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Cultural Barbarians Storm the Arts, Sciences & Education

By       Message Robert S. Becker     Permalink
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So, imagine how besieged Romans felt, incredulous that marauding 5th C. Goths and Vandals could raze the greatest Empire of all time -- an inventive civilization once overflowing with arts, theatre, technology and public forums.  That tribal mayhem by under-educated, backwoods "populists" turned out well, didn't it -- ten centuries of decentralized, fragmented European government, awash with early "states rights."  The result: what some call the "Dark Ages," with stagnant progress in science or technology; and while top feudal lords and churchmen lived well, serfs made up the vast majority and their lives were nasty, brutish and short.

Or consider legendary Trojans, whose impregnable walls fell to sneaky, but clever Greeks -- brilliant masters of "Early Wooden Horse Art."  Yet Greeks, so the myth goes, took a decade to demolish Troy, carried off the spoils and grew one of the most sophisticated civilizations ever.   Less heroic by far are today's GOP cultural barbarians, whose love of destructive conquest comes with remarkable obliviousness to the lessons of our own western history.  Is the rightwing today really blind to the direct, unarguable correlation between the patronage of learning -- seeding the life of the mind -- with every sort of human advance, moral and pragmatic?

Republican brilliance was hardly necessary this season, considering inept, punch-drunk Democrats surrendered the field after "08.  Despite the bombshell of Obama toppling Clinton, then McCain, the Democrats' refusal to fight for systemic change devolved into equating "leadership" with mimicking entrenched GOP mindsets on big issues. It's becoming a tragic tale, as if told by an idiot -- and there will be idiots aplenty after a century of calculated culture wars.    

 

Hating Government Fills Void

 

Its return from the dead assured, the raucous right automatically filled the void with its standard "we hate government" rap.  Viola! midterm victories, despite telegraphing every punch to Dems, offering not one jobs program, nor any promised magic in any bottle.  Demonizing government worked so well, the ploy expanded: "we hate evidence, and intellect, too, plus expertise and science."  Take that, wussy, know-it-all liberals.

 

Naturally, triumphant small-minded, small-government types demand spoils.   But there'll be no small government for war profiteering, corporate subsidies, or anti-terrorist civil rights violators -- that blessing falls only on poverty or social programs and fantasy enemies -- PBS, NPR and NEA, plus the EPA.   Yessiree, having for years punched out evolution and climate change as liberal "hoaxes," the GOP House Demolition Derby in January faced off against health reform, abortion, and legal rape protections. 

 

Legless Endangered Species

 

In this torrent of dumbing down, history is declared suspect, a bag of liberal trickery, or grossly distorted, making Reagan a great president.  Why should barbarians fund PBS's professional historians, who may well undermine the deceptions on which the right campaigns? Obviously, not all endangered species have legs, and the future of public broadcasting, trying hard to be truly fair and balanced, looks as vulnerable as polar bears or sea turtles.  I wonder, what breakthrough industry or high tech profit center did willful ignorance last inspire?

 

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)
 

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