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Anti-Intellectualism as a virtue

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    Reference: Susan Searls Giroux, Truthout, Septemebr 16, 2011: Between Race and Reason: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

    I found the above article compelling reading.  The article is long, but I got immediately hooked when Giroux quotes George Monbiot of London’s The Guardian before our 2008 election: “How did politics in the U.S. come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance?”

    The attacks on the educated and intellectual leaders in our country are not new.  Giroux cites similar attacks against Thomas Jefferson:

    The capacity for reflective, creative, and critical thought, finely honed argumentation, and public persuasion—talents one might other­wise assume well recommend a candidate for the office of president—were transformed into the gravest of liabilities. Jefferson’s critics assailed his philosophical training and literary talents, which they insisted made him unfit for practical tasks. Their eager acknowledgment of the elegance of his rhetorical style provided only further proof of the man’s lack of politi­cal substance...Thought, according to those suspicious of a critical and contemplative mind, inevitably got in the way of action. In addition to these offenses, Jefferson also stood accused of a lack of experience, particularly military experience.

    Such charges should sound strangely familiar. Barack Obama’s re­flective capacities and rhetorical strengths have been frequently acknowl­edged by his opponents, who, interestingly enough, hailed from similar quarters: the religious right and Republican descendants of Federalist persuasion. But the praise, like that heaped on Jefferson, primarily served to underscore allegations of inexperience and unbridled idealism.

    Their are several culture and economic issues that clearly separate Republicans from Democrats, but the seemingly anti-science and anti-intellectualism dogma of the Republican Party candidates of today (except for a very few like Huntsman) should give pause for everyone as they go to the polls to vote. Do we really want to have a good ole boy like a Rick Perry running our country? We already had Bush and we all know what he represented.

    I recommend reading the entire article at the above link.


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    The Republican Party has discovered a CLUE to winning elections in the 21st Century. They have seen to it for the last 40 yrs, that our kids are receiving a worse education than ever before. They have dumbed down the curriculum so an Ape could probably recite it by heart. Then they see to it that our classrooms are so overcrowded that no child can be given adequate personal attention, & the Teacher has to spend most of her time explaining things IN SPANISH, while the other kids sit there twiddling their thumbs, and quickly lose interest. By the 2nd grade, kids are so "bored" with the idea of going to school, they decide that they would rather drop out. So we have record level "Drop outs" all over the country.

    This created a whole class of drop-outs who are encouraged to go Vote, even though they do not know any more History than Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman. But the Dumb will vote for the Dumb, as that is what they identify with. That is what they are comfortable with. And they have no WAY to ever realize the true issues in this country. So the GOP have clowns on the air who tell them ridiculous lies, & jokes, so the newbie voter will remember their face & their name. [Look for the  "Air-Head" label...We're for YOU].

    Then, as the GOP always reminds us --- If they can't win FAIR, they can always RIG the election : )
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    Veronica, I agree.  I shake my head as I see what is happening in our country where teachers and educators are attacked by right wingers who want to destroy the public education system in favor or charter schools or home schooling.  President Obama has cited the need for a good education again and again for our country to be competitive in the global market place.  It would seem that it should be a high priority for both Republicans and Democrats, but instead the educated are labeled "liberal elitists" that are scorned and can't be trusted.

    Contrast what has been happeing in America the past 40 years with another country, Finland.  An extract from this AlterNet article, Why We Should Steal Finland's Education System:

    The transformation of the Finns' education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country's economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide.

    In 1963, the Finnish Parlia-ment made the bold decision to choose public education as its best shot at economic recovery. "I call this the Big Dream of Finnish education," said Sahlberg, whose upcoming book, Finnish Lessons, is scheduled for release in October. "It was simply the idea that every child would have a very good public school. If we want to be competitive, we need to educate everybody. It all came out of a need to survive."

    Wow, what a novel idea. as a key to economic recovery. But it didn't happen overnight.  It was a cultural change...and the current mindset of the Finns is that the teaching profession is a highly respected profession right up there with doctors. For us to accomplish what the Finns have achieved, we would have to get everyone on board.  But when one segment of our society is bashing "liberal teachers" and "intellectuals," that will not happen.  Here's an extract from Rush Limbaugh's program of September 5, 2008 entitled How to Deal with Liberal Teachers:

    RUSH:  Public school education exists for the purposes of protecting teachers unions who contribute and vote religiously Democratic and in exchange, you know, the standards that people have been trying to impose on teachers and so forth and test results for students have taken second place.  Also, the people that go into teaching, can't deny that people have political desires and identities and vested interests in outcomes.  So the public school system is a liberal project that is designed to create as many little liberals as possible.

    Rush Limbaugh broadcasts reach across America.  There is not a place in America that you cannot find him on the dial. But Limbaugh is not alone...others on the right also do the bashing. So is it any wonder that America is being "dumbed down?"
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    Good article. I have several friends who have been victims of bashing like that. Teachers are praised by some parents and kids, but right wing media treat them like the Taliban: ) During the "W" Bush Admin they actually said "Environmentalists are Terrorists" and "Teachers are Terrorists" and of course those nasty "Liberals are Terrorists". This was actually spoken by a high Bush official. Then we noticed that Ted Kennedy was on a "No Fly" list, and they hassled him every time he got on a plane.

    The "No Child Left Behind" program of the "W" Bush Admin has only been successful in getting kids rushed through the system faster, even though they haven't learned anything. It probably comes from the heart of Georgie himself, since the outcome of this program is that teachers have taught the kids to cheat and then principals & teachers themselves have been forced to cheat, so they don't lose their jobs or their school funding. So what do we gain? We teach corruption to the school administrations. We teach the kids that cheating pays. The teachers who are actually trying to teach & play by the rules, are getting broken hearted & discouraged. So we lose a lot of the best teachers. And the whole nation will suffer by having "uneducated" people running around with "false" diplomas, getting jobs that they are not really qualified for. Many people will be harmed by their ineptitude on the job. It's a Lose-Lose scenario.

    Don't even get me "started" on the subject of Home-Schooling. There are regions in the country (especially the South) where that is the norm. They are letting women who never got past the 3rd grade - teach all their kids. And I found this fascinating: One of George Bush's brothers has a "soft ware" company, that develops Home Schooling programs for teaching America's children. That program is named "Excite".  I don't know if it is still in use, but the prospect of the Bush family deciding what curriculum & text books should be used to educate our kids, does not send thrills of joy up my spine. Just imagine: We could have a whole nation of kids with only a "C" average, even after a millionaire Daddy's well-placed bribes.  (I know, it sounds heartless, but I just get a bit irate about rigged elections. I can't help it.)

    On the topic of Rush Limbaugh -- what can I say?  He was actually made an "honorary member of Congress" by the GOP.  He got to spend a night in the Bush WhiteHouse, to honor him for all his propaganda broadcasts on behalf of the Republican Party 24/7 on the Radio. If you ever did a Fact Check on him, you would discover a lie-per-minute ratio of supersonic proportions. You gotta give credit to the old windbag.

    But he was really lucky in his choice of a career. How many people can be made an "honorary member of Congress" --- is that even legal?
    And all he had to do --- was drop out of college, take a lot of dope, be a draft dodger (VietNam), & be a DiscJockey for the GOP.  And in exchange for all that, he gets paid MILLION$ per year, more than the President of the USA.  (Gee, Why didn't WE think of that?)