One frequent criticism from many on the right is that “the elites” run the country. And as with many things the right does and says, it does it without seeing the tiniest speck of irony. The irony being that in their unrelenting war on education and intellectualism, they are becoming the new elite running the country.
America was once a land of mostly illiterate agricultural workers – a whole country of disadvantaged migrant farm workers like the right so hates today. But those agricultural workers realized – like the migrant workers of today – that education was the way to pull themselves and the country out of the intellectual dark ages. Unschooled and sometimes illiterate parents made many sacrifices to educate their kids to develop the raw knowledge and skill to move themselves and the country forward.
Insane Amounts of Belly Button Gazing
The right may have a point that a society too dependent on intellectualism is a society frozen by insane amounts of belly button gazing and an over-dependence on books at the expense of the real world. But that is where the point ends.
Successful societies need thinkers and doers because a society without thinkers doesn’t have the ability to help provide the knowledge and technology to the doers. The growing attack on intellectualism works like a photocopier that has made a copy from a copy from a copy. Each succeeding generation gets weaker and weaker until, at last, the final copy becomes unreadable.
Over the past few decades, the right has been unrelentingly chipping away at our educational infrastructure. From the abysmal Every Child Left Behind Act, to a steadfast refusal to approve taxes for schools, to rewriting textbooks to follow Christian teachings rather than actual history or science, we’ve reached a tipping point where we can no longer function. Instead of bellyaching about the minimum wage, that money and time would be better spent figuring out how to improve education than to fixate on obliterating it. Give people knowledge and we wouldn’t need to set a minimum wage.
Then Came the Ignorati
This nation is well on its way to becoming an anti-intellectual wasteland ruled by the ignorati instead of the intelligentsia or the commonsentsia. We’ve produced a crop of “leaders” without the good sense to come in out of the rain. The Christine O’Donnells, Sarah Palins, Sharron Angles, and Michele Bachmanns of the world recoil at the mention of anything requiring more thought than their many bubbleheaded Tweets.
Present the ignorati with immutable facts and they’re congenitally unable to process them. Producing an Obama birth certificate 47 ways from Sunday (along with assurances of its legitimacy from the Republican governor of Hawaii) and their answer is, “but it isn’t the right birth certificate”. They refuse to believe scientific data only to assure us the world is merely 6,000 years old. And, the list goes on.
You don’t have to be an egghead to see this problem. You don’t have to belong to the intelligentsia. You don’t even have to be a moderately intelligent person with a poor education. You only need to do this:
Listen to speeches by the leaders of the ignorigentcia and openly think about what they say – lest you become its newest member of their elite.
- Elites Versus The Ruling Class (riehlworldview.com)
- Why do Americans resent upward mobility? (slate.com)
- The E-Word (reason.com)
- Anti-intellectualism at UAlbany (timesunion.com)
- The Republicans’ Bizarre Attacks on Elites (politics.usnews.com)
- What Does ‘Elitism’ Mean? (newsweek.com)
- Tuition fees: securing a future for elitism | Carole Leathwood (guardian.co.uk)
- Pity the Poor Couple Who Make $450,000 Per Year (Yet Another Failure of Our ‘Elite’ Educational System) [Mike the Mad Biologist] (scienceblogs.com)
- The fantasy of a vast upper middle class (salon.com)
- In Essence, American Anti-intellectualism…: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- David Callahan: The GOP’s Problem with Affluent Voters (huffingtonpost.com)