Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Elite Are You?

There's a test to see how elite (per Charles Murray) you are.

1. Can you talk about "Mad Men?" Yes.
2. Can you talk about the "The Sopranos?" No.
3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right?" Drew Carey? Yep.
4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? Yes, in high school.
5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga? Not really.
5. How about pilates? Nope.
5. How about skiing? Nope.
6. Mountain biking? I can't ride a bike. I can ride a horse. Western-style, so not elite. 
7. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? Nope.
8. Does the acronym MMA mean nothing to you? I know what it means and have (HLS grad) friends who like it.
9. Can you talk about books endlessly? For the non-elite definition of "books."
10. Have you ever read a "Left Behind" novel? No, I prefer more believable subgenres of fantasy.
11. How about a Harlequin romance? Harlequin, no. Other generic Fabio-cover stuff, yes.
12. Do you take interesting vacations? Yes, although of late I have switched to less "elite" (N. American) destinations.
13. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? No.
14. What about an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor? Where's that?
15. Would you be caught dead in an RV? I've been to Disney World in an RV.
16. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship? Only if it's got sails.
17. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? Yes, it's Vegas for religious conservatives.
18. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? Do they even accept women? Oh, since the 19-fracking-80s? Bless their hearts.
19. How about the Rotary Club? See No. 18.
20. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town? My town turned from a small town to a suburb during the eight years I was living in it.
21. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? Probably not. Cumulatively, several months.
22. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line? Somehow I think "family" doesn't mean me on my own.
23. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? I did. 
24. Have you ever visited a factory floor? Yes.
25. Have you worked on one? Yes.

Murray should know that only when like marries like can there be any happiness, but he's apparently distracted by the lament that elite men no longer have an easy and socially acceptable way of keeping in touch with what poorer, less educated people think and like. In any case, Murray's own observation that "few [elites] grew up in the small cities, towns or rural areas where more than a third of all Americans still live" carries its own rebuttal: most Americans (nearly two-thirds, by his account) don't live in small cities, towns, or rural areas. And nearly three-fourths of Americans are not evangelical Christians. Most Americans don't take any real vacations at all. The safe money says that a majority of Americans have not voluntarily watched a full episode of Oprah, either. I could go on. It's not even possible for some Americans to have certain of the traits he lists: older women were shut out of the clubs, for example, and the chance of non-Christian Americans (15-20% of the total) reading a Left Behind book except by mistake or ironically is practically nonexistent---for good reason.
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