Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Should Anyone Take Advice from Charles Murray?

Years ago, I was talking with a colleague about one of conservative pundit Pat Buchanan's books, and when I professed to like some of Pat's ideas, after I distilled the crazy out, my colleague asked, "Which part of his racist, sexist, anti-Semitism do you like?" That was, of course, a bit of a conversation stopper. Similar contempt and criticism could be - and is often - leveled at social critic Charles Murray, whose 1994 book The Bell Curve seemed to promote institutionalized racism on par with eugenics"theories" of the past. Since then, Murray has continued to publish, and while he continually upsets people, I would still say there is some validity in what he says after we "sift through the crazy."

After his criticism of poor, lower, middle class White Americans in 2012's Coming Apart, Murray has returned with a new book of advice, written in almost a lighthearted and genuine self-helpy sort of way. It's almost like something All I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten author Charles Fulghum would write, if Fulghum was much more close-minded and mean-spirited. Yes, irony is intended. So, anyway, Murray is offering "Advice for a Happy Life" in his book The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead. Among the tidbits that Murray advises:
  • Consider marrying young
  • Learn to recognize a soul mate
  • Stop worrying about fame and fortune
  • Take religion seriously
And my favorite:
  • Watch Bill Murray's Groundhog Day repeatedly
There is a lot of wisdom and insight in Murray's advice, which truly does come across as curmudgeonly.  But nothing bad could come from the lessons in the Harold Ramis existential masterpiece about weatherman Phil Connors who lives a single day over and over until he gets it right.  Now, of course, all this is coming from Murray. So there is obviously another shoe to drop. And there is no shortage of critics weighing in on why we should not listen to Murray, or buy his curmudgeonly and biased book.

Josh Idelson writes for Salon.com about "Tramp stamps, racism, and icky pronouns; 8 new tips from … Charles Murray"

Arit John at the Wire.com asks, "Can Charles Murray do for lifestyle what he did for race relations?"

Jacob Osterhout of Newsweek.com lets us know that "Bell Curve author Charles Murray knows what's best for you"

No comments: