. But for a man "truly and deeply in love" with Sarah Palin, so it goes.

(EDIT: I realize that last sentence smacks of hypocrisy, condemning Murray for generalizing while engaging it myself, but I would point out that Palin's tenuous connection with objective reality is well-documented, Murray's admiration for her and her fanbase is very real, and he has here been demonstrably lazy in his line argument. My closer is connecting a series of established dots, rather than making a picture and finding dots after the fact.)

1 comment:

  1. Why did you make me read this, BtA? Why, why?

    'Sloppy' is far too generous a term for writing in which he says 'elites have never____' and then proceeds to say 'but if they have, it doesn't count'.

    sljfajsf----sorry, I'm strangling on my contempt for this, grrrrr, argument.

    I can, however, say one good thing about Dr Murray (BA Harvard, PhD MIT): His shitty book 'Losing Ground' was the basis of a college essay which I then used to get into grad school.

    Okay, I have to stop now, before I punch my computer screen.