Read the final section to see how the Marxist Ip does a buzz-kill on any rational appreciation of Murray's book or those who believe that the white majority in America have ruined the country by their church-going, tax-paying, patriotic ways. Here's the first few paras which are sane enough---Ip goes off the rails in the last section on noblesse oblige.
JUST because he belongs to it himself does not make Newt Gingrich wrong when he grumbles that America is run by an out-of-touch elite. If you want evidence, the data can now be found in a book published this week by Charles Murray, the co-author in 1994 of “The Bell Curve”, which became controversial for positing a link between race and intelligence. That controversy should not deter you. “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010” brims with ideas about what ails America.
David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, thinks it will be the most important book this year on American society. And even if you do not buy all Mr Murray’s ideas about what ails America, you will learn much about what conservatives think ails America, a subject no less fascinating. Though it does not set out to do so, this book brings together four themes heard endlessly on the Republican campaign trail. They are the cultural divide between elite values and mainstream values (a favourite of the tea-partiers); the case for religion and family values (think Rick Santorum); American exceptionalism (all the candidates); and (a favourite of Mitt Romney’s) the danger of America becoming a European welfare state.
Mr Murray starts by lamenting the isolation of a new upper class, which he defines as the most successful 5% of adults (plus their spouses) working in managerial positions, the professions or the senior media. These people are not only rich but also exceptionally clever, because America has become expert at sending its brightest to the same elite universities, where they intermarry and confer on their offspring not just wealth but also a cognitive advantage that gives this class terrific staying power.
This new elite is not just a breed apart. It lives apart, in bubbles such as Manhattan south of 96th Street (where the proportion of adults with college degrees rose from 16% in 1960 to 60% in 2000) and a small number of “SuperZips”, neighbourhoods where wealth and educational attainment are highly concentrated. These neighbourhoods are whiter and more Asian than the rest of America. They have less crime and more stable families. They are not, pace Mr Gingrich, necessarily “liberal”: plenty of SuperZips voted Republican in 2004. But they are indeed out of touch.
In the 19th century Alexis de Tocqueville marvelled that in America the opulent did not stand aloof from the people. That, says Mr Murray, is no longer true. He assumes (perhaps too blithely) that this class runs America, but makes decisions on the basis of atypical lives. A great cultural gap separates the elite from other Americans. They seldom watch “Oprah” or “Judge Judy” all the way through. In fact they do not watch much television at all. They eat in restaurants, but not often at Applebee’s, Denny’s or Waffle House, chains that cater to the common taste. They may take The Economist, with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and perhaps the New Yorker or Rolling Stone. They drink wine and boutique beers (and can discuss them expertly) but only in moderation, and they hardly ever smoke cigarettes.
A lot of American commentary about the elite is suffused with a creepy resentment (Mr Gingrich), or exercised by inequality (Occupy Wall Street) or “fairness” (Barack Obama). In contrast, Mr Murray has nothing against this class of good parents and good neighbours. He just wants it to know and care more about the rest of America. And instead of handing over more of its money, he would like it to teach the rest of America its values.
Murray's book is especially timely because he writes about the floundering white majority when it has lost much confidence---largely because of the illegal usurpation of the legislative functions from Congress to the White House [the "czars" and proliferation of "administrative laws" which are frankly risible] and by rogue courts below the Supreme Court such as the zany 9th Circus Court.