File Under Elitism

I excerpted the following from an article by Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and the question of elitism in American politics, entitled "When Atheists Attack." Although Harris' criticisms of Palin are arguably fair, he is at his sharpest and, paradoxically, his bluntest when he turns to the matter of so-called elitism:

"Ask yourself: how has 'elitism' become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated."

Point taken. You can read the rest of the article here.