Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another out-of-touch elitist against Palin

In an upcoming Newsweek article, Sam Harris agrees with me that there is something deeply disconcerting about many Americans' anti-intellectual bias when selecting our leaders -- most recently exemplified in the Palin nomination:

"Ask yourself: how has 'elitism' become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated."
Harris is a great, provocative writer. What I find interesting is that, in an email to people on his mailing list, he titled his article "In Defense of Elitism." Makes sense. But compare that to the title on Newsweek's online edition: "When Atheists Attack." Doesn't that sound a bit like pejorative commentary from Newsweek's editors? Does it even relate to the substance of the article?

3 comments:

Acrobat said...

Look, since by definition Harris & his godless ilk are devoid of any scrap of morality, the Newsweek title properly precludes us from meeting him on a rational playing field.

Bryan Koenig said...

Godless ilk? Perhaps its elitist of me, but I always prefered to meet an intellectual opponent on a fair and level playing field,one where you defend and attack the content, not the person. Agree or disagree all you want, just because someone's views differ from your own is no reason to automatically assume they are irrational. Difference of opinion is what differentiates a democracy from a willing dictatorship.

That being said, I agree wholeheartedly with Professor Chong, I did not and could not have ever concieved of picking someone like George W. Bush or in this case case Sarah Palin simply because I might enjoy a beer with him or her. Leaders in the modern age need a grasp of history, politics, economics, sociology, military tactics and organization, law & order and an endless stream of other issues that could concievably be beyond the grasp of the person at the next bar stool. A down to earth, real life, moderately educated and intelligent individual is someone you befriend, whereas a true leader is someone you FOLLOW, whom I would sincerely hope could have the intellectual capacity to identify a problem, come up with an innovative and effective solution, and rally people to the cause. How many beer buddies can do that?

Dan Chong said...

It's OK Bryan, Acrobat was just being sarcastic.

BTW, thanks for your comments on the tax post! Funny, I used to work with a lot of people who were "tax resisters" for conscientious purposes, and I never thought about the possibility that I might be calling them unpatriotic.