30 Jan 2012

“How Thick is Your Bubble?”

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Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post cover, August 27, 1960 (click to enlarge)

As the paintings of Norman Rockwell frequently attest, pre-1960s America was not nearly so thoroughly divided by class as today’s America.

We recently linked the New Criterion article by Charles Murray, excerpted from his forthcoming book, on the damaging impact to both sides of class separation in contemporary America.

To illustrate his theses, Mr. Murray subsequently offered a 25 Question test, designed to indicate exactly how isolated from ordinary America the individual subject may be.

Murray’s test seems pretty accurate, as I got a score of 67, placing me in the “first- generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and moviegoing habits” category, which is quite right. I’m the descendant of Turn-of-the-Last-Century Lithuanian immigrants, and grew up in the Anthracite coal mining town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. My father and grandfathers were coal miners. As a consequence, I think Murray is right in believing that I’m much less infatuated with the moral and intellectual superiority of the urban community of fashion.

One Feedback on "“How Thick is Your Bubble?”"


Mr. Murray, as usual, makes an astute point — although I think he doesn’t address an equally important one. I do not myself (score 39) relate particularly well to the blue-collar or uneducated populace. It’s not usually been all that enjoyable or interesting to me, so I don’t seek them out. I would, if asked, be able to articulate a very long list of how they “ought” to do many things differently. BUT, I would never impose my list on them. I don’t think people ought to smoke or overeat, for instance, but I am offended more by those who ban smoking and try to dictate the diets of others. I have spent much time with evangelical Christians and don’t warm to their form of worship, but I don’t put them down and I am appalled by those who do.
There is nothing necessarily insidious about living in a bubble — unless you can’t resist the temptation to make others live the way you choose to. This, to me, is a fundamental distinction between most conservatives and liberals.


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