Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Consolation of Elitism

There's a peculiar double standard about intellectualism in America. A college education is valued, but only so long as you don't carry your "college educated snobbery" into your everyday interactions. If a presidential candidate graduated from Yale, that's a point in his favor, but only so long as he still comes across as a guy you'd like to have a beer with. It's good to know SAT vocabulary words, so long as you don't actually use them in conversation. And if you do try to step outside the comfortable boundaries of prosaic discourse, you're labeled an elitist.

It's hard being an elitist in today's society. The word itself has, much like "pretentious," become a catch-all insult to describe anyone whose intellectual interests delve into things that your "average Joe" wouldn't understand. The word could signal the end of a politician's career.

But at least the elitist can console himself with the fact that he's not living a lie.

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