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The Wall Street Journal op-ed pages are the worst

It’s supposed to be a respectable newspaper, but it has always published the most awful trash — and the latest example is a paean to white people. Not just any white people, though, but specifically well-bred WASPs. He favors a hereditary ruling class defined by race.

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.

It just gets worse and worse. The country has gone downhill to the point where mongrels like Obama and Ted Cruz can achieve high political position. He also sneers at education, other than the social primping done at Andover and Yale; but even they’ve gone to the dogs ever since they 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.

I know we’ve all been busy rolling our eyes at that racist misogynist homophobic shitbat, Phil Robertson, but maybe we should spare a moment to recognize that not just the A&E network, but one of the most influential newspapers in the US, loves its racism.

Comments

  1. dianne says

    We are now without a ruling class

    Why does he say that as though it were a bad thing? Ruling classes are, almost without exception, worthless. In fact, worth less than nothing, an active barrier to good government and progress.

    I suspect that this editorial was written by a WASP missing his privilege. Yes, I know he still has plenty of privilege, but he has less than his forefathers did (though more than his foremothers did) and thinks it so unfair.

  2. Nathair says

    one of the most influential newspapers in the US, loves its racism.

    Or so the original article comments tell me.

  3. Caveat Imperator says

    Is it even possible to parody the WSJ opinion section without falling victim to Poe’s Law?

  4. gshelley says

    It’s not racist, didn’t you read the comments? Apparently as WASPS themselves aren’t a race, it can’t be racist.

  5. sundiver says

    We need a ruling class like we need an asteroid strike. Back in the Pleistocene, when I was a senior in high school, my US Gov’t teacher pointed out that Genghis Khan, though inclined to kill off the “ruling class” in conquered territories, tended to leave those who actually produced shit alone. Not that we don’t need some authority (someone has to reign in the Wall Street greedheads) but ruling classes have generally not been kind to working class stiffs like me. Not until the rise of union power were workers reasonably certain of getting a fair shake. And now, the cheeseturds I work with constantly snivel about “union thugs” in Wisconsin. Stupid assholes don’t begin to comprehend what’s being done to us by Walker and his thieves. And furthermore, this moonbat’s whining about the loss of “legacy admissions” is industrial grade assholery. I guess he would have griped about Feynman and Oppenheimer getting into elite institutions over some inbred WASP airhead. Rant over.

  6. gussnarp says

    The Wall Street Journal published that racist tripe? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always said the advantage of reading the Wall Street Journal is that it’s where the elite think they’re only talking to each other so you get a better flavor of what they really think, not filtered for the masses, but I thought they still kept their racism veiled behind dog whistles. This belongs on a fringe white supremacist site. Does this make the WSJ a fringe white supremacist site? Also, clue phone for the racist: yes, we have a black president. Yes, there are other women and ethnic minorities in positions of power. But we WASPS are, sadly, still in control and even in fifty years we’ll still be the single largest ethnic group. Of course, it is possible, with any luck, that by then we’ll no longer disproportionately dominate politics and corporate board rooms.

  7. David Marjanović says

    Has a point in criticizing the American worship of the names of the universities people went to, but is otherwise *facepalm* deeply naively classist.

  8. says

    He favors a hereditary ruling class defined by race.

    That’s worked sooooo well for the French and English; not so well for the Russians. Let’s give it a shot!

  9. justsomeguy says

    Wow, that was one of the most nakedly elitist things I’ve read ever (and there I go, using the word “elitist” as if it’s an insult now. Well it wasn’t! Back when things were right with the country, our betters were proud to call themselves better!). Heck, most modern elitism at least tries to hide behind the “job creator” and “rising tide lifts all boats” tropes. This nonsense is just paragraph after paragraph of… well, PZ said it best when he called it a paean. But it’s also a lament for the fact that while unearned privilege is still alive and well, it carries considerably less prestige.

  10. says

    The WSJ used to be pretty decent. Conservative, yes, and capitalist to a fault, but if you kept that perspective in mind, there was a lot of useful information there. It was owned by Dow Jones & Company, the same firm that manages the Dow indexes, who worked very, very hard to maintain a degree of international credibility.

    That changed utterly in August of 2007, when Rupert Murdoch bought it. Since then, it has become one of News Corps’ leading mouthpieces. I work for a brokerage company, and most of our people have dropped their subscriptions, it has gotten so bad.

  11. tfkreference says

    Wow, he dismisses the Kennedys for their philandering, but praises FDR as the last true WASP president. I suppose in one sense, a single long term mistress is … no, maybe not.

  12. colnago80 says

    Re Gregory in Seattle @ #15

    The editorial pages of the WSJ were always noted for their stupidity. The situation after the purchase of the paper by Murdock has, apparently, degraded further so that they now resemble the Whacknutdaily. From Gregory’s comment, it would appear that the news sections have also been degraded to the point where the paper is no longer the paper of record for the financial community.

    It should be noted that Murdock is itching to buy the NYT.

  13. steve1 says

    After reading the op-Ed it seems one of the reasons Bill Clinton is not a Wasp is because he came from a “broken home”. Does this mean if you are a wasp of proper lineage and your parents divorce you lose your Wasp status?

  14. ShowMetheData says

    “There are no classes” – but there is a class war by WSJ and the elites – “and we are hiding our class”

  15. whatmeworry says

    Check the article in wikipedia about Joseph Epstein. Seems Harper’s published an article he wrote about homosexuality in the 1970s that gave the LGBT rights movement quite a jumpstart.

  16. daved says

    Someone once commented that the people who write for the Op-Ed pages of the WSJ appear to have failed to read the rest of the paper (the actual news part).

    How do these things happen? Hell, I knew Paul Gigot, who is the editorial page editor, in college, and he was a reasonably liberal guy back then (when he was editor of the college newspaper).

  17. thinkfree83 says

    To understand why conservatives are freaking out about Obama, I think you have to examine the movie “The Birth of a Nation.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this film, it was a 1915 film by D.W. Griffith that depicted the downfall of the Confederacy during the Civil War and Reconstruction and its triumphant return through the “heroic efforts” of the KKK to keep blacks in their place. “The Birth of a Nation” was the first movie to showcase what film could do as a independent art form, and its sole purpose is to legitimize white supremacy. One of the many anti-black stereotypes the film uses is that of the “evil mulatto,” who combines the “cunning” of Europeans with the “brutality”of Africans. I think for many Republicans, the rise of Obama, “the evil mulatto,” is like the first part of “The Birth of a Nation,” when white people are being oppressed by blacks and mulattos, and now they’re waiting for the second part, when the whites rise up and re-establish their superiority.

  18. borax says

    Last time I checked WASPs held most of the positions of power. I guess less than 100% isn’t enough.

  19. marcus says

    @ Steve 1 “Does this mean if you are a wasp of proper lineage and your parents divorce you lose your Wasp status?”
    Maybe not your WASP status itself, but likely your ranking with-in that social milieu. I think it actually means that ‘divorce’ was something that “just wasn’t done”. If you were “fortunate” enough to be born in that class and found yourself in an unhappy (very likely arranged) marriage you either “lived a life of quiet desperation” or “played around”. I think male philandering was mostly accepted within certain fluid boundaries as tfkreference alluded to. Female philandering, I think, while not exactly accepted, was tacitly allowed as long it was kept very, very discrete. As I see it it was a fabulous kluge of guilt, resentment, deceit, and subterfuge that served the function of preserving the status of the “family” while allowing a certain amount of romantic wiggle room. Divorce really wasn’t an option. (I cite myself and the meta-analysis of my experience of growing up in this culture.) (IAN a social scientist but I’ve watched a lot of movies.)

  20. steve1 says

    @ Marcus
    Full disclosure I went to that high school in Winnetka near Chicago but was never accepted to a Ivy League school.
    Saw a lot of kids from divorced families but no one was bemoaning there loss of status. They did seem to be happy about having two Christmases however.

  21. says

    @colnago80 #17 – I’ll admit, I’ve never read the editorials, before or after Murdoch’s takeover. All I know is that the news sections have sunk from a respected high to a Faux Noize low.

  22. zenlike says

    11, gussnarp

    but I thought they still kept their racism veiled behind dog whistles. This belongs on a fringe white supremacist site. Does this make the WSJ a fringe white supremacist site?

    No, it doesn’t make the WSJ fringe. It only means that racism isn’t so fringe as most of us would like it to be, and most people in American society think is is.

  23. zenlike says

    Also, this is the first time I actually encounter the word ‘meritocracy’ as something bad. Really, this whole column is advocating for a time when the ‘elite’ consisted of members of a certain ethnic background, compared to a meritocracy in which the ‘elite’ consists of the smartest/best suited people (never mind that we actually don’t live in a meritocracy, but let’s put that aside, it clearly is something this author believes in).

    This is one of the most stupid things I ever read, even when not considering the racist connotations.

  24. mikeyb says

    Un-freaking-believable – are these guys script writers for Mad Men? The good ol’ days when racism and sexism were the white mans burden.

  25. Robert B. says

    Holy shit, that’s real. I thought it had to be a parody, or that it was celebrating rather than decrying the decline of the ruling class, but nope, it’s exactly what PZ says it is. And it just goes ON.

  26. smhll says

    Well, that was tiresome. Now I’m struggling to use “cherry picking” and “bollocks” in the same sentence.

    Yes, going to an Ivy League graduate school does not make you morally great. Neither does going to an Ivy League college because only people of your ‘lineage’ are allowed to attend. Sheesh.

  27. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    I feel like a message to the WSJ pointing out (fairly) that this is racist, classist, elitist, and thoroughly against the spirit of the US revolution may get some results.

  28. robro says

    No surprises here. It’s just Fox News in Wall Street pinstripe drag.

    And when exactly did we lose that “unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class”? Just about as far as one’s eye can see around here, White men running things. Perhaps the demise of the WASP establishment is more News Corp fear mongering, like the War on Christmas. I’m sure Murdoch can get a lot of mileage out of the War on White People.

  29. loreo says

    This is nothing but the purest nostalgia for a time when straight cis WASP men could ignore everyone else.

    He’s genuinely distraught by the idea that other people exist. This is the genocidal impulse; disgust for what is different couched in carefully chosen words. “Oh, for the time when my way of life was maintained by violence I never had to see, when my wealth was generated by women and brown people and protected by thugs with guns who dreamed of my life but were trained never to cross the velvet rope.”

  30. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    I’m quite enjoying the commenter called “Harold Lampi”, who seems unable to leave a comment without including a quote from someone called E. D. Baltzell. They appear to think it makes them sound authoritative, but it sounds more like they’re regurgitating a book they just read.

  31. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @gshelley

    White Anglo-Saxon isn’t a race? Huh. What the hell does that make me?! *sob*

    Seriously,right-wingers are idiots.

  32. Gregory Greenwood says

    zenlike @ 28;

    No, it doesn’t make the WSJ fringe. It only means that racism isn’t so fringe as most of us would like it to be, and most people in American society think is is.

    Exactly, and it isn’t limited to racism or to the US. Perhaps it is merely a factor of my personal perspective, but there seems to have been something of a twisted renaissance of open bigotry in the last few years. It is most obvious in the US, but even in the UK I have seen more and more proud statements of racism, misogyny and homophobia (transphobia never actually went underground in the first place, and has rather always been one of the most ‘publicly acceptable’ forms of bigotry, which says much about just how sick society really is) that are made without any real attempt to hide behind dog whistles or obfustication. The response to such behaviour is often minimal or entirely nonexistent

    A common formulation is an outright denial that a certain form of discrimination in society actually exists, quickly followed up by claiming that members of what is still evidently the privileged group are the ‘real’ victims of ‘persecution’ at the hands of a government supposedly run by some hidden junta who conspire against these ‘true’ victims – apparently a spectacularly incompetent conspiracy, given the fact that the privileged groups remain so privileged with regard to access to education, employment opportunities, political office and resources of all kinds.

    Th most worrying part is that this stuff isn’t limited to the more wild (and delusional) corners of the internet anymore. Really toxic stuff that would once have been the preserve of things like white supremacist sites is popping up more and more in mainstream media, and increasingly is not met with the flaying derision one might expect; even open bigotry can get a pass so long as it is paired with some other argument with some veneer of credibility. Thus, the issues surrounding the poorer demographics among the white populace, and in particular poorer white youth, along with the perennial arguments about immigration become the preferred vehicle for racism, with anyone who calls out that racism is chided for not understanding that this ‘anger’ is ‘understandable’ given the social pressures being faced by the poorer white groups. The language of social privilege is even subverted to argue that only a member of the privileged group would view this racism as problematic, since anyone ‘at the sharp end’ would understand. The concept of intersectionality is, of course, entirely ignored.

    Similarly, issues about the legalities surrounding custody battles have become the cover used by many misogynists, whose women-vilifying rhetoric goes way beyond any legitimate arguments about custody law, but that are very quick to use the fig leaf of fathers denied access to their children to deflect any criticism. And then there are always the ironically entitled ‘pro-life movements’ waiting in the wings, eager to make the procreative slavery of women the law of the land based on the clearly fallacious argument that foetus=baby and that as such abortion=murder, and that anyone who disagrees is some kind of immoral monster. Throw in tropes about ‘flighty’ and ‘emotional’ women not being capable of making rational decisions about their own bodies, and you have another vector for public misogyny.

    In the same way, arguments over religious freedoms have long been used to try to lend legitimacy to homophobia. While the arguments may nominally be limited to the issue of marriage equality – in itself a right that should be offered without condition to gay people everywhere that is all too often denied to them because of the prating religiosity of pious homophobes – claims of the supposedly inherently ‘morally corrosive’ nature of homosexuality are inevitably smuggled in to the debate sooner rather than later.

    And of course, the rallying cry of freeze peach is to be found everywhere that bigots want to legitmate their prejudice.

    The Overton window seems to be shifting further and further Right-ward with every passing year, and stopping that process is going to prove difficult when people like Rupert Murdoch still control the mass media, and the internet harbours scores of hate sites for every place like Freethough Blogs that tries to advance a progressive humanist perspective. Still, stop it we must, or I fear that it is only a matter of time before the public tolerance – indeed, acceptance – of bigotry becomes a matter of governmental policy, and we see a revival of the enshrinement of bigotry in law.

    Come to think of it, in many regards that day has already come to pass.

  33. Randomfactor says

    The WSJ op-eds have been bullshit for decades. Usedacould trust the news reporting, but then Rupert took over.

  34. A Masked Avenger says

    From the article:

    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.

    removes hat

    Truly, we have fallen upon dark times, now that trust, honor, and character are no more.

  35. says

    doublereed #4
    He appears to be the author of a book called Fabulous Small Jews, which apparently includes autobiographical vingettes about being Jewish, so I’m leaning towards yes. This really does make his paean to WASPiness even stranger, especially when he yearns for the days when the prestigious universities had official policies to keep Jews out.

    Epstein also has a bit of a problem with understanding what ‘Anglo-Saxon’ means. After complaining at length about how the Kennedys weren’t really WASPs, just Irish Catholics imitating them. He then goes on to list the brilliant light of the ‘Establishment’ who were the great WASPs he contrasts with them.

    They were alive and breathing, and they had such names as John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, W. Averell Harriman, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, Joseph Alsop, C. Douglas Dillon, George F. Kennan and Robert McNamara. The WASPs ruled the country,

    Scottish names are in italics, Irish names in bold.

  36. raven says

    Hard as it is to imagine, the WSJ went way downhill after Murdoch bought it. It’s now Fox news on paper.

    But it isn’t all bad. These days I never bother to read it as a waste of time. It was always a hard slog anyway. The paper was so thick I never did read all of it and they would sit around the house until I threw them out. recycled them.

  37. says

    Dalillama quoth:

    They were alive and breathing, and they had such names as John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, W. Averell Harriman, McGeorge Bundy, Dean Rusk, Joseph Alsop, C. Douglas Dillon, George F. Kennan and Robert McNamara. The WASPs ruled the country,

    Aaw, he missed the true test of WASPy names – there must be three, and they’d work in any combination, like Harriman’s – William Averell Harriman / Harriman Averell William / Averell William Harriman, and so on. Tsk.

  38. raven says

    Whoops, McNamara was supposed to be bolded too.

    I wouldn’t call Robert McNamara a great American.

    He was one of the architects of the Vietnam war. The one where kids I knew were killed in.

    Best I can say is he is now dead and I cheered when he died.

  39. Rich Woods says

    @colnago80 #17:

    It should be noted that Murdock is itching to buy the NYT.

    It should be noted that Murdoch is itching to buy everything.

  40. pacal says

    This twerp has written crap before. c. 40 years ago he wrote a piece for Harper’s in which he free associated about Homosexuality and how much he wished it would disappear. It was an ill thought out collection of bigoted points.

    So now he is complaining about the fall of WASPS and apparently doesn’t really understand who was and was not a WASP. He wants a return to the days of unearned privilege, in which mere membership of a particular ethnic group made you by definition “superior” and “better” than other people. Of course the unspoken corollary to that is that he longs for the day in which certain people, were by virtue of membership in certain ethnic groups were considered “inferior” and “worst”. Yes I suspect Joseph longs for those days when he could look at certain people and feel good about considering them “inferior”.

    Yes I see a pattern the desire to classify people as “inferior” and “bad” by virtue of immutable characteristics and to classify certain people has “superior” and “good” in the same way.

  41. Moggie says

    hillaryrettig:

    between this and David Brooks’s oped on how he smoked weed but outgrew it and so you should, too, we’ve hit a kind of apex of conservative suck.

    Peak Douche? No, I believe that is some way off yet.

  42. raven says

    Well, of course; that’s Epstein’s list, not mine. Everyone on it is a total shitweasel. I was just pointing out that people named McNamara aren’t Anglo-Saxon.

    Yeah, I know.

    It’s just that Robert McNamara has a special place in my pantheon of evil. Did I mention that it was a great day when he died?

  43. unclefrogy says

    you know I think it is a good that they the reactionary conservatives feel so put upon that that they need to say these things out loud in the open. It really indicates that the numbers are not in their favor. After all this is an open defense of the 1% is it not?
    This is not 1914 or 1814 this is 2014 and things have moved on. The masses the 99% are not as poor and ignorant as they once were though there is plenty of ignorance left and growing poverty.
    The masses have been turned into consumers instead of serfs to increase the wealth of the ruling classes as such they have been given the desire to better themselves, to dream the American dream.
    We also in this time have more education and the most remarkable communication environment in history with easy access to an almost limitless supply of information. We can find out things that were supposed to be kept secret!
    There is something else going on that is almost completely ignored. What is the makeup of the popular heroes today who gets almost universal recognition in music in the movies, in sports?
    It is not the WASPs alone. The people do not seem very threatened by the different the other as in the past. In my youth it was very different and things show no signs of changing directions yet. We may see difficulties ahead again but we are going forward toward a different future.
    Just keep these wingnut “elites” talking!
    uncle frogy

  44. playonwords says

    I thought the writers of WSJ Editorials were supposed to be educated. If so why have they missed the fact the the so called WASPS from the UK were mongrels – I speak as one.

    At grandparent level there were people from the Midlands, Yorkshire, Wales and Bristol. The Midlands element claimed to trace their ancestry back to a specific Norman invader; the Bristolian was a long established lower class family so there were excellent chances of African or Asian blood; the Yorkshireman’s mother did not make clear who the father of her lad was although family rumour supports a Scot; and the Welsh grandmother was from a pretty normal family except her grandfather was probably the child of a local landowner.

  45. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Well, of course; that’s Epstein’s list, not mine. Everyone on it is a total shitweasel. I was just pointing out that people named McNamara aren’t Anglo-Saxon.

    Being Scottish or Irish doesn’t preclude you from being Anglo-Saxons. The ASes got around.

  46. zenlike says

    Nick Gotts (33),

    Thanks, I never thought that meritocracy, a term denoting that the best suited people occupy the important positions in a society, was supposed to be negative (in it’s original use). Live and learn. Although the original negative use has apparently more to do with the author’s scepticism if indeed the correct people would be chosen in such a system, a scepticism I can fully agree with. As I said, I myself don’t think we really live in a meritocracy, although lot of people really think so and are really invested in that idea (I’m looking at you, libertarians).

    Gregory Greenwood (39),

    I fully agree with your (as always) spot on comment. What you said is not limited to the UK, it’s the same over here in continental Europe.

  47. thinkfree83 says

    @playonwords: American conservatives don’t understand the huge amount of cultural and linguistic diversity that exists among ostensibly white Europeans. To them, “white is right,” end of story.

  48. says

    thinkfree83:

    American conservatives don’t understand the huge amount of cultural and linguistic diversity that exists among ostensibly white Europeans. To them, “white is right,” end of story.

    Oh, I expect they understand. You see, it must be the right kind of white to be right.

  49. says

    What a Maroon
    Depends on how you define it, I suppose. Epstein appears to think that being Irish excludes you, for instance, based on his comments about the Kennedys. I suspect that most people who would describe themselves as Scottish or Irish would also take umbrage at being called Anglo-Saxon, much as they find it annoying to be called “English”. Indeed, by the usage you appear to be supporting, many of the upper crust WASPs that Epstein is lauding are properly Anglo-Normans, the latter having infused themselves throughout England’s aristocracy. The thing is, there are elements of Anglo-Norman culture in the U.S., but they’re not the same as the Anglo-Saxon identified cultural groupings; rather, they are the remaining scions of the Antebellum slaveholding aristocracy (vs the scions of the robber baron clans of the North, themselves descended (culturally) from other elements of English immigrants who make up WASPdom)

  50. betelgeux says

    @sundiver #10
    Don’t forget, Feynman wasn’t excepted into Columbia (his first-choice college) because of its Jewish quota. Luckily, he was accepted to MIT instead. Imagine how many Jewish/Catholic/Non-WASP students were permanently set back by their inability to attend a top college. In a society where success was (completely unfairly) equated with what type of school you attended, being declined admission to a top college was often a death-sentence for your career.

  51. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Dalillama,

    As a USAian of mostly Scottish and German descent, I don’t particularly like to be called Anglo-Saxon, but I can understand it; the Germanic invaders did take over much of the Lowlands, and the dialects they spoke were the ancestors of modern Scots, which is closely related to English.

    In any case, Epstein seems to consider the Dutch Roosevelts and Flemish Delanos WASPs, so I guess he’d let a few Scots and Irish pass as well. As for the Kennedys, I suspect they’re excluded because of the whole Catholic thing.

  52. says

    What A Maroon 62
    As a USAian of mostly Scottish and German descent, you’re not Anglo-Saxon. Despite modern Scots being closely related to English, the Scots are still culturally/ethnically distinct from the English, and this cultural divide persists (in slightly mutated form) in the U.S. Neither are Germans, or those of direct German extraction, generally considered part of WASPdom, despite Angeln and Saxony being in Germany. (Also, no one ever mentions the Jutes, who came over with the Angles and Saxons, and are from Jutland in what’s now Denmark. The thing is that the Anglias and the Seaxnas (East Anglia, Mid-Anglia, and Northumbria (now the East of England), and the modern districts of Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, the kingdoms of the West, East, Middle, and South Saxons respectively) diverged culturally (and linguistically) from the Germanies and Scandinavia alike, partially due to merging with the preexisting Briton cultures, further altered by the Norman Invasion, wellspring of the aforementioned Anglo-Normans.
    I only skimmed the article, I missed the Roosevelts and Delanos (and I’m a bit surprised he’s fond of them, given the list I did see).

  53. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I would assume the Kennedies were disqualified based on the “P” part. *shrug*

  54. moarscienceplz says

    Dalillama #63

    As for the Kennedys, I suspect they’re excluded because of the whole Catholic thing.

    Yes, exactly. The ‘W’ and the ‘P’ in WASP matter much more than the ‘A’ & ‘S’. Although nowadays many Catholics have money and they hate pro-choice women (and women in general), so they can probably join the party too, as long as they moan about how Welfare Queens are ruining the country.

  55. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Dalillama,

    I guess it depends on how you define Anglo-Saxon. In Spain, we’re all (USAian/Brits/Aussies etc.) anglosajones. But more to the point, the ASes didn’t stop at the (modern) border of Scotland; they went up to at least the Firth of Forth, and gave Scotland one of its national languages (which apparently will still be in use in some form in 23rd Century). Even more to the point of the current conversation, though, Scots such as James Wilson were clearly part of the ruling class of the USA from colonial times.

  56. Gregory Greenwood says

    zenlike @ 56;

    What you said is not limited to the UK, it’s the same over here in continental Europe.

    Agreed – there has been a worryingly rapid lurch to the political Right across the continental European countries in recent years that has mirrored that in the UK and US. Even those countries normally associated with more progressive social policies, like some of the northern European societies, have shown a marked shift to the Right, particularly with regard to the ongoing paranoid (and for the most part entirely unjustified) fear of Muslims.

    The rot has certainly spread far and wide.

  57. says

    Complains about legacy admissions being on the decline, does he? Boston University has the perfect solution — shuffle the legacies who are too dumb for a real college education off to a two-year prep school, on campus, full tuition. I believe it’s called the College of General Studies these days; back in the day when I was at BC on the other end of Comm Ave it was the College of Basic Studies, aka College of Beer and Sleep or Children Born Stupid. I’m pretty sure it sticks to your record with a big sign saying “I’m legacy deadweight”.

  58. says

    Azkyroth #64
    Can’t be that, McNamara’s Catholic too. Same goes for Alsop, Kennan, and Dillon

    What a Maroon

    In Spain, we’re all (USAian/Brits/Aussies etc.) anglosajones

    And the average Yank or Brit wouldn’t know a Catalan from a Castilian. The cultural differences are no less real for that, for all they’ve spoken the same language (closer than English and Scots, anyway), for several centuries now.

    ven more to the point of the current conversation, though, Scots such as James Wilson were clearly part of the ruling class of the USA from colonial times.

    Dutch, Germans and Anglo-Normans likewise. That still doesn’t make any of them WASPs though.

  59. thinkfree83 says

    Sinclair Lewis’ book “Main Street” illustrates how narrowly defined the term “white” was in the early 20th century. In the fictional town of Gopher Prairie, MN, the Finnish and German immigrants are ill-treated by the WASPy natives, the latter especially so during World War I. To our eyes, the Finns would appear to be some of the whitest white people around (at least in terms of melanin content), but to the WASPS of Gopher Prairie, that’s not enough, because the immigrants speak a strange language, have different customs, and go to the wrong kind of church.

  60. Nathair says

    the Finns would appear to be some of the whitest white people around (at least in terms of melanin content), but to the WASPS of Gopher Prairie, that’s not enough

    Hence the ASP part of the acronym.

  61. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Wiki quotes:

    William F. Buckley, Jr., in his review of Epstein’s 2002 essay collection, Snobbery: The American Version, called Epstein “perhaps the wittiest writer (working in his genre) alive, the funniest since Randall Jarrell.” A writer for The Forward called him “perhaps the smartest American alive who also writes well.”

    Praised by elitist bigot WFB as the wittiest writer in his genre, the funniest since comic Randall Jarrell – wait, he was the fine but depressed poet who wrote “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” and likely committed suicide.

    And praised by “a writer” in The Forward! Wiki says this is:

    …commonly known as The Jewish Daily Forward, is a Jewish-American national newspaper published in New York City. The publication began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party of Daniel DeLeon. As a nonprofit publication loosely affiliated with the Socialist Party of America…

    Buckley’s favorite Jew writer! What worse could be said about a man!

  62. Rob Grigjanis says

    Dalillama @69:

    And the average Yank or Brit wouldn’t know a Catalan from a Castilian. The cultural differences are no less real for that, for all they’ve spoken the same language (closer than English and Scots, anyway), for several centuries now.

    My bolding. Where do you get your info from? The difference between Northern English and most Scottish dialects is minimal (with Glaswegian at max I think). I remember watching Gregory’s Girl un-dubbed, and missing very little (I grew up in Yorkshire).

    Catalan has been closer to French (especially Occitan) and Italian than to Castilian for centuries.

  63. says

    Rob Grigjanis
    To be honest, mostly what I’ve picked up from my dad. I generally assume he knows what he’s talking about, though, since he’s a linguistics professor by trade. Spanish and French aren’t really all that far apart anyway; I can usually manage about 1 word in 4 in spoken Spanish, more like 1 in 2 in written Spanish, from my (now rather rusty) knowledge of French. Portuguese is closer yet, but Portugal’s got a separate flage and an army and all that, so they get to call it a different language rather than a dialect. Yorkshire’s just up on the border, close enough to be a target of the Border Reivers, and the dialect there is pretty similar to Scots. Dialect and accent are always going to be a gradient, not a sharp line, much like ring species.

  64. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Dalillama,

    To clarify, Catalan and Castilian are both considered to be dialects of Spanish at this time, and are mutually comprehensible.

    Hmm. Who considers them dialects of Spanish? Some Castilians I know may agree with that, but Catalans probably wouldn’t. As for them being mutually comprehensible, well, that depends….

    In any case, Catalan/Castilian are part of a classic dialect continuum. If you start from the coast of Galicia and travel along the north of Spain (skirting around the Basque-speaking parts), you won’t find much difference in the language spoken from one village to the next. (And you could probably continue your trip across southern France and down to the tip of Italy’s boot, and find the same). And yet, along the way, you’d find Romance dialects that you could identify as Gallego, Asturiano, Castellano, Aragones, Catalan, etc. Much the same is true in Britain, as you travel from the southern coast up to Scotland and the isles.

    The point being, there is rarely a clean break between closely related languages. And large parts of Scotland speak a language that is descended from the language spoken by the Germanic invaders that we refer to (perhaps not entirely accurately) as Anglo-Saxons.

    You seem to be equating “Anglo-Saxon” with English, but neither England nor Scotland is as monocultural as you seem to think.

  65. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    In any case, Catalan/Castilian are part of a classic dialect continuum. If you start from the coast of Galicia and travel along the north of Spain (skirting around the Basque-speaking parts), you won’t find much difference in the language spoken from one village to the next.

    As an aside (and I apologize for the threadjack, but once you get me started on this it’s hard to stop), in the south of Iberia there’s a much clearer border between Portuguese and Castilian, and between Castilian and Catalan, as a result of the three-pronged reconquista.

  66. says

    What a Maroon
    Most linguists define them as dialects of the same language, but that’s as much about politics as anything else. Portuguese could also be defined as a dialect of Spanish, but they’ve got a separate national government who says it’s not, and a few others (notably Brazil) who agree, so it’s not. As for mutual comprehensibility, they’re as mutually comprehensible as, say, Louisiana to Boston, which have got strongly divergent enough accents that I know people from Oregon who have trouble with both.

    You seem to be equating “Anglo-Saxon” with English, but neither England nor Scotland is as monocultural as you seem to think.

    As I noted above, culture, like language, is a gradient rather than a line, but there are, nevertheless, distinct cultural groupings which can be identified, and members of which tend to self-identify as same. Members of the Scots cultural identity do not typically identify as Anglo-Saxon, while persons with an English cultural identity generally will, supported by the regional cultural transmission from the Scottish Celts on the one and, and the Anglians, Saxons, and Jutes on the other.

  67. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Dalillama,

    Most linguists define them as dialects of the same language, but that’s as much about politics as anything else.

    Like most linguists I know, I tend to run away when the question of language vs. dialect comes up. But if you want to sound like a linguist, you could say that they are closely related Romance dialects, just as Scots and English are closely related Germanic dialects. Note that a linguist, at least when speaking carefully, wouldn’t say that Catalan is a dialect of Spanish or that Scots is a dialect of English (or vice versa).

    As I noted above, culture, like language, is a gradient rather than a line, but there are, nevertheless, distinct cultural groupings which can be identified, and members of which tend to self-identify as same. Members of the Scots cultural identity do not typically identify as Anglo-Saxon, while persons with an English cultural identity generally will, supported by the regional cultural transmission from the Scottish Celts on the one and, and the Anglians, Saxons, and Jutes on the other.

    Fair enough. But to bring this back to the original point, in 18th century US (and 18th century UK), there were plenty of Scots who were firmly ensconced in the ruling class, to the point that they were effectively the ancestors of modern WASPs. (These, though, are not the same people that are somewhat inaccurately referred to as Scots-Irish. But that’s another thread.)

  68. playonwords says

    @ Dalillama @ Whatamaroon

    A Canadian polyglot I knew said her greatest fun came when she heard a Quebecoise, an Algerian and a Frenchman trying to talk to each other

  69. Esther Nelke says

    Hey, a Spaniard here. I would like to say that Catalan is NOT a dialect of Castilian. They look similar enough (albeit Catalan is way more similar to French than to Castilian, specially at the grammar level), and, after knowing some key differences, it is understanable.

    However, Catalan does not come from Spanish. They are both Romance languages, but they evolved indepently. Catalan was spoken in the old Kingdom of Aragon, and it was an important language of commerce in the Mediterranean Sea. It is very closely related to Occitan language, spoken at the South of France.

  70. David Marjanović says

    French (especially Occitan)

    Yeah, Occitan isn’t French either.

    Most linguists define them as dialects of the same language

    [citation needed]

  71. Rob Grigjanis says

    Yeah, Occitan isn’t French either.

    Ah, so that’s why I have such difficulty understanding Baïlèro. Yeah, I meant languages spoken in France. I was drinking Chardonnay last night.

  72. laurentweppe says

    Why does he say that as though it were a bad thing? Ruling classes are, almost without exception, worthless. In fact, worth less than nothing, an active barrier to good government and progress.

    Try to see the world through Joseph Epstein’s eyes: for him: civilization is a parasitic endeavor meant to ensure the eternal prosperity of a tiny number of dynasties at the expense of everybody else. If people hailing from the everybody else‘s province can reach positions of power, it jeopardize the eternal, effortless, parasitic comfort of the ruling dynasties, thus negating the very reason civilization exists in the first place.

  73. says

    Catalan is definitely not Spanish. There’s some debate as to whether it might actually have come from a southern dialect of proto-Occitan; the vocabulary is distinctly Iberian, but it doesn’t sound or look at all like Spanish otherwise. It does merge into Aragonese (there’s one dialect, Ribagorçan, that is of special interest to some Romance linguists because it’s impossible to tell if it’s one or the other) and a bit into Aranese (a Gascon dialect), but Aragonese itself is quite distinctly not Castilian, so it’s rather likely that similarities between Castilian and Catalan are mostly a result of Spanish rule for centuries and not a direct relation.

    It might be worth noting that one of the defining characteristics of Castilian are certain sound changes that are generally ascribed to speaking late vulgar Latin with a Basque accent. Castilian shares that with a couple of Cantabrian dialects, Gascon Occitan, and no other nearby languages. (Castilian is actually really eccentric for a number of reasons, almost as much as Portuguese, but it doesn’t seem that way because Spanish is such an important world language now.)

    Thus endeth the useless trivia.

  74. David Marjanović says

    Try to see the world through Joseph Epstein’s eyes: for him: civilization is a parasitic endeavor meant to ensure the eternal prosperity of a tiny number of dynasties at the expense of everybody else. If people hailing from the everybody else‘s province can reach positions of power, it jeopardize the eternal, effortless, parasitic comfort of the ruling dynasties, thus negating the very reason civilization exists in the first place.

    For about the fifth time, though: Epstein is not A, S or P. He’s Jewish. He’s “else”.

    I think he expects to benefit from the, like, totally wise, honorable, reliable, character-ful rule of the tiny number of dynasties.

  75. vaiyt says

    Automatic admissions, good. Affirmative action, bad. Quotas for me, but not for thee. What a piece of dreck.

  76. DrVanNostrand says

    @88

    My armchair psychoanalysis would be that Epstein just wants to shut the door behind him. The elite ruling class slowly absorbed non-Anglo Saxons, Catholics, Jews, etc… (as long as they were white). He’s pissed off that other minority groups are slowly pushing their way in now.

    I also find it ironic that this was posted right after a post about an inane David Brooks article, since he wrote an almost identical piece several months ago, albeit worded in a less blatantly racist way. In the New York times you have to at least pretend to be less of a bigot.