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  1. #1
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Default The Late, Great American WASP

    I'm frankly posting this Op-ed just because it dumbfounds me. I looked for The Onion logo to no avail. I reminded myself that it was a long way off from April 1st. I could not find proof of irony.

    This is an example of just how ridiculous WSJ's opinion pieces get. Every now and then they'll throw you a whopper like George Will asserting that progressives promote railways because it conditions people to be collectivists, or a piece like this one, which at least to my mind is so steeped simultaneously in elitism, implicit bigotry, saudade, and naive idealism, that it is embarrassing.

    The old U.S. ruling class had plenty of problems. But are we really better off with a country run by the self-involved, over-schooled products of modern meritocracy?
    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.

    The acronym WASP derives, of course, from White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but as acronyms go, this one is more deficient than most. Lots of people, including powerful figures and some presidents, have been white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant but were far from being WASPs. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton qualified.
    Much can be—and has been—written about the shortcomings of the WASPocracy. As a class, it was exclusionary and hence tolerant of social prejudice, if not often downright snobbish. Tradition-minded, it tended to be dead to innovation and social change. Imagination wasn't high on its list of admired qualities.

    Yet the WASP elite had dignity and an impressive sense of social responsibility. In a 1990 book called "The Way of the Wasp," Richard Brookhiser held that the chief WASP qualities were "success depending on industry; use giving industry its task; civic-mindedness placing obligations on success, and antisensuality setting limits to the enjoyment of it; conscience watching over everything."

    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.


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  2. #2
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    Joseph Epstein
    Epstein...
    It's fashionable to hate on wasps, but don't bring up jews or you have drama and lawsuits.
    This is standard.

  3. #3
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawbawbowba View Post
    Joseph Epstein
    Epstein...
    It's fashionable to hate on wasps, but don't bring up jews or you have drama and lawsuits.
    This is standard.
    Wow, you're quick to jump to *that*. If you see what MP posted, the author was advocating WASPS.

  4. #4
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I'm frankly posting this Op-ed just because it dumbfounds me. I looked for The Onion logo to no avail. I reminded myself that it was a long way off from April 1st. I could not find proof of irony.

    This is an example of just how ridiculous WSJ's opinion pieces get. Every now and then they'll throw you a whopper like George Will asserting that progressives promote railways because it conditions people to be collectivists, or a piece like this one, which at least to my mind is so steeped simultaneously in elitism, implicit bigotry, saudade, and naive idealism, that it is embarrassing.
    The author seems to be equating the reign of the WASPs with a time of greater civility and decorum in government, when political opposites like Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill could still work together collegially to get something done for the country. He is right to bemoan the loss of this atmosphere, but equating it to the prevalence of WASPS in government is like blaming global warming on the decline of pirates.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  5. #5
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    You aren't reading between the lines. It's a eulogy and it reeks.

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    I prefer not to make assumptions. The author wrote quite plainly about his subject. I cannot say the same for you.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  7. #7
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    Yeah, what Coriolis said. Some fair points about lost positive aspects and gained negative ones, but the attribution is so strong to the point of seeming really ethnocentric. Mostly what I get out of it is Epstein loves him some WASPs.

  8. #8
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawbawbowba View Post
    You aren't reading between the lines. It's a eulogy and it reeks.
    You do not appear to be reading at all.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


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  9. #9
    my floof is luxury Wind Up Rex's Avatar
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    @Magic Poriferan

    I went to school on the east coast and got an interesting perspective on the whole WASP thing. Obviously, the notion that the ruling class in this country be dictated by anything other than ability is ridiculous, but the people this article concern have had an undeniable impact in shaping what it means to be "American". Having said that, I think the values that WASPs infused into the mainstream were curated to shape a very self-serving social order whose consequences we're still living with as a society.

    For example, this is the group from whom we've derived that quintessentially American idea that if you work hard and conduct yourself morally, you'll be rewarded with success and affluence. That's the ideology that's shared with the outsider. What's kept within the circle is the practical corollary that one's objective is not just to become rich, but to create and sustain wealth through a mentality that one is responsible for providing not just for oneself, but for the two generations that follow. It doesn't sound so bad until you consider the mentality it creates in those in the outs wanting to get in, which is most of us. We've been handed some myth about how the world works that keeps us entranced by the mere possibility of "becoming", while in the meanwhile hostile towards the needs of supposedly undeserving have-nots. It's a brilliant and insidious strategy of divide and conquer that I lay completely at the feet of these people.

    ETA:

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    The author seems to be equating the reign of the WASPs with a time of greater civility and decorum in government, when political opposites like Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill could still work together collegially to get something done for the country. He is right to bemoan the loss of this atmosphere, but equating it to the prevalence of WASPS in government is like blaming global warming on the decline of pirates.
    To be fair, I don't think it's 100% outlandish to assume that there's more assumed trust intrinsic to a more homogenous group than one that's not. The problem lies in the fact that (as I was pointing to above) that same shared identity leads to a ruling class more concerned with preserving their status as such than governing for the benefit of everyone. See: GOP, 2008-present.
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  10. #10
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Does this pass a journalism these days? It reads as if written by a high school student.

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