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Tom Wolfe, journalism’s great anti-elitist
Janan Ganesh MAY 18, 2018

Wolfe was the first anti-elitist in the modern style. Or at least, the first of real stature.

He exposed the credulity of the rich for artistic fads. He made fun of their recreational left-wingery,... their “radical chic”. Among the vanities that went into his bonfire was the idea of America as classless. At the risk of tainting him with politics, there was something Trumpian about his ability to define himself against Manhattan’s grandest burghers while living among them.

If all Wolfe did was lampoon the urban rich, it would have made for a sour body of work. But he did the inverse, too. He heroised the other kind of American: physical, duty-doing, heartland-based. His only uncynical book is his best. The Right Stuff, an extended prose poem to fighter pilots and astronauts, has all the velocity of its subject, even as it pauses to linger over these men, with their utilitarian hair cuts, their blend of arrogance and asceticism......Wolfe’s great coup was to sense before anyone else that counter-culture was becoming the culture. Its capture of universities, media and the arts amounted to a new establishment that deserved as much irreverent scrutiny as the old kind.....Before South Park, before Bill Burr, before PJ O’Rourke, there was Wolfe, more or less alone in his testing of liberal certainties, and happy to bear a certain amount of ostracism for it. .....But it says something of his importance that he changed fiction and non-fiction and yet neither achievement ranks as his highest. It is his prescience about elites, and the inevitability of a reaction against them, that defines his reputation.

One test of a writer’s influence is how often people quote them unknowingly. .....Wolfe scores better than anyone of his generation, what with “good ol’ boy” and the “right stuff” and “Mau-Mauing”. What sets him apart, though, is that millions also unknowingly think his thoughts. When? Whenever they resent the cloistered rich. Whenever they fear for free speech in a hyper-sensitive culture.

The mutation of these thoughts into a brute populism in western democracies cannot be pinned on Wolfe, who was civility incarnate. Like a good reporter, he wrote what he saw and left it to the world to interpret. What he saw were people who had wealth, refinement and so much of the wrong stuff.
anti-elitist  counter_culture  Janan_Ganesh  journalists  legacies  obituaries  Tom_Wolfe  tributes  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  the_One_Percent  elitism  worldviews  social_class 
may 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | How to Level the College Playing Field
April 7, 2018 | The New York Times | By Harold O. Levy with Peg Tyre. Mr. Levy is a former chancellor of the New York City public schools. He wrote this article with the education journalist Peg Tyre.

Despite the best efforts of many, the gap between the numbers of rich and poor college graduates continues to grow.

It’s true that access programs take some academically talented children from poor and working-poor families to selective colleges, but that pipeline remains frustratingly narrow. And some colleges and universities have adopted aggressive policies to create economic diversity on campus. But others are lagging. Too many academically talented children who come from families where household income hovers at the American median of $59,000 or below are shut out of college or shunted away from selective universities.....The wealthy spend tens of thousands each year on private school tuition or property taxes to ensure that their children attend schools that provide a rich, deep college preparatory curriculum. On top of that, many of them spend thousands more on application coaches, test-prep tutors and essay editors. ......
(1) Let’s start with alumni. It is common to harbor fond feelings toward your alma mater. But to be a responsible, forward-looking member of your college’s extended community, look a little deeper. Make it your business to figure out exactly who your college serves. What is the economic breakdown of the current student body? Some colleges trumpet data about underrepresented minorities and first-generation students. But many don’t. And either way, there are follow-up questions to ask. How has that mix changed over the past 10 years? What policies are in place to increase those numbers?
(2) Legacy admission must end.
(3) shorten the college tour.
(4) cities and states should help students who come from the middle and working classes with programs that provide intensive advising, money for textbooks and even MetroCards
(5) Refine the first two years of some four-year liberal arts education into an accredited associate degree.
(6) Stop acting like everyone already has the road map to college plotted. The college application system has become costly and baroque. Make it possible for high schools to hire, train and deploy enough guidance counselors.
(7) stop giving to your alma mater. Donors to top universities are getting hefty tax deductions to support a system that can seem calculated to ensure that the rich get richer. If you feel you must give, try earmarking your donation for financial aid for low-income, community college students who have applied to transfer to your alma mater.
Colleges_&_Universities  accessibility  legacies  roadmaps  admissions  op-ed  unfair_advantages  social_mobility  meritocratic  alumni  hereditary  nepotism  education  self-perpetuation  super_ZIPs  opportunity_gaps  college-educated  upper-income  compounded  low-income  elitism  selectivity  follow-up_questions 
april 2018 by jerryking
Trump’s Obama Obsession - The New York Times
Charles M. Blow JUNE 29, 2017

Obama’s blackness [is at] the front of Trump’s mind, but Trump also appears to subscribe to the racist theory that success or failure of a member of a racial group redounds to all in that group. This is a burden under which most minorities in this country labor.

Trump’s racial ideas were apparently a selling point among his supporters. Recent research has dispensed with the myth of “economic anxiety” and shone a light instead on the central importance race played in Trump’s march to the White House. As the researchers Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel reported in The Nation in March:

“In short, our analysis indicates that Donald Trump successfully leveraged existing resentment towards African Americans in combination with emerging fears of increased racial diversity in America to reshape the presidential electorate, strongly attracting nativists towards Trump and pushing some more affluent and highly educated people with more cosmopolitan views to support Hillary Clinton. Racial identity and attitudes have further displaced class as the central battleground of American politics.”

Trump was sent to Washington to strip it of all traces of Obama, to treat the Obama legacy as a historical oddity. Trump’s entire campaign was about undoing what Obama had done.
blackness  Donald_Trump  Charles_Blow  Obama  disrespect  legacies  birthers  racial_resentment 
june 2017 by jerryking
A Lesson in Black History - The New York Times
Charles M. Blow FEB. 6, 2017

Let’s be absolutely clear here: Frederick Douglass is a singular, towering figure of American history. The entire legacy of black intellectual thought and civil rights activism flows in some way through Douglass, from W.E.B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to President Barack Obama himself.

Douglass was one of the most brilliant thinkers, writers and orators America has ever produced. Furthermore, he harnessed and mastered the media of his day: Writing an acclaimed autobiography, establishing his own newspaper and becoming the most photographed American of the 19th century.
African-Americans  history  Frederick_Douglass  Charles_Blow  legacies  19th_century 
february 2017 by jerryking
No Racial Barrier Left to Break (Except All of Them) - The New York Times
JAN. 14, 2017 | NYT | By KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD.

The future is no longer about “firsts.” It is instead about the content of the character of the institutions our new leaders will help us rebuild....The U.S. can’t create a more just nation simply by dressing up institutions in more shades of brown. Now there must be an effort to confront structural racism.....for African-Americans, Obama's travails are proof positive that MLK's contention that the content of one’s character would be the perfect antidote to racism is necessary but--by itself--insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America.....in a post-assimilation America where there is no racial [occupational] barrier left to break, [African] Americans must turn to confronting structural racism and the values of our institutions....Obama's pedigree and character couldn’t protect/save him from the Tea Party revolution, Republican obstructionism, police brutality, voter suppression and Islamophobia.... individuals, no matter how singular, cannot bend the moral arc of the universe....In a post-assimilation America, recognize that institutions are far more powerful than individuals, no matter how many people of color can be counted in leadership. Structural racism is immune to identity politics....history matters. Black people in charge of, or embedded in, institutions that have not atoned for their history of racism can make it easier for those institutions to ignore or dismiss present-day claims of racial bias. That’s because the path to leadership has often meant accepting institutions as they are, not disrupting them.....people of color can inherit or perpetuate structures of inequality. Many institutions of government, finance and higher education were built on the backs of enslaved African-Americans and remain haunted by that history. Diversity and inclusion policies, therefore, should grow out of truth and reconciliation practices as well as strategic hiring plans. Intentional transformation, even reparations, one government agency, one company, one college at a time moves us past the denial and the empty promises....In post-assimilation America, people of color must continue to pursue leadership roles as the demographics of the nation inexorably change. But they must also reject their personal achievement as the core measure of progress and instead use history as a tool to measure systemic change.
Obama  legacies  institutions  farewells  history  obstructionism  GOP  Tea_Party  MLK  leaders  systemic_discrimination  systemic_racism  institutional_change  identity_politics  structural_change  African-Americans  Georgetown_University  assimilation  institutional_path_dependency 
january 2017 by jerryking
Center for the Future of Museums: technology trends
Thursday, October 6, 2016
The Future of Ownership

Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAMs) are already grappling with the migration of content (records, correspondence) from paper to digital, including challenges of scale and readability. Now we face an additional complication: increasingly people don’t even own their digital collections of music, books or video content—they rent, borrow or pay to play.

Content that used to be contained in physical objects (books, records, photos, DVDs) is increasing being leased to us via digital devices. What does that mean for the legacy people can (or can’t) leave to document their life and work? Instead of an historic figures’ beloved book collection, will we be able to preserve her Kindle library? Would that collection even be stable over time? Will it contain (digital) marginalia? Photo collections increasingly live on the cloud, and if a service unexpectedly disappears, years of documentation can simply disappear. The podcast Reply All recently devoted a sobering episode to one such story, about a mom named Rachel who panicked when PictureLife folded, erasing her visual record of her daughters’ childhoods. What if one of those girls grows up to be president?
trends  ownership  sharing_economy  minimalism  end_of_ownership  decluttering  galleries  libraries  archives  museums  content  legacies  preservation  streaming  on-demand  physical_assets  artifacts  digitalization 
december 2016 by jerryking
Goodbye to Barack Obama’s world
November 27, 2016 | Financial Times | by: Edward Luce

But Mr Trump will not reverse America’s relative decline. The chances are he will drastically accelerate it. The global role that Mr Obama inherited — and tried, to some degree, to uphold — is now in tatters. It would be hard to overstate the epochal significance of Mr Trump’s election. The US-led international order as we knew it for 70 years is over. The era of great power politics is back. An ebullient Russia, led by the strongman Putin, and an increasingly confident China, led by the strongman Xi Jinping, will deal with a wounded America led by strongman Trump. The long-term trajectory is towards China. But the short-term drama will focus on Mr Trump’s dealings with Mr Putin. How they play out is anybody’s guess. But it will not be pretty. Europe will be the loser. So too will American prestige.
politics  farewells  Obama  Donald_Trump  America_in_Decline?  legacies  Obamacare  climate_change  international_system  Edward_Luce  strongman  China_rising 
november 2016 by jerryking

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