Tom: Anatomy of an `elitist’ and an enemy of America

I met an elitist a few days ago.  You know.  One of those well-educated liberals the Tea Party claims to hate.  To the Tea Party base, almost anyone who is capable of critical thought and analysis is an elitist and not to be trusted.  Almost anyone who has an original idea is an enemy.  If you can’t touch it, actually feel the gun or the border fence, or it doesn’t come out of the mouth of Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck, it can’t be real, they say.  

I hadn’t met an elitist before, not one I knew was an elitist anyway.  But surely Tom is one.  He is a blunt-spoken man, a graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in engineering.  He hates what the Tea Partiers have done on the debt-ceiling crisis.  He calls them “radicals,”  and grumbles about the Republicans and George W. Bush causing all the financial woes the nation is facing right now.   He must be an elitist, surely.  I will describe him the best I can so he can clearly be identified and possibly shot.   Remember, “Don’t retreat, reload” is the cry from the far right.

I was sitting in a buffet in north Phoenix when Tom hobbled over to a booth near me and sat down.  He was wearing blue jeans and a flannel shirt.  Wisps of uncombed gray hairs escaped from under an old  ballcap pulled up high on his forehead.  I hadn’t seen him for a while.  He walks now with the aid of a cane to support a short, slumping body.  He will be 90 years old on November 1.    Tom  tells me he grew up on a farm near Cairo, Illinois, near the juncture of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.  It’s where the Ozarks end, he says.  Beautiful country. 

It was almost about nine months ago that Tom first told me about his life.   His mother was an immigrant from Scotland. Tom worked as an engineer for NASA and also Remington Rand and helped build the original UNIVAC, the first commercial computer made in the U.S.   Said he worked beside and was a friend of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who developed COBOL, one of the first programming languages.  Amazing Grace, they called her.   He gave me a list that day of other computer scientists with whom he was acquainted.  Konrad Zuse, the German inventor of the first programmable computer and John W Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, developers of the ENIAC computer and Alan Turing, the cryptoanalyst. 

I assume he’s one of those leeches who takes Social Security.  Probably has the Medicare B too. 

Although Tom is retired more or less, he often arrives at the buffet carrying a study book which he pores over between bites.  Usually it’s physics or calculus. 

“Gotta keep up,”  Tom says.  He still uses a slide rule to make his calculations.  In fact, Tom says, he has a collection of slide rules at home.

So this is the enemy, the worst kind of American.   They are everywhere and must be smoked out, just like Communists in the hey-day of the John Birch Society.  You can even find these leftists posing as ordinary citizens in your local buffet.


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