Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute hosted controversial author Charles Murray Monday evening as part of its “Distinguished Lecture Series.”
Murray’s speech addressed “The State of White America” and largely focused on the widening income gap between rich and poor Americans. Following the speech, an audience member asked Murray to explain the “intolerance and fear of new ideas” of the “New Elite,” Murray’s label for wealthy American intellectuals.
Question: Could you explain why the “new elite” has become so close-minded and intolerant and just frightened of ideas if they don’t follow whatever the spiel is on NPR?
Dr. Murray: To answer that you have to say, “What does the political correctness go back to?”
I guess it goes back to both the feminist and civil rights movements, which had great moral authority, certainly among the new upper class and academia. And deserved great moral authority. By the way I’m being very speculative here. I’ve thought about this a lot; I can’t document it.
In a way it became obligatory to not say things that seemed to be critical of blacks or of women. A raised consciousness about both minorities and women that appropriately produced a sense of guilt. That’s fine- no problem with that, but it went too far. And it stifled the expression of certain kinds of beliefs and that has kind of snowballed.
So first it was African Americans and women, and then you added homosexuals and then you added the disabled and then you went on down through the list and you have one group after another who has taken a victim status which circumscribes further the bounds of permissible discourse on all sorts of topics.
Murray did not identify the “new ideas” that might be discussed if this political correctness wasn’t preventing people from critiquing African-Americans, women, LGBT Americans, Americans with disabilities or other groups that he believes have “taken a victim status.”
Murray drew his speech from his 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” which he says addresses the “cultural fissures” that have emerged in America since 1960. He explained that he would only examine “non-Latino whites” to avoid arguments that the problems he is identifying “are the result of the legacy of slavery, racial divisions or ethnic problems, not that those aren’t real problems, but “you won’t come to grips with the dynamics that have been at work, until you understand that these have been happening within the white population.”
Labeling the wealthy the “New Elite,” Murray listed the various ways in which wealthy white Americans are different not just than working class whites, but than the previous generations of rich white folk. Distinctions included living in exclusive neighborhoods, being skinny, eating yogurt, doing yoga and refusing to drink Budweiser. He didn’t cite studies for each of these points, but his book claims to draw on “five decades of statistics and research”
Dr. Murray said he wanted to focus on whites so that his audience really understands the problems he wants to talk about. When it came to the Q&A session, however, he was more than willing to discuss not only race, but gender and sexual orientation as well.
You can watch Murray’s entire speech here. The Q&A session begins at 58:30.
In its announcement of the event, The Centennial Institute stated,
“Dr. Charles Murray has his finger on the pulse of American culture. He argues that what divides America is not race or party but economic class and virtue… Come and hear how American culture has evolved even further in the past decade, and what needs to be done to address our root problems.”
The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University “works to enhance public understanding of the most important issues relating to faith, family, and freedom. It was established in 2009 and is directed by Jeff Hunt.
Two of the Centennial Institute’s strategic priorities are “Be seekers of truth” and “Debunk “spent ideas” and those who traffic in them.”