Last night, Kathryn Jean Lopez posted an e-mail mocking Barack Obama's insistence on pronouncing Pakistan  ... the way it's supposed to be pronounced.

When Obama says Pock-i-stahn I have an uncontrollable urge to read The New Yorker and find some Chardonnay.

Fortunately I have an old copy of NR and a Coors Light to snap me back to reality.

Seriously though -- no one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying.

Whether Obama is pronouncing Pakistan correctly is not important; what is important is that the way people speak conform to the norms of "flyover country" as dictated by letters to a magazine founded by a wealthy Yale alumnus. Mark Steyn jumps in a bit later, declaring Obama's pronounciation of Pakistan "ostentatiously exotic."

Re Senator Obama's ostentatiously exotic pronunciation of Pakistan, one thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says "Eye-raq".

To pronounce something correctly is to be "ostentatiously exotic," while pronouncing something incorrectly is raised to the level of something like a presidential qualification. Meanwhile, there are thousands of Americans of Pakistani descent who are themselves "ostentatiously exotic" by virtue of their names (and it would be elitist of them to expect anyone to pronounce them correctly) and ancestry. 

Keep in mind that these are the same people who insist that a culture of ignorance holds black people back while lauding Sarah Palin's vast ignorance of public policy as some kind of tremendous virtue. They demand merit from others and only mediocrity from themselves, because said mediocrity is touted as proof of authenticity.

The conservative movement at this point basically reminds me of people who thought 50 Cent was going to be the greatest rapper ever because he had been shot nine times, not because he could actually flow. Let's face it, 50 is wack. He's wack like Sarah Palin is wack. But like Sarah Palin, he had a story that reflected the cultural values of realness and authenticity that hip-hop fans had come to place above actual rhyming ability. Most of these fans are not from the hood in the same sense that the folks at The Corner are not Real Americans(tm) from "flyover country," and they can't yet understand what the obsession with authenticity is doing to a movement they supposedly love.

--A. Serwer

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