Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stupid Is the New Smart

I love it when I don't really have to do anything -- just put a couple of recent stories side by side.

The New York Times: Turmoil at The National Review Sees Traditional Conservative Intellectualism and Erudition Threatened/11.16.08

The Huffington Post: Billy Ray Cyrus, Charlie Daniels Band to Headline Sean Hannity "Freedom Concerts"/11.18.08


votar said...

"...a post-election fund-raising cruise in which readers, editors and guest speakers mix for a week of conservative conversation..."

Can you even imagine?

Intellectual conservatives have a real problem on their hands. Clearer than ever before, this election illustrated that they have an increasingly unruly and embarrassing gaggle of uninvited guests at their party. It's fun to think of what Buckley must have thought of the beer-swiggin', flag-waivin', gun-totin', bass-fishin', NASCAR doofusses who consider themselves his doctrinal equals. It was probably something akin to Himmler's scorn for the Brownshirts and street thugs who thought it was cool to be a scary Nazi... before the Night of the Long Knives when he demonstrated what it really means to be scary and had them all murdered.

Too bad 21st Century conservatism is more Billy Ray, than Buckley.

Mr. Controversy said...

...because nothing says "Freedom" like bipartisan smack talk, wrapped in psuedo christian values, and served on a heaping side of humility (read: an utterly whacked out superiority complex, that's at times jingoistic and at times pedantic.)

It's just Sean Hannity's way of being a "good American"...by shoving country music that's cloaked itself in Aqua Velva, American Flag button down shirts, and a huge fucking 10 Gallon hat right all the way down your throat! And since you don't want to be labeled "not a Good American", you have to swallow it. (Which is funny, because that's exactly what was said in the Clinton White House...different circumstances of course, but still someone was getting plugged in the mouth.)

Soulless Merchant of Fear said...

The picture accompanying this post is quite possibly the best picture ever to grace the internet that does not include a naked woman.

Well done, Chez. Well done.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be laughing if a black guy was holding that sign, in fact it would be "An indictment on America for failing to educate him". But since it's a white guy, it's ALL his fault that he can't spell. In fact, he's "stupid", white-trash, a redneck, low class, a mouth-breather and whatever else you want to call him. Yes he may have had more opportunities because he was white but that doesn't mean there were things outside of his control that led to his poor spelling education.

"Uneducated" white people are the only group in America left where it's perfectly fine to call them names, make fun of their culture and generally insult everything about them.

Is some if the criticism deserved? Absolutely, but the generalizations that all poor/lower-class/blue collar white people are "stupid" is no different than saying things like, "All Muslims are terrorists" or some other ridiculously broad generalization.

Anonymous said...

I bet that guy works at the local car assembly plant making $75 bucks an hour and won't know how to survive on minimum wage.

votar said...

I've spent the morning thinking a little further about the first comment I made to this post last night. I should preface this by admitting that I was born and raised in central Florida, and until my move to Miami in the 80s, my very small world was very intensely populated with "rednecks."

The comment from anonymous is very telling. If we continue to cling to the mythology that whites in America still have such an abundance of opportunity that blacks and other minorities do not, then there is no excuse for 'Mr. Moran's' ignorance. The fact is, people like that are victims of their own provincial arrogance. Spend some time in "red" America, you'll understand in very little time what I mean. There is a price paid for clinging so tenaciously to "America, love it or leave it." Ignorance. A void of awareness of the vast and magnificent world that exists out there, which has many colors and flavors and languages. I didn't understand this until I moved away from it; I know people who have never left our hometown in over forty years, who are still stuck there, who still have no comprehension of anything that does not involve fishing, guns, monster truck rallies, fishing, and, uh, fishing. Otherwise smart, funny, personable people... who will, nonetheless, not hesitate to tell you the latest knee-slapping nigger joke.

Do I admire them for doing the dirty jobs I can't do? Sure. But there is a pervasive and unnecessary xenophobia in that world that will likely never die out, in spite of all the progress America seems to be on the verge of making at the moment. And that leaves them in a state of ignorance of their own making. "Rednecks" wear the nickname as proudly and defiantly as their darker counterparts take ownership of the opposite one. And as the recent election illustrated, this prevents them from understanding one simple fact: they are as much slaves to gentrified ("elite") whites as the African Americans they often like to insult.

My Himmler analogy was off-base, in retrospect. Intellectual conservatives aren't troubled by the rabble they have to share their tent with; they understand how useful they are, and they've become masters of manipulating them. Mr. Doo-rag-wearing Moran and his little sign-waving brood are blissfully unaware that they are servants of their own mythology. We just watched with astonishment as forty seven million more just like them fawned over their "friend" John McCain and the dangerously unenlightened little clown he served up to represent them to the rest of the world. They fawned over a familiar-sounding illusion manufactured by a political war machine designed to grind its way to Washington, carried on the backs of people who clearly don't get that they share absolutely NO AFFINITY with the pretenders at the helm. And they won't get it as long as they choose to think no further than the slogan on the bumpersticker they saw slapped on their fishing buddy's F-350.

Non-urban social conservatives ("rednecks?" Sure, why not...) aren't dumb, they're just gullible. Until they stop embarrassing themselves by refusing to believe that this isn't something to be proud of, until they realize how cynically they are being exploited by the flag-waving hucksters they exalt, the rest of us "elites" will have to keep apologizing to the rest of the world for them.

B8ovin said...

Dear Anonymous (great name choice! I applaud your creativity): It saddens me that you now feel the repercussions of years of having comic stereotypes like Steppin Fetchit or Speedy Gonzales, or maybe it's just melancholy for the good old days of Ma and Pa Kettle. But social demographics isn't the case for the photograph in question. Granted the guy looks like he fits a particular class but it is the irony of his chastisement for brainlessness in contrast to his inability to spell a six letter bi-syllabic word and his unabashed civic pride. This empowerment envy many whites seem to have when minorities speak up is unseemly and akin to the Christian jihad envy when they feel insulted. The point isn't that we wouldn't laugh at a black man holding up the sign (I would!) or that we wouldn't make fun of the Koran while mocking the Bible. It's that helpless or weak are not the ones deserving of our scrutiny; it's the powerful, particularly the powerful with a sense of entitlement to that power. In this country that is whites and Christians.

Anonomass said...

"It's that helpless or weak are not the ones deserving of our scrutiny; it's the powerful, particularly the powerful with a sense of entitlement to that power."

Who has the power now? Our President Elect is a black man, the Democrats will control the House and will have 58 seats in the Senate and after what Bush did to the place you better believe they feel entitled to that power.

But is anyone here going to scrutinize those in the most powerful positions? No way, it's more important to keep an eye on the "powerful" Americans who scrape by in small towns with factory jobs, trailer homes and beat up cars.

I have no problem with the changing of power in this country much of it is definitely needed. What I do have a problem with is "educated" people who are incredibly tolerant to every race/gender/sexuality/whatever looking down their noses at working class people like they shouldn't even be allowed to live, have children or vote because they're "stupid".

B8ovin said...

Automass: Is this elitist disgust and class discrimination so prevalent that it is a real problem? Or is it a meme? Are these criticisms of these working class people based solely on class or the actions and comments made by individuals and aimed solely at those individuals? Does the NASCAR crowd inspire respect because of the jobs they hold or disgust because of the vacuous sub-culture they represent?

More important to our discussion is the idea that there is more elitist scrutiny of these working class folks than those in power. From what I see in the fight to halt home foreclosures, instigate universal health care and preserve jobs, the plight of the working class is a top priority. The difference is the scorn reserved for an entire class and individuals within that class who are undeniably stupid. By invoking scorn and intolerance for self imposed ignorance for individuals, but NOT classes, we put pressure on our society as a whole to venerate intelligence and deny the nobility of advocating mediocrity. When a candidate for the second highest position in our government presents her averageness and hockey mom-ness as a legitimate qualification we had better ask ourselves serious questions about the state of our national intelligence. Is it a worthy qualification for such an office, for instance.

I do not advocate the scrutiny of any "class" of people nor any stereotype, but I am vehement that any individual that stands to declare what an American is, what a patriot is or even what a "real" man is, is necessarily presenting themselves open to intense and, if legitimate, scornful criticism.

C Riedel-de Haen said...

@ B8ovin:

I enjoyed your two comments tremendously. You are very articulate and intelligent.

I wish I wrote half as well as you do.