Odd definition of “snobbery”
Tell Charleston that it’s the world’s best travel destination, seventh best city and one of its best cities for young entrepreneurs, restaurants, jobs, outdoor fitness and romance, and you might expect it to go to our Lowcountry heads.
We know it hasn’t. If anything the accolades that have come this way make us want to live up to them. But that didn’t stop the folks at Travel + Leisure from labeling Charleston the country’s 10th snobbiest city.
Before bristling too much, however, we should consider the standards the magazine used. Yes, one factor was aloof residents, but others were high-end shopping, cultural offerings like classical music and theater, artisanal coffee houses, tech savviness and “a conspicuous eco-consciousness.”
We plead guilty — except to the aloof part. Charleston is consistently given top grades for hospitality, courtesy and warmth (not the humid August kind of warmth, either).
Indeed, Travel + Leisure’s damning description says Charleston is “where a quaint southern tradition blends with a modern foodie scene.”
OK, we confess it’s true.
At the risk of falling into T+L’s dreaded “smarty-pants” category, we must assume that T+L’s definition of “snob” is different from ours. The word has nothing to do with high-brow music or good restaurants. (Besides, you can still get a good hamburger or barbecue when you’ve had enough fancy food.)
A snob values people for their status. The word emerged in the 1820s when colleges at Oxford and Cambridge wrote “s.nob.” by the names of ordinary students to distinguish them from aristocrats. The abbreviation stood for “sine nobilitate” or “sans nobilité” meaning “without nobility.”
(Does it make us snobs that we know this?)
The article did make reference to Slightly North of Broad, a “hot lunch spot ... [that] cheekily goes by the acronym SNOB.” But we happen to know that owner Dick Elliott and his staff are very friendly.
The author made no mention of the unfortunate “Jobs Not Snobs” campaign that port-related people dreamed up to suggest that local people wanting codified limits on the size and number of cruise ships in Charleston were really just anti-flip-flop-wearing tourists.
They wisely have let that unfair bromide fade away.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was bemused by the description of Charleston as snobby.
“Charleston is the most gracious and least snobby city I’ve ever been in,” he told Post and Courier reporter Zach Fox.
Proud of its history and its beauty. Pleased that so many people like to visit. Delighted with its restaurants and cultural offerings. Enthusiastic about the area’s natural beauty and efforts to conserve it.
We’d say not.