Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On being a snob and a joyously condescending person

Via Aretae, we find this:
This is how I feel about the American public, and specifically the American voter. I don't want to see them because doing so will serve no purpose other than to make me nervous. I don't want to see their Confederate flag bumper stickers, Palin 2012 t-shirts, Left Behind books, and Insane Clown Posse tattoos. I don't want to hear them regurgitating Glenn Beck monologues, talking about what Jesus told them the other day, or punctuating their speech with "done gonna" and "nuh-uhh." In short, I do not enjoy seeing the level of ignorance that we all understand is pervasive in our society.
Aretae takes him to the woodshed for as satisfying a thrashing as I've seen in a while, but GinAndTacos went and tramped on one of my pet peeves, so I'm fixin' to done gonna reply here.

You see, I used to be an asshat just like GinAndTacos. I was the product of a very intellectual, BoBo upbringing. I knew the right wine to serve, and how to serve it. Watched PBS, and got my thinking points straight from the Washington Post. I knew that I was better than most everybody else, because I was smart. I'd always been told so, and it was true.

In short, I was an idiot, living in a comfortable and well-heeled bubble world, ignorant of everything outside it. Except for Europe and elite opinion from there - well traveled, I put an excess of credence on what they thought of us, on the right side of the Pond. I would have heartily agreed with GinAndTacos:
As much as the good liberal inside all of us wants to sing a Fanfare for the Common Man while lecturing ourselves on the nobility and wisdom of the salt-of-the-earth types who populate this country, seeing them usually just makes me sad. If that means I am a terrible person, I am a terrible person. Toothless hillbillies in pro wrestling t-shirts. A pack of juggalo teenagers. Morbidly obese women in halter tops and jorts. Eighteen year old girls and their three children. Sullen, sunburned yokels slapping their children as other sullen, sunburned yokels look on, understanding the impulse and approving of the act. Baggy-panted black kids getting in fistfights. Twitchy, meth-addled white kids picking at their scabs. Mustachioed policemen harassing the former and ignoring the latter.
Forgive me, I was a jerk. I hadn't (yet) realized what Your Volgi teaches:
Plus, the kids who come in are often times high on themselves and their SAT scores and have increasingly not been exposed to alternative moral systems, like traditional religion, in which they'd hear, "Yeah, you're smart, but so what? Are you good?"
Then I got a job in Atlanta.

We were living in London (London!!!1!). We knew nothing about Atlanta, or the South, other than what we'd seen on PBS or read in The Post, or overheard at the cocktail party. Oh my God, people said, you're moving where?

Of course, Atlanta is a fine place, and filled with fine people, and Lord willing and the creek don't rise we'll skedaddle back there presently. It is delightfully free from Harvard Men who think that they should be able to run your life, by virtue of birth, or class, or degree. But that's not my point.

Aretae is surprisingly gentile in the ass whooping he unleashes, which strangely makes it even more of a thrashing:
I decided consciously that the connectors between me and people were bigger than the separators. And I started acting it. I've lived in small, rich, liberal towns in California. I've lived in Houston, and Austin and Chicago. I've lived in Moscow, Russia, and in Brussels, Belgium. I've lived in poor suburbs, and poor neighborhoods, and I've lived in rich-ish neighborhoods. And when I was traveling for work, I've lived in 100% black neighborhoods, 90% hispanic neighborhoods, and SWPL neighborhoods. And I've had friendly neighbors everywhere.
Amen, brother. And so in the interest of the Fellowship of Humanity, let me extend the hand of friendship to GinAndTaco. It's unlikely that you're as big a jerk as I was. Take a look around, and listen to people who are not like you. It's intellectually stimulating, it puts you out of your comfort zone - which is really the only place that we grow. If you agree that the first principle of a true intellectual is to challenge your own beliefs, this is the fastest way to that growth.

And listen to some Country Music, for crying out loud. There's more to it than you may think, which is just another way of saying the same thing.

Join us, as I propose a toast:
To my youth. God save me from a relapse.
You're welcome.


Robert McDonald said...

Excellent post. I was lucky enough to have my 'come to reality' talk with myself in my early twenties. Blame my voracious appetite for books and my decision to take few philosophy classes in school.

Paladin said...

Man... My first response was that somebody needs their clock cleaned. Guess that's a typical redneck reaction on my part. I've been on both sides of the lifestyle rift. I've grew up in the country and I've eaten a 'possum. I've also graduated from a pretty decent University. I regularly cuss like a sailor, but I'm not usually confused by words longer than 3 syllables.

One of the things that I've come away with that I'm positive about, is that there are dickheads and assholes in every single social class.

Eagle said...

Well said, BP.

If "the first principle of a true intellectual is to challenge your own beliefs", then the second principle MUST be the ability to integrate those challenging concepts into your belief structure *without changing them*.

We see "intellectuals" everywhere, and they *claim* to be "open" to "new ideas". But "paradigm blindness" too often blocks their ability to TRULY examine an idea on its own merit. Instead, they examine that idea using a "lens" that too often distorts the idea.

It's like growing up with a set crayons all the same color. You learn to use shading, shapes, perspective, and various ways to fill shapes to draw a picture. When someone hands you a crayon of a different color, you try to use that new crayon the same way you used your old crayon.

And when someone gives you a box of 48 different colors...

It takes some pretty significant skills to be able to examine a new idea using ITS paradigm, and then incorporate the idea AND its paradigm into your belief structure.

Is it any wonder that progressives revert to name-calling and old, tired epithets rather than examine their own belief structures and realize that some of their ideas just don't/can't work?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Do you think if that guy had done a tour in the military he'd be like that?

I found the influence of my intellectually snobbish liberal ex-wife rubbed off on me a bit too much and it took a few to unlearn what rubbed off onto me. I shouldn't have let that happen. I was cowardly and spineless to let it.

I still don't like stupid people. But see that neighbor guy over there that didn't graduate high school? He is not stupid. He can teach me a lot. I don't forget these days that uneducated =/= stupid.

For instance. Gin and Tacos is a PhD. And he may be stupid, evidence suggests. As dumb as a box of Ritz Crackers.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

But I sure don't like country music, for the most part. That's ok. I don't like most music, for the most part.

Brent Crude said...

I've worked in back rooms with plenty folks with PHDs and multiple masters who just couldn't understand why they were working for a guy who officially left education at 16 (and had skipped most classes since he was 14) and not the other way around.

Brent said...

I'll stick with blues, thanks

Jay G said...

Out of the park, BP. Out. Of. The. Park.

Both the link and the commentary. Bravo.

I started to post a rather lengthy response that morphed into its own post. Thanks for the inspiration - it'll be up tomorrow...

gator said...

Man, did that one ever get my blood boiling. I'm also working on a post.

Lissa said...

The older I get, the less smart I think I am :)