You will doubtless call me 'an elitist' when you read what follows, but it is my
view that we Americans honestly seem to have a love affair with crass ignorance. This love affair stretches back into our national history. The great P.T. Barnum once quipped, "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." At one time, there was even an American political national party proudly named "the Know-Nothing Party". So why should it surprise anyone to hear about the latest affront to the common sense, or lack thereof, amongst our citizenry?
We seem to have entered a new 'dark ages'. Everywhere we are awash in a sea of rampant stupidity and shallowness. With mind-numbing regularity, some new
'reality show' appears to satisfy the insatiable appetite of a dumbed-down public eager and hungry for a fresh appeal to the lowest common denominator.
That is why such television shows as 'American Idol, 'Survivor,' 'Wife Swap,';'Kid Nation' and others like them garner sweepingly high ratings.'
We Americans as a people are steeped in a venerable tradition of idealizing lack of schooling, poor manners, and ostracism of those who excel at intellectual skills. We even heap terms of opprobrium on people who commit the sin of being more talented and educated than most of us. We call them 'pointy-headed intellectuals,' 'egg heads', 'geeks' and 'nerds'. In a similar vein, our modern US pop culture, more than ever, is just plain enamored of mediocre, trashy, untalented performance.
Every day in the streets of America, kids bully and belittle other kids
who might show some inclination to be too studious. This has been popularized
to dominate our pop music and movies which emphasize almost exclusively a hatred for refinement and an emphasis on 'art' starring dirt-ignorant gang-bangers who exalt violence, sport-promiscuity and mean-spiritedness, if not outright violence in their lyrics. Our celebrities increasingly mirror this in their public behavior.
The icing on the cake comes in our political culture. We have a public that
twice-elected, by albeit a slim majority, perhaps the most egregiously, flamboyantly ignoramus of a president ever to embarrass the halls of power. His lack of knowledge has gotten us into the Iraq War, demonstrated gross incompetence in national emergencies,and has made America an international laughing stock with his constant gaffes and inappropriate behavior. Yet we as a people just give him carte blanche, believing everything he says and taking comfort in his being the lord of the ignoramuses. I would conclude, then, that it sure pays with the American people, to be a dumbed-down, ignorant lowbrow. That is why Fred Thompson is running for president.