Did Somebody Say Elitism?
Just to make it clear that stupid people are everywhere, even in the Ivy League, I give you this: a Dartmouth sophomore's treatise on elitism. In case you have difficulty wading through the dense intellectual subject matter, I've provided a convenient translation, written from the original op-ed author's point of view.
(Thanks to Seal for originally pointing a ridiculing finger this kid's way. And he's right - this op-ed goes way beyond stereotypes and straight into the realm of total absurdity.)
Most of us here at Dartmouth have only closely observed two presidential elections in our lives, plus a few midterms. But as we gear up for some big political events this fall, the recurrent theme of ideological elitism is unfailingly making its return into politics. From my observations, especially on college campuses such as ours, the real root of ultraliberal elitism is the misconception that this elitism is, in fact, intellectualism.
I bet if I introduce my half-baked rant with a vague reference to current events it'll seem topical. It doesn't really matter what "big political events" are happening this fall - whatever inference the reader makes here is fine by me. Of course, I'm way more interested in what I've observed in my mundane day-to-day life at Dartmouth - and it's really quite remarkable. I've glimpsed the deep, dark root of elitism, and it lives and grows stronger by the day, fed by the bleeding hearts of a thousand intellectual ultraliberals. What a discovery!
The misperception that certain political positions are the intellectually respected ones has infected the very core of the political culture on our beloved campus as surely as it has infected the country at large. More than anything it seems to be an ethic of self-righteousness that transcends any individual issue. It is an approach that looks down on certain people and their positions, and high-handedly labels them as culturally inferior and intellectually ignorant. This approach is not academic, nor is it even partisan in nature. Positions are not argued empirically or even logically and it is rare for hard facts to make an appearance. Americans are intelligent people of faith and good judgment, revere our Constitution and love America. Others in this country dismiss these basic human values and try to endow their own radical opinions with what they would have us believe is an inherent superiority.
God, everyone looks down on my political positions - surely this must be because they see themselves as superior intellectual beings (those elitists!), not because I am willfully ignorant and write in an overly bombastic and convoluted manner so as to conceal the fact that I have put little to no effort into thoughtfully making an argument or starting a discussion.
Also - I bet if I hide the actual impetus for my writing this piece in the second paragraph, no one will notice. See, those damn ultraliberals are so self-righteous about how they care about human rights, and justice, and the environment, and generally making the world a better place. Every time I hear them talking, I get a little twinge of guilt that I have yet to act outside of my own self-interest. That really gets on my nerves. Rather than examine this feeling, it's SO much easier to just get defensive and start calling for hard facts to be delivered at my doorstep. I can't be bothered to look them up; obvi the liberals don't. Surely you don't expect me to give you any examples.
It is a basic human value, whatever that means, to revere the Constitution. Those who do not believe that Americans are ALL intelligent people of faith and good judgement are Others. I bet they're not even proud to be citizens. If they're citizens at all.
Religion is generally the number one target. The very mention that one has faith in God or a belief in the Bible makes some people quite uncomfortable. Quite regularly in colloquial and even academic banter, religion is derided as primitive and its existence relegated to "hicks and religious fanatics in the South." Atheism is the only acceptable intellectual option for those elitists who seem to view a religious believer walking on a public sidewalk as violating the iron curtain between state and church.
I feel very uncomfortable around nonreligious people.
The second target of elites masquerading as intellectuals is America itself. It is the elite pseudo-intellectual norm to subject America to a constant barrage of criticism and condemnation, regarding not only policy but culture and heritage as well. Patriotism is derided as a kind of propaganda. These elites, in the phony name of academics, are unwilling to express love for our country and generally will not concede that America is the greatest country in the world. If indeed a liberal elitist can be prodded into such a statement, they attempt to maintain their "intellectual" façade by quickly qualifying, often with retractors about cultural relativity.
Clearly anyone who criticizes America has no love for this country. Can you believe that they won't concede that America is the greatest country in the world? Such a statement never ever needs qualifiers, people.
Many elitists believe, as one politician let slip when he said that people could not be trusted to spend tax refunds wisely, that they are better able to help people than people themselves. This is elitism at its most vile, but many on the extreme end of the political spectrum take it as an intellectual badge of honor to call the average person stupid or the masses ignorant. This position rationalizes a wide range of condescending policies across the social and economic boards as intellectual necessities to fix the economy or protect people from themselves.
There's no honor in questioning the intelligence of the average person. But liberals are totally fair game.
Reverence for God and religion, love for America, and respect for the intelligence of the American people are not partisan issues. All people dedicated to what American stands for hold these truths self-evident and inalienable. Indeed, positions from all angles of the political spectrum are acceptable when based on economic merit, constitutional principles and the like. What is troubling is that these standards are ignored in the community of extreme-liberal elites, replaced by a faulty system of stigmatization used to denigrate American values.
Because man, ain't no politicians talking about God, religion, love for America, or respect for the American people these days. It's all hatin', all the time. I would totally debate with someone if they had ideas in keeping with my interpretation of economics, the Constitution, and, well, other stuff like that. But they don't, those extreme-liberal elite bastards. They ignore my ideological standards! What the hell!
As these misguided extremists flock to bookstores to purchase Noam Chomsky's latest screed on America, because Hugo Chavez recently plugged it at the UN, the fact remains that their views are radically elitist and blatantly anti-intellectual. And I think that the further both parties can distance themselves from this elitist mindset so far from the mainstream, the better they will do this fall, in 2008 and beyond.
I have never read any Noam Chomsky. Also, I never really got around to explaining what I meant by "intellectual", or why truly intellectual ideas are the best kind to have, or just how my own ideas are intellectual, even though that seems to be something I revere, just like the Constitution. Nor did I account for my relentless assertion of the inherent, unquestionable superiority of my own values - but I'm sure my readers will get it. Besides, I'll close with a charitable recommendation for those crazies: if they just get back into the mainstream, they'll do well this fall!
(You can read the original piece sans my commentary here.)