« This is America | Main | Peace Through Strength?: The Problem with Fighting Your Way to the Negotiating Table »

October 29, 2010

Comments

It has been a long time since I last read Homer, but I seem to recall that shame and honor and "face" are pretty much what the Iliad was all about. So this stuff has been around for a while.

But Homer was writing about "heroes", not about ordinary yokels. He doesn't tell us much about the Achaian in the street. So I don't know whether the "honor culture" was a widespread phenomenon in Homeric times.

I'm willing to allow that the run-of-the-mill Teabagger is animated by something like the touchiness of an Achilles -- a feeling that life is hardly worth living without "honor". But I think that's a high-falutin' elitist way to describe simple resentment and ignorance.

--TP

Tony:

Homeric Greece is considered one of the defining honor/shame cultures, and a concern with honor and "face" often goes along with a strong warrior (or violence) ethos. Similarly, Ta-Nehesi Coates (at the Atlantic) wrote recently about how it's part of what gets called "the culture of poverty", where any perceived disrespect has to be met with a threat of violence, because you *cannot* afford to risk losing respect and reputation.

For a ghetto kid to be resentful and touchy makes sense; the problem is more what Junot describes in his friend:

I figured that he would be pleased by how far he had come. And he was, stridently so. But he wasn't as happy for himself as I was for him. Indeed, he wasn't as happy for himself as he was pissed off at everybody else.

It's a little silly to ascribe generalizations like this to such a disparate group as the Tea Party movement,

but in the case of libertarians, a more unified group (but still somewhat "big tent"), I think you're pretty far off base. libertarians resent anyone who either

1) supports restricting the freedoms of two consenting results, for nearly any reason

2) supports curtailing the ability of citizens to monitor government actions

3) doing either of the above in the name of "what's best for you."

..regardless of wealth, position of power, etc. They also get pretty annoyed when you invoke the commerce clause.

As someone who loves the Iliad and who lives in the ostensible ur example of a shame culture and who is from the South and appreciates many aspects of it, I'm pretty appalled that anyone could includ this group of pig ignorant yahoos put in the same category. I realize that a large element of the Tea Party bastes itself in the Lost Cause/the South will rise again idiocy, but people who go for that are often who have moved there (frex George Allen of Palo Verde HS)

One could argue that there are aspects that are there, but they are completely bereft of the complementary aspects that balance them. Samurai had seppuku, Ajax fell on his sword, and after the war, Robert E Lee forever renounced the cause he served. The shame culture of Homer is underpinned by a commitment to areté, excellence and timé, personal honor. These Tea Party types wouldn't know excellence if it bit them on the ass and have no sense of personal honor. Putting them in the same class as Homeric Greece, Edo Japan and the Antebellum South is to give them far more credit than they deserve.

It's a little silly to ascribe generalizations like this to such a disparate group as the Tea Party movement,

Can we please stop this "disparate group" nonsense? Survey after survey after survey shows that they're really not all that disparate.

Can we please stop this "disparate group" nonsense?

Anyone who claims to speak for the Tea Party really does not. Ask any one of them, they'll tell you.

Any particular position you might think the Tea Party holds, they do not. They have no official position, only things they all think are true.

They have no leaders, only people who organize large rallies.

They might support a given candidate, then again they might not. Because they are not a political organization, they are just a large group of people who participate in the same political activities toward the same ends.

And those ends could be anything, really. They don't have to all be the same, it just so happens that they are.

They're everywhere. But wherever you look for them, they are not there.

They are the Macavity of political organizations.

Samurai had seppuku, Ajax fell on his sword, and after the war, Robert E Lee forever renounced the cause he served. The shame culture of Homer is underpinned by a commitment to areté, excellence and timé, personal honor.

Those are more in the nature of counsels of perfection than normal expectations. Every culture has the equivalent of saints, whose behavior is respected and admired without being widely imitated. Achilles's commitment to areté didn't keep him from sulking in his tent while his friends and comrades were killed, and John Wilkes Booth's timé was satisfied by sneaking up behind a man and shooting him in the head.

I just saw a performance of An Iliad, a one-man show with a modern-day Homer telling the story. (Ninety minutes with no intermission--the guy is amazing.) It gave me the answer to something I'd always wondered, why the Iliad ended when and how it did. It's because the subject was the rage of Achilles, and it ends when the rage is dissolved by Priam's willingness to humble himself before Achilles, which breaks this particular epicycle of violence. (Not the overall cycle, in which the Achaeans refused to be punked by a bitch like Paris and burned Troy to the ground before resuming their own internal vendettas.) If Achilles is the hero of the Iliad, Priam is the saint, and there aren't many saints in any culture.

From Murray's article, cited above:

What sets the tea party apart from other observers of the New Elite is its hostility, rooted in the charge that elites are isolated from mainstream America and ignorant about the lives of ordinary Americans.

Let me propose that those allegations have merit.

Let me propose that Charles Murray is an insufferable windbag.

There are 300+ million people in this country, living every kind of way and in every kind of context you can imagine.

When people talk about "real America" I have to ask who died and made them god.

There is no "real America". Or, any "real America" that doesn't include and account for all of the different ways we all live, and all of the different traditions we all live by, is a fiction.

When used purposefully for political ends, it's a lie. It's propaganda.

Nobody owns exclusive rights to the name "American".

**** BEGIN RANT *****

If people are pissed off and resentful because other folks don't take them seriously due to the fact that *they don't know WTF they are talking about*, maybe they should consider opening a book.

Go read a freaking book. Not a book by Glen Beck, or Sarah Palin, or any of the other bonehead yahoos that decorate our political landscape.

A book by someone who actually knows something, and can explain what they are talking about, and can show their work.

Go to the library, take out some books, and read them. It is not rocket science.

If it hurts your feelings that people don't take you seriously because you have no clue, perhaps you should consider getting a clue.

Or maybe just grow a thicker skin.

But PLEASE STOP WHINING. Just freaking stop it, it's annoying as hell.

Or, failing that, please stop voting, because you're hurting the nation.

**** END RANT ****

The real America thing just sets me the hell off.

Macavity 2012!

It brings to mind one of my favorite all-time political posters,

CTHULHU FOR PRESIDENT
Why vote for the lesser evil?

russell, Just so we are clear, I didn't see the term "real Americans" anywhere you quoted. Mainstream America is a different concept, worth thinking about prerant.

I'm not sure that "Mainstream America" is all that much more offensive than "the great unwashed".

One feature of a "shame culture" is that you actually *care* about what other people think, because honor -- being a worthy person -- is a matter of reputation, of public opinion.

In contrast, I suppose, in a "guilt" culture, "reputation" is what others think about you, while "honor" is what you think about yourself and your behavior relative to your own standards. While a purely guilt culture has problems, on balance it seems a bit healthier than a purely "shame" culture. If only because allowing your view of yourself to be drive by what others think of you seems like a Bad Thing. Which, on reflection, suggests that my family raised me in more of a "guilt" culture than a "shame" one.

While this is not a favorite subject of mine, I have been working the lines between what I consider mainstream America and the New Elite for over 15 years.

As an executive for hire in companies run by wealthy owners or Board Members, I got to observe the chasm of difference in the views and outlooks of the mainstream folks I managed and the elite on a pretty regular basis.

It is almost impossible for the wealthy and the entitled to have a scrap of understanding of what serves as goals and ambition for the mainstream American. These are not bad people, they are not evil or unfeeling, they simply no longer have a frame of reference that allows them to empathize sufficiently to react on a day to day basis like a mainstream person would.

They also have empowered a whole set of intellectual elite to believe the average American are witless and and incompetent. No Ivy League education? A second tier law school? Your opinion doesn't count.

The most difficult people I ever have had to deal with were 2nd lieutenants right out of ROTC and new Harvard MBAs. Neither knew much but were completely convinced they had all the answers. In the case of the Harvard MBA this was reinforced by the reverence with which others listened to their every word. ROTC guys learned that they weren't geniuses much quicker.

Perhaps it is worth thinking about the reality of what mainstream America means, and the fact that most of us are actually a part of it, before we rant too much.

Mainstream America is a different concept, worth thinking about prerant.

Both terms get equally far up my nose.

Perhaps it is worth thinking about the reality of what mainstream America means, and the fact that most of us are actually a part of it, before we rant too much.

As long as folks vote based on what kind of mustard other folks eat, I will rant away.

I take, and agree with, your point about very wealthy people not having a real-world context for thinking about the lives of folks who are not very wealthy. I also agree that it's not down to them being inherently bad people, it's a matter of context and/or lack thereof.

Quite often that context is chosen, which is sort of another question. But I digress.

But those are not the folks who are typically being discussed when folks talk about who is or is not a "real" or "mainstream" American.

Look, somebody like Sharon Angle is running for the US Senate, and she is unaware of the content of the first amendment to the Constitution.

And for a non-trivial number of people, that is not only not an impediment, it's part of her appeal.

That's not mainstream, it's not "just folks", it's profoundly and deeply ignorant, and I have no problem calling it what it is.

If that offends people, they should get a clue.

It's not a matter of intelligence, it's a matter of responsibility, and a matter of actually giving a crap about something other than your poor little hurt feelings.

It's about growing the hell up.


Ironically enough, the redneck Pentecostal preachers, who would visit my grandfather’s church, were always warning us, that mainstream culture would drag us down into the pits of hell.

Today, these same preachers are avid readers of the Left Behind series.


All kidding aside, what those redneck Pentecostal preachers have in common with the Roman Catholic retirees (isn’t Charles Murray a Papist?) is their sense of danger for the real white America.

As a hopefully final point from on the "elite" topic:

"Wealthy owners", "board members", "Ivy League grads", "first tier law school grads", and "Harvard MBAs" are not a "New Elite".

They are the same freaking elite we've had for 250 years. Longer, in different forms.

The fact that they have a lot of economic, political, and social power, and that they are more or less oblivious to the concerns of folks who are not in their circle, really should not be a news flash to anyone.

"Those who own the country ought to govern it", said John Jay, notable founder.

Nothing new here.

But hey, let's argue about mustard, and NASCAR, and whether you eat at Applebee's or not.

Really, who gives a crap if you would rather go to the opera, or go bass fishing. Do whatever the heck you like.

No doubt, somebody somewhere will think it's stupid and will make fun of you for it. Sticks and stones, y'all.

But if you're thinking of electing a US Senator who doesn't even know what's in the First Amendment, I will politely ask you to stay home on Tuesday, because you're only going to make things worse.

Nothing personal, it just is what it is.

That's probably enough from me on this topic for here, I'm not looking to jack Doc Science's thread.

As threadjacks go, yours is a pretty good read, russell. (I've always been a fan of angry russell.)

Marty:

I don't understand what you mean by "New Elite" -- as russell says, how are they different from Same Old Elite?

Now, when you talk about MBAs, you may be getting somewhere. I don't think Charles Murray is thinking about what I call "MBA culture" when he talks about "the New Elite" -- but that might be something worth getting at.

My observation, though, is that the Tea Party does *not* resent MBAs: MBAs are powerful and money-focussed, just what they think the ruling class should be.

I also don't know what you mean by "mainstream Americans". It doesn't seem to be about economic class, but about some other aspect(s) of culture.

I am reminded of something I read during the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC. Some Iowans emerge from Penn Station, look around, and say, "It sure doesn't look like America."

And yet the culture, diversity, and ambition of New York have been a lynchpin of this country since well before this country: Iowa is the merest middle-schooler by comparison. Which is really more mainstream?

russell:

Keep commenting, dude! Don't worry 'bout me.

"All kidding aside, what those redneck Pentecostal preachers have in common with the Roman Catholic retirees (isn’t Charles Murray a Papist?) is their sense of danger for the real white America."

I believe President Obama thought maybe time would heal all wounds after the 2008 election (he still doesn't get it with his recent talk of reaching compromise on some issue, any issue, with the zombie Right after the election next Tuesday), but there is something about a black man in his position offering time as salve that has wounded all of the heels in the population.

And I don't mean the run of the mill casual racism of my fellow Democrats Joe Biden or Harry Reid ("Barack Obama is a well-spoken, highly educated man"), I mean something deeply visceral -- not unlike the reaction of a great aunt of mine, who when we were watching the Johnny Carson Show just months before Martin Luther King was murdered, practically threw up when Johnny and the black actress Dianah (sp?) Carroll exchanged kisses. My aunt made a half exclamatory/half spitting "blooey" sound with her mouth as her hands batted away the image of those kisses from her face and then had to walk it off while holding her hanky to her mouth.

It's kind of the way I would feel if I had to kiss the vile lips of racist vermin Rush Limbaugh.


What russell said.

Marty:

[...] It is almost impossible for the wealthy and the entitled to have a scrap of understanding of what serves as goals and ambition for the mainstream American. These are not bad people, they are not evil or unfeeling, they simply no longer have a frame of reference that allows them to empathize sufficiently to react on a day to day basis like a mainstream person would.
This is a useful observation, insofar as it is true as a generalization, but only as a subset of the encompassing set, which is that everyone has a limited ability, and starts with zero knowledge, in understanding what life is like for someone growing up in very different circumstances.

Some people are more aware of this than others. Some people make more of a conscious attempt than others to break out of their bubble, and look into what life is like from a very different cultural or economic, or other, perspective, such as gender.

Generally speaking, there's less looking down then there is looking up. People are naturally aspirational, and looking down at where you might fall is scary.

More specifically, another example of what you speak of is that many middle-class people have no idea what it's like to grow up in much poorer and different family circumstances, which may not include much of a "family" at all.

But we're all in bubbles; it's only accident or effort that we break through them, whether it's a poor person getting to see something of the life and perspective of someone who sits on boards, or vice versa.

And I respect those who make the effort to break out of their bubbles, to whatever degree they can. It would be a better world if more people did that.

Countme?

Racism is not about wiping out “the other,” per se, but about knowing your place, and respecting the hierarchy.

(I suspect sexism works in the same way.)

One of the most astounding aspects of American Religion (US Protestantism), is the phenomena of straight-out racists (and many were Klan members, even) who would take Black and Indian believers under their wing to teach them theology.(Pentecostalism is the most celebrated, with Parham and Seymour). These white Protestants did not stop being racist, because they had intimate relationships with non-white believers. As a matter of fact, they picked particular “believers” of color because they assumed that they respected the racial hierarchy. Most, but not all, but most…Black and Indian Protestants embraced the theology, but rejected the racism (At this time in US history, racism was associated with civilized democratic society).

My father, (Black-Puerto Rican, a fundamentalist and leftist Democrat) to this day, attends a church led by a white right-wing Republican. My Pop’s hates this man’s political priorities, and believes this preacher’s racism blinds him to the communities’ problems, but loves many other things about him.

DocSci Now, when you talk about MBAs, you may be getting somewhere. I don't think Charles Murray is thinking about what I call "MBA culture" when he talks about "the New Elite" -- but that might be something worth getting at.

My observation, though, is that the Tea Party does *not* resent MBAs: MBAs are powerful and money-focussed, just what they think the ruling class should be.

Yup. The problems with elites in academia never seem to tar the business or medical school, both of which get gobs of money from the Old Boy alumni network. It's always a professor with no institutional power from a marginalized department with no budget that gets the Dittohead undies in a collective bundle.

No idea why these people pay so much attention to what goes on in Ethnic Studies. Most of the undergrads can't be arsed to get worked up over the stuff being taught even while they are in the damn class.

Doc,

I used the New Elite as a reference for the elite, should have left out the new.

The difference in the New Elite, or bicoastal elite, you reference, is their actual belief that "those" people are ignorant and unsophisticated thus they should stay out of the way of those who know what is right.

The President said it best, in SF during the campaign in his infamous clinging to religion and guns speech. That message resonated with the bicoastal elite, thats why he used it.

Why Midwest,or westerm MA, or upstate NY, Christian Americans would object to that elitist view is perfectly understandable.

My son moved from Massachusetts to a Chicago suburb at 22 years old, his reaction was the same as the Iowans, it didn't resemble America to him.

What Russell and lj said, particularly lj's "pig ignorant yahoos".

Robert E. Lee was a highly educated member of the elite, steeped in the classics, and could probably recite long passages of the Iliad.

He knew honor and shame in their full tragic sense.

The current bunch of pig ignorant yahoos, including the not-so-ignorant pig ignorant yahoos who demagogue the former, have no sense of honor or shame. For these ilk, Achilles' Heel is not a tragic flaw, but rather might be a good name for a men's shoe store, if they were clever, which they aren't.

Christine O'Donnell spouts the term "elite", but lies about attending "Oxford University" on her resume, if she'll pardon her French. What is that? It's not self-aware enough to be tragic.

It's not even funny.

If she had to lift her skirt during debates and read her crib notes about the Constitution scribbled upside down on her underpants, THAT would be funny.

But not to her or the pig-ignorant yahoos who are voting for her. For them, this is serious discourse. Real Americans scribble the effing Constitution on their underpants for quick reference.

Elites use the library or their Kindle.

Andy Kaufmann being pile-driven by a thick-necked studio wrestler and then the two of them appearing together (Andy in a neck brace) so that Andy can double-down on the con by showing fake remorse for his accusations that studio wrestling is a con (that he might have been serious was a triple con) was clever, funny, and at least pathetically tragic.

Linda McMahon spending her life faux-kicking guys in the nuts and faux bashing guys over the head with folding chairs and then calling herself an entrepreneur (again, pardon her French) and on top of that, considering that experience
as qualifying herself to make law isn't tragic, isn't clever, isn't funny.

It's merely f#cked.

But it is a con of sorts.

Like Sharron Angle's con:


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/28/sharron-angle-health-care_n_742234.html

The Republican Party is a big-tent in this sense: they have succeeded in assembling the biggest group of pig-ignorant jagoffs in history. Regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, they'll take any loud-mouthed jagoff they can find.

My reaction on moving from central Illinois to Philadelphia was "Wow, I never knew America could look like this." Where do people get the idea that "what I grew up with" exhausts the category of "America"?

But I think that's a high-falutin' elitist way to describe simple resentment and ignorance.

Not sure if TP is being sarcstic here. If not, I agree with the first part of the sentence. Not sure about the resentment and ignorance part.

I haven't attended any tea party rallies and haven't donated, etc. so maybe I don't have room to talk. But this whole concept of "sore winners" is a bunch of psycho-babble. It's really stupid, IMHO.

Maybe it applies to the friend Junod, but I don't see it applying across the board. People are upset at the spending and the economic direction of the country. How exactly is that being a "sore winner?" Is it too hard to fathom that some people-maybe a lot of people-don't think that spending trillions of dollars is the right way to get out of a recession? And that their opinions aren't heard by their elected reps?

This is purely my own opinion, but I don't think that tea party adherents necessarily care what liberals think about them. I DO think they care that their elected officials, who are mostly Democrats, are not listening and getting their concerns. And that tends to make people angry. That's two entirely different things.

Yes, people tend to do silly things when they are angry, like support some people that represent change but otherwise are not the best candidates. I'll bet that if more "qualified" conservatives had been percipient they would have entered races they would have otherwise thought they couldn't have won.

And a lot of the anger of the tea party movement is aimed directly at Republicans. How is that being a "sore winner?"

I was watching the Alaska senatorial debate (being a former Alaskan I'm interested). Joe Miller, IMHO, has a real problem with having lied. And having lied as an attorney, no less. The doing an opinion poll during lunch on his own computer is almost meaningless to me, but the lying after is a real problem. And normally it would be to most Alaskans. But to hear the crowd boo Murkowski when she called Miller "unfit" to lead was amazing. There is real anger aimed at establishment Republicans that shouldn't be ignored.

I realize that a large element of the Tea Party bastes itself in the Lost Cause/the South will rise again idiocy,

Really? Haven't heard that at all. But then I don't read everything about the tea party.

Can we please stop this "disparate group" nonsense? Survey after survey after survey shows that they're really not all that disparate.

Cite? I haven't done a lot of searching, but they do seem at least somewhat disparate.

LJ: How can you be sure that flyer wasn't a smear? I don't know, but how do you? Maybe it's another version of a liberal showing up at a tea party with a racist sign.

The Tea-Party Movement is a mash-up of the Know-Nothings and the Birch Society.

Western Logic, be damned!

doing an opinion poll during lunch on his own computer

Several computers, none of them "his own."

Why Midwest,or westerm MA, or upstate NY, Christian Americans would object to that elitist view is perfectly understandable.

Yeah, and why people living in San Fran, or eastern MA, or downstate NY, or who are Jewish Muslim Buddhist Santero pagan or atheist, would object to being characterized as "non mainstream", or as having no values whatsoever, or as actively seeking the destruction of the country, or as being privileged entitled snobs, and that therefore they should either get out or be shoved out of the way of folks who know what is right, is likewise understandable.

Same/same. No difference.

So we can all stand around and have a contest about who has the biggest boo-boo, or we can all just get the hell over ourselves.

I pick the latter.

My son moved from Massachusetts to a Chicago suburb at 22 years old, his reaction was the same as the Iowans, it didn't resemble America to him.

But it was America, just the same.

No doubt your son has adjusted his optics since then.

The doing an opinion poll during lunch on his own computer is almost meaningless to me, but the lying after is a real problem.

Get this right, please. He did it on every computer in the office, then cleared their browser caches so nobody could find out, in the process clearing all their saved login information for various websites. Which is how he got caught.

Several computers, none of them "his own."

I KNOW this. I wasn't getting it wrong (I didn't intend to imply that's all he did); I just wasn't specific enough. Doing it ONLY on his own computer during lunch wouldn't have been a problem to me. Kind of like Michelle Obama campaigning at a polling place,only much less so (no, I don't want to prosecute Michelle. It was just incredibly stupid). Doing it on the other computers(even without clearing the cache) definitely is. And then clearing the cache. And then lying. And being an attorney. All huge problems for me.

And I don't think he did it on every computer in the office. I don't think he did it on the Borough Attorney's computer. I know her. She's good people, BTW.


"But it was America, just the same.

No doubt your son has adjusted his optics since then."

Exactly

Get this right, please. He did it on every computer in the office

And he apparently did this to enter multiple votes in a poll seeking to oust the then-chairman of the state GOP.

Which was in violation of ethics rules that applied to his government position as attorney for the borough. No politicking on the job, using public assets and resources.

What he did was unethical, he lied about it when he did it, and continued to lie about it until he was busted.

Then he sought through his attorney to have the paper trail suppressed.

Bad actor. I don't care what noble agenda he claims to support, the dude is a bad actor.

The first thing one should note is that Murray is an academic fraudster, racist, liar, and absolutely unworthy of attention.

With that preamble, I read Murray's piece - and frankly much of the last few years of Republican strategy - as being a rather desperate attempt to find some form of durable division in which the Republican Party could claim to be on your side.

The Republican Party is overwhelmingly the party of Murray's New Elite, that is, the wealthy, well-educated, those born to wealth and those who will pass it down to their children. That is the Republican Party.

But Murray needs to obfuscate that fact, so he grabs for handfuls of cultural markers in an attempt to say, look, those hipsters, those Democrats, they don't like you, they look down on you, they don't get you.

As if the Republican Party does.

Some bloggers reacted to the Murray piece by listing their own responses to his list of markers, I assume with the intent to discredit it. But that exercise is almost unnecessary. There can hardly be a person out there who could read that list without protesting that some taste attributed to "their" group is that thing they hate or some taste attributed to the "other" group is something they deeply identify with. It doesn't work.

And the broader Republican version is barely more sophisticated. It survives only by avoiding any of the details Murray brought up and loudly shouting about "Our America" without ever deigning to define what is meant.

I think we're about to see that incoherence demonstrated, if the Republicans take the House. If you thought Democrats lacked unity behind their major policy initiatives, well, I think you're going to see what Republicans are all about - total chaos. Unity is easier in the minority because you don't have to even pretend to govern.

Once again, what russell said. Reprinted for emphasis:

Yeah, and why people living in San Fran, or eastern MA, or downstate NY, or who are Jewish Muslim Buddhist Santero pagan or atheist, would object to being characterized as "non mainstream", or as having no values whatsoever, or as actively seeking the destruction of the country, or as being privileged entitled snobs, and that therefore they should either get out or be shoved out of the way of folks who know what is right, is likewise understandable.

Same/same. No difference.

So we can all stand around and have a contest about who has the biggest boo-boo, or we can all just get the hell over ourselves.

bad actor..

On this we agree, russell.

I'll shut up after this on what I intended to simply be a statement that there is room in my black little republican heart for de minimis politicking at work, kind of like the Obama thing being a de minimis politicking at a polling station. This obviously went way, way beyond that. My lack of clarity initially is for some reason making people think I am justifying or even somewhat justifying what Miller did. WHICH I AM NOT.

""It's a little silly to ascribe generalizations like this to such a disparate group as the Tea Party movement,

Can we please stop this "disparate group" nonsense? Survey after survey after survey shows that they're really not all that disparate."" -- PHIL

Well, I'd like some citations, especially since data from the only academic source I know, The University of Washington poll, finds that they are generally conservative republicans whose socio-economic status matches the rest of America. Which is to say, they're all different.

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding here about the composition of the Tea Party. The article linked to in the Atlantic (and thus, this post) refers to them as more wealthy than others, and thus "sore winners."

When in fact, as I mentioned above, they have the same income distribution as the rest of US society. For some more useful reading, I suggest going here:

https://reason.com/archives/2010/04/27/racism-and-the-tea-party-movem

People are upset at the spending and the economic direction of the country. How exactly is that being a "sore winner?" Is it too hard to fathom that some people-maybe a lot of people-don't think that spending trillions of dollars is the right way to get out of a recession? And that their opinions aren't heard by their elected reps?

The fact that those people lost two elections doesn't mean they're "losers" in any other sense. Many or most of them have well above the national median of income and wealth; they live reasonably well and reasonably securely, often in large part because of government programs. Hence "winners." If they're not being "heard" by their elected representatives (and by "heard" I would guess you mean "obeyed"), it's because . . . well, see above re: two elections. The people who win the elections get to pass the laws. That's how it works. Being of a certain social and economic status (or being "mainstream" or "ordinary" or whatever synonym for "real Americans" we're using this week) doesn't earn you an exemption from that.

"Yeah, and why people living in San Fran, or eastern MA, or downstate NY, or who are Jewish Muslim Buddhist Santero pagan or atheist, would object to being characterized as "non mainstream", or as having no values whatsoever, or as actively seeking the destruction of the country, or as being privileged entitled snobs, and that therefore they should either get out or be shoved out of the way of folks who know what is right, is likewise understandable.

Same/same. No difference.

So we can all stand around and have a contest about who has the biggest boo-boo, or we can all just get the hell over ourselves."


Same/Same, except no one here is saying they are stupid/ignorant and shouldn't be allowed to vote

But if you're thinking of electing a US Senator who doesn't even know what's in the First Amendment, I will politely ask you to stay home on Tuesday, because you're only going to make things worse.

followed by a bunch of "what russell said".

"So if you are going to elect a Senator who could give a crap that the vast majority of Americans are more concerned about whether they have a job and the country isn't bankrupt than implementing your social agenda based on what you think is best for them, then I will politely ask you to stay home, you are just going to make matters worse"

Same/Same?

On "honor", I don't buy it for a second.

The revolt of the older, white, wealthy Republicans - to the extent that it is anything more than a creature of well-funded astroturfing, but let's pretend for a while - is all about insecurity and fear that someone is laughing at them.

Which they are. So it's not like we're talking about paranoia here. We're talking about the reaction of people who have become the butt of the joke.

On top of which, the stretching-out of inequality means that you always know someone richer than you, probably much richer than you, someone for whom the lifestyle you have strained to sustain would be a trivial expense, and the fact that they feel exactly the same way about some yet-richer third person is invisible to you, or comes across as mere whining, and so you know that no matter how hard you try or how far you've climbed, you're never going to be on top, not even within eyeshot of the top.

So even on the scale you've chosen to measure yourself against, you're doomed, and everyone who doesn't buy into that scale thinks you're an asshole, so yeah, you're pretty unhappy.

Everyone's insecure. That's the most basic aspect of the human condition. There is not a person out there - at least, nobody without a severe personality disorder - who doesn't feel a deep insecurity about what everyone else thinks of them. Nothing special about that and no new explanation is needed.

Jacob: The difference between shame cultures and guilt cultures is pretty much one of emphasis. Everyone carries around some of both. But in a guilt culture you're encouraged to weigh your own value according to your own conscience, and be the primary judge of your own successes and failures. In a shame culture, it's more like your worth is rated and traded on a public exchange--your value really is only what other people think it is. You can't feel self-worth without more or less visible and more or less repeated external affirmations of your worth, and any denial of your worth (active or passive) must be met with a quick and massive response (what Ta-Nehisi Coates calls Article 2 of the Code of the Streets: "Thou shalt not be found a punk"). Hence the Paul volunteers' response to Laura Valle: she keeps making fun of us, so we have to take her out hard.

I KNOW this. I wasn't getting it wrong

OK, now I see where you were going. Sorry bout that.

I'm familiar with the terms. I think it's a stretch to apply the idea of an honor or shame society to the Tea Partiers in particular.

e.g. from the first article:
"Worrying about what someone who doesn't think about you thinks about you: this is the essence of Sore Winnerdom, and it is no accident that it also the essence of the Republican animus."

This statement refutes itself; it's in the middle of an article by a liberal about the Tea Partiers, and he wants to claim that liberals "don't think about" right-wingers?

The idea that there is some special resentment or insecurity on the part of those angry right-wingers that is not shared by the mellow, I'm-alright-you're-alright liberals is total crap. Liberals spend as much time as conservatives do obsessing over the opinions and insults of their political opponents, and you can't draw any particular conclusion from that except that people are people; they want to be approved of, they don't want to be mocked or belittled, and when they are they'll complain about it.

Hardly credible to claim that liberals don't mock or belittle conservatives. We do it here all the time. For people who "don't think" about conservatives we sure spend a lot of time dissecting their speech, motivations and socio-economics.

There is nothing mainstream about any of the qualities Murray describes. There is something to be said about knowing of the different slices of life in a country as varied as the US. But what we have here is a David Brooks-esqe conundrum of an elite trying to be a man of the people. You can tell Murray's piece is mostly a mishmash of weird cultural identifiers that Murray had to make up on the spot. Some fantasy world where the "really famous" Jimmie Johnson isn't the NFL football coach, and people other than retirees and school skippers watch the Price is Right (the rest of us have JOBS and could give a fuck that Drew Carey took Bob Barker's place).

The Q&A on the piece is even more telling. Murray is so much more condescending than anyone he writes about. Most telling comment:

https://live.washingtonpost.com/outlook:-the-tea-party-warns-of-a-new-elite-they%27re-right-.html?hpid=talkbox1

"What gives the New Elite their edge is largely cognitive ability. Nobody "deserves" that ability. It is as undeserved as the skills that enable people to become virtuoso violinists or NBA stars."

Even he thinks you all are dumb hicks. His article is nothing more then a projection of all his own biases.

Same/Same, except no one here is saying they are stupid/ignorant and shouldn't be allowed to vote

How do get from "politely ask you to stay home" straight to "shouldn't be allowed to vote"? And do you think it's good for people to vote for grossly unqualified, unknowledgeable candidates? Do you think someone like Christine O'Donnell would make a good U.S. F*CKING SENATOR?

Same/Same, except no one here is saying they are stupid/ignorant and shouldn't be allowed to vote

I've called two people, or groups of people, ignorant here in this thread.

One is Sharon Angle, who is running for US Senate and until quite recently appeared to be unaware of the contents of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the US.

The other group of people I've called ignorant are the folks for whom Angle's demonstrated ignorance presents not only an impediment to their support, but in fact elicits their support.

IMO ignorant is a dead reasonable description for both. I hope that suits, because I will not backing off on that.

If folks don't want to be ignorant, all they have to do is get some information, and I am talking about information that is widely and freely available.

Further: I don't think anyone should be prevented from voting.

It is my *personal wish* that folks who vote based on their personal resentment about lifestyle issues like who went to what school and who eats what mustard would stay home rather than vote, because I think their votes materially harm the nation.

I have no expectation that this wish will be granted, and I have no desire to impose it on anyone by force of law, or by force of anything.

I just wish they'd stay home on Tuesday.

"So if you are going to elect a Senator who could give a crap that the vast majority of Americans are more concerned about whether they have a job and the country isn't bankrupt than implementing your social agenda based on what you think is best for them, then I will politely ask you to stay home, you are just going to make matters worse"

Same/Same?

I have absolutely no problem with this.

Some fantasy world where the "really famous" Jimmie Johnson isn't the NFL football coach, and people other than retirees and school skippers watch the Price is Right (the rest of us have JOBS and could give a fuck that Drew Carey took Bob Barker's place).

That's what irked me too.

NASCAR ratings are down. Many, many more Americans watch football and baseball than NASCAR. Same with MMA.

But, somehow, NASCAR and MMA are mainstream, and the NFL is elite?

Huh? The N freakin FL? Tailgaiting is elitist?

PS: I love the Price is Right, and any time I was home sick from school, and now work, I watch.

Therefore, I can't possibly be an elitist. Sucks for the rest of you.

Murray is so much more condescending than anyone he writes about.

The penny drops.

Murray is also trying to push his genetic-determinism line in the article, it's worth noting, which is a favorite subject of those who favor inheritance of wealth, although they've had trouble finding any socially-acceptable ways of expressing that opinion lately.

Which makes Murray's attempt to stir up resentment even sillier. He's a prime defender of the system of inherited privilege. Why on earth would you listen to anything he has to say about non-privileged culture? Dude doesn't know a damn thing about what people are actually like or how they got that way.

"But, somehow, NASCAR and MMA are mainstream, and the NFL is elite?"

I have to admit that I laughed when reading MMA is mainstream. All other sports are filler for gaps between football games(high school is best, but then I am a foreigner from Texas).

I love the Price is Right (although I prefer Wayne Brady on Let's Make a Deal, I have a really high percentage of picking the right door). I am getting to see them too often these days.

Marty,

Never got much into the high school scene (when I was in high school, we did the "Friday Night Lights" thing for big games and playoffs, which were played at nearby Hofstra University).

As for college, I went to NYU, so nothing doing there.

But the NFL is like my religion, and I am in church every Sunday without fail. As my mother likes to joke, "I hope my funeral isn't on a Sunday in the fall because I know you won't make it."

She kids.

Also like me some baseball, but nothing beats football Sundays.

"Also like me some baseball, but nothing beats football Sundays."

Next open thread you can tell me how your fantasy team(s) are doing. :)

Next open thread you can tell me how your fantasy team(s) are doing. :)

Would rather not. And, yes, that's plural.

Do they still do that higher/lower game (whatever they called it) on the Price is Right? It always annoyed how bad most people were at that. It should be a guaranteed win. You don't even have to know what the thing is you're guessing the price of.

Start with a guess of, say, 10 grand. If you're high, half it. If you're low double it. Once a range is established, shoot the middle. Rinse. Repeat. You'll zero in on the price in no time.

I guess if someone did that, they'd call them an elitist and tell them to go play the Price is Left.

Go back to Jeopardy!, smartypants.

"Start with a guess of, say, 10 grand. If you're high, half it. If you're low double it. Once a range is established, shoot the middle. Rinse. Repeat. You'll zero in on the price in no time."

Math Geek

Yeah, but my English ain't so good. Half it? What the hell is that?

Prepositions are elitists

But, somehow, NASCAR and MMA are mainstream, and the NFL is elite?

See, here is my dilemna.

My head is so far up my elitist butt that I don't even know what MMA is, even after I Google it. When somebody says "Jimmy Johnson" I think maybe they're talking about the trombone player.

All I have to say is this:

If, after the Tea Party takes over the nation, there is no more good deli in my neighborhood, there's gonna be hell to pay.

I can't find it right now, but deep down in my bones I just know there's a Reuben sandwich clause somewhere in Article I Section 8.

"I can't find it right now, but deep down in my bones I just know there's a Reuben sandwich clause somewhere in Article I Section 8."

Sauerkraut will be removed from all menus in NYC and elsewhere along with trans fats, because the smell of it makes mainstream America (or maybe just me) ill.

"My head is so far up my elitist butt that I don't even know what MMA is, even after I Google it. When somebody says "Jimmy Johnson" I think maybe they're talking about the trombone player."

This plus "I don't own a television" would make you the elitist elitist.

First they came for the reubens, and I did not speak up, because I prefer monte cristos.

Prepositions are elitists

What about verbs?

How do you feel about slaw?

It's gotta be a nice rye bread, though.

And either a half sour or new pickle, spears not slices. I don't mean to fire up the pickle wars again, but it is what it is.

I'm open to compromise, but I'm telling you now, I can only go so far.

"What about verbs?"

They are good in a wide range of food varieties.

won't eat slaw on anything, if its sweet I will eat it as a side, but it won't be outlawed. Dark rye, not that other stuff and if you put a pickle on my plate you have to remake the sandwich.

But other than that I'm not particular.

Potato salad for me. And russell, you can have my pickle without even prying it out of my cold dead hands.

Capers, mushrooms and lima beans are the only foods I don't like as far as I know. When I was a kid, I didn't like any peas or beans, mashed potatoes (wtf?), onions or peppers. Crazy. Oh, liver. Didn't like that. I haven't had it in so long, I don't know if I like it or not anymore.

Sauerkraut will be removed from all menus in NYC and elsewhere along with trans fats, because the smell of it makes mainstream America (or maybe just me) ill.

Okay, so, I know I'm being slightly myopic here, but... 'kraut elitist? Really? Really really?

I grew up in rural OH, surrounded by volks of ethnic German extraction. Went to grad school in PA. Living in each of these environments told me that 'kraut is so very, very, VERY blue-collar. YMMV outside of such geographic environs, but rank, disgusting pickled cabbage is elitist? Shirley you jest...

Screw that. If we're going to ban a product because it creates an intolerable stench, then the first thing on the list needs to be fake-buttered microwave popcorn.

Followed closely by nattou.

"Shirley you jest..."

Uh, yeah.

But, I am good with the fake buttered popcorn ban too.

What the hell is nattou?

Also, kimchee mofos.

"Also, kimchee mofos."

Smell or what? There is absolutely nothing that is better at 4 in the morning than kimchee.

Catsy,
I'm a big nattou fan (it is fermented soy beans and has a pungent smell and is very peta peta, that is to say, a lot like, well, mucus, but my first introduction to it was as nattou tempura, where a spoonful of natto is placed in a square of nori (known as laver and sometimes called seaweed) which is made into a small pouch shape and deep fried. This cuts both the smell and the stringiness. Highly recommended.

If I thought the Tea Party's central concern was the recession or the deficit, I would find them easier to respect and deal with. But it seems to me that their rallying cry is "I want my country back!" Murray's piece is not the first I've seen to tell them that the problem is "elites", educated people from the coasts who approve of gay marriage and who don't understand their Real American lives.

I have to admit to watching MMA on a semi-regular basis. More frequently than I watch NFL. As a ratio of how often I watch NASCAR, we're in undefined territory.

I also train MMA, from time to time. I'm far too old to actually consider competing, but I like the fitness aspect of it, as well as the tactics.

When you can arm-bar someone half your age, well, that is some goodness. It doesn't happen often, but once in a while is good enough for me.

"Liberals spend as much time as conservatives do obsessing over the opinions and insults of their political opponents, and you can't draw any particular conclusion from that except that people are people; they want to be approved of, they don't want to be mocked or belittled, and when they are they'll complain about it."

When Sarah Palin claims that a large percentage of Americans are not "real Americans," she is rejecting the fundamental idea that binds this country together, so I worry about the prospect of someone like her gaining power on the national stage. But I don't particularly respect her, so when she claims that I am not a real American, I'm not personally insulted.

I think a lot of people on the right like to view themselves as victims because it frees them from moral obligations. I agree that no one likes to be mocked or belittled, but the argument here is that many people on the right have made victimhood a part of their political identity.

We're talking about the reaction of people who have become the butt of the joke.

You know, I get that. The thing is, everyone is the butt of somebody's joke.

I am, you are, everyone reading this is the butt of somebody's joke.

The thing I find somewhere between worrisome and disturbing is when that, or specifically being offended by that, is the basis of a political identity.

"Facism is made by disappointed people", said Hemingway. And he was a guy who spoke on the topic from some direct experience.

This is a very, very big country, with a very diverse set of traditions and social narratives. We need to embrace that, not be offended by it. Even if somebody pokes fun at you because of the particular flavor that you happen to embody.

Because it isn't going to change. We're not going to all be the same, no matter what happens. And nobody's going anywhere.

Frankly, I don't know what's going to happen to us. We may well be on our way to being second-rate. That would be a damned shame, because there are a hell of the lot of smart, talented, hard-working people here. We have a lot of wonderful infrastructure, unbelievable natural resources, and more money than god.

The world really ought to be our oyster. Not in the Dick Cheney "it's our fate to be a hegemon!" way, just in a pinch yourself, look-how-freaking-lucky-we-are way.

This should be an unbelievably great place to live.

We need to learn, all of us, to gird up our loins and deal.

Hurt feelings are too freaking small a reason to let the country go to the dogs.

Marty,

To be clear, I like kimchee. My wife always thinks I'm humoring her and her family, but really, I like pickled things in general, and cabbage in many forms.

Slaw, sauerkraut, kimchee, stuffed, sauteed with garlic, hot pepper and olive oil, bring it on...

Marty: "I used the New Elite as a reference for the elite, should have left out the new."

Mary, I implore you: learn to use quotation marks. Your coherency level will go up 15%.

Gary,

I assume you didn't mean Mary, and I will work on the quotation marks.

However, I question your estimate of my increase in coherency.

"The President said it best, in SF during the campaign in his infamous clinging to religion and guns speech. That message resonated with the bicoastal elite, thats why he used it."

In a single private talk at a small fund-raiser, which press was barred from, but which someone snuck a recorder into.

[...] The comments came to light as a result of the Huffington Post's groundbreaking experiment in citizen journalism, Off The Bus. The website runs a network of about 1,800 unpaid researchers, interviewers and writers.

One of those writers, Mayhill Fowler, broke the story, despite being a paid-up supporter of Obama. She attended a fundraising event in San Francisco on April 6 and recorded Obama's speech.

Fowler sat on the material for days, conflicted about what to do with it. She only published the comments last Friday.

"She had some real reservations about the story as an Obama supporter," Amanda Michel, the director of Off The Bus, told the Guardian. "But she thought as a citizen journalist she had a duty to report the event, despite her support for Barack Obama."

This is an unlikely way to try to get resonance.

"I assume you didn't mean Mary,"

Yes, typo with haste; many apologies.

"and I will work on the quotation marks."

Cookie if you do! ;-)

"However, I question your estimate of my increase in coherency."

I'm a professional, and my numbers are mathematically precise.

;-)

Example:

I used the New Elite as a reference for the elite, should have left out the new.

Much clearer:

I used "the New Elite" as a reference for the elite, should have left out the "new."
Or perhaps you meant:
I used "the New Elite" as a reference for "the elite," should have left out the "new."
I can't tell, because you didn't demarcate it, or in other words, you haven't quite told us, your readers, what it is you mean.

To be sure, I post endless number of poorly phrased sentences, solecisms, errors, typos, and downright incoherencies on blog and in comments multiple times a day; I'm not suggesting you be held to any higher standard than anyone else.

I'm simply suggesting you (and everyone) use quotation marks when appropriate for clarity. And it's certainly a point that applies equally to all of us.

But it's only a suggestion.

I assume you didn't mean Mary

I'm no mathematician, but I think he meant "Shirley."

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad