I recently read Thomas Frank's ambitious work,What's the Matter with Kansas,in which he explores the history of Kansas as a microcosm of the history of the Religious Right's capture of the poor and working class - against their own interests - in the U.S.
Again and again, Frank's analysis returns to the central role that education plays in the painting of liberals as "elitist" in the minds of these lower and middle class voters who are persuaded to line the pockets of corporate CEO's, in the name of populism.
Extreme anti-intellectualism is perhaps one of the most unfortunate aspects of the highly successful campaign of the Right against liberalism. When higher education is given a bad name, the critical thinking involved in assessing political and policy arguments gets lost in the shuffle. As a result, large blocks of the population become highly vulnerable to faulty and emotional arguments.
With the current hysteria over the misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque," (which, as Keith Olbermann has pointed out, is neither at Ground Zero, nor a mosque) in addition to the tragic absurdity of an American pastor threatening to burn Korans on 9/11, the loss of critical thinking has rarely been so obvious.
The merging of the concepts "Muslim" and "terrorist" - which forms the basis for both of the above campaigns - is the result of a series of errors, biases, and otherwise faulty reasoning, that need to be teased out and challenged.
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