wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Anti-Intellectualism: The New Word For Dumb

Lately it's been popular for the press, meme addicts, and certain people who ought to know better to go around quoting Isaac Asimov about anti-intellectualism, and applying it to those of us in the "Stupid Party" or the conservative movement who don't think a shithead with a Harvard degree is objectively superior to a shithead from the University of Southern North Dakota (Hoople). This has become especially prevalent in recent years, since the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been appointing a lot of people who have no or little experience in the world outside the overgrown, malarial fever swamp junglesgroves of academia. Exhibits A and B, by the way, being Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who had never been a judge at any level before being appointed to the High Court, and Elizabeth Warren, who did all the heavy lifting involved in setting up the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau before going off to run for the Senate and being caught lying about being 1/32 Cherokee, but that's another story.

Now, I personally don't give a rat's ass where somebody went to college, unless they went to Harvard which I despise because it's not MIT. Not that MIT is necessarily more conservative in its faculty or students than Harvard, but MIT has long produced engineers of great quality who went forth and did Stuff with Things, stuff which could be looked at objectively and evaluated as Good or Not Good. Harvard, on the other hand, with the possible exception of its business school, has produced noone with visible contributions to this country since Cotton Mather1. I am also biased against the other Ivy League schools, because for the last fifty years we have all been fed a bunch of crap about how these are the best schools in the country. Well, perhaps I am generalizing too broadly from my own view of history, but it seems to me every time we've let these overpaid spawn of the wealthy into the halls of power, they've fucked things up in spectacular fashion. I open my case with David Halberstam's The Best and The Brightest (one of the great sarcastic titles of all time), continue with Bush the Elder2, and close with the current administration, as big a collection of overeducated crooks and wonks as it is possible to assemble, who have done their level best to destroy the economy and set off a race war or two while clumsily playing at maintaining plausible deniability.

It may be true that at the highest levels of the major parties, the Establishment sends their kids to these schools, but I am not now (nor have I ever been) part of the Republican Establishment. So I really don't care what the "elites" do. Indeed, to the extent that the Establishment works against the populist, grass-roots wing of the GOP, it needs to be primaried ans removed from power, to be replaced by conservatives more attentive to the task of removing power from the Washington bureaucracy and devolving it to the states and local governments where it belongs.

To restate my thesis: what is going on is not anti-intellectualism, but rather a rejection of credentialism. Thanks to the degradation of the humanities and liberal arts curricula that has taken place over the last fifty years, a bachelor's degree from a four-year college means less than the high school diploma my father got when he finished up at Boston Latin in 1950. Don't think people aren't aware of this, either. We won't even start with the "studies" degrees that take college "educations" to entirely new levels of useless, time and money-wasting piffle
Candidates for the highest offices should have more to their resume than just family connections and an Ivy League degree; while I am not quite willing to demand that candidates for public office be graduates of the cursus honorum, is it unreasonable to expect them to have some experience in business and the military before running for state legislative offices, to say nothing of Congress? Perhaps if people from Ivy League schools actually put in some time in uniform while working their way through these "prestigious" educational institutions, then maybe people would start believing their bullshit, because it wouldn't be bullshit any more. It would instead be classroom theory backed up with some outside study in the School of Hard Knocks. And people respect that experience a lot more than just some sheepskin with a bunch of Latin on it.

1 On further review, they get partial credit for Fred Gwynne, Natalie Portman and Tommy Lee Jones; no credit for Bibi Netanyahu, because I said THIS country.
2 Played for a sucker by the Congressional Democrats and then bumrushed by the Sons Of Orval Faubus in '92.
Tags: culture & politics
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