The Charles Murray Q&A at Kaplan (which I was not able to participate in) is an excellent example of what bullshit all the Real Merkin stuff is. His shtick here (which we see with Bobo as well) is to lambaste his readers as out-of-touch elitists for not knowing much about NASCAR. He cites almost no evidence for any of it (that will all be in a book, he claims) and when pressed on whether of not he himself is elitist, he pulls out both “my daddy worked in a mill” and “there’s no binary answer”. It’s fairly remarkable. This was my favorite part.
Murray’s imaginary U.S.A.Time and again, this essay describes as “mainstream” or “quintessentially American” things that the vast majority of Americans don’t do: living in a small town (80% of Americans don’t), reading Harlequin romances (85% don’t), watching The Price Is Right or Oprah (more than 90% don’t), belonging to Rotary or Kiwanis (99+% belong to neither.) It isn’t just “elites” who don’t do these things; the average person doesn’t do them. (Nor follow NASCAR.) They’re not even majority behaviors among the groups where they’re more prevalent: the rural-and-small-town, the poorly educated, the old. So Murray’s quarrel is actually with the REAL mainstream America, is it not?
Charles Murray writes:
I don’t think there is any one behavior that a large majority of Americans share. The issue is the extent to which you’ve been exposed to a lot of things that your fellow Americans do. Do you have any personal experience, for example, with blue collar life in the US? If no, you’ve got a big gap in your experience.
I have nothing much against “you might be a redneck if” type humor, I think sometimes it can be amusing. But how on earth can you make arguments about what Real Murkins do, then admit that most Real Murkins don’t do any of these things, then shrug it all of with “people just don’t have that much in common in general”, and do it all in the name of “social science”?
I’ll admit that finding Real Murkins to talk to is tough, since they’re not like to ride buses or drive taxis. But still.
Update. Commenter Duane makes a good point:
its the bleeping ELITES who are members of Rotary and Kiwanis clubs….not the blue collar factory…so suck on that u elitist.
I grew up in a small town and from what I have seen, this is correct: the members of Rotary and Kiwanis clubs tend to be fairly well-off and college-educated, small businessmen, etc. as opposed to blue-collar workers.