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Letter: Am I Elitist?

“Elitist”. That’s a moniker with which I am frequently affixed and insofar as I contend that rule by philosopher-kings, cultured aristocrats, and scholarly noblemen bequeaths more enlightened governance than democratically-elected lawyers and other chattering classes, the charge is not wholly unwarranted. But that’s not the variant of elitism to which most are referring. 

 

One of the great ironies of my life, amidst myriad, is that unlike proponents of egalitarianism and liberal democracy who brand me “elitist”, I don’t think there are, or ought to be, significant socioeconomic barriers to individual achievement. One will frequently hear the egalitarians

blame poverty, racism, sexism, discrimination, and cultural bias for the failure of young people to reach their full potential in life. But Samantha Garvey, last year’s runner-up in the Intel Science Talent Search, lived with her family in a homeless shelter. Ioana Radulescu, the Island

Trees High School Class of 2014 salutatorian, came to America from Romania in 2004 speaking almost no English. And the young museum volunteers I’ve worked with over the years, most of them from Asian and Islamic countries - and aspiring to be engineers, microbiologists, and physicists whilst their peers think they’ll become rock stars or professional athletes -are not from privileged backgrounds. Too, the biography section of book stores buckle under the weight of volumes about women, minorities, gay people, handicapped people, and people who grew up in poverty who went on to accomplish great things in life. 

 

Now I think there is one major obstacle in contemporary American life and that obstacle is the culture of mediocrity and it is because of my personal jihad against it that I’m sneeringly and sanctimoniously called “elitist’ by those whose income, formal education, and social standing oftentimes exceeds mine own. I’ve been called snobbish, rude, intolerant, condescending, ignorant, and a few Anglo-Saxon unprintables in a family newspaper because I demand scientific evidence and historical accuracy to support extraordinary claims rather than Facebook memes, bumper sticker slogans, and pop culture clichés plastered on coffee mugs. I been labeled a bigot because I insist that right and wrong are not merely personal preferences, lifestyle choices, or social constructs handed down to us from on high by the feel-good psychobabble of TV talk show hosts and the lyrics of drug-addicted rock stars, but intrinsic elements in the human condition categorized by centuries of philosophy and theology. I’ve been called overbearing because I think that adults should employ spelling, grammar, and composition that exceeds what in my grandparent’s youth was deemed the Third Grade reading level. 

 

If young people don’t grow up to be knowledgeable, cultured, polite, civic-minded, and responsible adults it’s because they are more interested in smoking dope, drinking beer, getting tattoos, watching sports on TV, playing video games, and hanging-out at the car lot behind

Wal-Mart. It’s because they come from homes where books, science, art, religion, history, philosophy, and volunteering in the community are less important than worshiping pop culture celebrities, professional athletes, and gadgets; because family outings are to the Mall rather than to museums, libraries, churches, and historic sites. It’s not really all that “elitist” to suggest that what’s preventing young people from attaining their full potential in life is a culture of mediocrity that offers only lazy, self-centered, ignorant oafs as role models. In fact, there’s something rather democratic about the notion than anyone - irrespective of race, color, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or physical handicap - can contribute something to society. And there’s nothing snobbish or condescending in observing that it’s the people around them that don’t expect, reward, or respect hard work and education that’s holding people back from achievement. 

 

— Paul Manton


News

Firehouse Subs announces the grand opening of its first Long Island location in Levittown on Oct. 17. The award-winning fast casual restaurant chain is famous for serving premium meats and cheeses steamed piping hot and piled high on a toasted sub roll, which is served “Fully Involved” with fresh produce and condiments. Founded by former firefighting brothers, the restaurant’s firehouse décor is based on the founding family’s decades of fire and police service, and the new location is decorated with firefighter memorabilia from the Levittown Fire Department.

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution. 

 

The Levittown School District has been vigilant with the increase of cases in general. “We are continuing to implement the precautions provided by the health department and the CDC,” said Levittown School District Assistant Superintendent for Administration and Personnel Darlene Rhatigan. “We are also reminding students and staff to be mindful of the importance of proper hygiene including frequent hand washing.”


Sports

 

Four Division Avenue High School seniors have signed national letters of intent to play baseball at local universities next fall. All four players were instrumental in winning the 2014 Nassau County Championship. 

The Island Trees Squirts Rockets U-6 team met with town officials, Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes at the 2014 Island Trees Soccer Club Opening Day Parade and Ceremony held at Stokes Elementary School. Pictured also with the Rockets U-6 team is President Joe Badolato, Event Coordinator Keri Cinelli, Equipment Commissioner Chris Blum, Travel Commissioner Mike Rich, Vice-President Brian Fielding and Rockets U-6 Coach Gina Weyland.



Calendar

Current Expressions Art Exhibit - Through October 

Senior ID Card Program - October 30

Veterans' Parade - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com