Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Bemoans The End Of Wealthy White Rule

Finally a newspaper op-ed has laid out for all to see the real force driving the Tea Party and most Christofascists: a mourning over the end of white rule in America.  The piece carries the title "The Late, Great American WASP."  For those living under a rock, WASP = White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  It is ironic that the Tea Party/Christofascists long for a return of WASP rule since most of them, embracing out right bigotry as they do and openly rejecting knowledge hardly fit the WASP mold. Nor does their willingness to destroy the economy and financial markets due to their anger at those deemed "other." For all their failings, WASPs did always worry about maintaining proper decorum and seemliness even if allowing racism and homophobia to remain rife.  Not so the Tea Party and the Christofascists.  Here are a few paragraphs from the op-ed:
The U.S. once had an unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics and education, but they do so no longer. The WASPocracy, as I think of it, lost its confidence and, with it, the power and interest to lead. We are now without a ruling class, unless one includes the entity that has come to be known as the meritocracy—presumably an aristocracy of sheer intelligence, men and women trained in the nation's most prestigious schools.

By the 1970s, exclusive universities and prep schools began dropping their age-old quotas on Catholics and Jews, lessening the number of legacies automatically admitted, and using racial preferences to encourage the enrollment of blacks. The social cachet of the Episcopal Church, a major WASP institution, drained away as its clergy turned its major energies to leftish causes.

Under WASP hegemony, corruption, scandal and incompetence in high places weren't, as now, regular features of public life. Under WASP rule, stability, solidity, gravity and a certain weight and aura of seriousness suffused public life. As a ruling class, today's new meritocracy has failed to provide the positive qualities that older generations of WASPs provided.

What our new meritocrats have failed to evince—and what the older WASP generation prided itself on—is character and the ability to put the well-being of the nation before their own. Character embodied in honorable action is at the heart of the novels and stories of Louis Auchincloss, America's last unembarrassedly WASP writer. Doing the right thing, especially in the face of temptations to do otherwise, was the WASP test par excellence. Most of our meritocrats, by contrast, seem to be in business for themselves.

Trust, honor, character: The elements that have departed U.S. public life with the departure from prominence of WASP culture have not been taken up by the meritocrats. 

The WASPs' day is done. Such leadership as it provided isn't likely to be revived. Recalling it at its best is a reminder that the meritocracy that has followed it marks something less than clear progress. Rather the reverse.
Sadly, the author ignores the fact that under the WASP rule that he mourns, racism was rife and the South was dominated by Jim Crow laws.   But blacks were not the only ones who failed to benefit under WASP rule.  Gays had to remain invisible and women were never afforded equality in the workplace.  Think Progress states as follows about the op-ed piece:
Epstein’s embrace of white privilege (or is it power?) is almost too transparent, resembling something closer to satire than to outright racism. And yet he gives no reason to believe that he isn’t completely serious when he argues that modern day “corruption, scandal and incompetence” are hallmarks exclusive to this new era of non-white rule. Or when he memorializes the virtues of keeping those not born into the “WASPocracy” away from the halls of power. Or when he faults the leadership of the country’s top colleges for its role in ending white rule by “lessening the number of legacies automatically admitted, and using racial preferences to encourage the enrollment of blacks.”

Instead, Epstein argues, we should return to an era of WASP rule. Why? Because rich, white men born into rich, white christian families would never lead the country astray.

Epstein’s contempt for minorities — namely, that they don’t belong anywhere near positions of authority — isn’t reserved simply for race. Back in the 1970s, Epstein penned a story for Harper’s Magazine in which he expressed his desire to “wish homosexuality off the face of this earth.” He added, of his four sons, “nothing they could ever do would make me sadder than if any of them were to become homosexual.” Those comments led to sit-ins and protests outside of Harper’s offices, and Epstein has never apologized (and in fact dismissed his critics, some 30 years later, as simply incapable of understanding his own “textured thought”).
[H]e simply doesn’t care that many of the leaders from his idyllic “WASPocracy” looked the other way on issues of racism, homophobia, poverty and inequality when they were in power.
 The good old days that the op-ed author longs for simply were not so good for many of us.  Yet, those are the days the Tea Party and Christofascists would seemingly like to bring back.

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