06 Sep 2008

“Harvard” Hates Palin

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Roger Kimball savors Sarah Palin’s arrival on the political scene as a kind of Joan of Arc of the culture wars.

Sarah’s lucky that the establishment left is so thoroughly secularist, or they’d be preparing her stake now.

In the early 1960s, Bill Buckley famously observed that he would rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. It is perhaps worth pointing out that Bill, a Yale man, was not singling out the Harvard faculty for special opprobrium. Harvard was merely a synecdoche. .. It was the smug, “progressive” liberal consensus that our elite academic institutions inculcated, even back then, that Bill objected to, not Harvard per se. …

It’s only from the eyrie of the “Harvard” Weltanschauung that a largish random sampling of citizens is found culturally deficient. And this leads me to a crucial point about “Harvard” and the “progressive” consensus it represents: it is sophisticated about everything except its own naïveté. It champions cultural relativism–absolutely. It is suspicious when someone shows up peddling “the truth,” especially about moral matters; but it embraces its perspective on the world as inarguable. According to the gospel of “Harvard,” all right-thinking (i.e., left-leaning) people agree with the various positions set forth in the catechism of liberalism. To champion the various dogmas set forth in that catechism, says “Harvard,” is simply to exhibit one’s contact with reality. To dissent from them is to exhibit one’s ignorance, bad faith, or malevolence. Nice work if you can get it!

If you can get it? The amazing thing is that there is nothing easier. The liberal consensus has tenure. I mean, it is thoroughly institutionalized, and not only in academia. It has metastasized throughout elite culture. It’s what you are likely to uphold if you were graduated from an Ivy League college, went to law school, or work for The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc. It explains the little frisson Chris Matthews felt travelling up his leg as Obama spoke last winter. It also explains the incredulous, spluttering rage that Sarah Palin has provoked in purlieus of liberal self-satisfaction. I call it “Palin Hysteria Syndrome.” Just this morning, for example, I received this email from an acquaintance (I preserve the original orthography and diction: he is a careful writer as a rule, but clearly his emotion got the better of him here):

    i read you blog posting on Sarah Palin. Quite a suprise. Never would I have thought you suceptible to trailer trash. More suprising were the comments about Palin’s “executive experience” and being governor of the country’s “largest state.” Once upon a time, those were the sort of sphistries against which you waged glorious battle. The strange bedfellows induced by politics are not integrity and compromise.

“Trailer trash,” eh? Clearly, as Victor Davis Hanson put it yesterday, “Team Obama, the mainstream media, and the entire American intelligentsia” are acting “as if they were collectively hit by a cruise missile aimed from Middle America.” “Cruise missile” is good: it suggests the unexpectedness and deadly accuracy of the blow. But I like to think that Boston phone book–or maybe it’s the Juneau phone book–is finally getting some of its own back. Bill Buckley would be pleased.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

One Feedback on "“Harvard” Hates Palin"

Kay B. Day

I noticed today Obama is critting Palin on earmarks. In a single (truncated) Senate term, Obama himself had a gift for earmarks. One he requested: $30,000,000 to teach kids to write.

I thought that’s what we paid teachers for.

Palin is everything a Washington insider can’t be. Elitists haven’t a clue about mainstream America. They don’t send their kids to public school and they wouldn’t have a cup of coffee with a blue collar worker if their life depended on it.

best, Kay B. Day


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