The Corner

Knowing Your Place

My old editor, Charles Moore, has a piece in the London Telegraph on the 30th anniversary of Mrs. Thatcher’s arrival in Downing Street. Very pertinent, as Britain regresses to the basket-case Seventies. But this passage, I think, has relevance to the American elite’s view of the current Tea Parties. Charles quotes the leftie writer Hanif Kureishi’s condescending dismissal — “Thatcher, like the Queen, is basically vulgar” — and adds:

Without having Hanif Kureishi’s exalted, exquisite, Nancy-Mitford-style sensitivity for class distinctions, I do see that the combination of Mrs Thatcher’s beliefs and her social origins (and perhaps also her sex) is toxic for people like him.

People like Mrs Thatcher – state-educated, lower-middle-class, provincial, female – were not supposed to question the 1945 state-socialist settlement. To its architects, such people were of no account. They were neither poor enough to attract romantic sympathy, nor grand enough to be entitled to power. They were expected to know their place.

There’s a lot of that in that CNN reporter’s coverage of the Tea Parties: You’ll be getting your $400 Obama “tax credit.” So what’s your beef? Why don’t you know your place?

These people also are “neither poor enough to attract romantic sympathy, nor grand enough to be entitled to power.” Which is why the media feel free to sneer. In the long run, a society can function without Susan Roesgen, but not without a small-business sector and a middle-class that’s able to retain the fruits of its labors.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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