Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ignorance R Us

We are a nation of ignoramuses who believe facts don't matter and are led and misled by a corporate media that long ago gave up truth and honor and thus its mission in a quest for the almighty dollar and the privilege of being admitted to the White House briefing room.

For eight years, the MSM parroted the lies of the Bush/Cheney gang, rarely questioning even the most outrageous of the falsehoods, but rather promoting those variations on the truth to an unsuspecting and increasingly ignorant public, even when faced with confirmation of Bushite dissembling.

The fact that Bush ignored briefings in August of 2001 which specifically stated Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States, and noted it was likely that aircraft would be the carriers of destruction, was simply not important enough for the MSM to cover in any detail and/or would like raise an unnecessary stink which would in turn frustrate its corporate owners who walked lockstep with the Bush administration in order to obtain Bush's beneficial grants to the richest among us.

The enormous lies, constantly changing, that Bush promoted to justify his imperial invasion of a sovereign country as he swaggered from Washington to Texas, simply didn't resonate with the MSM, which refused to confront the enormity of this treason, and thus became complicit in the devastation it has caused.

Torture, illegal wiretapping, turning the White House into a chapel for the faith-based, destroying whatever residual goodwill there was for America around the world - none of these things caused enough of a stir amongst the MSM to make any difference whatsoever. But wasn't it interesting how, on his ranch, the faux Texan cleared brush and rode around in a pickup? Now that was a good story!

Today, the MSM welcomes the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, providing them a platform to opine to the hoi polloi that President Obama is leading us down the path to terroristic destruction. Today, generals and former attorney generals write articles which appear in major newspapers decrying the release of the torture memos as if the truth and not the torture was the problem.

And the majority of Americans do not know enough about our country or our constitution to quibble.

Mark Slouka, in February's Harper's magazine, wrote an article entitled "A Quibble," which begins by noting that "Bucking all recent precedent, we seem to have put a self-possessed, intelligent man in the White House who, if he manages to avoid being bronzed before his first hundred days are up, may actually succeed in correcting the course of empire."

But it won't be easy, because he leads a nation of ignoramuses who are proud of their stupidity.

For example: Slouka tells of his neighbor, a high school teacher, who "wants to torture a terrorist. He's worried because he believes that Osama -- excuse me, Obama -- cares more about terrorists than he does about us. He's never heard of the Spanish Inquisition."

Another neighbor wants to ban a book in the high school library because it contained some mild cuss words. Of course he hadn't read the book, "He didn't really go in for reading, himself, he said."

No doubt each of us knows people just like those two. Many of them. Too many.

Slouka continues:

"What we need to talk about, what someone needs to talk about, particularly now, is our ever-deepening ignorance (of politics, of foreign languages, of history, of science, of current affairs, of pretty much everything) and not just our ignorance but our complacency in the face of it, our growing fondness for it."

We love how stupid we are. "Ignorance gives us a sense of community; it confers citizenship; our representatives either share it or bow down to it or risk our wrath."

We care about a lot of things, say Slouka, like car racing and celebrities, and Jesus (though we don't have much of a clue about what he actually taught), and America and the flag ...

Ignorance R us. "One out of every four of us believes we've been reincarnated; 44 percent of us believe in ghosts; 71 percent, in angels. Forty percent of us believe God created all things in their present form sometime during the last 10,000 years. Nearly the same number--not coincidentally, perhaps--are functionally illiterate. Twenty percent think the sun might revolve around the earth."

Not only so, but because of our ignorance, we have come to believe that opinions are just as valid as facts. It matters not that we know nothing about socialism or climate change, we can be agin' it and hate it, and believe we are justified in our "opinions."

Slouka dramatizes such nonsense with a story about a man he met "in the Tulsa Motel 6 swimming pool ... last summer [who pronounced]: 'If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us.'"

Thus we have devolved to the point where many, if not most of us, are convinced that "when it comes to the realm of ideas, all folks (and their opinions) are suddenly equal. Thus evolution is a damned lie, global warming a liberal hoax, and Republicans care about people like you."

Sarah Palin exemplified the ignorance that permeates our population and in fact, it was her ignorance that drew so many to her side. "So what if Sarah Palin couldn't answer Charles Gibson's sneaky question about the Bush Doctrine? We didn't know what it was either."

Sarah Palin also represents the danger inherent in our ignorance. As Slouka points out: Of the approximately 130 million Americans who voted this past November, very nearly half, seemingly stuck in political puberty, were untroubled by the possibility of Sarah Palin and the first dude inheriting the White House."

Perhaps worse is the fact that fully 38 percent of the population didn't care enough or know enough to get off their obese asses and vote.

Even worse than that, and the point of this essay, is that we have "Millions of others ... [who] are adults who don't know what the Bill of Rights is, who have never heard of Lenin, who think Africa is a nation, who have never read a book. I've talked to enough of them to know that many are decent people, and that decency is not enough. Witches are put to the stake by decent people. Ignorance trumps decency any day of the week."

When ignorance R us, beliefs matter, knowledge not so much. Thus rightwing conservatives cherry pick stories from the Founding Fathers to demonstrate they were born-again Christians engaged in creating a Christian nation. That's not surprising because they've been cherry-picking their holy book for 2,000 years to justify whatever crazy and cranky theology they believe at any given moment.

Evolution is a myth because they are ignorant of biblical studies and believe their frenzied, lying preachers who pontificate about an inerrant bible. Global warming is not a problem, and all the scientific evidence means nothing because they are "conservatives" and "believe" that somehow, for some unknown reason, "liberals" are trying to use global warming to take over the government and make us "socialists," although they remain ignorant of what socialism is and indeed some of the ignorant at the tea parties equated socialism with fascism.

Slouka's final paragraph should be framed and hung in every American home:

"Praise me for a citizen or warm up the pillory, it comes down to the unpleasant fact that a significant number of our fellow citizens are now as greedy and gullible as a boxful of puppies; they'll believe anything; they'll attack the empty glove; they'll follow that plastic bone right off the cliff.

"Nothing about this election has changed that fact. If they're ever activated--if the wrong individual gets to them, in other words, before the educational system does--we may live to experience a tyranny of the majority Tocqueville never imagined."

We came close, Mr. Slouka. The last eight years brought us to the brink. The question is whether we can back away and get our bearings and turn this country around? We've got a long way to go, because, in fact, ignorance R us.

Mr. Slouka's entire article can be read here (and it's worth reading)!


A World Quite Mad said...

Thanks for posting this! Unfortunately the full article requires a subscription.

To anyone who has ever watched any of the comedians, such as Leno, take to the streets and ask people perfectly simple questions, this will come as no surprise. I used to work for a major retailer, and well, some of my co-workers were pretty thick. One girl told me that Jesus wrote the Bible. When I tried to explain to her that Jesus never wrote anything, that the NT was written long after the fact, she told me that was "the devil talking." That's a debate stopper. You can't reason with that.

There is a definite difference between scientific theory, like evolution and gravity. Not just a "theory" but a "scientific theory", one that must stand up to scrutiny, that can be replicated multiple times and studied in the same way.

Of course some parapsychologists have tried to apply the same sorts of standards to ghosts, like TAPS. They go in with equipment and cameras. They want proof. The same thing with reincarnation, or at least life after death. There were some doctors who had put signs on high shelves in operating rooms after their patients told them of out-of-body experiences. It would be evidence of such a thing, if they could accurately tell them what the signs say. But these sorts of things can be studied, at least on a sociological level. The Bible on the other hand, can only be studied from a literary perspective, and perhaps an archaeological one.

But I digress from the point. None of these idiots know any of that, because they haven't bothered to read about any of it. And they don't care to. That's something I learned from working in retail. My co-workers didn't care. They didn't think it was relevant to their lives.

Grandpa Eddie said...

He is so right on about the ignorance in this country, especially those who claim to be christianists.

Now, that statement should fire-up Mr Anonymous.

Bob Poris said...

This is really scary and I think relevant and true. We had better find a better way to educate our kids and the electorate. We have a wonderful country, a wonderful system, a wonderful Constitution, but too many haven’t a clue as to what we have and why we have it and how easy it might be to lose it.

I think it applies to all parties and independents equally!!

A World Quite Mad said...

@Bob. You said it. If I hear one more person opine about how great the "good ol' days" were, I might have to smack them. We in the United States, and by extension of that, other industrialized countries, live in one of the best times and places in all of history, despite all the flaws. You think back, not that long ago black people couldn't eat at a lunch counter, women couldn't vote. In fact, my mother went to a segregated school.

But the ignorant masses don't realize any of this. No one knows any history. As I said, they don't care to know any either, so how we can get them to figure out that they need to know this stuff is beyond me.

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