If being a snob is wrong, humorist P.J. O’Rourke doesn’t want to be right

PJ O'Rourke
PJ O’Rourke

Once thought of as a dirty four-letter word, P.J. O’Rourke, an American political satirist and journalist wants to change all that for the word “snob”. In fact, he preaches to Town & Country this month that he wholeheartedly wants to put snobbery en vogue — and with good reason.

The official definition of a snob is, “one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those he regards as his superiors.” Based on that definition O’Rourke says one should aspire to be a snob, although does take umbrage with the dictionary’s over-usage of adverbs.

He explains, “I see the world as full of my superiors. I’m not supposed to imitate, admire, or seek association with them? Would it be better if I mimicked, idolized, and hung out with liars, fools, and thieves?”

He adds that parents tend to tell their children that they can do anything and encourage them to succeed. But then the unspoken other half of that message is not, “After you succeed, don’t be a snob. Associate with losers.” Clearly there’s no honor in humility.

By Charles LeBlanc

He also contends that pretension and elitism has their benefits. Snobs respect authority. “A snob also regards certain rules, laws, traditions, and tenets of faith to be ‘superior.'” And who doesn’t want that, right? O’Rourke takes this line of thinking one step further and hilariously contends that “every one of America’s founding fathers was a snob in this sense.”

His schtick continues, “Except, perhaps, Aaron Burr, who shot Alexander Hamilton and then conspired to start a private war with Spain and was tried for treason. There’s nothing wrong with snubbing Aaron Burr.”

There’s a financial connection to snobbery as well. O’Rourke quips that there is nothing wrong with being a rich person or one percenter. “Money is a tool. Tools are interesting. I have a lot of tools. They do not, alas, take the form of money; they’re mostly for yard care. But my next door neighbor would be less interested in cultivating my friendship if he wanted to use my string trimmer and all I had was a pair of nail scissors.”

While another negative connotation of snobbery is that snobs fawn over the aristocrats and the elitists, O’Rourke explains that this is actually a win and not a fail: “If my nose is turned in the air it’s because there’s something above me I aspire to. I’d rather look up to others than look down on myself.”

O’Rourke implores readers to eat up what he is saying, but just be sure to do so daintily with a silver spoon. Once done, stick your nose in the air and raise it like you just don’t care. That will surely make America (and the world) great again.

Convinced yet? [Town & Country]