I’m With Stupid

The Terrifying Rise of Anti-Intellectualism

I was pondering the lack of curiosity and inquiry on the part of many Americans this morning when I saw this headline —

One can draw a fairly straight line from the dumbed-down yokelspeak of Dubya (“Is our children learning?”) to the current elevated idiocy that we are witnessing in American politics. I remember Gore being chided for ‘too many big words’ and Kerry being ridiculed for speaking French. This isn’t new.

But — they “haven’t been following that”?!

Since when did a curious mind become a dishonor? Why is it that a large segment of the American population has such disdain for learning and the learned? How are they so disinterested in issues that will so profoundly affect them? Does anti-intellectual mean pro-ignorance? This is a goal?!

I’m not an intellectual, but I certainly want my leaders to be. I want them to read books and speak languages and understand history. I want them to be experts in their chosen fields and to expect those around them to be curious and knowledgeable. I consider it my duty as a human being to try and understand my world and, as my grandfather counseled, “always seek to gain knowledge.” When and how did ignorance gain such currency?

This is, I worry, a product of our reality tv world, our plugged-in world that has somehow unplugged us from our very humanity. Perhaps it’s not as new or alarming as it feels, perhaps I don’t understand the arc of American cultural history with regard to intellectual thought. I’m sure I don’t — but someone does and I’d like them to weigh in.

Why do we not take pride in the intellect, why do we shun those who could build us a ladder out of this hell? Have we well and truly lost our minds?

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