Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rush and Anti-Intellectualism

I know that Rush Limbaugh is an extremist and part of the Asinine for Attention Hate Club. I know that every response to his Look At Me! Look At ME! statements only gives him more relevancy. But the guy does have a following of millions and uses his large platform to fan the flames of American anger.

Thus, I'm going to share with you an opinion piece that is, quite frankly, one of the best explanations I've read regarding the appeal that Rush Limbaugh has for so many. A key snippet includes:

"[W]hen he refers to the 'elites,' he doesn't mean really rich people like himself; he means people like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, whose elitism can be traced to the fact that they followed the American dream out of the lowest economic strata of our nation to win recognition based on hard work and keen intelligence, overcoming obstacles of class and race to achieve the highest position in the land, unlike that 'common man' and 'regular guy,' George W. Bush, who had things handed to him on a gilded plate, never worked very hard at anything, and was given the rich kid's pass through our most prestigious universities based on nothing more than family connections and money....

Like Limbaugh, most of these white male [fans of Limbaugh] did not graduate from college and they've always been aggressively defensive about that fact, a defensiveness that expresses itself in disdain for any and all who did finish college - unless those college grads are vocally supportive of positions they've come to hold."

I read that and I thought of my father and of so many of the people I grew up with in a small working-class city in the rural Midwest. I know these people. And, when I do go back home, I am made to feel somehow... guilty for pulling myself up by my bootstraps and bettering my life. I sense my father's defensiveness about his own life's achievements. When he makes passive-aggressive jokes about lawyers, I know that he is just defensive about his own life's achievements. I know that he is being passive-aggressive because he cannot outright disdain his daughter. He undoubtedly sees me as some sort of "elite," even though most of my achievements have come at little or no cost to him and are mostly the result of my own hard work, a bit of luck, and the generosity of others.

I receive "fiercely patriotic" forwards from him occasionally, some of them reminding me that it's not lawyers who preserve democracy, it's The Troops (tm). This fierce Support-the-Troops mentality is a way of continually reminding people like me that we may be smart but other people are brave. That I am not technically allowed to serve my country has no bearing to him, of course. Although, as an interesting item of note, like Limbaugh, my father himself found ways to avoid serving in the military when he was younger, fit, able, and of the proper sexual orientation.

People like this, like my father, are often Republicans. Republicans generally believe that success is the result of one's own hard work. Poor people are poor because they're stupid and lazy. Except, when it comes to themselves, well:

"Life has not turned out as they'd hoped, but it's not their fault. Rush explains it to them every day."

No comments: