In 2010 a book authored by Charles Pierce came out with the title “Idiot America – How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.” Many people were entertained by the book; some were apathetic; a few were enraged. If it were re-released today I think more would be enraged.
Pierce begins with what he calls “the three great premises of Idiot America: (1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units; (2) Fact is that which enough people believe, Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it; (3) Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.”
No where are those three premises more evident than in the 2016 presidential campaign.
One candidate, Donald Trump, has said more than once he thinks the ideas about global warming are a fraud cooked up by people who want to make a profit. As a matter of fact the scientists who have been telling us for about a decade that the planet is getting warmer stand to gain nothing, nor do the people who live in villages in the Arctic whose homes will soon be part of the ocean.
But proposing the theory that global warming is a hoax sells books, and because some people shout it loudly, people would rather believe the lies than accept the truth.
People who would never dream of mocking a person with a disability are willing to accept Trump’s mockery of a reporter with a disability. Then he lied about not knowing the reporter when facts show that he did. Telling a lie to cover something that should have disqualified him as a candidate is as bad as the act of mockery.
Then there was the claim that John McCain was not a war hero.
I liked John McCain; I voted for him when he ran for president. Getting shot down did not make him a hero, but what Trump either overlooked or what he wants us all to forget is that (1) McCain did not have to be in a plane or (2) McCain turned down an offer of early release from the enemy prison because other men had been held captive longer than he. Service to his country and putting others’ lives ahead of his own made him a hero. But Trump thought that putting other men ahead of himself was not important enough to make a man a hero.
Then there is the little matter of how he insulted the parents of a soldier who had been killed in Iraq. To make matters even worse he said that his success as a real estate builder constituted his “sacrifice,” and that those successes that made him millions were his “sacrifice.” Does he even begin to grasp what the word “sacrifice” means?
Lately he stated that because his country club in Florida admits African Americans and other members of minority status he is “not a racist.” Picture in your mind what would happen if a Mexican farm worker who picks oranges in Florida walked up and wanted in.
He has admitted that in some years he paid no federal income taxes. He justified that by saying they “squandered” the money. Try that excuse this April when your taxes are due. Tell the feds you don’t agree with the way they spend your money so you are not going to pay your taxes. See how far that excuse gets you.
Or he said NOT paying taxes was “smart.” If he is smart and does not pay taxes, what does that make all the rest of us? Are we really dumb because we don’t have an army of lawyers, obey the law, and pay our taxes?
But back to “Idiot America.”
The whole idea that being smart, being educated, knowing how things work and how to do things is under attack.
I am not saying that having a college education makes anyone smart. There are just as many idiots with college degrees as there are fools who think they know everything. There is a Persian proverb that says, “He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him.”
Friends of mine are excavators and mechanics. They don’t have a college degree but they know how to solve problems. That makes them smarter than a lot of people with degrees in engineering. They are, in effect, engineers of the first degree.
Suppose I need to build a house and a man comes up and tells me he can build the best house ever built, but when I ask him if he has ever built one before, he says he has baked a lot of cupcakes and he has made a fortune making cupcakes, do I hire him to build a house? Or if I ask him how he will build it he says “Believe me, I will build you the best house ever, and I’ll tell you how after we sign the contract.” Will you hire him to build that house?
Are you willing to support someone who mocks the disabled, who insults women who don’t meet his “standard,” who belittles our generals, soldiers, and parents of fallen heroes, who hides his tax returns, and who says a judge can’t do his job because the judge’s parents came from Mexico? No matter who his opponent is, I cannot support him.