Have you seen the new Taylor Swift video? She takes a bold, courageous stance in favor of LGBT rights, and against the drooling mobs of orthographically challenged Red State bigots. Taylor and her cool LGBT friends have taken over a trailer park — get it! Ha ha!
See, according to leading pop star Taylor Swift (estimated net worth: $320 million), redneck white people are not only anti-gay, but their religion is stupid, and they can’t spell. Oh, my ribs hurt from laughing, I tell you what.
But seriously: this is what you call “punching down.” There is no easier target in the world for a pop star worth $320 million than anti-gay working-class and rural white Christians. I imagine Taylor Swift thinks herself brave.
In today’s New York Post, David Harsanyi writes about Fall, a new sci-fi novel that
envisions a future United States split between the violent, gun-toting, uneducated, cross-burning religious fanatics of bullet-ridden “Ameristan” and the peaceful, educated, secular denizens of the nation’s Blue enclaves, where decorum and truth always prevail.
Harsanyi mentions a much-discussed new study, called “The Perception Gap,” that discusses the difference between what Americans believe, and what those unlike them think they believe. Interestingly, the segment of the US population that is most accurate at assessing the views of other Americans are the “politically disengaged” — those who don’t judge their neighbors through politically motivated reasoning. (Harsanyi notes that the study assumes that liberal positions are mainstream.)
Harsanyi points out that contrary to the view put forth by Stephenson in his novel (i.e., that educated liberals understand conservatives well), the study finds that the more educated progressives become, the less accurate is their understanding of conservatives. Harsanyi:
“This effect is so strong,” the study’s authors note, “that Democrats without a high-school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree.”
This trend is less surprising when we learn that the more educated Democrats are, the less likely they are to be friendly with anyone who doesn’t share their worldview. Those with a postgraduate degree, in fact, are 50% more likely to say that “almost all” of their friends share their views than Americans with only a high school diploma.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with associating with people who see the world as they do — we have plenty of room in the United States, after all. The problem is that, despite their close-mindedness, these elites are the ones who become the technocrats who write our policies, the politicians who govern us, the teachers who claim to educate us and the activists who attempt to coerce us to adopt their values.
It is the educated elite, people clustered in centers and industries of power — not the populist voters scattered across the country — who are driving our polarization.
It isn’t merely about a disparity in perception, as the study notes, but a fundamental ignorance about the religious and philosophical viewpoints of social conservatives and working-class Americans. This condescension is palpable in the often-oblivious media coverage of Red America, which oscillates in tone from zoological study to outright mockery.
Read the whole thing. Especially you, filthy rich Miss Taylor Swift.
It is not unheard of in history for a self-isolated elite to fail to understand the polity in which they live, and to provoke a reaction that destroys them, or at least destroys their power structures. The historian Barbara Tuchman, in her pop history book The March Of Folly, said that these aspects recur in elites who don’t understand how vulnerable they are:
- Obliviousness to the growing disaffection of those outside their bubble
- Primacy of self-aggrandizement
- The illusion that they are invulnerable
UPDATE: Here’s an interesting take on the class politics of the video. Excerpt:
So the Beautiful People are aggrieved, we gather, at the hate? But turn the sound off and what you’ll see is the people who have everything, all the beauty and all the fun, all the cake, all the colors even, and their total contempt for those who have nothing, not even teeth. Talk about ugly. It’s an amazing statement, particularly so because Taylor Swift’s teeth are so spectacularly perfect, beautiful.
I mean this reaction to poverty is not even mocking, or laughing. The have-nots hate the haves just for being themselves, glorious, glossy and rich; thus the haves needn’t, and won’t, even acknowledge that the have-nots exist, those gap-toothed ignorant peasants in their gross marabou-free clothes. They need to shut up, control themselves. Calm down.