Some folks are much better writers than I am. Most folks are better drivers. And nearly everyone is a better singer. Naturally, all those folks are elitist bastards — so far as I’m concerned. I recommend you don’t trust them.
I might sound crazy, but I’m actually just going with the flow. Isn’t it popular to revile elites? When, recently, Clinton proposed a gas tax holiday, nearly every economist who spoke up condemned her plan. She dismissed them all as “elites”. A whole lot of voters applauded her for that.
An “elite” is one of the worse names you can call an American these days. It’s a word that, like communist or fascist, conjures up a visceral reaction. Yet, not all elites are loathed.
The elite entertainer, the elite football player, the elite preacher, the elite talk show host, and even the elite politician still have their worshipers. Those folks have somehow managed to escape the loathing that is largely reserved for certain kinds of elites. Most notably, scientists and intellectuals.
Scientists and intellectuals are increasingly becoming marginalized in American society. It is that elite that is besieged. That elite that is loathed, distrusted, ridiculed and scorned.
For instance, the overwhelming consensus among people working in the evolutionary sciences is that evolution is a fact, and that evolutionary theory is the best explanation we currently have for the origin and diversity of life forms. Yet, fully half of the American public rejects evolution. If 50,000 out of 50,200 plumbers asserted that water flows downhill, the public would listen. But not if 50,000 out of 50,200 evolutionary scientists say evolution is a fact.
Again, when George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld took this country to war in Iraq, neither Bush nor Cheney nor Rumsfeld showed even the least respect for the government experts and advisers who attempted to tell them their plans were flawed and unworkable.
Worse, after we won the first round, they filled the American positions in Iraq with party hacks — many in their twenties — who had neither expertise in nation building, nor in Middle Eastern affairs, nor in the judiciary, nor in law enforcement — nor expertise in any role that mattered. It was as if the senior leadership of America actually believed the juvenile fantasy that knowledge, experience and wisdom count for less than fervent hopes and raw enthusiasm in bringing about a desired outcome.
Everywhere you turn in America these days you can find alarming examples of the people’s rejection of expertise. Some days, I suspect the only knowledge that’s still respected in America is the knowledge of how to make bombs and money.
Well then, maybe Dana Hunter is onto something. She’s the snarky blogger of En Tequila Es Verdad, and she’s launching a carnival to combat the growing movement to distort, reject and belittle the hard-won knowledge of society’s scientists and intellectuals. The Carnival of Elitist Bastards.
Her battle cry seems to be, “it’s time we stopped celebrating willful ignorance and start promoting genius instead.” Which is a painfully long battle cry to scream at the top of your lungs. But whatever. She’s come up with a great idea, and I think you and the rest of us should consider participating in it. The fact is, we are all in this society together, and no society that marginalizes it’s intellectual and scientific elites can hope to long retain its quality of life.
Adlai Stevenson was once called an “egghead” by a supporter of Dwight Eisenhower. Stevenson replied, “Eggheads unite! You have nothing to loose but your yolks!” Hunter has taken that line, shortened it, and slapped it on a badge for her carnival. I don’t know of anyone these days who considers themselves an egghead, but maybe those of us who don’t want to see willful ignorance plunge us into yet another war, who don’t want to see creationism taught as a science in the public schools, who don’t want to see our quality of life diminished — maybe we should unite.
Please give serious thought to writing an article or two for Dana Hunter’s carnival. And, if you’re inclined, please help get the word out by mentioning the upcoming carnival on your blogs. Thanks!
For those who prefer Christopher Hitchens, there’s this:
And for Noam Chomsky fans:
Of course, there’s always Norman Borlaug:
And who could forget Richard Dawkins:
More badges at Carnival of the Elitist Bastards