Department of Embarassing Elite Moments

By Megan McArdle

New York Times reporter discovers that people who grew up in Brooklyn have some speech patterns in common, even though one is white and one is black.  Unfortunately, New York Times reporter doesn't quite correctly identify what she's learned.

Update:  Apparently, I am not allowed to post about this without making it clear that I don't approve of Mattera's speech.  I don't.  I think he's kind of a jerk, and I can't imagine a form of political humor much dumber than claiming that the other side has the ugliest women . . . among other things, it seems to indicate that "our" side doesn't care about ideas so much as getting, um, a date.

But that doesn't excuse lazy accusations (open or veiled) of racism.  Racism is about the most serious charge you can make in modern America, and it should be backed up by clear facts, not kindasortaifyousquintrightyoucanseeit overinterpretations of every remark made by a conservative. 

We have a black president.  Like other presidents, people will disagree with him.  Many will disagree with him to the point of vehement hatred, an emotion I'm pretty sure the folks slinging the cheap charges of racial bias can identify with.  People can disagree with a black president without being racist.  They can even disagree with a black president, and be complete sexist jerks, without being racist.

And it's just a little more galling when there's a class angle.  Now, I don't know that Kate Zernike is unfamiliar with working class and middle class Brooklyn accents.  For all I know, she grew up in Bay Ridge.  Except that if she had, I have no idea how she could have made such a mistake.  There's something more than a little disturbing about implying that conservatives are reinforcing white privilege . . . when the very reason for your belief is that the class privilege of the national elite has left you unaware that local dialects tend to have some racial overlap.

Jason Mattera remains a jerk.  But I've no evidence that he's a racist jerk . . . and that kind of matters, don't you think?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/02/department-of-embarassing-elite-moments/36324/