The middle places

A few years ago, Sarah Palin caught heat for remarking that the best of America can be found in small towns, which her critics interpreted as insulting urban America. (ASIDE: I don’t think that interpretation holds up, since she said “the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.” She was complimenting — one might say pandering to — her hosts, not insulting anyone. But that’s not my point here.)

A few days ago there was an interesting exchange between Bill Maher and NYT columnist David Carr on Maher’s television show. Maher was upset about Gov. Chris Christie’s agenda in New Jersey:

MAHER: It’s okay if this [expletive] happens in Kansas and Alabama, but don’t [expletive] with the smart states.

Carr asked why Maher is so down on Christie, and Maher replied:

MAHER: I got a nice public school education there, and now there is a governor of that state there saying things that I never imagined a governor of that state would say. Maybe it’s just false pride, but I think New Jersey is more sophisticated than other states.

CARR: I think if it’s Kansas, if it’s Missouri, no big deal. You know, that’s the dance of the low-sloping foreheads. The middle places, right?

Now, Maher and Carr are persons of no special importance. But they are exemplars of an attitude I see every day.

So here’s my point. When Palin made her “real America” remark, liberals professed to be outraged that she would regard one part of America as better than another. But that’s not true at all. They do, many of them, see one part of America as better than another; they just see it the other way around.

In short, it wasn’t Palin’s (supposed) favoritism that bothered them. It was the fact that Palin complimented people they saw as their inferiors. Avoiding favoritism they could probably deal with, even though it would fail to recognize their greater “sophistication”. But (supposedly) placing the “middle places” over their betters, that was simply intolerable.

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