Thursday, May 15, 2008

We, the Elites

With all this political correctness, let's start defining some of our terms, those special words we so like to fling around. Bluebery has been kind enough to give us the definition of the words "cracker" and "hillbilly." In case you missed it here it is again. "Cracker" means poor white. That's it folks. I think it carries with it the slight sense of the uneducated. Often poor whites don't get much education, since every hand that can do any work, is put to work. Often this means taking fairly young kids out of school to help in the farming or care for younger children, so an adult can get a wage earning job. Often poor whites remain somewhat isolated, and they see the "other" the stranger, the outsider, as threatening. Though the term "cracker" isn't necessarily a description of a racist, I have never know a cracker who wasn't a racist. K. has been equating my use of the word "cracker" with "racist," and in the since that the crackers in my family were indeed racist to their core, and completely unapologetic about it, that has been mostly my experience with crackers. My third husband's family was cracker to it's core. They were from the Ozark mountains, mostly from the area around Fayetteville, Arkansas. The third ex was the first in his family to go to college. He was an honor student where he got B. A. Degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow for his Master's Degree at the University of Utah, and got his PhD in creative writing from the University of Denver. He is now the Chairman of the English Department at Southwest Missouri State University. He is not a cracker. He is not a racist. But the rest of his family, yes, they were crackers.

Next a word that K. likes to use as a mild insult, and something to be avoided, is the word elitist or elite. Dictionary definition is "to be the best in a society or category because of power, talent, or wealth." I would add education, but I believe that is implied, for the most part. Unless we're talking about our current President, who has a background of incredibly obscene wealth, he attended the best schools, and has the world's most powerful position. But to me this man is in no way elite. He is stupid, boorish, ignorant, foolish, a braying ass in every way--this does not make him seem elite.

To me the Clinton's personify the word elite. Bill's early years were difficult, but he managed to rise above it, to get the great education, and his ambition took him on the path to elected office as the Governor of Arkansas and then the Presidency. Hillary's upbringing was solidly middle class, but she managed to get a first class education, a law degree, as did Bill, and then she married a man as ambitious as she. They personify the definition of elite. They are very wealthy. So, back to the begining. Smart, well educated, top job, and rich, equals elite. This word is not an insult. But to be elite, and pretend you aren't is disingenuous. That's a nice way of saying it's a lie.

Barack Obama did not have any of the advantages of the current President, or the past First Lady . And just to make his path to the top a little more challenging, he is black (in case any of you hadn't noticed) and the child of a divorced, single mother and raised by his white grandmother. This fact alone makes his achievement near miraculous. He and his wife have recently paid off their student loans. But even Barack is elite. He is the best. Brilliant, well educated, gifted with intelligence, talent and eloquence. And with his great education under his belt, he became a community organizer. He wrote a couple of very good books. He was elected to the Senate, and now he is running for President. Despite the fact that he wasn't particularly well known (and is not taking lobbyist or big corporate donations) has managed to gain such enthusiastic support across the country, energized the first generation of young and first-time voters since the 1960's, and is poised to gain the nomination to run for President against the best know brand in the Democratic party since the Roosevelts. He is raising money from millions of small donors. And Senator Clinton is borrowing from herself to finance a campaign that can't raise money. This would lead me to conclude that maybe managing our nation's budget might be a challenge for her. Now I know Hillary isn't entirely responsible for every little decision that is made in her campaign, but it is her campaign. I think she has surrounded herself with second-raters--an ineffective staff, men and women with bloated egos and salary's to match. Why are the Clinton's having trouble raising money? All Bill has to do is give a few speeches and they are back in business.

I have said over and over that whoever gets the democratic nomination, will get my support and my vote. I should not have to say that again. I'm also allowed the right to express my thoughts, feelings, and words on the topic. This is my blog space. If you really really hate what I have to say, it's a great big blogosphere. Until we have a nominee, I support Senator Obama. To that end, I will keep on talking, arguing, criticizing his opponents, and I'm sure, in so doing, will enrage some of you. You are free to disagree with me, but not to be too disagreeable. So please, no comments longer than the post, OK? I welcome your comments and god knows, I'm long winded, but if your comment is longer than my piece, send it to me in an email, please.


K McKiernan said...

Gad, maybe you really cannot hear me.

Just because I say what OTHER people think of as elite... does not mean that I define it that way. Are we not smart enough to talk about perceptions and constructions? Helllllo?

And just like the word "elite" has taken on different connotations than the literal definition so has the word cracker. I cracked up that you traipsed out that cracker simply meant poor white folk. Ha. You gotta be kidding me.

I cannot believe you apologize and say you want to be like Obama and bring people together and then get back on less than 24 hours later to say, No, fuck you all, I am right... and K is wrong. Whatever, Utah... whhhh-aaaaa-tttt--ever.

I better stop now before my response is too long for your taste. Fight on... rage on against the horrors that are the Clintons. It used to enrage me... now it gives me a nice chuckle.

Elite? Yeah, you better fucking believe it.

K McKiernan said...

And, its really is funny... you are on these other blogs and your own glorifying Edwards for picking your candidate. Its ironic. I think Edwards is a remarkable man and candidate and I will not speak ill of him because he chose your candidate over mine. However, I would bet you a crate of your precious lemons that if he had come out and supported Hillary.... you woulda called him a "cracker."

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I guess I support Obama, too, Utah. What really would have impressed me, though, is if he had actually voted against some of these war appropriations (ala Paul and Kucinich). I mean, sure, it might have dealt a death-blow to any aspirations to national office but, man, the courage that THAT would have showed.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

As for the Clintons, the fact that Bill would go as far as to pardon Marc Rich and a bunch of Puerto Rican terrorists/drug dealers in a blatant effort to get his wife a state that she never even frigging lived in, I think that that probably says enough. Yeah, and, in the mean time, Leonard Peletier is still rotting in jail. The Clintons, folks, nothin' but the best.

DivaJood said...

What troubles me greatly is that the word "elite" is being used as a perjorative. The elite really are the best in any given arena, be it literature, art, sports, politics, music, government, law - whatever. I am considered to be among the elite Aussie Specialist Travel Agents. It is something I've worked hard to attain.

At any rate, the Bush family, and W in particular, are far from elite. Money does not buy dignity, nor decency, nor grace.

And like you, I am an Obama supporter, but if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, then you can bet your butt I will be a Clinton supporter.

Utah Savage said...

I'm with you there divajood

Vigilante said...

DivaJood, I am definitely going to follow the link to you blog (if it leads to one) because, for this thread at least, you are an ELITE commentator:

What troubles me greatly is that the word "elite" is being used as a pejorative. The elite really are the best in any given arena, be it literature, art, sports, politics, music, government, law - whatever.

That is the absolute truth. (That's what I tried to get across in a rather long-winded post.) But JivaJood makes it short and quick. The American people understand that, properly understood, elite means the very best, in any endeavor or discipline. Any American wants the very best. When choosing a surgeon, very few will go along with MCK, and pick someone they like to bowling or beer-drinking with. They will pick the most elite physician their money or insurance can afford.

That's why dear sweet Utah's definition of elites is so painfully inexact:

"to be the best in a society or category because of power, talent, or wealth."

Elite is only about talent. Anyone can quarrel how talent was acquired. But when I say I want an elite leader, I am saying I want the very, very, very best. Having spent the last eight years of living under the exact opposite, who's going to tell me that's too much to ask for?

Vigilante said...

Utah, I'm afraid that if I don't make nice to your other guests, the time will come when you no longer welcome me into your space. But McKiernan just invites the condescending responses that so offender her!

Her whole comment epitomizes the Clinton approach to politics: Stay with the common and popular misapprehension of meanings of things. (Abe Lincoln would smile when MCK wants to allow people to count a dog's tail as a leg!) Stay with what OTHER people think of as elite; don't try to elevate the discussion by correct usage, etc. Don't insult people by trying to inform, educate, enlighten and lead. Or, lead only by blending in, instead of stepping out in front.

I will concede that Hillary Clinton has proved herself to be an above-average political leader. But she is not classy enough to be considered an elite political talent.

Utah Savage said...

Dear K and J, If what I write about who I support in the primary and why is very offensive to the two of you, why do you not just skip me and read someone else? I appreciate your passion, and in my comments to you on my site have tried to be respectful. But now I am tired of the argument. I know there are many bloggers who share you feelings. The Wizard perhaps. But what I often feel now, is that you are haranguing me. I am tired of it for now. Once we have a nominee, let's reengage. We will be in agreement then. But K's comments in particular exhaust me. K You are at my place and screaming at me. I say, for now, let's agree to disagree and call it a day for awhile.

K McKiernan said...

If I felt heard for one second, I would drop it.

But Vigilante proves that he wants to misread me or at least bait me.

When one deals with any word, there are its literal definitions, its connotations, its manipulatons etc. Sure, I agree "elite" can be a very positive word. I for one agree with the definition that divajood offered up. But do you really think when the media shoves the word "elite" as an albatross around Obama's neck (or Kerry's back 4 years ago) that they meant it like this:

"The elite really are the best in any given arena, be it literature, art, sports, politics, music, government, law - whatever."

No, they mean it as a slam. They mean it in the same way that Vig means it when he tells me I want Hillary because of beer and bowling--two characteristics that actually could not turn me away faster.

That is all I was saying... I wanted us all to evaluate how we use the word "elite" as to take away the punch they kept delivering to Obama. I would think we would all want that.

But you all enjoy pounding on someone... if its not Hillary, its me for my support of her.

And Utah, I get it now. You like to hear your own thoughts and voice reiterated and echoing around you in this hollow chamber. I had not realized you just wanted to hear yourself speak. I actually thought you liked dialogue. Maybe I make you face issues you don't really wanna have to see....

So, if you want to silence dissent...


Anita said...

Holy moly. All this quibbling about words that, clearly, carry different meanings to different people based on their own experiences, backgrounds and basic views of the world, IRRESPECTIVE of what any "official" definition of that word is, was and will be in the future.

Language, remember is fluid. Shakespeare taught us that quite well.

Excuse me, Utah, for perhaps overstepping the bounds of "commenter" protocol here (and writing a too long response), but I think K mckiernan certainly has her right to her opinion. But you are so right in that she IS haranguing you, and being very disrespectful, if I might add. This is your blog "real estate" and if she doesn't like how you plant your flowers or situate your house she should just leave. Like you said, it's a big, wide blogosphere out there. I say, let her go to KOS if she really wants to start a fight.

Sorry, but I've been thinking about what to say without being a jerk. So maybe I've been a jerk to one of your commenters.

But I'd kick her in the ass for you just for being disrespectful and at times offensive in the way she expresses the opinions that she has every right to have.

As you know, I was once a Hillary supporter myself, until she took the very low road. And, while I think Obama has HUGE potential to be a great president, I'm still not entirely convinced that he's got the balls to do what he says he wants to do. Time will tell ... but for now, he's all that we've got and so we've got to rally around him and given him the benefit of the doubt in the areas where he has not shown his cards or has not been tested.

In the meantime, if k mckiernan really wants to worship these so-called "elites" and, perhaps even, be one of them, then she should take a page out of their book, meaning that of the people with real class, people with real education, people with proper bearing, and do what they do: PUT A HIGH PRIORITY ON CIVIL DISCOURSE.

Yellow Dog said...

McKiernan, I like you. I agree with you about Utah and Vigilante. They are both overbearing and self-absorbed. We Democrats need to come together. Soon.

J McKiernan said...

Anita: "Put a high priority on civil discourse"?

Excuse me? Is that what YOU do? Because kicking someone "in the ass" doesn't exactly sound like putting a high priority on civil discourse. Utah devalues civil discourse as well when she dismisses any sort of legitimate, would-be civil debate.

Utah: This certainly is your space and you certainly do have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want. As someone who has been a pretty loyal visitor to your site, I have seen what you write, and you have not tried to bring anyone together with your words other than Obama supporters. In thinking that we could discuss candidates, I (and K) attempted to engage in legitimate debate.

I didn't realize this blog was about shunning dissent. If that is truly what you want to do--preach to your happy congregation, eviscerate dissenters on a daily basis, and openly refuse to engage in real debate--so be it. I completely misunderstood the point of this site.

However, in my absence, loyal cultists like Anita will be here to pat you on the back...just like you wanted from the beginning.

Shit, was this response too long?

Liquid said...

I'll keep my comment short.
It is time for CHANGE.

Normally a staunch Republican, I can no longer bare the sight, nor sound of our current leader or his

I enjoyed this post.

Have a super day!

Utah Savage said...

i have a wakened to another day of the long pissed off harangue . Really, please, K, J, this is it for me. I used to love Hill but it all over now. Same with you guy, for now I've had enough. Can't take it any more. If I see another one of these long, aangry comments on my site, I'm going to delete it without reading it. k you are now right about the fact THAT I DON'T HEAR YOU. I so fucking sick of being screamed at. This is the first thing in the morning. I haven't even had a cup of coffee. i saw yellow dog over here and he's ginving you an invitation, follow him please.

Randal Graves said...

You're all elitist crackers.

I dig divajood's take on the word 'elite,' but the biggest problem is one that I'm fairly sure all of can mostly agree upon and that is the hijacking of words by the talking hairpiece machine whereby they alter their generally accepted meaning.

When *I* think of elite, I think of the best in his or her field. When Joe and Jane Shlub watching MSNBC or, more likely, Fox, thinks of elite, he or she thinks of effete Ivy League, Prius-driving fuckers.

I don't want this to turn into some weird pseudo-Lakoff strategery session, but that's what we're up against. The lunatic wingnuts control, and have controlled, the messaging for years. It's going to take years to get it back and I think a lot of our anger stems from the fact that it won't happen overnight and the fact that so many idiots, for whatever root cause, buy into their bullshit.

DivaJood said...

Randall, I absolutely agree with you that the Right Wing media has manipulated language for far too long. In fact, in the mid-1990s there was a movement called "The Politics of Meaning" which was started by Rabbi Michael Lerner. It was born out of a need for the liberals and left and Democrats to take back our use of language. That the far right took words of compassion and mis-represented them, and manipulated language to instill fear. Jung refers to the shadow of everything. The Right Wing plays on the shadow side of language.

Vigilante said...

Again, I have to applaud DivaJood! (CLAPPITY-CLAP-CLAP!) Well said. Totally!

And I have to apologize to MCK. I have erred in making this too personal. It's really not personal. This fight over the word "elite" exemplifies the division within the Democratic ranks between Progressives and Liberals. Liberals are content to accept the language the Republican-owned mass media has prepared for us and handed down to us; Progressives understand MSM language is insufficient for tangible, irreversible progress. Language is the key to thinking. Words matter. Votes matter in the short run. Words matter in the long run.

Which do you want, MCK? Change? Or Change You Can Believe In?

Anita said...

in the end, i think this was a very revealing, entertaining and educactional thread of comments.

and yeah, i can both kick some cracker's ass AND conduct civil discourse. i'm well rounded like that. that's what we learn in our Elitist Cult Indoctrination sessions. Kinda like Scientology. Only better!!!


Anita said...

i meant,


thepoetryman said...

Jesus! The comment section is a bit to absorb.

My 2 cents-

Elite is fine, but elitist is something all together different. I'm surprised no one has attempted to clarify this via such elitist commenting.

Elitist is a different animal altogether, given the nature of the "ist" glued to its ass.

An aside:
Cracker is laughable. It holds little weight and, if it does hold weight with some, they only prove a pointless point.

Now the word "nigger" is a different beast all together. It's a word derived of the worst of man. Cracker is a silly, inconsequential tag, but nigger is despicable when used by a white person to paint a broad stroke of race.
But I digress...

Elite=cream of the crop.

Elitist=snobbish and implies that one feels superior based on either their wealth, power, education, or expertise.

Elite good...Elitist bad...

Vigilante said...

Good point, Poetryman: on ELITES and ELITISTS!


Utah Savage said...

Applause! Applause! Oh sweet jesus, sanity has returned. I feel I owe you all something I can't repay.

Divajood, I hope you stay in this neighborhood, otherwise will just all move in with you.

Vig, thanks for doing me the honor of staying here and talking sense.

Anita, my younger self. Or is that my ego talking.

Will, keep taking no prisoners.

Randal, my favorite sports site. My go to guy for all that's fit to know in world of big time sports. You got game.
So why scare me off with this latest meme. I don't know how to link. I have to tinker with my head. Get a graduate degree. it's your fault I'm going away.

MadMike said...

I must say reading these comments is more fun than watching George Bush try to articulate the English language. I cannot resist:

KMC is passionate about her candidate and she has every right. It is her opinion and she is entitled as long as things stay civil. Secondly I like the fact that she sometimes expresses her thoughts with the ultimate expletive.

In my humble opinion Hillary Clinton is not the embodiment of evil nor is her husband who presided over 8 years of peace and prosperity in America. If Obama should get hit by a train, God forbid, I will vote for her without hesitation. Before the appearance of that train, however, I will continue to work for the senator from Illinois.

The term "cracker" is pejorative as is "nigger." They both [partly]symbolize hatred through racism. I know this because I live in a place that entertains both expressions as easily as one would entertain "white" and "black." Neither, however, is relevant to the issue at hand, which I think has something to do with the accepted definition of "elite."

To me the elite are the best of the best in their field. It is as divajood has described. It is not in any sense a pejorative term. It is Republican speak for John Kerry. The 2004 election helped to bastardize the word and make it synonymous with "elitist" which is not such a nice word. I just don't accept the hype and neither do most of the American people with the possible exception of CNN's Lou Dobbs who hates everybody.

I agree with Vigilante in that ELITE is about talent, nothing more and nothing less. We should accept it and stop this silly fighting. I agree that Hillary is world class but not quite ELITE. Barack Obama is ELITE because to ME he is the best talent. This does not take away from Senator Clinton who I find to be tenacious, intelligent, tenacious, classy and tenacious. Did I mention she was tenacious?

In conclusion I submit that George Bush is the antithesis of ELITE. As far as I am concerned I WANT the antithesis of George Bush as the next president of the United States.

I had best suspend any further thoughts in the event that my comments become too lengthy and the moderator elects to give me the proverbial boot. Peace.....

P.S. Any of you are welcome on my rather humble blog and you can write as much as you like. I won't boot you unless you say something nasty about my dogs:-)

Blueberry said...

I am glad to see the differences between the words "elite" and "elitist" laid out here in the comments. People using them interchangeably is one of my pet peeves and button-pushers, and I've blogged on it a couple of times. People in the media, who should know better, are some of the biggest offenders.

It's interesting also how some people think that you have not heard them simply because you have not done their bidding or otherwise conformed to their desires.

--"And Utah, I get it now. You like to hear your own thoughts and voice reiterated and echoing around you in this hollow chamber."--

Regarding that comment, I seriously doubt that she gets it, and this blog is anything but a hollow chamber. That was a just plain mean thing to say. Also, it's untrue. That's my opinion. Everybody has opinions. That's why there are blogs. ;-)

Anita said...

the real question is .. does divajood have room in her house for all of us? if she DOES then, hey, i'm there.

if not, then, hey, we'll just have to take the wisdom we can gain from her and know we are all the better for it.

yo. divijood.

DivaJood said...

Oh, lordy, I have a one bedroom condo, and have become the butt of my 3-year-old granddaughter's jokes. But anyone is welcome over at my blog, unless you speak badly about my Chicago Cubs. THEN all bets are off.

MadMike said...

Hey Jivagood count me in, unless of course someone says something untoward about the St. Louis Cardinals; then all hell breaks loose:-)

Scarlet W. Blue said...

Poetryman is my hero this week.

Freida Bee said...

I was thinking something along the lines of what The Poetryman articulated quite succinctly about the verbage being argued about or is it debated here?

I can assure you k that if one were to not like your comments here, it would not be due to your support of Clinton.

U. Savage, you have been more than kind to ask for agreeing to disagree. In my experience and opinion (oh, btw, much of it is with people who I will not use the other c-word with who reside in that northern area of Arkansas, my hometown area), a persistence past that point of requesting peace is abusive.

enigma4ever said...

you are was quite a thread..I was tired just reading should get a metal for surviving's the things it's just words and perceptions of war...but shoud not be fighting words...Noma Choamsky wrote really eloquently that linguistics have started many wars...he might be about the Elite...people that think they are Elite- or Elite Wannabes are a big problem..because they usually are only pretending to be something...

I could go on and on about Elite and also Crackers..but alot has already been said...BUt mostly....the main thing is....that you were brave enough to explore some of these trigger words...guts got 'em...