Trickle-Down Stupidity: Education and the RWNM (Updated)


Reagan conservatives are big fans of trickle-down economics and have foisted it on us several times. The idea is that if we let rich people get richer, some of it will eventually “trickle down” to the rest of us. That’s a pretty good description of Bush’s economic “plan” over the last six years, and it has been a dismal failure.

But there is another trickle-down theory that has worked, and worked brilliantly:

Trickle-down stupidity.

For a solid quarter-century, conservatives have relentlessly preached against eggheadism, denigrating smarts not attached to the making of money because the smarter and more educated you are, the more likely you are to be liberal. Liberals are less frightened, less stingy, and less likely to go into anaphylactic shock if someone uses a word with more than two syllables.

Because both conservatives and the religious right depend on blind faith and a near-total ignorance of history, science, and logic for their existence, they have spent a good deal of that 25 years attacking education and educated people. After all, it’s almost impossible to sell someone who has passed a junior high science class the idea that the sun revolves around the earth. You need a nation of morons to do that, and the Right has pursued and encouraged the entitlement of universal stupidity – the doctrine that every American has the right to be dumb as a brick – with undying fervor.

And it’s working. Tests and polls show quite conclusively that except for a tiny minority, people know less about everything unconnected with American Idol than ever before in our history. We’re so stupid about everything except television, our thinking skills are so underdeveloped, our logical faculties so moribund after 25 years of conservative control of both the culture and the govt, that we can’t even follow directions to the bank we’re going to rob.

They had no weapon, no experience robbing a bank and an accomplice they had never met, police say.

And, according to Cobb County detective Brad McEntyre, the so-called Barbie Bandits couldn’t even find the right bank.

McEntyre, testifying in Cobb County Magistrate Court on Thursday, provided fresh details in the bizarre robbery of a Bank of America inside an Acworth Kroger on Feb. 27. The two teens, who became instantly famous after a bank video showed them in stylish sunglasses, smiling and giggling during the robbery, have been charged along with two alleged accomplices.

Heather Johnston, 19, and Ashley Miller, 18, walked off with $10,966, McEntyre said.

The women, both 2006 graduates of Gwinnett County high schools, even needed help crafting a demand note, according to McEntyre.

Benny Allen III, 22, of Cartersville, who had been working as a teller in the bank and has also been charged, instructed the teens on what to write in the demand note and gave them directions, McEntyre said. The women had never previously met Allen, but talked to him on the phone the morning of the robbery.

They had to call him back after they ended up at the wrong bank, said Johnston’s lawyer, Clay Thompson.

(Photo of Heather Johnston by Andy Sharp / AJC Staff)

Money may not have trickled down from Republican economic policy, but right-wing stupidity has seeped into the whole of American culture, trickling from the top down, due to the right wing’s fervent and undying promotion of ignorance as a community value. How bad is it, you ask? This bad:

A few years ago, a professor of history at Sheperd College, one Anders Henriksson, published a little book called Non Campus Mentis which is a compilation of short quotes from exams and papers written by students in his World History class. It is, shall we say, instructive.

On Prehistoric Man:

Bible legend states that the trouble started after Eve ate the Golden Apple of Discord. This was the forbidding fruit. An angry God sent his wraith. Man fell from the space of grace. It was mostly downhill skiing from there.

On Egypt:

There was Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was actually farther up than Upper Egypt, which was, of course, lower down than the upper part.

This is why we learn geography as a factor in history.

On the Hebrews:

The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, Isaac, and their twelve children. Judyism was the first monolithic religion. It had one big God named “Yahoo”. Old Testament profits include Moses, Amy, and Confucius, who believed in Fidel Piety. (One of the only reasons Confucius was born was because of a Chinese tradition.)

On Christianity:

Christianity was just another mystery cult until Jesus was born. The mother of Jesus was Mary, who was different from other women because of her immaculate contraption.

Eventually Christian started the new religion with sayings like, “The mice shall inherit the earth”. Later Christians fortunately abandoned this idea.

But we don’t have to be in ancient times to challenge a modern student’s limited knowledge. Not at all.

On the Post-War Period:

Wars fought in the 1950’s and after include the Crimean War, Vietnam, and the Six-Minute War. President Eisenhower resorted to the bully pool pit. John F Kennedy worked closely with the Russians to solve the Canadian Missile Crisis.

Poland migrated toward the Atlantic Ocean.

Actually, the fall of empires has been a good thing, because it gives more people a chance to exploit their own people without outside interference.

You could argue that’s true, perhaps even profound, if only accidentally.

Finally, they don’t even have a grasp on the stuff that’s happened in their own lifetimes.

On the Mid-East:

One major source of conflict since World War II has been Israel’s relations with the Parisians. The Carter administration found itself face to face with this problem during the so-called Iran Hostess Crisis.

On the Balkins:

The Balkens returned as a powdered keg. Rumaina’s Chou Tse Cu was displaced from his pedisal. Yugoslavia moved toward the edge of its end, trebled and plunged into the bowels of deconstruction.

On Now:

The historicle period ended shortly after World War II-III. Historians and others attempt to pin the tail on the reluctant monkey of change.

It needs to be said that while some of these come from blue-books and are clearly the product of desperation, many of them come from term papers which the student had weeks – or months – to write. Although the typos are funny, the ignorance behind them is not. When a college student doesn’t know how many world wars we’ve had, even though we numbered them for him, the nation is in deep shit.

Conservatives will tell you the reason for the ignorance showcased above is the fault of the educational system, but it is not our schools who are teaching kids that facts don’t matter and they don’t need to bother to learn them, much less remember them past the time they’re needed for a test. No teacher in the American school system is telling students:

History, a record of things left behind by past generations, started in 1815.

Or:

Victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks.

Or:

The Germans took the By-Pass around France’s Marginal Line. This was known as the “Blintz Krieg.” The French huddled up and threw sneers at the Germans. Japan boomed Pearl Harbor, the main US base in southern California. American sailors watched in shock as the sky filled with Japanese zebras.

These kinds of fundamental mistakes are made by people who weren’t paying much attention to begin with and even less later on, of people who don’t think facts are very important and don’t waste much time on either getting them right or remembering them. This –

Hitler’s instrumentality of terror was the Gespacho.

– and this –

Picasso was the famous artist who painted the Mona Lisa.

– and especially this –

Economic problems were caused mostly by falling prices, a problem we now recognize as inflation.

– aren’t explainable as common errors or the result of a hormone assault. Yes, America has always had an anti-intellectual strain in its character but the context of the mistakes that are being made now has changed. Yes, there are the usual sound-exchanges (“Gespacho” for Gestapo) but there is also an environmental undertone. In “The French huddled up and threw sneers at the Germans” and “a problem we now recognize as inflation”, the kids are simply repeating what they’ve heard from the right wing over and over again, and incorporating it into their answers without thinking.

The RWNM has so successfully filled the American atmosphere with conservative and religious-right fantasies, misinformation, and contempt for facts that they’ve become part of the air we breathe. Our children have absorbed them into their very bloodstreams, and they’re now part of the “reality” our kids live in. They put them in term papers and repeat them on tests because a) they believe what they’ve heard so often, and b) because they don’t really think it matters much if they get it wrong.

These are the principal precepts and core values of the anti-intellectual Right, and we are being smothered by them. Our kids accept them without questioning their validity because they’re everywhere and no one seems to dispute them. The MSM and the culture as a whole doesn’t get up in arms when egregious mistakes are made or blatant lies are told, and doesn’t correct them or expose them. Glenn Greenwald uses a classic example of the results to indict the laziness and cowardice of a media virtually controlled by right-wing beliefs.

Even six months after this country invaded Iraq, 70% of Americans continued to believe that Saddam helped personally plan the 9/11 attacks. That heinous fact, by itself, should have provoked a major crisis in political journalism — a desperate effort to find out what went so fundamentally wrong. Yet it did nothing of the sort. Most of the energies of national journalists are devoted instead to defending how they operate and, most of all, condescendingly disparaging their critics as shrill partisans who don’t understand the real role of journalists.

This is an infection, as dangerous to the body politic as plague is to the body physical, and if we don’t root it out, we’re looking at a future of denial and illusion so bleak it may literally mean the end of civilization.

The end of what America once meant is already in sight.

Update:

“Americans are NOT stupid – WITH SUBTITLES”

(Link via Think Progress comments)

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