Several years ago the Washington Post stirred up controversy for describing evangelicals as “poor, undereducated and easily led.” It’s not that they didn’t believe it to be true, they just knew they shouldn’t have got caught saying it in public.

I suspect Nicole Allan, a staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, may soon feel the same about this sentence:

People are sometimes caught off guard by Huckabee’s intellectual competence because of his rural Arkansas habits (he and his wife lived in a trailer while the governor’s mansion was being renovated) and his outspoken evangelical views.

People are sometimes caught off guard by the intellectual incompetence of clueless urban journalists who write about subjects they know nothing about (like Southerners or evangelicals). But it rarely surprises me anymore. I’ve been around enough of them to know that it’s usually not malice, but rather an honest ignorance of the world outside their narrow circles, that leads them to make such dumb remarks.

This is an example of the problem with elitism in America—particularly in the elite media. The issue isn’t with elitism as a concept (like most good conservatives, I’m in favor of elitism) but with the quality of what passes for elite in this country. If you have a degree from Yale (like Allan) you can usually finagle your way into a job with a premier media outlet (like The Atlantic) despite having neither a working knowledge of religion (especially popular religious views) nor the ability to apply basic logic.

For instance, I’m not sure what “rural Arkansas habits” have to do with “intellectual competence”—and I suspect Allan doesn’t have a clue what the connection is either.  (Does living in a trailer lower your IQ?) But the fact that she feels comfortable expressing such a bizarre sentiment is symptomatic of a culture that promotes incompetent thinkers because they aquired all the right “elite “credentials.

(Via Frank Lockwood, a journalist who somehow managed to graduate from Harvard despite being an evangelical from Arkansas.)

Cross-Posted at First Thoughts

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