Saturday, September 30, 2006

Meet your nation's elite...and weep for your nation

Via Digby, here is a list of the top 100 pairs of guests at Washington, DC parties. Digby notes the article's entry about US Senator George Allen and its backhanded defense of Allen's racism (and note the two entries for black Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (no. 34) and US Senator Barack Obama (no. 69), if anyone thinks the writers don't have at least an insensitivity to darker-skinned people).

For me, I noticed the in-breeding and inherited wealth--and the fact that the ambassadors from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are in the top 5 of who to invite to the swank affairs.

The people on this list include the same people who wring their hands about supposedly growing "illiteracy" among college students with reference to history and politics. Yet, these same people, with the exception of David Gregory (no. 38), fell--no, swooned--for the lies from the Bush administration.

I also found it revealing that Christopher Hitchens (no. 43) is on this list. Before Hitchens became stupid with neo-con fantasies, he was only on the hidden list of who not to invite. But when he became stupid, he became part of the coquettish in-crowd who do not think legalizing torture is a bad thing, but are outraged when they receive a few obscenity-laden emails from a few largely justified and irate people who live outside the Washington, DC bubble who call them on their delusions and misstatements, or worse, ignoring of factual information.

As Michael Berube describes with a very arched sarcasm, the illiteracy of the elite class in our nation is the true scandal.

But, if it makes readers feel any better, here is Chomsky on the ignorance of the educated classes during the Vietnam War and the intelligence of the regular folks as to that terrible and tragic war:

"During the Vietnam War, the U.S. propaganda system did its job partially but not entirely. Among educated people it worked very well. Studies show that among the more educated parts of the population, the government's propaganda about the war is now accepted unquestioningly. One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda. Another is that they have jobs in management, media, and academia and therefore work in some capacity as agents of the propaganda system--and they believe what the system expects them to believe. By and large, they're part of the privileged elite, and share the interests and perceptions of those in power.

"On the other hand, the government had problems in controlling the opinions of the general population. According to some of the latest polls, over 70 percent of Americans still thought the war was, to quote the Gallup Poll, 'fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake.' Due to the widespread opposition to the Vietnam War, the propaganda system lost its grip on the beliefs of many Americans. They grew skeptical about what they were told. In this case there's even a name for the erosion of belief. It's called the 'Vietnam Syndrome,' a grave disease in the eyes of America's elites because people understand too much."

One finding of the "illiteracy" study that may seem strange is how students at some of the top elite colleges showed a decline in knowledge of things historical or political from their freshman to senior years. That is consistent with Chomsky's point, where it is to one's economic and status-based advantage not to know information that would bar entry into--or cause one to be kicked out of--the in-crowd. Just as almost 65% of Americans want us to announce a withdrawal from Iraq or leave immediately, the elite continue to labor under delusions that we should wait yet another "six months" before making a too hasty decision. Meanwhile, the children, parents, and siblings of non-elite class loved ones come home in body bags or flag-draped caskets, and more and more Iraqis die for the hubris and mendacity of a president who cares very little about anyone except his cronies and his aggrandizing of power.

This is not new. However, it is less defensible when the information is more easily attainable in our Internet age and at a time when our nation is, in fact, ruled by people who are woefully without good faith toward their nation's best interests.



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