Seriously. I do. Over at Gin and Tacos, Ed decries the deluge of stupidity in which we are awash:
The real issue, and I mean the real, honest-to-god Problem With The World Today, is that Americans as a nation are dumb. Really fucking dumb. The Pew [religious knowledge] survey, the Tea Party, or the afternoon baseball call-in show on WFAN underscore the point that Americans will fail a quiz about any topic you can throw at them. Americans will make crappy, emotional, illogical arguments about whatever subject holds their interest, from the Supreme Court to the World Cup. We have systematically devalued and dismantled education in this country to the point that the Japanese, Europeans, and so on aren’t just beating us at math and science. They can beat us at essentially anything, because most of us can’t comprehend things we read, retain simple facts, or construct an argument that adheres to the basic rules of logic. We are ignorant of the past, the present, and even our own professed belief systems. We often bemoan apathy, our national lack of desire to understand the government, law, economy, or politics. But the problem is not simply that we don’t want to know; if our slipshod grasp of the few things in which we do profess an interest are any indication, we wouldn’t get it even if we tried.
It’s tempting to agree. After all, there is so much more we could add to the bill of particulars. The problem I have with this argument is simply this: we’ve always been stupid. Consider this picture:
Not that long ago, the man in the center of picture would have been lynched. Many in the Greatest Generation wouldn’t want him as a neighbor–or putting his arm around their daughter–simply due to the color of his skin. If that doesn’t define “fucking stupid”, I don’t know what does. That was a generation that, in many other ways, had their heads screwed on reasonably well.
Even more recently, anti-gay slurs were widely used–even by those ‘who should know better.’ Slowly, things are changing. That’s why the constancy of stupidity doesn’t completely infuriate me. Combating stupidity is a long, too long, process. We shouldn’t need to do it. And it takes time and energy away from doing other important things. But if we work at it, we can defeat individual stupidities. That gives me hope.
Now that I’ve freaked out my usual readers with this burst of optimism, I’ll stop.