Elite[s] and elitists, Cooper and others

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Mon Nov 3 20:24:08 EST 2003


>But....  Here's the crunch.  What if some people simply *are* better?  The
>corps de ballet can do things I couldn't if I tried for fifty years; they
>are simply better than I am, at that thing.  *I* can't light a candle by
>thinking at it.  And so on.  Is it elitist for me to point out excellence,
>any more than it is elitist to point out a lack of excellence, in someone
>else?

The PC majority who believe in improving children's self-esteem rather than 
teaching them anything would say "yes". Like in Autumn Term by Antonia 
Forest, when the girls point out the ridiculousness of Keith's praise: "We 
all acted Edward beautifully..."

>I'd say for instance that DWJ is a member of an elite, in that she writes
>excellent books and most people don't; does my saying so make her an
>elitist, or me an elitist, or is it simply a statement of what looks like a
>fairly obvious fact?  (A parallel would be that I can point out that the
>monarchy exists without necessarily being a monarchist, I suppose.)

The issue here is not saying someone is good at something (or range of 
things), but making the argument that because of his/her ability or 
intelligence, he/she is therefore a better *person*. That's where elitism 
garners criticism. It's like saying white people are better than black 
people: we recognise this as a problem (I hope). So saying smart people are 
better than stupid people is viewed similarly.

Since I am in trouble for calling my 4th year class a bunch of ignoramuses 
for not having heard of Stephen J Gould, I am currently in a bit of hot 
water for being an intellectual elitist, myself.

>So the elite magic users of the Dark are objectionable not because they are
>an elite or even because they are elitist, but because of the ways they use
>the things that make them an elite, and their attitude to anyone not of
>their number.

Precisely.

Robyn
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