Mary Grabar

Hands went up quickly then, and after a few turns, a man sniffed, “Maybe it’s because I’m from Southern California (indicating his sophistication), but I see these tea-baggers as racists. I went to one town hall meeting and the Lyndon LaRouche people were out there screaming.”

The questions after that comment addressed the issue of “civility” and the racist nature of the tea party movement. Of course, not one of the people there had ever actually attended one of these events or knew that the Lyndon LaRouchians are from the far left, disrupting the meetings to discredit the tea party movement.

When he gave his talk at the Carter Center and then at the Decatur library, Harris sounded more like the Harris I know from reading his other books and talking to him in person. He admires traditional American values, and suggested that the liberal elites should refrain from insulting those who hold them dear. And that makes me wonder about the characterization of the populists in his book. Were there editorial pressures? (Or am I being paranoid?)

A major flaw of the Enlightenment heirs, the Liberal Elite (as Harris calls them), is that as a privileged class they are far removed from experiences of real people.

In academia I’ve seen them spin their grand theories, cite each others’ theories, and then claim that their work has been “peer-reviewed.” Their intellectual circle becomes smaller and smaller, their language more specialized as it obscures the paucity of real learning.

And because they have controlled education and the media, they simply instate like-minded, intellectually intolerant peers. They award each other graduate degrees, tenure, editorships, and awards. They dumb down educational requirements. They mislead their audiences and students through censorship, while fooling them that they have their best interests at heart.

That a certain group of people sees through this charade indicates their knowledge of history and human nature. They are rightfully leery of a celebrity politician who promises to “spread the wealth.” They educate their kids at home, teach them Latin and Aristotle’s rhetoric—the hard subjects that have been eliminated by these supposed intellectuals in charge of education. And as this month’s elections show, they are having an influence through the electoral process—and not as modern-day mobs of pitchfork-carrying peasants.

I would encourage liberals—and conservatives—to learn more about the tea party. Most of the participants know more about the history of the West and the Constitution than do most high school social studies teachers. There are even some professors among them.

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at Her writing can be found at