Friday, May 16, 2008

Definitions of "leadership."

First, I would like to go into a discussion of prior Leonard Pitts, jr.' editorials. These editorials describe what alarms him among the African-American community. If a young African-American actually decides to study, he is seen as "too white" by his peers. Which makes the argument that there must be something evil incarnate about education if presumably it makes you "better" than the general run of people.

You can say that Stanley Crouch who writes for King Features Syndicate has now joined the club of people alarmed at the idea that education can be scorned. Especially when one is a presidential candidate — Hillary Clinton who despite her own college education, years of making good on it by working at the Rose Law Firm and moving on from there to being first lady and then Senator in her own right; but who looks down on her opponent as an "elitist" for making good on his education as well. Education makes you what exactly? Better than Joe 6 pack? It assures your upward mobility more readily than marrying that multimillionaire heiress ever will? While Crouch was discussing "leadership" and what he thought it ought to entail, as republished in the Spokesman-Review for 16 May 2008, what he also said about education gives one pause to think.

The U.S. has always been touted as the land of opportunity. You come here, work hard and have the potential of doing great things. In fact, the Wright brothers, mentioned in Crouch's editorial proved that to be a fact. They were the inventive geniuses who put an engine on a plane and made it travel for around a mile or so. Had they listened to the "glad to be ignorant" crowd, this country would not now be an international leader in technology. Thomas Edison gave us the electric light. We make candles now for pretty and use at times of emergency purposes, but we don't need them now for light at night or to study by as was the case during Edison's own time. From the light bulb comes your main methods of operating a TV, stove or oven, computer, DVD player, cable and satellite reception, elevator, automatic doors and etc. After all, with the invention of the light bulb, we found all sorts of practical uses for electricity. Now if Edison had listened to the "we prefer candles" crowd, having today's electrical powered technology might have taken a while longer. As Crouch put it, neither the Wright brothers or Thomas Edison were from the "upper crust" of society. But today, in the hot political climate that is election year '08, were the Wright brothers who gave us the blue print for the stealth bomber (because they got an airplane off the ground) get scorned as "elitist" if they ran for public office, from the very people who benefited greatly from the work of the Wright brothers by the fact that they can travel the country in an hour, two hours, 3 hours? How about Edison, were he running for president, the very people who can now take advantage of Edison's experiments in the practical use of electricity by the fact that they can appear on broadcast or cable or satellite TV denounce his "elitism?" Maybe the youth among the African-Americans have something in common with the "journalists and anchors" among Fox News, scorn at the idea that anyone could try to "better himself." I thought that was why the U.S. of A. was supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth, because here you can better yourself; you are expected to. Or there is something wrong with you if you don't.

Is Joe 6 pack really the national ethos? What virtues do we ascribe to him? I can remember when a guy who'd routinely go to a bar on a regular basis was basically a loser. He had no further aspirations in life so he got lost in a beer, any number of beers. He let opportunities to be a better man pass him by. To make a difference, he refused that, and would hitch up to the bar on a Friday night and down his beer, or shots of whiskey. And when his head wasn't blurry from being an alcoholic, he would engage in tirades at all those people "better than himself" who drive those fancy cars, work in those fancy offices, wear all those fancy clothes. Joe 6 pack happened to be the very epitome of class resentment. And it was class resentment that Senator Clinton thought that she should appeal to by swilling beer and shots of whiskey, when she wasn't playing the race card. But did Joe 6 pack ever consider that without him, the "class" he resented most wouldn't have a fancy restaurant to go to? A fancy car to drive? Fancy clothes to wear? That if he wasn't laboring on a farm, Arugula wouldn't be a part of their salad? His Joe 6 pack neighbor couldn't pick up milk at the store? And here Obama was trying to tell people that such resentments weren't necessary any more. So of course in this season of politics, silly as usual, Senator Clinton had to argue that resentments were still very necessary. And education, the root of all evil, it makes you "elitist."

If this country isn't to go down into a has-been third world nation, I'll agree with Crouch of the need for education and even further, the practical need to make use of it. American ingenuity doesn't happen in a vacuum, it happens because of our curiosity. Our curiosity is only nurtured by continuously educating ourselves. Making something of that education is what helps us get ahead in the world. So, on this note, I find it amazing that the very people who would be appalled at the idea of welfare, government providing handouts, are even more appalled that a poor kid—Senator Obama, could actually make it into Harvard, make it into the Senate and then run a credible presidential candidacy. It says to me, that if Obama can do it, anyone can. And what we need for a leader, is the fellow who tells us that education is a must. Especially if we are to save this nation's future.

Yes, the argument now seems to be, there is something wrong with you if you see America as a land of opportunity. And the hypocrisy is evident. So thank you Mr. Crouch.


Dogwalkmusings said...

I wonder if you would share your e-mail with me.

The New Arch Druid's take on the news said...