“I may be ignorant but I ain’t stupid.”

Hold that thought. I’ll get back to it.

Here are a few other thoughts.

A college professor quotes her plumber as saying, “You pay me for what I know, not what I do.” The professor’s comment? “Oh, a fellow professional! My goodness! Ha, ha, ha, ha.” Message: only when hell freezes over will we be fellow professionals.

A visitor offered Hostess bread responds: “Oh my! Hostess bread. I don’t know the last time I ever ate Hostess bread!” Message: I cannot stoop so low as to eat such a mass marketed product. And it’s white bread at that!

Recently, I recommended the Autry Museum in Los Angeles to an ex-patriate American who has been living in Europe for several decades. I thought it would give his family an appreciation of Americana. Response: “Gene Autry? Seriously?” I got the message immediately. (In my youth I thought rodeo should have become the quintessential American sport. I have since wised up. Americana is not a value to the intellectual elites.)

And then there is yours truly who has been praised—in the sense of possessing an implied moral superiority—for leaving the hinterlands to acquire advanced degrees, education being what supposedly makes me a better, as in more moral, person than those deplorables back home.*

I have never played the poverty card . . . until now.

Why? Because we—my friends, classmates, relatives—never thought of ourselves as poor, though I did share a bathroom for a few months with renters (my parents had moved to the basement), then for several years the renters lived in the two rooms of the basement. I plucked chickens, when I was probably four or five, to have food on the table. And I wore shirts and underwear made out of chicken feed sacks—multi-flowered by design and super starched in feel until washed several times.

Saturday night bath? Believe it. Once a week, until I was about sixteen, which is also when I ate my first meal in a white-tablecloth restaurant. (Two forks? Which one do I use??)

Others, of course, have been poorer, dirt poor, in some cases, with no indoor plumbing, but my point in this post is that if you have self-esteem, you will never think of yourself as poor. Nor will you want to take handouts—from anyone. At the beginning of my freshman year in college, a fraternity offered to give me a ride from the train station to campus. My father, a not-exactly-wealthy post office clerk, said, “You don’t want to be beholden to anyone. I’ll give you money for a taxi.”

I have never forgotten that advice. Later in life, I even refused to let a future in-law buy me a sport coat! “No thank you,” I said. “I prefer to pay my own way.”

Taking handouts is the essence of our entitlement culture. The poor, according to our intellectual elites, are helpless—weak, stupid, and ignorant, as I have written before (1, 2). That is, they are weak, as in lacking judgment, discernment, or firmness of conviction; stupid, as in slow- or dull-witted, which is the opposite of intelligent; and ignorant, as in not educated with an accumulation of degrees (and for some elites, this means degrees from the “right” schools).

And because the deplorables cannot help themselves, the disdain continues, this is why we need a massive Progressive bureaucracy of educated elites to take care of those poor, helpless ones.

Condescension? How can it be anything but that?

Now let’s go back to the first line of this post. It’s from the 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter and is spoken by actress Sissy Spacek performing the role of country music singer Loretta Lynn. Lynn grew up in Kentucky, in far poorer conditions than I.

The line has stuck with me for all these many years, because the deplorables in the hinterlands, including Ms. Lynn, ain’t stupid.

Stupidity versus ignorance is a distinction I don’t think the condescension crowd understands, nor are condescenders aware of when they are being condescending.

In a group of people years ago (acquaintances, not friends), I was about to comment on the benefits of staying at inexpensive hotels such as Motel 6. Before I could open my mouth, however, one member of the group mentioned precisely Motel 6 and added further comment about the poor lowlifes who stay there. This was followed by a belly laugh from the group.

Having stayed at many a Motel 6, I was intimidated into silence.

Condescenders do not know how to relate to people who have backgrounds different from theirs.

* And I bought into that line somewhat when I was making my way out of the “backwaters of civilization,” but the more I hear the above comments from “city slickers,” the more I resent them. And, yes, the deplorables back home do get defensive and sometimes respond to city slickers like this: “I may not have a fancy education like you, but I attended the school of hard knocks. Let’s see you come out here and help us bail hay or shovel manure.” I cannot blame the deplorables for such comments. I am still one of them.

Postscript. After finishing this piece I discovered a Wall Street Journal article with a similar theme: “In a Divided Nation of Big Cities and Small Towns, Caity Cronkhite Thought She Knew Where She Belonged,” by Michael M. Phillips. Ms. Cronkhite made her way off the farm to attend Carnegie Mellon University where sometimes she felt like a “token white-trash friend.” Then, she moved to San Francisco only to discover a bar named Butter whose sport and reason-for-being is to laugh at rural white America . . . with drinks, for example, like Whitetrash Driver and Bitchin’ Camaro. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

My response? Get a life, San Franciscans.