Everything But The Obvious

I’m relaxing after a tortuous week and catching up on some reading. For some reason I still get the Weekly Standards  and there is at least a few month’s worth on the shelf so I decided to power through them tonight. The first article to catch my eye is this one. It’s not a great read, but it is an interesting subject. The rise of the e-cigarette is one of those things the tobacco people sort of knew was needed, but never could figure out how to create. Their best effort was the smokeless cigarette, that smelled like fertilizer.

Like thick walled tomatoes, electronic cigarettes are a great example of suppliers finding a novel way to meet the demand of customers. Way back in the olden thymes, the government cracked down on illegal immigration (no, really) and there was a shortage of farm hands. In one sector, tomatoes, science was the answer. A breed of tomato that was engineered to have slightly thicker pericarp solved the problem of machine harvesting. All of a sudden, farmers no longer needed an army of hands to bring in the crop.

The e-cigarette is another fine example. It is just about impossible to smoke anywhere these days. The days of sitting at the bar with a pack of Marlboro Reds, a beer and your thoughts are long gone. The screeching lunatics that haunt our daily lives have turned smokers into a class just north of child molesters. The taxes and harassment have forced smoking rates down below 20% and dropping fast. Still, Short of public flogging, there’s not much else to do to stop people from trying to enjoy the benefits of nicotine.

As the article points out, the anti-smoking fanatics see it otherwise. They have invested everything in being an anti-smoking crusaders. They will not give it up easily. They are trying to harangue government into banning these things or at least treat them as unpredictable explosives that cannot be safely handled in public. Hilariously, the author of the linked piece is totally stumped as to why this is the case. He dances around it at the end, but he remains the man in the room searching for the elephant.

That elephant, of course, is culture. The beautiful people see smoking as low class. It is what you do at NASCAR events or while hunting. Good people, moral people, the people like them, don’t indulge in such vices. It’s an odd thing, given Jewish hostility to WASP morality, that the writer does not see the reason for the hostility to vaping. On the other hand, Jewish intellectual are prone to the most hilarious myopia. There’s often a narrowness, along with a lack of self-awareness, that blinds them to the obvious.

As with so much of American history, the war on smoking is really a proxy for the war on proletarian white people, particularly southern white people. Like the abolitionist movement, the anti-smoking movement started in the northeast. The first place I recall seeing a ban on smoking indoors was in Cambridge Massachusetts. Even then it was obviously not about public health. That’s just an easy excuse to push people around and take away their freedom. It was always about cultural hegemony.

This is another example of the strange cultural blindness that has settled in on our intellectual class. Read old books or even old magazines and newspapers and even the low-brow commentators understood the regional, class and racial divisions that drove public debate in the country. Today, the public intellectual is someone who is studiously unaware of the country’s history and its divides. You would think that people who line up to sing songs about diversity would be keenly aware of it, but you would be wrong.