My friend Bawb the Revelator sent me an editorial by my new hero Susan Jacoby the other day. (By the way--Bawb is new to blogging, so go check out his place.) The piece appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday:
The Dumbing of America
Here's a taste:
The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself." Ralph Waldo Emerson offered that observation in 1837, but his words echo with painful prescience in today's very different United States. Americans are in serious intellectual trouble -- in danger of losing our hard-won cultural capital to a virulent mixture of anti-intellectualism, anti-rationalism and low expectations.She identifies three issues:
This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and winding road to the White House. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an "elitist," one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans that they are just "folks," a patronizing term that you will search for in vain in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.") Such exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of anti-intellectualism in any era. (*Note from Bubs: Think of Ms. Pickler's performance on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?)
- The decline of reading and the rise of video
- The erosion of general knowledge
- Arrogance about our lack of knowledge
Go read this thing.
During an interview with Ann Curry on the Today Show, Bush was asked about the economy. The first thing that got me was his dismissive "yeah, well" when Curry said some Americans believe they're suffering economically because of the war. It's right at the beginning of the video.
The POTUS goes on to say that he thinks war spending is creating jobs. So, Mr. President, what's wrong with the economy?
"I think this economy is down because we built too many houses."
Yep. That's what he said: