A Bungalow By the Shores of Gitche Gumee

And when I get ready to retire I’m going to build me an up-to-date bungalow in some lovely resort, not in Como or any other of the proverbial Grecian isles you may be sure, but in somewheres like Florida, California, Santa Fe, & etc., and devote myself just to reading the classics, like Longfellow, James Whitcomb Riley, Lord Macaulay, Henry Van Dyke, Elbert Hubbard, Plato, Hiawatha, & etc. Some of my friends laugh at me for it, but I have always cultivated a taste for the finest in literature. I got it from my Mother as I did everything that some people have been so good as to admire in me.

Zero Hour, Berzelious Windrip

images-1.jpgAlthough this list of great literature suffers from age, it seems difficult to dismiss the possibility that the author, Sinclair Lewis, was not being a tad satirical.

You can look up the great works of such literary giants as Elbert Hubbard and Henry Van Dyke on Wikipedia as I did but the real eye-opener is this guy Hiawatha (not Longfellow’s epic hero). I don’t know if Windrip ever read any works attributed to Hiawatha (if there are any) but despite the vagaries of oral history, the story of Hiawatha is quite interesting.

Continue reading

Remembering Buzz Windrip

Doremus Jessup, so inconspicuous an observer, watching Senator Windrip from so humble a Boeotia, could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.

Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.

— It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

images.jpg

It Can Happen Here

trump_it_cant_happen_here-620x412There is a very interesting and frightening parallel being played out between the Republican candidates for President of the United States and an often overlooked novel by Sinclair Lewis. Rush over to Salon and read the complete article; but to pique your interest, I repost the first part of the article below?

Candidate Donald Trump has turned into a much better joke than most people expected. What first appeared like a Simpsons gag, a media stunt, is now leading the Republican field. Trump’s pseudo-populist businessman’s appeal is so surprisingly forthright that, in addition to being the butt of the nation’s laughter, he’s turning the whole political system into a punchline too.

With his careful mix of plainspoken honesty and reactionary delusion, Trump is following an old rhetorical playbook, one defined and employed successfully in the 1936 presidential campaign of Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip. In his campaign’s promotional book “Zero Hour,” Windrip laid out the classic nativist call to action that Trump would pick up nearly word-for-word: Continue reading

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.

Continue reading