Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Conservatives and Anti-Intellectualism

This morning, I read an interesting blog post by Paula Reed. Her entry was based on a quote she'd received by email:

“The Left: People who demonize those with whom they disagree.”

My first thought was to think of how so many neocons today are masters at the art of projection: they take what is commonly done by neocons and turn it around saying it's really liberals doing it.

Personally attacking one's opponents, instead of coming up with reasoned rebuttals to their ideas is intellectually dishonest and is a symptom of the creeping anti-intellectualism in this country; an example of the dumbing-down of America. It's much easier to blame liberals for everything that's wrong in our world today, than to come up with ideas on how to fix these problems together.

Gone are the days of erudite conservatives, such as William Buckley. Also largely gone are those conservatives, such as Barry Goldwater, who was able to often put ideological differences aside and work in a bi-partisan manner with his Democratic colleagues (now, I bet that is a word you don't hear too much in Washington nowadays) for the good of the country.

Now, it's neocon pundits, such as Limbaugh, Savage, and Coulter, among many others, who have brought the black and white, simplistic tactic of using ad hominems against their opponents in from the far right fringes of the tinfoil hat brigade into mainstream conservative thought. Or what passes for thought. This is not to say that the left is entirely free of such nonsense -- there are liberals, such as Rosie O'Donnell, who could hardly be called intellectual. But those such as O'Donnell hardly have the reach or the influence tha those in the pantheon on the right wing do

I heard a prime example of this type of anti-intellectualism the other night while listening to the radio. A man called the Dennis Miller show to express why he rejected intelligent design. Miller didn't give him much of a chance to speak. Instead he cut him off to say that he couldn't get on board with Darwinism because he just couldn't get into the idea of "worshipping a pile of amino acids" and that he liked the idea of an intelligent being creating life on Earth.

My jaw dropped when I heard this nonsense. I could not believe that Miller, a former liberal and former cast member of Saturday Night Live -- in other words, someone who should know better -- was spouting off such simplistic ideas. There was once a time when being a conservative did not mean one also had to accept intellectually bankrupt, fundamentalist Christian beliefs as well.

Instead of the Buckley types being the mainstream of conservatism, we now have the Archie Bunkers of the world running the Republican party, which is a sad thing for old-school Republicans and the party in general.


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