Ignorance does not necessarily indicate stupidity. There are inhabitants of the Amazon River basin who are not adept in the wonders of the internet and there are residents of the Vatican who are ignorant of the lyrics to the latest songs by Jay-Z. Not knowing something does not make those Vatican priests and cardinals stupid. And some things may not necessarily be worth knowing anyway (early Jay-Z lyrics for example).
However, to steadfastly refuse to learn about important matters is a bright red letter indication of stupidity. It is terrifying to learn that on matters of simple, basic science half of the major candidates for the G.O.Tea Party presidential nomination embrace ignorance and the other half (with the exception of Jon Huntsman) waffle on the subject so as not to offend the know-nothing right wing of the right wing.
Consider their positions on evolution, a basic scientific principle that has been considered settled for over a century:
Rodeo Rick Perry – “God is how we got here”.
Herman Cain – No clear position regarding evolution and creationism, but he is prompt in stating that he believes in God whenever an evangelical Christian is in the room.
Michele Bachmann – She is a staunch and devout believer in creationism and intelligent design and an adamant opponent of evolution. She believes that students should be presented with both “theories” and allowed to choose. I wonder if that same “choose from the menu” approach could be applied to spelling or history or mathematics.
Newt Gingrich – Newt believes that both evolution and intelligent design are true. Evolution should be taught as science in Newtworld, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy.
Mitt Romney – Magic Mitt walks the tightrope and states that he believes that God used evolution to create the universe. We should remember that his faith also teaches that the Garden of Eden was located near Joplin, Missouri.
Rick Santorum – The deposed Pennsylvania senator totally opposes evolution. His position on gravity has not been disclosed.
Ron Paul – The father of Rand Paul doesn’t believe in evolution and doesn’t believe that candidates should be judged on matters of science. This may explain his belief in Voodoo economics.
As the 2012 presidential sweepstakes start to gain some form and perspective we are seeing a surge of ignorance that may be a greater threat than the most virulent aspects of the right wing of the right wing. Being in thrall to multinational corporate profit is bad enough. Labeling attempts at providing a decent life to American citizens as “entitlements” is awful enough. Racially tinged questioning of the citizenship of the President of the United States is abominable. But embracing ignorance as a governmental policy is potentially destructive.
We are the unwilling witnesses to a movement that wallows in stupidity and wears ignorance as a reverse image badge of achievement. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one. But facts are not personal. History, facts and science are not subject to majority rule.
At a time of unprecedented challenge and adversity the media is flooded with the pronouncements of men and women who would lead this country through sound bites and factoids and pure fallacy. This reverse elitism, glorifying knowing nothing, can only lead to a downward spiral in every aspect of this country’s culture, educational system and ability to be competitive in a global marketplace where competency is the lowest common denominator and excellence is the lowest rung on the ladder of achievement.
The world ranking of American students in key areas such as science, math and basic literacy continue to plummet in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world. One would think that it would be ill-timed to publicly contest such well-settled issues as evolution, the hideous immorality of American slavery and global warming.
Yet the G.O.Tea Party careens towards the abyss espousing such notions.
And lest we think that ignorance is confined to the arena of science and history, consider the recent debt ceiling debacle. Contributing to the political dog pile that posed as negotiation was the Tea Party position that failure to raise the debt ceiling would not result in the United States government defaulting on its debt obligations. It was this staggering level of stupidity at the highest levels of the American political system that resulted in the downgrading of the United States credit by Standard & Poor’s.
As the upcoming campaign bubbles and boils and simmers by turn, it is clearly too much to ask for dignity and decency. We should be able to ask for the absence of stupidity and ignorance. Sadly, where the G.O.Tea Party is concerned, that may be too much to ask.