I have always been terribly afraid of roving gangs of stupid people terrorizing the streets. The stupid people in huge mobs, pulling on push doors and pushing on pull doors, crossing in the middle of the street and expecting cars to stop just for them, yelling idiotic things like, “we’re here, we’re queer, we don’t want any more gays!”, and so on and so forth. It always seemed like a silly thing to be afraid of. Until now.
After the Nevada Republican Caucus yesterday Presidential (I can’t even say it) candidate Donald Trump thanked and even bragged about how he loves the poorly educated in his victory speech. I’m very much a pro-education guy so that phrase chills me to my very core. I think everyone does indeed deserve the right to vote regardless of social status, education or political affiliations. However, I’ve never heard a candidate for president ever praise people for being poorly educated. The majority of modern era Presidents have touted some level of Education reform, successful or not. Education is often a topic of most State of the Union Addresses and considered a barometer of cultural success. So to praise the poorly educated and thank them for voting for possibly the greatest Presidential hoaxer in American history or a man so mad with power lust he makes Martin Sheen’s candidate’s character from The Dead Zone look sane, makes me terrified.
It is not snobbish or elitist to appreciate education. Donald himself has had an excellent education, whether he applies that education to anything is beyond me, but he’s certainly not one of the “poorly educated” he thanked in his speech. He had the benefits of a fine education and often says he’ll surround himself with the best and the brightest minds available to help him in his (cough) presidency. So clearly he does appreciate the intellectual crowd. Unless they are too smart to vote for him, then he might need to rely on the poorly educated to slip into the Republican nomination.
I am also not attempting to tear down anyone’s actual education simply because it is different from my own educational background. I’ve found that in every crowd there are always one or two High I.Q. morons. The type of people that have read all the classics of literature but don’t believe the Moon landings occurred. The point I’m trying to make isn’t about book smarts or framed Degrees on the wall. I’m talking about critical thinking.
Critical thinking means you question things that you hear and take it upon yourself to find more about. You do not just blindly follow the rhetoric of some well-groomed huckster. You think about what they’ve said and really weigh it against what you already know and what you can find out. It’s one of the keys that separates the educated from the intelligent. Critical thinking means asking the tough questions, like “why” and “how” and sometimes even, “really”.
I fear that the “poorly educated” Trump refers to are the types that have not developed the critical thinking skills needed to make informed decisions. The “poorly educated” Trump refers to are the ones, in my opinion, that haven’t spent the time to consider how, why or if we really should force an independent sovereign nation to build a border wall for us, or how, why or if we really should keep Gitmo open to “load it up with bad dudes”, and how, why and if a Billionaire really has their best interests at heart.
I fear the “poorly educated”, the ones that were never exposed to any sort of cultural diversity, civil diversity or religious diversity, will take their inflated stupidity to the streets and rage against logic and reasonability. It’s terrifying to think how ignorant savagery can destabilize whole cultures, whole empires. History is replete with examples of barbarism against intelligence from the several burnings of the Library at Alexandria to the Dark Ages.
A society that doesn’t question, that doesn’t critically think about what their leaders are proposing, is a society about to step backwards in time. A potential leader actively seeking to remove or revoke freedoms from the citizenry needs to be questioned about why and how and if it’s really necessary. (And don’t bring up the “Obama is taking our second amendment rights away” thing. He hasn’t and he isn’t so put that old chestnut down).
It’s my hope that the “poorly educated” don’t have to remain that way. I hope there is a genuine re-investment in education in our society. A society that values an educated populace, a literate, open-minded culture, an inclusive rather than exclusive collective, will almost always fare better than a stubborn and dogmatic one. A “poorly educated” voting block should not be praised, nor should they be shunned. I feel they should be encouraged to think a little deeper about their beliefs and the beliefs of their potential presidential candidate.
Because I’m terrified of gangs of really, really, really stupid people smashing windows at the Apple store because of the witchcraft machines they sell or book burnings or executing people for believing the Earth is round and revolves around the Sun. I fear the rise of the Anti-Intellectuals. I am afraid the accomplishments of a progressive civilization will degrade, like the Roman Aqueducts did when the people of the Middle Ages had no idea how to fix them because the knowledge of their maintenance had been lost in the barbaric sieges of history.
I am afraid of men like Donald Trump and I think it’s time we stopped thinking he is a joke and take a serious look at his politics. We have to be smarter about the snakes in the garden; they won’t just go away if we ignore them. (Was that metaphor a little heavy handed?)