CNN’s Zakaria Blames Bush’s Famous Demeanor on His White Privilege

During Sunday’s Global Public Square, CNN host Fareed Zakaria’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush involved him touting the President’s famous leadership and demeanor. But it was a backhanded compliment seeing as how Zakaria attributed those aspects of Bush 41 to his pervasive white privilege.

“The death of George H.W. Bush has occasioned a fair amount of nostalgia for the old American establishment, of which Bush was undoubtedly a prominent member,” he began. “It’s also provoked a heated debate among commentators about that establishment whose membership was determined largely bloodlines and connections.”

Zakaria suggested that Bush received everything in his life because of his “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” (W.A.S.P) background. “Surely there is nothing good to say about a system that was so discriminatory towards everyone else....For all its faults, and it had many, it was often horribly bigoted, in some places segregationist, and almost always exclusionary,” he continued.

“At its best, the old W.A.S.P aristocracy did have a sense of modesty, humility, and public spiritedness that seems largely absent in today's elite,” he noted. The CNN host proceeded to opine about how Bush was allowed to make decisions (such as hiking taxes) because “[t]he aristocracy was quite secure in its power and position so it could afford to think about the country's fate in broad terms and look out for the longer term, rising above self-interest because its own interest was assured.”

He then strangely compared Bush to the wealthy men in the Titanic’s first-class who “followed an unwritten code of conduct even though it meant certain death for them.”

 

 

From there, Zakaria whined about how today’s “elites” come from a “treadmill of achievement.” “Most damagingly, they believe their status is legitimate. They lack some of the sense of the old W.A.S.P establishment that they were accidentally privileged from birth. So the old constraints have vanished,” he added. So, he’s decrying people who work to get ahead and achieve prosperity for themselves?

What he actually did was use Bush’s death as a springboard to try to prescribe a convoluted reason for the unrest spreading through Europe. After describing “today's elites [as those who] are chosen in a much more open democratic manner, largely through education,” he mischaracterized the reason the French people were rioting in Paris:

Trump has found a genuine vein of disgust among many Americans at the way they're perceived and treated by their more successful countrymen. The violent protests happening in France are similarly fueled by rural poorer people who believe the metropolitan elites ignore their plight. The 2016 Brexit vote reflected the same revolt against technocrats.

The real reason they were rioting was that they were being taxed to death in the name of fighting climate change and to back other socialist policies.

“Let me be clear, I of all people am not calling for a revival of the W.A.S.P establishment. I’m asking, can we learn something from its virtues,” he ranted. “Today's elites should be more aware of their privilege and at least live by one simple old-fashioned universal idea, rich or poor, talented or not, educated or uneducated every human being has equal moral worth.”

Zakaria tried to impart on viewers that we should try to strive to be like former President Bush, but he did it in a way that kicked dirt on his memory and sullied it with perversions.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS
December 9, 2018
10:01:23 a.m. Eastern [4 minutes 24 seconds]

FAREED ZAKARIA: The death of George H.W. Bush has occasioned a fair amount of nostalgia for the old American establishment, of which Bush was undoubtedly a prominent member. It’s also provoked a heated debate among commentators about that establishment whose membership was determined largely bloodlines and connections. You have to be a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant to ascend to almost any position of power in America until the early 1960s.

Surely there is nothing good to say about a system that was so discriminatory towards everyone else. Actually, there is. For all its faults and it had many, it was often horribly bigoted, in some places segregationist, and almost always exclusionary. At its best, the old W.A.S.P aristocracy did have a sense of modesty, humility, and public spiritedness that seems largely absent in today's elite.

Many of Bush's greatest moments: his handling of the fall of communism, his decision not to occupy Iraq after the first Gulf War, his acceptance of tax increases to close the deficit were marked by restraint and the ability to do the right thing despite enormous pressure to pander to public opinion.

But and here's the problem, it is likely that these W.A.S.P. virtues flowed from the nature of that old elite. The aristocracy was quite secure in its power and position so it could afford to think about the country's fate in broad terms and look out for the longer term, rising above self-interest because its own interest was assured.

Now, if you think at this point I'm painting the fantasy of a world that never existed, let me give you one vivid example. On its maiden voyage, the Titanic’s first-class cabins were filled with Forbes 400 of the age. As the ship began to sink and it became clear there were not enough lifeboats for everyone, something striking took place. As Wyn Wade recounts, the men in first-class let women and children board the boats. About 95 percent of the women and children in first-class were saved compared to about 30 percent of the men in first-class.

Now, why of course the first class passengers probably had easier access to the boats, the point remains that some of the world's most powerful men followed an unwritten code of conduct even though it meant certain death for them.

Today's elites are chosen in a much more open democratic manner, largely through education. Those who do well on tests get into good colleges, then good graduate schools, then they get the best jobs and so on. But their power flows from this treadmill of achievement so they're constantly moving, looking out for their own survival and success. Their perspective is narrower, their horizon shorter term, their actions perhaps more self-interested.

Most damagingly, they believe their status is legitimate. They lack some of the sense of the old W.A.S.P establishment that they were accidentally privileged from birth. So the old constraints have vanished. Today’s CEOs and other elites pay themselves lavishly, jockey for personal advantage, and focus on their own ascendancy. At Donald Trump's rallies, a common refrain is his attack on today's elites and their arrogance.

DONALD TRUMP: You’re the smartest people. They talk about the elite. Do you ever see the elite? They're not elite. You're an elite.

ZAKARIA: Trump has found a genuine vein of disgust among many Americans at the way they're perceived and treated by their more successful countrymen. The violent protests happening in France are similarly fueled by rural poorer people who believe the metropolitan elites ignore their plight. The 2016 Brexit vote reflected the same revolt against technocrats.

Let me be clear, I of all people am not calling for a revival of the W.A.S.P establishment. I’m asking, can we learn something from its virtues. Today's elites should be more aware of their privilege and at least live by one simple old-fashioned universal idea, rich or poor, talented or not, educated or uneducated every human being has equal moral worth.

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