I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to argue with acquaintances to convince them that Jesus was a Jew. “Jesus was not a Jew! He was a Christian!” is the answer I most often get. It takes me a full 3 to 4 seconds before I recompose myself, lift my jaw back into a closed-mouth position, and explain how all this actually works.
But no matter how often I find myself in this strange predicament, I’m always just as horrified and saddened by the lack of education and basic intelligence so often flaunted by some of my fellow Americans. And I’m no genius, mind you! Just some dude with a basic education who’s trying to keep up and always feeling one step behind. Sometimes two! But, man-o-man, the ignorance I’ve bumped up against on my own little journeys.
I remember taking a poll once on how many people believed in god and, if they did, what their personal definition of god was. I remember there was a significant number of responders who, when asked if they believed, answered unequivocally “Yes!”. When asked as to their definition, I was often repelled with the angry response, “I don’t know! Who the hell thinks about that kind of stuff?!”
So maybe it’s not stupidity, but a lack of thinking that so many suffer from. Maybe it’s just laziness. I don’t know. But whatever the cause, the symptoms terrify me. Especially when faced with life or death decisions like war and health care.
So when I question the intelligence of some Americans and get the occasional angry response, I simply have to shrug. If you want me to think more Americans are smart, stop acting so stupid. When people I know vote for McCain because they believe Obama’s gonna take away their guns even though they don’t have the proper medical coverage, barely earn enough to buy the food they need, own a home that is in a mortgage crisis, complain about their kids’ education, can’t afford private school, have two family members with disabilities, live just above the poverty level, and want the right to have an abortion if need be, I have to wonder if they have a clue what they’re actually voting for.
Then add the fact that Obama’s a Muslim, was born in Kenya, hates whites, is a Nazi, and eats babies for breakfast… I start praying (and I’m technically an atheist) that some of the smarter individuals I know start spreading some facts around. I’m not saying you have to believe what I believe, but at least understand what YOU claim to believe!
Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Bill Maher’s rant SMART PRESIDENT ≠ SMART COUNTRY in The Huffington Post today. Here’s an excerpt:
…On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.
I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.
Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.
Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”
People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”
And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.
And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.
And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.
And just to put the proper tag on all of this, Sarah Palin brought my point (and Mr. Maher’s) home beautifully today on her Facebook account by writing:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Yes, Sarah, not only is the moon made of cheese, but so is the space between your ears. I’m not sure which is more terrifying, the notion that Sarah Palin, like her protege Joe The Plumber, really has no clue what she is talking about, or that she knows very well what she is talking about and is purposefully misleading her brand of “followers” and other Americans for reasons other than their own best interests.
Ignorance or greed? Both are extremely dangerous and can lead to the same destructive end. And when lives are lost, they are not brought back. Not even by Jesus.