By: Seji Gaerlan
The growing trend of distrust in our minds has become more prevalent in American politics.
The term “intellectual elite” morphed into a strategic form of rhetoric by politicians to attack those who are educated or the so called intellectuals to criticize the imperfections of our nation.
In the book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, writer Richard Hofstadter stated “As a consequence, the heartland of America, filled with people who are often fundamentalist in religion, nativist in prejudice, isolationist in foreign policy, and conservative in economics, has constantly rumbled with an underground revolt against all these tormenting manifestations of our modern predicament.”
Seemingly, anti-intellectualism stems from religious fundamentalism and irrational patriotism. Each of which created communities of echo chambers that has concluded that Universities has turned into bastions of liberal elitism, a metaphorical factory that produces Communist spawns of Satan that are out to destroy the foundations of our country.
Religious fundamentalism in the United States has been a big influence in American history. Despite the constitutional mandate on the separation of church and state, ubiquitous therein are religious laws. Not withstanding the moral values brought by religious zealots, which paved way for ignorance over scientific fact or human liberty as a way to preserve their religious values. This is evident in their views on abortion, same sex marriage, religious diversity, and for some, the shape of the earth.
Another thing that Americans love other than God and guns is the concept of ‘murica, the borderline extreme nationalism in the United States. There is an abundance of individuals who believe that “the United States is the best country there is and ever will be, and if you don’t believe it, then get out,” this rhetoric neglects the predicament the nation is faced with, problems include: crony capitalism, racism, systematic oppression, imperialism, climate change, vaccination, etc.
These flawed notions of anti-intellectualism are the sources of our society’s problems. Adding insult to injury, anti-intellectualism is commonly used to control the citizens of the nation. Education has become a pariah, and used as a weapon to go against the injustices of the political norm; It opposes subservience to an undignified system in society, and the best way to counter that, is to play with human nature: create political polarization, antagonize the other party and its intellectual elites and say that they are against the country’s best interests. These politicians manipulate its followers by feeding disinformation, creating an alternative reality where the nation, apparently is doing great under their control.
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant threat winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” American writer and biochemist professor Isaac Asimov stated.
So how do we combat this?
The main thing that we need to do is to get you and your loved ones to stop getting information from Facebook. The internet is a wonderful platform, but it has problems with siding with fact or fiction and it’s openness to extreme tribalism. Due to algorithms, an average internet user is fed disinformation produced by potential bias media sources daily.
For example, if someone looks up Social Justice Warrior (SJW) owned videos on the internet, a plethora of “Ben Shapiro owns leftist college students” will appear on their Facebook timeline or Youtube’s recommended page. Another is to watch less television, avoid getting your information from TV shows or celebrities; practice your critical thinking, get actual facts from real sources like books, journals, studies, etc.
There is a myriad of ways to combat anti-intellectualism, but we need to first acknowledge that this is a prevalent problem in our nation.