Matt Ygelisas sides with Jeff Hart on the anti-intellectual influence of the South and West on the GOP.
He writes: “You can give that a highly pejorative reading that I imagine conservatives will want to dispute, but the basic point here seems very clear-cut to me. Can anyone seriously dispute that the vast majority of America’s premiere institutions of education and high culture are located in the “blue” areas?”
I don’t think you can dispute this. But I would have more sympathy for the point if that was all there was to it. I have criticized the creeping populism of the right many, many times. But there’s more to be said about the blue areas. Much of the truly successful anti-intellectualism in this country comes from blue areas. The low culture typified by the worst products of television and music come from the coasts, from rap music to trashy movies and sitcoms. Moreover there is a self-styled “sophisticated” strain of anti-intellectualism which runs through our premiere institutions of culture as well. The Vagina Monologues may sound brilliant to those inclined to think talking genitalia and bullwhip infused rectums is highbrow stuff, but you’re stealing a base or two if you’re going to call such fare “high culture.” While the culture war arguments about the relevance of the canon have subsided a bit, it’s still worth remembering that “red staters” weren’t prattling about the irrelevance of the sort of high culture Jeffrey Hart misses. Sure Kansas school boards fight about Darwin, but Social Text is a very blue rag