November 06, 2004

Huh? What Them Say Bout Me?

I noticed that in lieu of whining about "stolen" elections (although there has been some of that), the new sport for this election's Democrats seems to be making themselves feel better by categorizing everyone who voted for George Bush as stupid, or uneducated, or ignorant. Take your choice.

Here's one reprinted from the New York Times, from a website that purports to bring you 'the truth.'
Dr. Joseph, a bearded, broad-shouldered man with silken gray hair, was sharing coffee and cigarettes with his fellow dog walker, Roberta Kimmel Cohn, at an outdoor table outside the hole-in-the-wall Breadsoul Cafe near Lincoln Center. The site was almost a cliché corner of cosmopolitan Manhattan, with a newsstand next door selling French and Italian newspapers and, a bit farther down, the Lincoln Plaza theater showing foreign movies.

"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."

"New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.

His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be. "New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say."

"They're very 1950's," she said of Midwesterners. "When I go back there, I feel I'm in a time warp."

Wow. Read that one any way you want--it still smacks of elitism. This next one, were it about any other group, say one divided along racial lines, would likely have produced charges of hate speech and ended Jane Smiley's career, such as it is. (I read A Thousand Acres, dear. It's King Lear on a farm. Congratulations.) It's such a fanatical piece of writing, that I wonder if it's not meant to be taken seriously, like Swift's A Modest Proposal. But it is published in Slate, which I guess would be analogous to Swift's piece being published in a cookbook. Here's an excerpt:
The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know, decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey—workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant. Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?

Now, I don't condone violence, especially against women. But, right now, I would very much like to punch Jane Smiley in the face. It's true that I'd likely be confirming at least a part of her prejudices, but at this moment, with her vitriolic article still on my mind, my way seems much more satisfying than trying to change her mind.

Do the Democrats really think Republicans are that stupid? How do they explain the increase in support for Bush? Were there some Democratic farmers out there in the Heartland that got kicked in the head by mules, and now wander about like Lenny in Of Mice and Men, saying things like "tell me agin 'bout the Ter-rists, George," and "George? When we find them weapons of mass 'struction, you can have them all, George. I just want some ketchup for my beans"?

At the risk of sounding arrogant (which it will), let me tell you a little about myself. I used to be a member of MENSA (I stopped paying dues). My IQ, when last measured, was 165. I was playing chess at 2 and a half years of age, and reading novels at five. I have a graduate degree. Although my degree is in the humanities, I enjoy reading in the sciences, particularly theoretical astrophysics. I understand Einstein's (general and specific) Theory of Relativity, the Pauli Exclusion Principle, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and so on. I have an uncanny knack for being able to build and diagnose computers, despite never having had any instruction. Why, I'm even cultured enough to enjoy theater and foreign film. And guess what? I voted Republican. Now, why did I blow my own horn? Well, partly because I want you to understand just how insulting it might be to have somebody call me ignorant or stupid. And partly because there are others out there, as intelligent as I am or more so, who also voted Republican. The Democrats in this country do not have a stranglehold on intelligence, or culture, or diversity of thought. For them to even think that they do, much less speak or write it, is the worst kind of prejudice.

So, for those of you out there who voted for George Bush, and are tired of the aspersions being cast on your intellect, here's what you do: The next time someone states, or even hints, that Bush won because the people who voted for him are ignorant, hit them with some facts from the people at Gallup.

* If the uneducated people of the country had NOT voted, not only wouldn't Bush have lost, he would have actually won by a larger margin. According to Gallup, nearly a third of all voters had an education described as "high school or less." Of that third, 54% voted for Kerry, while only 46% voted for Bush. Yes, that's right--more uneducated people voted Democrat than Republican.

* Bush kicked ass among those voters (48%) who had "some college" or "college graduate (no postgrad)," winning the first group by 12 percentage points, and the second by 16 points. That's nearly half the voting pool.

* To be fair, Kerry did win the "postgraduate education" bunch, but they were only 20% of the voting population, and he won them by only 6 percentage points. So, it appears that the Democrats would have you think that 47% of Americans who have made it to the highest echelons of our educational system, still managed to keep from picking up any smarts.

Well, there's the stats--take them for what they're worth. One final thought about that last bunch, the postgraduates. I belong to that group, and I work in academia, which is composed almost exclusively of members of that group who are Democratic (about 80-90 percent). I interact with them daily, and I've come to suspect something. Now, I am very fond of many of these people--they are my friends--so it hurts me to say this, but they are the most intellectually snobbish bunch of people I have ever met in my life. I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons that they stay in the world of academics is so that they are almost guaranteed to be intellectually superior to those they work with (students). Perhaps that provides some security for them. I really think they'd have a problem having to confront the fact that in the "real" world, there are people just as smart and as informed as they are, and that the opinion of these new people matters just as much as theirs does. In fact, I know they'd have a problem--just look at the way they reacted to the election.

7 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, well I can program my VCR, color within the lines, tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, tie my own shoes, and ride my bike without the training wheels. What do you think about that, Mr. MENSA.

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  2. Ah, but can you program your VCR to tie your shoes?

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  3. At the same time?! Let's not get crazy.

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  4. Ah, that explains the film quiz and other things Mr. Smarty Pants. Seriously, i was going to request your e-mail a few weeks so i can ask you how you deal with the liberal academic environment that tends to be so prevalent.

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  5. Oh, and there i thought you were joking about theoretical astrophysics interest :). I come from a family of physicist (my sister is a nuclear physicist at Yale) and whenver i meet people who are physicist or who like physics my reaction is usually quite positive. Although, the reaction surprises most people. So more kudos for you!

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  6. Awww, waddya know: another Mensa dropout! ;) I knew there was somethin’ I liked about you ...

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  7. Out of curiousity I searched for others in the blogosphere who named Fandango as one of their favorite movies, and I found your site. Go figure.

    I also found a good comment to use to defend why I supported Bush. Thanks.

    I don't love the guy and all that he does, but I respect most of his people and consider the view of the left to be too elitist thinking they know more than the 'heartland'. Its like the first class passenger escaping the crash landed jumbo jet shouting "I should get out first since I was in first class!"

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