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Print view: Liberals swear that Murray's elites don't exist. But we see their fruits all around
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THE FRUITS OF OUR BLINKERED ELITES! Liberals swear that Murray’s elites don’t exist. But we see their fruits all around: // link // print // previous // next //

Brief update—Finland v. Finland: We said it, and Kevin Drum agreed. In our view, that makes it correct.

Silliest child in the whole shaky town: During the years of The Great Liberal Silence, we liberals at least could pretend that we were brighter, and finer, than all the rest. As the new liberal world keeps emerging, this illusion is gone for all time.

Last night, Big Ed Schultz began reinventing his claims about that stomping incident. He even noted that Rand Paul “broke his silence and did an interview—where else, on Fox News.” Of course, this interview took place on Tuesday morning, a point Big Ed still failed to mention last night. On Tuesday evening’s show, Big Ed was mightily pleasing us rubes, calling Paul all kinds of names for failing to “break his silence.”

So it goes as our tribe’s millionaires treat us as rubes, as is the practice on Fox.

That said, the liberal world’s intellectual squalor is all around us these days. Consider the silliest child in town, Salon’s Alex “Kid” Pareene. On Tuesday, when we went to Salon, these headlines sat at the top of the site, announcing a featured story. Once again, the Kid was playing his silly-boy games, with his editor’s blessing:

Barack Obama’s favorite columnists are awful
The president reads Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, and other out-of-touch old white guys

We’ve written about the peculiar, white-on-white racial denigration which is becoming so hip and so chic in some pseudo-liberal circles. The Kid is one of the very dumbest when it comes to this type of aspersion. Joan’s hireling struck his latest pose at the end of his piece:

PAREENE: E.J. Dionne is an unoffensive old liberal. Joe Klein is guilty of various heinous crimes against journalism and retains his cushy job only because of inertia. Gerald Seib is a reliable purveyor of Washington conventional wisdom for an increasingly dishonestly edited Murdoch paper. Anyone who reads these (old, white) men to understand politics will come away with very limited and distorted understanding of the world.

Anyone who reads this (young, inept) boy sees how eager the “liberal” world is to behave like (low-IQ) droogs.

The good news: Many readers complained about this pose—before others showed up, as they will when encouraged, to talk about gays and Jews. The fourth commenter offered a tart critique. He used a well-chosen word—sad:

COMMENT TO SALON (10/26/10): Using White Guys as a slur

“other out-of-touch old white guys”

Really, I am beginning to think you really are a race baiter.

How many times have you used Old White Guys as a slur now?

It's just sad.

It is just sad. But then, so was the very next comment, taking us where we always go when nits like Pareene lead the way:

COMMENT TO SALON: It's a code word for the "J" word which nobody can say or use because of Rick Sanchez.

Was “old white guys” a code word for “Jews?” We would assume it wasn’t. But this is where the world quickly goes when racial heroes like Joan Walsh hire kids like Pareene.

(Never trust anyone under 30! That’s what Bob Dylan said.)

For the record: Before he got snatched up for Salon, Pareene’s short career had been spent writing crap for two news orgs—Wonkette and Gawker. Through such hires, the tabloidization of the “liberal” world continues apace, giving the lie to our endless claim that The Other Tribe is the dumb slow one.

During the years of the Great Liberal Silence, the liberal world would often complain about the practices of people like Limbaugh. We were much brighter and finer, we said; we were slaves to fact and analysis, and above all else to nuance. Truth to tell, we pseudo-liberals couldn’t wait for the chance to enjoy the same pleasures as Rush. Look all around! Increasingly, the liberal world is in thrall to inane mental squalor.

Special report: From the annals of elite epistemic closure!

PART 3—THE FRUITS OF OUR BLINKERED ELITES (permalink): “That a New Elite has emerged over the past 30 years is not really controversial,” Charles Murray wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post. “That its members differ from former elites is not controversial.” Murray went on to explain what this means; according to Murray, this “New Elite” differs from earlier elites in that its members earn their status through high performance in universities and then in graduate schools.

After that, they inter-marry—and breed. The process starts again.

According to Murray, older elites attained their status the old-fashioned way—through blue blood and inherited wealth. This general picture is not controversial, Murray said.

Is it true that these notions aren’t controversial—presumably, among sociologists? Here at THE HOWLER, we have no idea, but we’d urge progressives to consider the general drift of Murray’s thesis. Over the past many years, progressive interests have endlessly been harmed by the work of various clueless elites, including one elite called “the mainstream press” and another called “the liberal intelligentsia.”

Yet another hapless elite might perhaps be called “the academy.” Or as your country slides toward the sea, have you seen brilliant, spirited work emerging from the professors?

Our elites are clueless in various ways which seem to reflect Murray’s thesis. In our view, progressives should welcome the chance to consider the ways our training, our outlooks and our practices so reliably fail. Instead, liberal writers have reacted to Murray’s piece in typically childish, defensive fashion; in essence, we’ve taken turns defiantly saying that no such elites could exist, and that no one we know could be in them. To consider the unfailing instincts of a failing, unintelligent tribe, we’ll suggest that you review Steve Benen (just click here), linking to Claire Berlinski’s silly “Are You a Plebe?” test. In such ways, the children gambol and play—and deny, deny—even as the progressive project continues to flounder and fail.

In such ways, we announce the pleasure we take in our own defeat, in our dim-witted irrelevance.

In fact, the cluelessness of our elites is around us every day. Yesterday, we mentioned the way NPR’s Vivian Schiller rushed to put her foot in her mouth in the wake of firing Juan Williams. But then, the cluelessness of our elites is constantly all around. Today, let’s consider a few more examples. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the way the New York Times editorial board has treated the issue of immigration in the Reid-Angle race—a race our brilliant side may be about to lose, in case you haven’t noticed.

Schiller put her foot in a mouth in a way which helped to serve a long war against “the liberal media.” Who but a member of a blinkered elite could have failed to foresee this? But then, liberal elites behave in such ways in much the way other folk breathe. Luckily, the NAACP’s recent report about the Tea Party came and went with little fanfare, since it too was built on prescriptions for failure. But let’s consider the Washington Post’s recent report about the New Black Panther vote suppression case.

Yesterday, the hapless Benen praised Rachel Maddow for her brief treatment of this topic on Tuesday night’s program. Needless to say, Maddow’s report turned on the theme that Tea Party followers—in this case, supporters of Joe Miller—are exceptionally stupid. “This is the world that Fox News has created,” Maddow sadly concluded, after providing an example of the world she herself has spawned.

The background: In Anchorage, Maddow had spoken with Miller supporters, who were holding signs at a street corner, as political advocates often do in the last days of a campaign. On videotape, she asked one supporter to explain why she dislikes Eric Holder:

MADDOW (10/26/10): But there’s no specific thing he’s done that you’re upset about?

MILLER SUPPORTER: Yes, there is.

MADDOW: What is that?

MILLER SUPPORTER: The voter intimidation with the Black Panthers. That’s what I’m upset about Holder for.

(end of videotape)

MADDOW: The Black Panthers. I ended up having a really long talk with that woman about the Black Panthers. It was very emotional. She was very upset with me, but then we had a much less emotional talk later away from the cameras, and she was very nice, and we had a good talk. But she’s convinced that the New Black Panther Party, the two crazy guys who braid their beard hair who the Bush Justice Department investigated and decided to ignore, she really thinks those two guys are still in the election this year, and they are not being prosecuted because they’re black.

So she is voting for Joe Miller. This is the world that Fox News has created. The candidate himself is next.

As is required with folk like Maddow and Benen, this woman’s comment led to sad, head-shaking complaints about the other side’s terminal dumbness. But wouldn’t you know it? In the process of offering this complaint, Maddow gave an account of the New Black Panthers and their recent fame which was itself dumbly inaccurate. Sorry: This party has never been very significant, but it isn’t “two crazy guys who braid their beard hair,” a description Maddow has given several times—a description which might produce cries of racism if it came from The Other Tribe. Beyond that, her account of the recent voter fraud case is completely inaccurate—just as inaccurate as the accounts Bill O’Reilly was pimping a few months ago.

Did the Bush DOJ “decide to ignore” the two crazy guys who braid their beard hair? In fact, the Bush DOJ brought civil complaints against both crazy guys—and against the New Black Panther Party, and against Malik Zulu Shabazz, the party’s president. Subsequently, the Obama department decided to drop three of these four complaints. Like Maddow, we aren’t really in a position to judge the merits of these decisions, although we regard the matter as basically trivial. But even as she shook her head at the dumbness of Miller’s supporters, Maddow baldly misstated the facts of the case, just as O’Reilly had persistently done, though in the other direction.

This is part of the (politically dysfunctional) world MSNBC has created.

There are many elites in our world; one emerging elite takes great pleasure in announcing the dumbness of The Others. (Here is Digby, dumbly snarking at the idea that the Other Tribe can read.) We liberals often do this, even as we’re broadcasting and displaying our own major dumbness. But this is how blinkered elites will often behave, a point implied by Murray’s widely-ridiculed piece.

Maddow offered a thoroughly bungled account of the recent history. She is paid a million dollars per year—but by the rules of her pitiful game, it was the unpaid volunteers for Miller who, by the rules, were just dumb. That said, to see the possible work of another New Elite, let’s move from Vivian Schiller’s clueless remark about Juan Williams to the Washington Post’s recent news report about the Black Panther voting rights case.

As noted, this particular case strikes us as relatively minor—until members of a New Elite seem to start putting their feet in their mouths, enabling traditional right-wing themes, much as Schiller did. On the Washington Post’s front page, Jerry Markon did a long news report on the case. Eventually, he offered this:

MARKON (10/23/10): Since the [DOJ civil rights] division was created in 1957, most of its cases have been filed on behalf of minorities. But there has not always been agreement about that approach.

Civil rights officials from the Bush administration have said that enforcement should be race-neutral. But some officials from the Obama administration, which took office vowing to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement, thought the agency should focus on cases filed on behalf of minorities.

“The Voting Rights Act was passed because people like Bull Connor were hitting people like John Lewis, not the other way around,” said one Justice Department official not authorized to speak publicly, referring to the white Alabama police commissioner who cracked down on civil rights protesters such as Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia.

This was a minor part of Markon’s much longer report. But did some official really offer the statement Markon quoted, in the manner Markon suggested? Are there really officials who think that enforcement of these laws should only run one way? We don’t know, but it would be foolish to assume that such outlooks couldn’t exist, given the blinkered views which routinely emerge from our liberal elites. (Juan Williams needs a psychiatrist!) And anyone with an ounce of awareness would know how statements and views like that would sound to the general public.

In our view, this particular case was a small can of beans. But Fox made it a vehicle for furthering right-wing propaganda wars about liberal views of race—and just as Schiller rushed to help Fox with her statement about Juan Williams, Justice officials may have helped Fox through their internal behavior. As he continued, Markon quoted two Justice officials by name, including Christopher Coates, “a respected voting expert” who was “hired at Justice during the Clinton administration after a stint with the American Civil Liberties Union.” Rightly or wrongly, Coates emerged from this case with the belief that some people in the DOJ hold that one-way opinion:

MARKON: “The Voting Rights Act was passed because people like Bull Connor were hitting people like John Lewis, not the other way around,” said one Justice Department official not authorized to speak publicly, referring to the white Alabama police commissioner who cracked down on civil rights protesters such as Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia.

Before the New Black Panther controversy, another case had inflamed those passions. Ike Brown, an African American political boss in rural Mississippi, was accused by the Justice Department in 2005 of discriminating against the county's white minority. It was the first time the 1965 Voting Rights Act had been used against minorities and to protect whites.

Coates and Adams later told the civil rights commission that the decision to bring the Brown case caused bitter divisions in the voting section and opposition from civil rights groups.

Three Justice Department lawyers, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from their supervisors, described the same tensions, among career lawyers as well as political appointees. Employees who worked on the Brown case were harassed by colleagues, they said, and some department lawyers anonymously went on legal blogs "absolutely tearing apart anybody who was involved in that case," one lawyer said.

"There are career people who feel strongly that it is not the voting section's job to protect white voters," the lawyer said. "The environment is that you better toe the line of traditional civil rights ideas or you better keep quiet about it, because you will not advance, you will not receive awards and you will be ostracized."

Are there really “career people who feel strongly that it is not the voting section's job to protect white voters?” We have no idea. As a general matter, liberals have reacted to Fox’s pimping of this topic by insisting that this can’t be true—and now, by creating bogus histories of the affair, such as the one Maddow offered. But the world is full of New Elites—including liberal elites—who may have peculiar ideas. When liberals insist that this can’t be the case, they will often seem vastly “out of touch” to a world of cynical voters.

Schiller put her foot in her mouth about Williams’ need for a shrink. Two days later, Markon was quoting a DOJ official who seemed to be expressing a similarly odd idea. The children have gamboled and played all week, insisting that Murray is full of old shoes—that no such things as a New Elite could exist in our Perfect Liberal World. In these ways, hapless children, locked in denial, agree to let progressive interests slide toward the sea.

Hacks like Benen will gambol and play, taking (and passing) their silly “plebe” quizzes. (In comments, clueless liberals will attack Murray for using this term—which doesn’t appear in his piece.) But every day, we see the fruits of various “New Elites” just when we read the New York Times. We saw those fruits in this morning’s edition—and in Brent Staples’ editorial piece about public schools, and in last Thursday’s editorial about Angle and immigration.

To our ear, liberal elites are often clueless. The Benens will keep denying this problem until the forces of the right are in total control of our rapidly failing society. They’ll rail against O’Reilly’s misstatements—and they’ll fawn over Darling Rachel’s.

They’ll take their “plebe quizzes,” and they’ll pass—if we let them assign their own grades.

Tomorrow—part 4: Things our elites may not know.