Shamus Khan on cultural elitism

“Well-known” does not influence photo quality when attached to “sociology professor.”

Shamus Khan’s opinion piece about “The New Elitists” initially made me angry. Sure, I enjoyed the sweet anecdote about William Vanderbilt getting snubbed by the New York Academy of Music, and I’m always up for a screed against the rich. The rich are given resources out of all proportion to their talent and usefulness, usually by their parents. It’s a peculiar way to run a country that defined itself against inherited aristocracy, although it makes more sense if you think of the United States as the country that defined itself against Marxism. My complaint is that Khan focuses his column on cultural elitism—the “omnivorousness” that passes for sophistication but is often simply the hallmark of privilege. I consider myself a cultural omnivore. I like Sean Paul’s art and Jean Paul Sartre. Must I therefore be an elite?

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