Sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity

Beyond the Politics of the Big Lie: The Education Deficit and the New Authoritarianism
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:24
By Henry A Giroux

The American public is suffering from an education deficit. By this I mean it exhibits a growing inability to think critically, question authority, be reflective, weigh evidence, discriminate between reasoned arguments and opinions, listen across differences and engage the mutually informing relationship between private problems and broader public issues. This growing political and cultural illiteracy is not merely a problem of the individual, one that points to simple ignorance. It is a collective and social problem that goes to the heart of the increasing attack on democratic public spheres and supportive public institutions that promote analytical capacities, thoughtful exchange and a willingness to view knowledge as a resource for informed modes of individual and social agency. One of the major consequences of the current education deficit and the pervasive culture of illiteracy that sustains it is what I call the ideology of the big lie – which propagates the myth that the free-market system is the only mechanism to ensure human freedom and safeguard democracy.

The education deficit, along with declining levels of civic literacy, is also part of the American public’s collective refusal to know – a focused resistance on the part of many members of society to deal with knowledge that challenges common sense, or to think reflectively about facts and truths that are unsettling in terms of how they disturb some of our most cherished beliefs, especially those that denounce the sins of big government, legitimize existing levels of economic insecurity, social inequality and reduced or minimal government intervention in the field of welfare legislation.” …

Thus begins a very interesting article in Truthout that should be read in its entirety.

Although Giroux writes with much more complexity and references others that have written on the same subject, it all seems to confirm the contention that Americans are too stupid to realize that they are having their freedom and democracy stolen in front of their eyes … they are even working hard to assure that their economic masters will gain more and more power over them and gladly advocate what is in effect Fascism.

The simple question to ask is whether the government of the United States is going to be used to provide for the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness of all the people of the country or just to protect and enhance the power and wealth of a select few?

I would like to add a second question:  why do the citizens of this country accept obvious lying? Are we that stupid? There are two answers that offer some understanding. First, the world is changing and many people fear they are losing their dominance in the country. Look at the big issues:  homosexuality, women’s rights, illegal aliens, race … all power issues. And the more these issues evolve in the society, the more power and comfort the white-man loses. Fear makes him stupid. The other explanation is an old one but very true; I’ll just let Joseph Goebbels say it in his own words:

“… never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

Gee, who does that sound like? Don’t know? Too afraid to see the truth?

Here’s a statement about Fascism that makes a lot of sense if you look around at who is calling whom a Fascist; it comes from the author Sinclair Lewis in an interview concerning his novel, It Can’t Happen Here:

 “But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word ‘Fascism’ and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty.”

I ask again: Gee, who does that sound like? Don’t know? Too afraid to see the truth?

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