White boy in a bubble

Charles Murray, he of The Bell Curve fame, is at it again. This time he’s taking aim at white boys like me, claiming that white America has become two radically different and diverging camps.

Kay Hymowitz in City Journal has a brief review of Murray’s latest book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.

Murray paints a picture of a (broadly) lower- and upper-class white America. The two Americas have diverged socially from each other, to the point that the uppers might be considered living in a bubble. As in, having essentially no interaction with the culture of the lowers.

There’s even an online quiz, “How Thick Is Your Bubble?”, which was put forward to publicize Murray’s book.

This entire business is more than a little discomforting. It brought to mind Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with its rigid and enforced class distinctions. Meant as biting satire in the 1930s, Murray’s book may be telling us to pass the soma; there’s been some progress towards such a dystopia.

There is a parallel notion that our leaders live in the bubble of the upper class. And that this might not be such a good thing. Recall the scorn that was heaped on John Kerry for his patrician pursuits? Or on Bush 41 for his unfamiliarity with a grocery checkout scanner? Can’t wait until Mitt Romney starts getting bricks thrown at him because he doesn’t go to NASCAR events.

Well, with all due respect to anyone who thinks we should all get drunk on Natty Boh or Pabst at NASCAR races, I’ve been trying my whole life to get into that bubble. And why drink swill like Natty Boh or Pabst when there’s Guinness to be had?

Is what Murray describes a problem? Should we be doing anything about it? Yes to the first, because it erodes the moral compact that each citizen should have with the commonwealth.

What it takes to fix it I haven’t a clue, and suspect any politician who tries to tackle it will fail miserably and only make it worse. I suggest the best the uppers can do on this is set a good example with three “bes:” be industrious, be married, be churched. And don’t believe the elite media and entertainment wallahs when they tell us we’re wrong.

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