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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

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy recently nominated 19 students from the Fourth Congressional District to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Kevin Seery of Wantagh has earned one of the nominations to the United States Military Academy from McCarthy. Seery is presently attending Norwich University. 

It’s been a long time since Nicole Shaw and Chris McCabe first met—years, in fact—but after taking a chance on each other, the couple realized that they were meant to be with

McCabe recently proposing to Shaw at Old Westbury Gardens’ annual Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns after six years of dating. 

 

McCabe, now an NYPD officer, and Shaw, who works for Mill Neck Services for Deaf Adults, met in middle school and developed their friendship through high school, said Shaw. 


Sports

Dowling College’s Mike Groenthal, of Levittown, was recently named as Honorable Mention All-Conference selections from the East Coast Conference (ECC) in men’s soccer, as a forward. Groenthal is a junior at Downling. He is a graduate of Island Trees High School. 

 

The ECC was formed in 1989 to enhance intercollegiate athletic competition among member institutions and to assist them in integrating athletics into their academic program in a fiscally sound way. 

John Kane, of Levittown (pictured), scored as the 10th finisher overall in the Greater Long Island Club’s 15th Annual Six-hour 16th Birthday Run, which was recently held at Sunken Meadow State Park. Kane logged a total of 38.22 miles over the six hours, to earn him the 10th slot out of 140 participants.


Calendar

Advent Craft Market - November 29

Rick Bailey Memorial Turkey Bowl - November 29

St. Nicholas Craft - December 5


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