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NEW ELITE SPEAKS! Collins, Blow and Kristof spoke. Did they speak for a New Elite? // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Sanity and Schultz: Sanity sounds like a very good thing. It sounds like something we all can agree on.

In the end, though, sanity is in the eye of the beholder. On Saturday, Jon Stewart even gave an award to Velma Hart, so sane did he think she had been. Here at THE HOWLER, we thought Hart had behaved like the perfect know-nothing complainer (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/23/10).

On TV, Stewart is very smart and very funny—remarkably so, in our view. (We’re much less high on Stephen Colbert, although we thought he was superb in his earlier incarnation on the Daily Show.) But on Saturday, Stewart offered skits so simple-minded that they seemed to be torn from the pages of Sesame Street, with Colbert’s fear-pimping character cast as a version of Oscar the Grouch. Wikipedia: “Through Oscar, children actually learn about respect and tolerance instead of disrespect and intolerance, and they discover that people with different views and lifestyles can still be great friends.”

By the way—remember when those in our exalted tribe were disgusted by “the politics of fear?” In recent weeks, some liberals have been playing fear cards like nobody’s business. In Kentucky, one foolish man did a foolish, unfortunate thing, and Ed Schultz saw the 1930s re-emerging (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/27/10). But then, Schultz made a fool of himself all last week, calling in his hysterical friend, Mike Papantonio, to screech even louder when he ran out of breath. On Wednesday’s program, an exhausted Schultz crawled to the ropes and reached for his tag-team partner:

SCHULTZ (10/27/10): I want you to get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight’s text survey question is: "Do you think the man who stomped on a woman’s head deserves an apology?” Text A for yes. Text B for no, to 622639. We’ll bring you the results later on in the show.

Joining me now is Mike Papantonio, host of the nationally syndicated "Ring of Fire" radio show. Mike, good to have you with us tonight. Is there any defense whatsoever for the five-on-one, the people that stomped on this girl? Any defense whatsoever legally?

PAPANTONIO: Not legally, morally, or any kind of way. Look, this ought to be—this head-stomping story should be a wake-up call for all Americans that says this is—this new emerging tea-bagger Republican Party is not a political movement. It’s a movement of misfits that are willing not just to stomp on her head, but would stomp on your head if you disagree with them on anything, would stomp on your head if you talk about the fact that they are lunatics. They would stomp on decency. They would stomp on intellect and democracy. That’s what we saw there. This primitive Neanderthal tea-bagger type that we just saw, that actually asked for an apology himself—he did that because at the heart of every psychopath is delusion.

[…]

This is, this is a long history. For two years, if you’ve watched this party, you weren’t surprised by that because it’s what we`ve learned to expect. Remember, this is the crowd that had one of their people fly his airplane into an IRS building and kill innocent people to make his statement that he didn’t like government and didn’t want to pay taxes.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

PAPANTONIO: It’s the same crowd that threw racial insults at a black congressman who was trying to make his way through a crowd where he had a bunch of geriatric misfit nuts

SCHULTZ: No doubt.

PAPANTONIO: —misfit nuts holding up signs of "Obamaism," like you saw. This is a pathology that goes well beyond this one incident, I can tell you that.

Like Digby, Papantonio moves with remarkable ease from “some” or “one” to “all.” How skilled is he at this ancient practice? According to Papantonio, this new emerging tea-bagger Republican Party is “a movement of misfits” that even “had one of their people fly his airplane into an IRS building and kill innocent people!” And they aren’t just misfit nuts—they’re geriatric misfit nuts. Such race-and-age insults are now required when screeching nuts like Papantonio and Schultz complain about the way the other tribe has been “stomp[ing] on intellect.”

Schultz kept this up on Thursday and Friday, earning the scorn Stewart dumped on his head at the end of Saturday’s rally.

Schultz has become a grotesque embarrassment; he makes Sean Hannity looks mega-sane by comparison. That said, we did learn one thing from Saturday’s rally—Stewart and his many fans are a gang of slobbering racists! Sure, they invited Kareem to attend, just to hide the larger picture. But all the blacks were up on the stage! In his news report in the Washington Post, Jason Horowitz sidled up the problem:

HOROWITZ (10/31/10): Stewart took the stage first and immediately needled the media metrics of the rally's success, saying it would be judged by its "size and color." In a reference to some exaggerated estimates of attendance at Beck's rally, he said, "I can see we have over 10 million people." As for the diversity of the crowd—the lack of which was the source of much criticism of Beck's event—Stewart joked that it was absurd to read any motives of racism in a crowd's demographics. But despite "Daily Show" correspondents dispatched in the crowd to cheekily interview an ethnically diverse sample of rally-goers, the crowd appeared overwhelmingly white.

"It's very white," said Tahir Messam, a 25-year-old computer expert from Brooklyn, who is African American and came with Pakistani and Chinese friends. "But most of America is white.”

How overwhelming is “overwhelmingly white?” Horowitz offered no numbers. But a commenter at Steve Benen’s site had noticed something similar:

COMMENTER: I attended the rally. The crowds ran from 3rd Street near the Capitol to the Washington Monument—over half the Mall. The rally REALLY was not political. However, it was WONDERFUL to be around thousands of like-minded people. I talked with the people around me on the Metro and at the Mall, and we all longed for a news media that would do its job and a tone-down in the discourse. As far as I could tell, most of the rally-goers were in their 30's and beyond, but there was a good helping of young people as well. I was surprised that, from where I sat, most attendees were Caucasian.

Most attendees were Caucasian? We have no idea why that would be surprising. As Messam noted in the Horowitz piece, most of America is white! But as Horowitz semi-noted, this obvious logic rarely obtained when our tribe assessed Glenn Beck’s plainly racist rally last August.

Remember when the fact that a crowd was disproportionately white meant that the people in the crowd were a gang of slobbering racists? Suddenly, that “logic” has disappeared—which is of course a good thing.

Sanity actually is a good thing. Have you been watching Schultz lately?

Special report: From the annals of elite epistemic closure!

INTERLUDE—NEW ELITES SPEAK (permalink): Is Gail Collins part of the “New Elite” described last week by Charles Murray? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/26/10.) Possibly not, though she’s part of a High Manhattan Elite, the kind of elite which tends to undermine progressive interests. Not unlike Leona Helmsley, Collins tends to roll her eyes at the little people—and at the places where such people live. On Saturday, there she went again, delivering a political message.

“The end of an election season is always thick with regrets,” this high lady wrote at the start of her column. Then, she offered a pointless review of a high plains city, rolling her eyes as she did:

COLLINS (10/30/10): Personally, I am sorry about something I wrote about Dan Maes, the Republican nominee for governor of Colorado and possibly the worst candidate for anything in the entire country this year. Among many, many other things, Maes was accused of making up a story about being an undercover operative for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in the city of Liberal, Kan.

I regret very much that when I wrote about this incident I pointed out that Liberal is “best known as the home of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ Museum.” While Liberal does, indeed, have such a museum, a number of readers pointed out that it is much better known for being the home of a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race, in which contestants vie to see who can run the fastest while flipping pancakes in the air.

Darlings! Can you even imagine such a place? Do people really live in such places? Or do they just survive?

Collins frequently offers snarky asides about the nation’s dreary way-stations—the utterly silly little places from which she herself has escaped. You see, Collins herself was born in Geneva—Darlings! In Geneva, Ohio!—and she went to college in Milwaukee. Darlings! The bratwurst place!

Today, Collins has risen above and beyond. Rather routinely, she chuckles at America’s hopeless locales. In the process, she delivers an unfortunate political message—one that is heard all over the land, except where we liberals gather.

In fact, Pancake Day is observed in many countries, including such places as Canada. (For the record, Shrove Tuesday is another name for Fat Tuesday, when the better class of American people get drunk and tell women to take their shirts off.) Out in Kansas, Liberal turns out to be so worldly that it celebrates the day in concert with Olney, its sister city in England. The pancake race started in Olney in 1445. The traditional prize is a kiss from the verger.

By rule of law, places like Liberal occasion smirking in Collins’ columns. The smirking allows Collins to kill some time as she struggles for something to say—and it sends a political message, one that doesn’t work real well for liberals and progressives. For ourselves, we’d recommend Liberal’s Pioneer Mother of Kansas statue (click here), which recalls a stronger class of people. But make no mistake—old and New Elites are all around, as Murray said and suggested.

This weekend, we groaned at Collins’ column. We marveled at Charles Blow’s companion piece, in which the gentleman conveyed strong views concerning religious schools.

Is Blow a part of that New Elite? In a sense, but perhaps not as such. That said, his feelings about religious schools seem to be quite strong. Citing a rather useless survey of students in three different types of schools, Blow lowered the boom on the bad attitudes spawned in religious schools. Headline: Private School Civility Gap:

BLOW (10/30/10): Private schools by their very nature discriminate. Their students are literally the chosen ones—special, better. This sort of thinking has a way of weaving itself into the fibers of a family and into the thinking of the children, particularly young boys in a male culture where even the slightest deviations from the narrowest concepts of normality are heretical.

It is no wonder then that the study, which was conducted by the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics of more than 43,000 high school students, found that:

Boys who went to private religious schools were most likely to say that they had used racial slurs and insults in the past year as well as mistreated someone because he or she “belonged to a different group.”

Boys at religious private schools were the most likely to say that they had bullied, teased or taunted someone in the past year.

• While boys at public schools were the most likely to say that it was O.K. to hit or threaten a person who makes them very angry, boys at private religious schools were just as likely to say that they had actually done it.

Disgraceful! Boys who went to private religious schools were most likely to say that they had…mistreated someone because he or she ‘belonged to a different group.’ ” They were most likely to say they had used racial slurs.

Blow went on to rail against the way these ratty religious school kids “lack this basic bit of civility.” He forgot to give you the actual data on which he based his whole fraudulent column. For example, here are the data about the way these kids mistreat The Other:

Percentage of boys who said they had mistreated someone in the past year because he or she belonged to a different group:
Boys in public schools: 26 percent
Boys in private religious schools: 27 percent

No, we aren’t making that up; those are the actual data which inspired Blow’s column. Meanwhile, how large was the gap when it came to the use of racial slurs? In the survey, 51 percent of public school boys copped to such conduct in the past year—as compared to 54 percent of boys in private religious schools. On the basis of such distinctions—distinctions built on self-reporting—Blow penned an entire column about the ratty values developed in religious schools.

Please note the way this high elite acts. Blow knew he had to withhold those data, which make his column an obvious joke. And so, withhold the data he did, ranting ahead with his silly screed against religious schools. In comments, a few readers had actually checked the survey; they noted the fraudulence of the column. But many more commenters blathered away, thanking Blow for his brilliant good work in helping us ponder this outrage, which they’d known about all along.

In these columns, you see the work which comes from one of our highest, most famous elites. Much as Murray said in his piece, members of this high elite seem to develop specialized views, in which they look on large parts of the country with undisguised derision. They may even play you to sell you their point. Eventually, though, people notice—even the kinds of hopeless rubes who live in Liberal, Kansas.

Tomorrow, on Election Day, we’ll review a New York Times editorial; it concerned Sharron Angle and immigration. Did Murray possibly have some good points about the ways of our modern elites? Liberal elites rushed to mock his piece. Did they protest too much?

Liberal elites on the public schools: Blow was very upset about that “civility gap.” In religious schools, 27 percent of boys misbehave; in public schools, by way of contrast, it’s just 26! To this member of a Manhattan Elite, this seemed like a very large problem. But as he started his ludicrous column, he took an actual public school problem and tossed it under the back of the bus:

BLOW: Education reform is all the rage these days.

It’s no longer just the weighty obsession of parents with few options scrambling to get a child into a better school. It has also become the “it” topic of the cocktail crowd, including many parents with children who have never seen the inside of a public school. “Waiting for Superman” is the new “An Inconvenient Truth.”

This new discussion centers on the achievement gap in public schools. It’s an intractable issue and needs as much attention as it’s getting. But a study released on Tuesday highlights another subject that’s much less discussed: let’s call it the private school civility gap, particularly at religious private schools and particularly among boys.

This is a not-so-little, not-so-secret, dirty little secret among the upper crust.

The achievement gap deserves a lot of attention, Blow said. But he wasn’t going to dirty his hands trying to ponder this actual problem. He, a cog in a New Elite, had pure perfect crap on his mind.

As we’ve told you, liberal elites don’t much dirty their hands worrying about low-income schools. When they do discuss this topic, they either move on—as Blow quickly did—or they hand you the Official Established Group Narrative. That’s what Nicholas Kristof did in his column this weekend, in Sunday’s New York Times. Kristof rattled every point you’ve heard many times before:

KRISTOF (10/31/10): Above all, Mr. Obama has been stellar in one area crucial to our country’s future: education. Democrats historically have been AWOL on school reform because they are beholden to teacher unions, but Mr. Obama has reframed the debate and made it safe to talk about teaching standards and “bad teachers.” Until Mr. Obama, Democrats barely acknowledged that it was possible for a teacher to be bad.

Mr. Obama used stimulus money to keep teachers from being laid off and to nudge states to reform education so as to benefit children for years to come. His “Race to the Top” focused states on education reform as never before.

He has also revamped and expanded student loans and bolstered support for community colleges, opening a new path to higher education for working-class Americans. Millions more Americans may end up in college.

Presidents in both parties have talked for years about the importance of education, but until now it has been lip service. Improving America’s inner-city schools will be a long slog, but Mr. Obama has done far more than any other president in this area—arguably our single greatest national challenge. In my view, it’s his greatest achievement, and it has been largely ignored.

It’s not that there’s anything “wrong” with that. But this is the mainstream press elite’s Official Established Set of Views, offered by someone who doesn’t know much more about public schools than what he hears from the New Elite’s “experts.” In Kristof’s recitation, the teacher unions take a jab, as do “bad teachers;” “education reform,” narrowly defined, earns vague words of praise. “Teaching standards,” whatever they are, come in for additional praise. Kristof never considers the possibility that here may be “bad superintendents,” clueless experts or dumb “educational reformers.” He simply rattles familiar points from a familiar list.

In all honesty, Kristof doesn’t much know what he’s talking about. For the most part, he has memorized the points a gang of “experts” have crafted. But what if those “educational experts” are themselves part of a “New Elite?” What if they themselves work from a limited palette, as described in Murray’s piece?

In our view, real progressives would worry about that; they’d leap at the chance to discuss this syndrome. But out in pseudo world, the Benens frolicked and played last about Murray’s very bad piece, which was plainly very wrong since it came from The Other Tribe.