Friday, May 16, 2008

Of Elitism

elitism:

-belief in concept of superiority: the belief that some people or things are inherently superior to others and deserve preeminence, preferential treatment, or higher rewards because of their superiority (encarta.msn.com)

-the attitude that society should be governed by an elite group of individuals (webster's- online-dictionary.org)

-the belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources (freedictionary.com)

Since the remarks Barack Obama made on April 6, 2008 to a group of wealthy donors in San Francisco became public, he was skewered for an allegedly "elitist" attitude. Patronizing they were, as I wrote and believe, but "elitist" they are not. The comments did not suggest that Obama believes that those a society deems superior should dominate a government or be favored in any manner. That view would charcterize the Republican Party, whose leaders tend to believe that the wealthy and well-connected should dominate all facets of American government, if not the world.

This came to mind as we await Senator Obama's response today to comments made by President Bush, and obviously welcomed by Senator McCain, yesterday in Israel, implying that that Mr. Obama's policy toward the Middle East/Persian Gulf amounted to "appeasement" akin to that of Chamberlain at Munich. Bush stated:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.

We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."


This politically incendiary charge was indirect, never mentioning Obama or even the Democratic Party, and therefore could have been ignored by the apparent nominee-to-be. But they are not being ignored, because Barack Obama apparently believes that the American people can figure out that he was being targeted and that they will respond to a sensible argument against a false analogy meant not to enlighten, and not largely to persuade, but primarily to scare, the electorate. An elitist certainly would not dive into this debate, one perpetrated by patronizing politicians of the right who believe the American people cannot recall history accurately, and do not care to.

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