People on the Planet"
Dr. Gerry Lower, Keystone, South Dakota
In an interview with Britain's Mirror, Michael Moore referred to his American countrymen as "possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving, smug pricks" (Brian Reade, "The Awkward Conscience of a Nation," www.mirror.co.uk, November 3, 2003). Indeed, the gullibility of the American people in the face of Bush administration lies and coercion is is a central theme in Moore's critique.
"We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing. National Geographic produced a survey which showed that 60 per cent of 18-25 year olds don't know where Great Britain is on a map. And 92 per cent of us don't own a passport ... We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants."
The right wing response to Moore's criticism of the Bush administration has been predictably venomous and vengeful. Moore has been subjected to the wrath of the conservative press, right wing political groups (Move America Forward) and anti-Moore websites "dedicated to unearthing the truth behind the doublespeak and falsehood that spews from the mouth (and keyboard) of Michael Moore" (www.moorewatch.com).
Of course, the conservative electorate who support Bush's self-righteous religious capitalism do not appreciate being referred to as the "dumbest people on the planet." After all, they can also claim to be the most monied people on the planet and, if that isn't enough, the most militaristic people on the planet. Right wing corporate America has worked very hard to put itself into a position where it can buy and take what it wants.
It is much more accurate, however, to say that the members of the conservative electorate are "the most ignorant people on the planet." Stupid is something that can befall people for lack of education and lack of opportunities to acquire a knowledge base appropriate to their talents. There is, of course, plenty of this in America today.
Ignorance, however, is something people do to themselves, typically in the name of preserving some larger cause. In the case of the Republican right wing, empirical and historical ignorance is an outright necessity in preserving the corrupt, crony capitalism that has provided its followers with wealth and power and the ability to survive without contribution, typically at the expense of those who do contribute with time and labor and talent.
No nation on earth has more ignored the values from which it was birthed than America under the Bush administration. The result is the greatest gap between rich and poor in human history, achieved by a nation birthed from the values of honesty, human rights, fairness and equality in the eyes of God. The result is the overt emergence of class warfare.
If Americans were the stupidest people on the planet, then America would be in a good deal of trouble. Fortunately, self-imposed ignorance, as a state of mind, can be overcome very quickly in the face of honest information placed in historical context. Ignorance is only employed for convenience's sake or survival's sake in feigning allegiance to the powers that be. It is oftentimes only part of being loyal and obedient in the interest of maintaining personal employment.
Moore's documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," goes a long way toward the elimination of self-imposed ignorance. Not being stupid but misled, the American people have been falling away from the Bush administration on their own volition. In "Fahrenheit 9/11," Moore places all the dubious actions of the Bush administration into chronological and historical context to provide a story from which the people can ascertain the despotic nature and direction of it all. In doing so, Moore's efforts clearly come from a higher source than that relied upon by the Bush administration.
More worrisome than the state of mind of the American people is the state of mind of the Bush administration and its religious capitalistic followers, who continue to abide deceit and coercion, who continue to abide the Bush administration's religious folly and its resulting domestic and international failures.
Psychosis can be defined as thoughts, words and actions that are devoid of reason. With this criterion, the Bush administration is the most psychotic administration in American history. Every issue is politicized and defined with spin, no issue is discussed openly with reference to empirical fact and historical or cultural context, every issue is decided on the basis of religious faith, i.e., you are with us or you are against America. This is religious self-righteousness personified.
America's current dominion by religious capitalism has led only to the denigration of human rights and the values of democracy. It has emerged largely because Americans have, for the past half century, been coerced by the conservative right wing into turning the governance of American socio-economics over to the marketplace and America's corporate aristocracy. It has made everything in America stupid because virtually all decisions are made in preservation of an inherently corrupt marketplace. America has been sold a complete bill of goods in the name of "progress" measured in monetary terms.
A greed-driven market place has determined that family farms and ranches and the communities they support are not fit to survive. A greed-driven marketplace has determined that mom and pop community businesses are not fit to survive. A greed-driven marketplace has determined that those without money deserve no or minimal access to health care and education. A greed-driven marketplace has determined how Americans make a monied mockery of the birth of their purported savior.
Those who fail to see this remain under the influence of Adam Smith's "invisible hand." It is Smith's "invisible hand," that directs our lives from above. This euphemism for God's will is capricious and vindictive and ruthless and it exists because we allow it to exist for our failure to place upper limits on human greed and avarice. It exists because, while we have set disastrous lower limits to what people's lives are worth, we have set no upper limits at all. It exists because we do not define American socioeconomics under the values of democracy. We allow competitive, greed-driven socioeconomics to define us. It has done a terrible disservice to democracy since World War II, when America fell off the edge of human reality in service to Mammon.
Dr. Gerry Lower lives in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He has a website at www.jeffersonseyes.com and he can be reached at email@example.com.