Saturday, April 17, 2010
I have noticed a phenomenon growing over recent years and it is this: In many Republican spheres it has now become a bad thing to be educated. To be intellectual could cause other Republicans to look at you suspiciously. To be scholarly in any fashion can put you out of the bounds of acceptability.
Many Republicans resent being viewed as uniformed, ignorant, backwater, and hick. They feel liberals try to paint them as such. However, I see this as a result of anti-intellectualism being encouraged by conservatism's loudest voices - AM radio.
Honestly, the only way someone can listen to hour after hour of the same points being repeated over and over is to encourage a dulling of the mind. The only way they can cycle through the same arguments endlessly (and thereby do very little show preparation) is to train the listeners to conditioned Pavlov responses. Soon talk radio listeners are simply mentally salivating in a pre-conditioned response to key words and phrases. There is no news or depth, just bell ringing.
Lest any listeners be pulled from their stupor, these hosts, and the politicians they keep in power, make intelligence sound like a bad idea. Just today I read of Republican resistance to an Obama court appointment:
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Liu "the very vanguard of what I would call an intellectual judicial activist."
The problem, proclaimed by this high-ranking republican, is not just being a judicial activist - it is being an intellectual judicial activist.
When Texas was recently selecting textbooks, one thing that was made clear by conservative board members was that they wanted to reduce the influence of "experts" and those in "academia".
Translation? Let's have UN-qualified individuals guiding our choices. We don't want the opinions of those who are knowledgeable of the subject matter.
Recently, I had an online political dialog with a conservative friend who accused me of intellectualism (negatively) because my reasoning was "lengthy" and used "large words". Again, in popular conservatism, that which historically would have been trumpeted is now regarded with suspicion and disdain.
David Brooks offered this commentary in the New York Post:
"What had been a disdain (among conservatives) for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole."
"Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch."
Now lest anyone think I take joy in this development, let me say NAY! I want conservatism and the Republican party to be a robust, intellectual body (and I believe segments of it are, but they are not the driving force right now). I believe this would be good for America. I want Republicans to aggressively resist the "dumbing-down" trend. To do so, I believe they need to take control of the language used within their own party. Liberals may be speaking to you as if you are uneducated, but they are only reflecting the image that you are creating. The solution is not to demand that liberal commentators respect your intelligence; it is to get your own commentators and politicians to stop referring to intelligence as if it is a bad thing.
Posted by Andrew at 7:22 PM