Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Wow -- it's always so much fun to be lectured on elitism by The Wall Street Journal. Here's Journal columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz:

Americans may have lacked for much in the course of their history, but never instruction in social values. The question today is whether Americans of any era have ever confronted the bombardment of hectoring and sermonizing now directed at those whose views are deemed insufficiently enlightened -- an offense regularly followed by accusations that the offenders have violated the most sacred principles of our democracy.

It doesn't take a lot to become the target of such a charge. There is no mistaking the beliefs on display in these accusations, most recently in regard to the mosque about to be erected 600 feet from Ground Zero. Which is that without the civilizing dictates of their superiors in government, ordinary Americans are lost to reason and decency....

Right -- on this subject we can't possibly tolerate lectures from elites, can we? Oh, except for elites from instititutions like Rabinowitz's own rag:

The readers of Dow Jones & co.'s The Wall Street Journal have the highest median annual household income ($135,740) among print publications, according to Mediamark Research & Intelligence's MRI Fall 2009 report....

Or from Journal guest columnist and former Coalition Provisional Authority senior advisor Dan Senor (Harvard Business School, the Carlyle Group), another opponent of the Islamic center. No, those elites can lecture all they want.

Of course, Rabinowitz starts with a premise that's false on more than one level:

The question today is whether Americans of any era have ever confronted the bombardment of hectoring and sermonizing now directed at those whose views are deemed insufficiently enlightened....

Well, yes, actually, they have -- quite a few times. By abolitionists. By opponents of lynching. By advocates of civil rights for women, gays, and non-whites. Which speaks to Rabinowitz's other point -- that if elites are making a moral case that seems to be meeting resistance from non-elites, the non-elites must surely be right, by definition. (Abolition? Don't listen to those Boston preachers who say slaves are human beings; they're just a bunch of elitists.)

Rabinowitz is wrong in yet another way, of course: "ordinary Americans" have not led the opposition to the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. The opposition is an elite project, the elites being professional pols and top-shelf right-wing apparatchiks such as Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Sarah Palin. They've elicited what outrage there is and made sure it's gone national; there's nothing grassroots about the spread of this firestorm.

Rabinowitz harangues Mayor Mike Bloomberg not just for his impassioned defense of the project but for speculating, before anyone knew much of anything, that the Christmas bomber-wannabe in Times Square might be an anti-Obama wingnut:

Nowhere in the range of colorful possibilities the mayor raised was there any mention of the most likely explanation --another terrorist attempt by a soldier of radical Islam, the one that occurred to virtually every American who had heard the reports.

The citizens were, of course, right.... Mr. Bloomberg's "someone who doesn't like the health-care bill" would be inscribed in the golden book of howlers these events have yielded...

Actually, as far as I know, the citizens didn't have any idea who the culprit was until the evidence was in. (Is Rabinowitz now arguing that crime-fighting should be done by plebiscite or crowd-sourcing?) And why was a right-wing terrorist unimaginable? Just in the past couple of weeks we've had a cop-shooter who reportedly planned to kill people at the Tides Foundation, a regular target of Glenn Beck anti-left diatribes, and a murder suspect who allegedly wanted to overthrow the government -- "to defend his country," in the words of a detective who summarized the suspect's worldview.

But the right-wing elitists who lecture on these subjects don't want anyone to pay attention to those matters. The right-wing elitists want other elitists to shut the hell up because they want to steer the masses, and they resent the competition.


(Memeorandum has a bit more discussion.)

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