Elitism Unwarranted

DISSENT

Elitism on this page is nothing revolutionary. With the criticism of Barbra Streisand for what was an engaging and poignant speech, though, it has reached a new height.

Ms. Streisand, a member of anyone's definition of the cultural elite, plays at the highest political levels of our society. Yet even her opinions are not good enough for these elites. Is she not politically relevant?

Former Crimson editor Michael E. Kinsley '72 brought the better-than thou tradition to the New Yorker. In a Comment on "The Intellectual Free Lunch," (Feb. 6, 1995) Kinsley wrote: "It is contemptuous, not respectful, to excuse 'the people' from all demands of intellectual rigor or honesty on the ground that their judgments are wise by definition."

Shall we test citizens' knowledge before we give them political rights? That qualification was enforced by Southern governments during Reconstruction in the form of literacy acts to maintain the decrepitude of African-America. Liberals seem intent on spreading democracy throughout the globe. It is convenient for them, however, to ignore it at home.

Why should Ms. Streisand be required to hold extensive knowledge of every issue she speaks upon, whether it be the medical system or laws protecting the handicapped? Such demands are excessive and hypocritical.

The Crimson's condemnation of Ms. Streisand's speech exemplifies exactly what is wrong with elitism. When standards are set below which someone or something is considered unworthy, anyone or anything can be considered worthless.