Readers weigh in on Neil Swidey’s defense of elites and tips on dealing with Internet trolls.
TAKING ON THE ELITES
Very astute and impressive analysis of the overblown and misunderstood “elitist danger” in the US (“In Defense of Elites,” October 8). I wish every American would read it and understand the importance of experience and education, and see how history, economics, and cultural divides have shaped today’s world. Kudos to Neil Swidey for an enlightening piece of journalism that should be read in every civics class.
Mary Maisel / Parrish, Florida
We need an elite intellectual and cultural class for the reasons outlined. But I was raised by a single mom in a small northwestern Minnesota town, and I also understand the angst that exists in “flyover country.” There is a sense these days that people who go to Ivy League schools believe they are more worthy human beings. The implication is that there is less virtue in being a plumber or electrician or farmer or homemaker. Middle America also senses the system is rigged against it by the intelligentsia. They don’t understand how it is they have to carry their weight when it seems so many are able to game the system. Holding on to traditional moral and cultural values routinely subjects them to scorn from the “elite” crowd. Disagreement is OK. But most people don’t take kindly to being demonized. Thank you for an interesting and thoughtful piece.
Dave Thompson / Charlotte, North Carolina; Minnesota state senator, 2010-2016
I enjoyed reading this article, but in the context of politics and policy choices, I do not think “elite” means what the writer does. I expect that many Americans look at elitism in government in terms of broader policy decisions. Rather than how should we handle our war in the Middle East, it’s, should we be involved at all? While this article was interesting, I think it completely misses the point. It is not whether our leaders and policy makers are rich, well educated, or highly experienced. The issue is more about what choices will be made in our names.
Bob Shapiro / Andover
An interesting take, but even the people cited are all drawn from the same Ivy League spectrum. They are part of the “best and the brightest” brigade, and it is worth recalling that David Halberstam used that moniker ironically when he wrote the book. The very same experts who got us into problems such as the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated little of the humility exemplified by Jake Sullivan in this piece. Until the elites accept more responsibility for where they went wrong, attacks on them will understandably persist.
Marshall Auerback / New York
Expertise is incredibly valuable. But technology has degraded its perceived value. Whole professions will largely disappear as technology continues to erode all expertise. People’s fear, for themselves and their children, of having no jobs is fueling scorn for elites and expertise.
Martha Sue Harris / Quincy
AVOIDING YOUR 15 MINUTES OF SHAME
It is surprising that the article about online character assassination (“How to Dodge the Scourge of Digital Shaming,” October 8) fails to give the simplest advice — just think twice before hitting send. The article could have also discussed ways of reining in our childish answer-me-now communications with messaging time controls and other such tools.
Sarah Fishman / Somerville
The only bone I have to pick here is [the assertion] that everyone MUST have an online presence. Everything I read and hear about Facebook makes me glad I have never been on it. Somehow my life is full without spending hours a day on the computer, in addition to what I already log in at work. Articles like this are actually guilty of shaming people into believing that if they don’t have a vibrant online presence they are dinosaurs.
user_3515247 / posted on bostonglobe.com
When I was growing up, the rule of thumb was never to put anything in writing (in those days we wrote letters) that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of The New York Times. It’s still a good rule, even if the “writing” these days includes social media.
polyphony / posted on bostonglobe.com
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