Current Events

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Current Affairs – Willful Ignorance

Willful Ignorance

My friend Norman Terrell sent the following to me and a few others:

“I was stirred by David Brooks's piece in today's NYTimes to send a comment. I copy it below for your -- I hope -- amusement.

I don't think "hipness" is the main culprit. I think it's a general loss of regard for learning, but even more to the point for the learned. They were the "pointy-headed liberals" of a generation ago. Now they're the "elites". Ignoring and contemning knowledge and the people who have it has become the shibboleth of a certain cultural and political view. In the South, we used to call them "rednecks" -- not in their hearing of course. Now redneckism has broken its geographical and demographic bonds and become a major political movement. Creationism, climate-change denial, economic illiteracy, crypto-racism: these are now exploited by politicians -- all Republican, I think -- to garner the votes and support, not of the hip, but of the willfully ignorant. It's a pity the term "Know-Nothing" has been preempted. It would fit the Tea Party of today to a T.”

My reply:

I keep thinking about the Republican campaign message and how successful it was.  It doesn't seem possible that Boehner and McConnell et al actually believe their message.  It has to be sheer cynicism.  It sounds elitist to call Tea Party members ignorant, but to the extent that they accept creationism, climate-change denial, and crypto-racism and suffer from economic illiteracy and simplistic views of the political process they are ignorant and, as you say, that ignorance is being exploited.  The simplistic message of lower taxes, smaller government, reducing the deficit, and getting rid of onerous regulations on business is a perfect fit.  Dick Armey can preach this gospel and anyone who criticizes him or the message is an elitist.  Man, we've been had!

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