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The Desperation of America’s Anti-Intellectuals

by Michael John Scott

There are millions of them; the anti-science, anti-climate, pro-Trump anti-intellectuals.  The second class minds of America, those who embrace their god and their guns, but eschew everything meaningful in these changing fortunes of time.  In 2016, they demonstrated an anti-intellectualism never before seen on such a large scale.  They voted for Donald Trump, a man without class, or appeal to the rational, intellectual minds among us.  They voted for the winner of the trophy for crass, setting the stage for an uncertain future not only for America but the world.

If you are looking for clues, historian and author Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1962) offers them because Trump’s crassness has a definite appeal to the ever-growing anti-intellectual strain in American culture. In so many ways Trump epitomizes this frightening aspect. His global-warming denials and appointments of so many second-class minds like that of Energy secretary Rick Perry, who insists that “the science is still out” on climate change, are just two indications of Trump’s attack on rationality. As conservative columnist David Brooks has written of Trump,

“He has no . . . capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out.”

It should come as no surprise that Trump’s popularity has been greatest among whites who are poorly educated, older, religiously evangelical, or from rural areas and small towns. Anti-intellectualism, as Hofstadter noted at some length regarding evangelicals, was more common among these groups than among most other religious believers and non-believers, younger voters, and big-city residents. We must also never forget Trump’s Fox News propaganda team, whose two most prominent personalities were its founder Roger Ailes (who advised the Trump campaign) and the feckless Bill O’Reilly, who was Trump’s on-air mouthpiece.  Both men trafficked in anti-intellectualism and ultimately left Fox News amidst accusations of sexual harassment, which should surprise exactly not one person.

Whereas many Trump critics think him too crude, coarse, and vulgar, many of his slavish devotees interpret his language as being down-to-earth and contemptuous of political correctness, both a term and an action that is anathema to the masses. To their minds, the New York businessman and reality show star is a “straight shooter who speaks frank truths. He is the exact opposite of the intellectual or “egghead,” and that’s who they think represents them above all others.

It doesn’t matter that he is clueless when it comes to history, science, and technology or that he barks loud in protest of diplomacy, tact, and common sense.  It doesn’t matter that he is a man who refuses the advice of those who know.  He represents them after all. He is the mirror image, as they wander aimlessly in the dark world of ignorance.

They are the second class minds. They are the anti-intellectuals.

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Posted by on March 26, 2018. Filed under PETS—POLITICS,Political,Social Issues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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Neil Bamforth
Neil Bamforth
3 years ago

Spot on with this old bean.

I might tentatively suggest that all this bizarre support for Trump could be a backlash against too much political correctness in their eyes?

trackback
3 years ago

[…]   From Michael John Scott at MadMikesAmerica: […]

Barry1949
Barry1949
3 years ago

Sheep the people are, easily led given the right dog and Trump is that dog (sorry dogs).

Caroline Taylor
3 years ago

Political correctness on one side and anti-intellectuals on the other. What’s a sane woman (or man) to do? Woe is us.

Glenn R. Geist
Glenn R. Geist
3 years ago

A study by S M Lipset defines the typical Nazi voter as follows: “An independent protestant member of the middle class who lived either on a farm or in a very small town and who formerly had voted for a centrist party or a regional party that opposed the power and influence of big industry and the unions”

I see parallels with the “drain the swamp” delusionals (they’re still saying that) and early Hitler supporters and of course Trumpists. They were taught by their tribal leaders that we are in decline, the economy is failing and our enemies are making fun of us. So they made it infinitely worse.

Glenn Geist
Reply to  Michael John Scott
3 years ago

The 8 years of Obama were mostly years of economic improvement, but every Republican I know was loudly proclaiming the opposite – that everything was a disaster. Apparently the impression of disaster is as effective as a real one and a lot less expensive – and on the other hand Trump has done amazing, marvelous things and everything is better.

Trump can’t even fix the roads. His technique is just to promise he will and then say he did. And we cheer him on.

Bobbie Peel
Bobbie Peel
3 years ago

Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon and the truth.

Somebody smarter than me said that.

Patience.

Lyndon Probus
Lyndon Probus
3 years ago

America is killing itself through its embrace and exaltation of ignorance, and the evidence is all around us. In a country where a sitting congressman told a crowd that evolution and the Big Bang are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” where the chairman of a Senate environmental panel brought a snowball into the chamber as evidence that climate change is a hoax, where almost one in three citizens can’t name the vice president, it is beyond dispute that critical thinking has been abandoned as a cultural value. Our failure as a society to connect the dots, to see that such anti-intellectualism comes with a huge price, could eventually be our downfall.

Michael John Scott
3 years ago

I’m not sure Bill. I agree with my namesake. They are in it for the long haul.

Michael John Scott
3 years ago

I agree they will stand by him no matter what. He is their hero, their idol appointed by God himself. They won’t break with him anytime soon.

michael winder
michael winder
3 years ago

i wish i could agree bill…im afraid this bunch,who must be feeling the snap and health care benifits shrinking by the hour…will still stand by him…devotion can be strong….especially when they know obama cant get their guns now,and all those minority folks will be kept in their place…i hope mr mueller hurries this up

Jerry Girard
Jerry Girard
3 years ago

Mike what is frightening is the number of nutters our there who love this guy. Last I read it was around 40 MILLION people. Is this country really that backward?

Bill Formby
Bill Formby
Reply to  Jerry Girard
3 years ago

I am not Mike but I will answer that question. Its probably more like 50 to 60 million nutters out there. There is a huge chunk of them living in the South and in the rust belt. Once he has screwed up our economy some of them might figure it out though.