Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Educate

I love the poorly educated!
— Donald Trump

A new national survey by Pew Research shows a majority of Republicans (58%) believe colleges and universities are wrecking America.

That attitude is new.

Only two years ago, 54% said colleges and universities were good for the country.

On the other hand, that attitude is old—as old as the nation.

I still remember from high school the tough-love lessons of historian Richard Hofstadter's book (new at the time),
Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

Hofstadter equated intellectualism with
Cartesian doubt.

Intellectualism, he said, "is sensitive to nuances and sees things in degrees. It is essentially relativist and skeptical, but at the same time circumspect and humane."

Its opposite—anti-intellectualism—is fundamentalist intransigence.

And that kind of pig-headedness, according to Hofstadter, underpins the "egalitarian sentiments of this country."

Anti-intellectualism gave America Joseph McCarthy, Billy Sunday, Charles Coughlin, George Lincoln Rockwell, Jenny McCarthy and scores of other snake-oil peddlers—blowhards celebrated for being commanding and intransigent.

And, yes, anti-intellectualism gave us Donald Trump.
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