Murray misses the mainstream by miles

Reader comment on: Charles Murray on the New Elite

Submitted by Morris Baltimore (United States), Oct 25, 2010 19:08

Charles Murray is the one out of touch, not his imaginary ruling class. In Murray's article in the Sunday Outlook section, he quizzes readers to determine their "new elite" status. His questions reveal how little the American Enterprise Institute scholar knows about mainstream America. Indeed, the picture he paints of ordinary America is part nostalgia and part a vicious vision of violence and ignorance. Next time, do some scholarly research before you quiz people about your fantasies, Murrays. As for the rest of the readers of this post: if Murray is so off base with his "quiz," how much do credence do you give to the opinions that followed it?

1. Sure, I recognize Jimmie Johnson as a top NASCAR driver, and NASCAR may be the leading spectator sport in terms of ticket sales to races. But far more Americans watch NFL, MLB or NBA games (not all of these together, but each individually) on television than NASCAR. Nothing wrong with NASCAR, but it is not more popular than three other major sports that help define what America likes best: team sports.

2. Murray's question about recognizing ranks by uniform insignias is a stand-in for military service. While being a military veteran is an honorable thing, it apparently is not typical. According to the U.S. Census, in 2009 only 9.5% of people over 18 were veterans. It may be a sad thing that so few serve so many, but that is the way it is in mainstream America.

3. Watching people in cages pound each other in mixed martial arts (MMA) is what the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all about – but is it a mainstream favorite? The broadcast of the fight called UFC 120 on October 16, 2010 attracted 1.9 million viewers.The elitist golf U.S. Open Championship in July pulled 10 million viewers.

4. Branson, Mo. is a great place to visit for country music, and 7 million people toured there last year. However, more 30 million visited the Smithsonian Institutions museums. Sorry, Murray, museums are more mainstream than country music.

5. Service and civic clubs like Kiwanis and the Rotary are great institutions, but there are only 240,000 Kiwanis members and 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide – hardly mainstream. Why didn't Murray mention the 2.2 million community volunteers who were managed or mobilized by AmeriCorps members in 2008? He's former Peace Corps, after all. By the way, people with higher levels of education have higher rates of volunteerism – does that make volunteering an elitist thing?

6. Murray seems to think that The Price is Right is an indicator of mainstream America, but only 698,000 people watched it the week on October 21. That liberal showcase The View may not be mainstream, either, but more people watched it then (728,000 viewers).

7. Murray should wake up and smell the numbers – for a number of decades now, the number of people living in small town America has been tiny compared to the number in urban and suburban areas.

8. By Murray's measurement system, sorcery is more mainstream than Christianity. Authors of the Left Behind series, a 16-volume fictionalizing of the Bible's Book of Revelations, had total sales of 65 million copies worldwide. J.K. Rowling's 7 books in the Harry Potter series have sold more than 400 million.

9. According to Murray, living in an area where most people lack college degrees is an indicator of being mainstream. That area is called the United States of America. In our "hometown" Washington Metro Area, with the nation's highest education level, fewer than half of people over 25 have 4 year college degrees.

10. Identify a field of soy beans? Only 16 percent of Americans live outside metropolitan statistical areas – the largely rural places where you expect to find soy beans. There are more people waiting at big city bus stops to get to work than feeding chickens in the countryside.

In summary, Murray sees mainstream America as undereducated rural/small town veterans who enjoy watching fast cars, brawls, country music and game shows, who are hooked on apocalyptic religion and who join civic clubs. Well, what can you expect from an elitist with a Harvard BA and doctorate from MIT?

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Title By Date
⇒ Murray misses the mainstream by miles [700 words]Morris BaltimoreOct 25, 2010 19:08
Elites [74 words]J.JohnsonOct 25, 2010 10:53

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