June 1, 2010
Sarah Palin and the Multitude of DummiesBy Stuart Schwartz
We are dumb. So say the folks at the top of our leadership ladder.
And they name names: Sarah Palin, taxpayers, Tea Party supporters, viewers turning away from the mainstream networks, newspaper and magazine readers canceling subscriptions, those without degrees from an elite university -- all dumb.
Stupidity is the face of American exceptionalism for Barack Obama and his media and university supporters. New York Times columnist David Brooks, a graduate of the elite University of Chicago, says the nation's a "joke," that Sarah Palin and ordinary Americans should shut up and let the "educated class" lead. Bill Maher, who practices his contempt at HBO and honed his arrogance at Yale, labels us a "stupid people."
Meanwhile, Woody Allen says we are so clueless that Barack Obama needs to take his Harvard law degree in hand and become a "dictator for a few years." Allen, who does not have an Ivy League degree, nevertheless burnished his elite cultural credentials with first an affair, and then a marriage to his stepdaughter a few years back. More recently, he dismissed the rape of a fourteen-year-old by fugitive director Roman Polanski with the observation "he's an artist."
We do not read what they want us to read, vote the way they want us to vote, buy what they want us to buy, or believe the way they want us to believe. The United States bounded by the Hudson River and Rodeo Drive is a black hole of intellect and culture desperately in need of guidance.
They are angry that 81% of us put the nation "on the wrong track" and that two-thirds are "outraged" with what the "educated class" is doing to us. Their response, however, is pushback. The Atlantic magazine, a favorite of our political and media elites, just this month explained the growing anger on Main Street: "It's that you're stupid."
Sen. John Kerry (D-Martha's Vineyard) said this past week he and others inside the Beltway are growing impatient with the average American's failure to grasp the superior ways of elite Washington. We the people suffer from a "comprehension gap" because of our inability to see the "amazing resurgence" that our elites have delivered to a nation afflicted by more than 220 years of what the president calls a "flawed Constitution."
"We've come back," Kerry proclaims, proudly pointing to Wall Street, the economy, and the general state of the republic. The media applauded (with the exception of the Wall Street Journal, which warned that whatever Kerry was doing, he should "stop doing it in public"). If the poet Robert Browning (dead nineteenth-century white guy who originated political incorrectness when he gave up being an atheist and vegetarian and wrote soppy love poems to an individual of the opposite, not same, sex) had been a Washington Post editor, he would have gleefully slapped on the headline "Kerry Says Obama's in His Heaven, All 's right With the world!"
Blink. Oh, okay -- when you're married to the notoriously ill-tempered heir to the Heinz foods fortune, I suppose all days away from her seem sunny. Or perhaps all those years encased in tight spandex while windsurfing achieved what fellow aristocrat, Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-OxyContin), did with drugs and alcohol: cut off the oxygen to his brain.
They are smart and we are dumb. End of story. Whether conservative or liberal, our elite journalists agree with Senator Kerry and the Times' David Brooks, who sums it up this way: We're smarter than you. Brooks then uses an entire thesaurus to describe the relief and optimism among the cultured media at having a fellow "intellectual in the White House."
The intelligence of this educated class stands in stark contrast to those of us who think of a thesaurus as the slavering reptile with the big teeth that ate the lawyer cowering on a toilet in Jurassic Park. And wouldn't mind if a few of the big guys were loosed to do the same on Capitol Hill.
Our traditional media, both left and right, regard this newly aroused dummy class (us) with disdain and anger topped with a heaping helping of arrogance. The deputy managing editor of National Review, even while defending Sarah Palin from vicious, gratuitous attacks (yawn), makes sure his brothers and sisters-in-brains on the right know that he agrees "quite intensely" with attacks on her rhetoric.
Sarah Palin is the anti-Harvard. She did not attend an elite university; doesn't have a Kennedy, William F. Buckley, or Bush gene in her body; and offers cringe-worthy thoughts such as "I love my country" and that character counts.
As such, she displays the "gleeful ignorance" that afflicts the vast majority of Americans disgusted at the mess our elites are making of the country. So says David Frum, a member of the conservative elite media; on the other side of the aisle at the Washington Post, editorial writer Ruth Marcus piles on, insisting that the angry nation represented by Palin is dumb, incapable of learning.
And so we need the guidance of our betters. Or so goes the thought processes, the critical thinking shaped by the identical exposure of Marcus and Frum to an education provided by Yale University and Harvard Law School. Harvard, especially, is where our current leadership has been drawn.
And Harvard is up to the task. Sure, once it was an explicitly Christian university actively engaged in graduating students of great character and education. Its first honorary degrees were awarded to Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
But over time, "transformative leadership" changed the school, much in the way Obama is doing for the United States. As later Harvard-trained historians would tell it, the Puritans who founded the college left to pursue other opportunities, such as raping the wilderness and establishing injustice. Meanwhile, university leadership realized the lack of social justice involved in honoring and thereby encouraging national leaders who believed in "God-given" rights and self-government. Besides, the latter were home-schooled, a condition that produces individuals, the Washington Post tells us, who are just not "very good at thinking."
And now Harvard has come into its own, shaping a White House that even Yale graduate John Kerry praises for doing an awesomely "ship-shape" job. Look around you, he says proudly: This is what bringing Harvard to the White House does.
And at Harvard, the transformation just underway in the rest of the nation is complete. More representative of its values are recent honorary degree recipients that include Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), whom one London newspaper honored with the title of "the Senator of Sleaze." On the cultural front, the university honored Ivy League art critic Dr. Leo Steinberg, who, we are told by the "most widely-read fine arts magazine in the world," has thrilled the arts world with his studies of "the prominent display of the genitals of the infant Christ [in art]."
From George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Ted Kennedy and Leo Steinberg.
And they call us dummies?
Stuart Schwartz, a former retail and media executive, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.