Charles Murray wants to answer the question of what the growing inequality between classes could mean for society.
Murray spoke on UNC’s campus Monday about his new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” which attempts to do just that.
Murray is the author of The Bell Curve, a book published in the 1980s which examined whether intellectual differences were based on race. The event was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
At Duke University, students held a protest against Murray’s controversial speech Monday — but the same lecture was not met with a protest at UNC.
“That persons of color in this country live in disproportionate poverty and ill health…is not the result of innate differences in mental capability or crude cultural practices, as Murray would like to argue,” said Duke student Prashanth Kamalakanthan in an email. “It is the result of race, gender, and class-based privilege intensified by laws and institutions that … people like Murray perpetuate.”
Murray’s talk centered around the growing divide between the upper middle class and the working class.
“The proposition in Coming Apart is … that we have seen the development of classes that are qualitatively different from classes that existed as recently as 50 years ago,” said Murray.
This divide results in an isolation in which the comparatively smaller upper-middle class is separated from the larger working class.
Murray said the isolation of these two groups creates a larger problem because of the disconnect it creates.
“If you are going to rise to a position where you are affecting people’s lives, you really have to understand what those lives are like,” he said.
“The second set of things has to deal with a rich and fulfilling life. The fact is that hanging out only with other upper middle class individuals is not nearly as rich and interesting as being engaged in broader society.”
UNC freshman Levincent Clark thought that Murray did a good job of explaining ideas that he already knew.
“The talk did not exactly inform me on anything I didn’t know, it just gave me more detail on things I had already been exposed to.”
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