Are Americans stupid?

September 14–

 

I consider myself a progressive. But lately the lefty blogs and articles I’ve been reading on the internet are starting to piss me off. 

 

It’s this: stop calling everyone you disagree with stupid. They’re not necessarily stupid or crazy. 

 

I know Americans do a lot of stuff that looks pretty dumb on television and even in real life but I really don’t think we’re that stupid, on the whole. And I’m tired of hearing it. 

 

People are not stupid merely because they believe in God, or fear socialism (whatever they think that means), or watch Fox News. And they’re not stupid just because they might misspell a sign or get tongue-tied when speaking in public.

 

How do you like it when right wingers call lefties “crazy” or “stupid”? Does it just want to make you go out and join their movement? No? Why do you think they’d want to see things your way when you’re calling them names?

 

 

Ok, well, I will admit that there are some people who will not be reasoned with. Jesus said it best, “Cast not your pearls before swine, because they will trample them and then turn on you.” 

 

Now, don’t start thinking I’m into religion or Fox news or any of that crap. Boy am I so not. I really don’t want Christian right wing militants taking over our government or our culture. 

 

But I think there’s one thing that journalists and bloggers and politicians should take into account, and that’s the sheer volume of information any one person is forced to sift through to try to determine the truth.

 

Americans don’t trust their government or their news station any more. Not totally. I sure as hell don’t. When 9/11 happened, me and my old man looked at each other and said, “There’s something that they’re not telling us.” My old man swears Bush must’a been in on it. I know we weren’t the only people to wonder if what we were hearing on television was the truth or just “the official story”.

 

Now, this isn’t just a distrust of big government; in a way it’s a trust in government…I know it sounds weird, just stay with me now…but I think Americans have watched enough spy flicks to imagine that there are things going on behind the scenes that maybe they shouldn’t know and don’t need to know.

 

Anyone who’s had a loved one in the military gone TDY (temporary duty) to some place they’re not supposed to tell you about can understand that.

 

So, yeah, maybe when we hear stuff on the news it could be true or it could be the “official story”. This leaves people wondering how they’re supposed to know what’s really going on.

 

If you’re motivated, you can read multiple newspapers, and subscribe to some alternative papers and frequent bookstores and libraries and watch clips on you tube and all that. You can just bury yourself in information if you really try. 

 

And that is exactly the problem. There are mountains of information to sift through on any one topic, and you practically have to be a detective to go through it all. Multiply that by all kinds of issues and news stories and political characters and countries around the world and it looks damn near impossible to be well educated and well read on all given topics. 

 

I know I try to keep up with the health care debate, but I don’t scratch the surface on the stuff I could be reading and researching if I was really motivated to keep track of all the details. I’ve managed to keep up a little with the situation in Honduras. I catch some articles on the economy here and there. But there’s all kinds of stuff that I miss or don’t read about at all. (Van Jones? Who?)

 

Just look at the 9/11 “truther” movement. I don’t read any of that stuff. I mean, I’m not sure I buy the “official story” but I’m just not interested in taking on another pet issue, and besides I figure if there was some sort of shadowy conspiracy going on to take down the twin towers, it would be all too easy for them to flood the media with so much disinformation that we’d never find the real truth. They wouldn’t have to shred anything or anyone. Just flood the media with details.

 

People have lives. They can’t spend 24/7 just reading news. So we have to pick and choose the publications we read, and the websites we frequent. I like the lefty stuff. Other people like other stuff. We all tend to read what we’re inclined to agree with, yeah? 

 

 

And now I’m going to say something that sounds just the opposite of what I just said: some people in our society need more information, not less. l think if we get more high speed internet in more rural areas, it will be easier for people to read, write and communicate with the rest of America. And no, (she snarled) they’re not too dumb to use computers or get on the Internet.

 

 And no, not everyone has the Internet. The haves in our society seem to think that if they have high-speed internet, dvd players and xboxes and new cars and health insurance, then practically everyone must have them…only ignorant hillbillies wouldn’t have Net access by now, right?

 

I’m hooked up right now on dial-up, and grateful that I finally have that! There’s all kinds of people in our country who are not hooked up to the Internet, and it’s not like they wouldn’t like to. It’s easier to educate yourself when you can actually access the information. 

 

 

Think those right wingers with signs look like nuts? Look again. You may not agree with them, but they’re there with a sign. What’s the significance of that, you say? They care. 

 

You might not like it when someone doesn’t hold your position, but isn’t it a little bit hopeful to see people that give a shit? To see people that aren’t just sitting at home on their butts letting someone else have the political conversation? Seems like in the last few years I’ve seen writers bemoaning the fact that people were “sheep”, that they were just apathetic and lazy. (More name calling! How intelligent!) 

 

So now people are going out there and getting involved. I say, good for them, even if I don’t agree with them. People that care enough to get involved are more likely to think about what’s going on. That’s what democracy is all about, y’all. It’s not always pretty, or easy. 

 

 

Here’s a link to a Skeptoid podcast transcript. (It’s called “Sarah Palin is not stupid”, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that he’s a Sarah Palin supporter or even that it’s about Sarah Palin.) 

 

Here’s another link that is mostly about health care costs but towards the end talks up the “how can Americans be so stupid” meme.

 

 

 

 

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One response to “Are Americans stupid?

  1. Re: “They’re not necessarily stupid or crazy. ”

    One is what one does and, on the internet. one is one what says. Stupid is as stupid does AND says.

    Bertolt Brecht was more specific:

    “A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook!”

    So –the increasingly extremist and hateful comments that one now finds posted by so-called ‘conservatives’ is either filled with lies or it is just ‘honestly’ stupid.

    The TEA BAGGER movement –based as it is upon bigotry –is made up of folk who are either 1) idiots 2) crooks.

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