Thursday, October 26, 2006


The first time I heard this word was durring the elections in '04. My math teacher used it in describing what it was he was "saving" his son from by pushing him to go to school in Texas instead of Stanford. He also used it in describing Kerry and his supporters. I looked it up and it has much more to do with intel ops in communist countries, but I guess it's taken on a new meaning. That meaning, while I'm sure there is a more clear definition, has something to do with being educated being a pejorative now.

I just read this quote in Slate and thought it worth repeating:

Ever since the resignation of Richard Nixon, a very smart man who got caught abusing his executive power, the GOP has deliberately avoided nominating conspicuously intelligent people for president. Gerald Ford was smarter than he looked, but he was unable to dispel his buffoonish image. Ronald Reagan was famously checked out and ill-informed. George H.W. Bush, though clearly smarter than Dubya, is not exactly imposing in the brains department, and he's demonstrated almost as much difficulty as his son in formulating a coherent sentence. And George W. Bush? Let's just say the guy is either mentally lazy, not very bright, or some combination of these two. I've never felt it necessary to refine that diagnosis; the term I favor is "functionally dumb."

Two things must be said about my assertions in the previous paragraph. One is that they are all unmistakably true. The other is that whenever a liberal repeats any one of them out loud, that liberal—and contemporary liberalism generally—come under attack, along with the Democratic party, the New York Times, Harvard, the AFL-CIO, the Council on Foreign Relations, the three major TV networks, and the Sierra Club. If a liberal is deciding whom to hire to answer phones and return papers neatly to a metal filing cabinet, it's considered legitimate for that liberal to formulate a judgment as to the candidates' intelligence. If a liberal is deciding whom to vote for in a presidential election, it is not. Merely to raise the issue is seen as conclusive evidence that one is snobbish and effete, and that the subject of one's skeptical inquiry is an authentic man of the people.

I am in Constitutional Law right now, which is an interesting class. It is a class that builds upon what we've done in Philosophy, American Politics and History and lends itself to some awesome discussion and debate. Unfortunately, it takes some level of both knowledge about the basic legal system and history and an understanding of logic for people to make coherent discussion. Most cadets seem to lack one of the two...not in general, but just when the application of both forces them to question the beliefs they so dearly wish to cling to. I've said it before and I'll say it again--it seems religion is quite often a demonstration of the power of the human mind to believe what it wants over what reality dictates. Now, I'm not anti-religion by any means (well, I should re-phrase, because religion and faith are definately not interchangable words, and I'm a much bigger fan of faith than religion). However, when your religious beliefs conflict with objective reality and logic (at least according to Catholic theology), then it is no longer faith, but magic and superstition.

There is one kid in particular who is constantly making arguments which are logical...if you throw out the enlightenment. For example...when we were discussing the Lemon Test, he asked why the court would require a law has a "valid secular purpose". I would understand if he questions what counts as "valid" but his argument? Why "secular"? According to him, "secular" is just another "world view" on par with theological. I argued that a secular framework is what makes free exercise of religion in the US possible...he disagreed (apparently it's the hand of God). Then, when talking about the court cases dealing with evolution and creation, he argued that evolution is just as much a religion as creation insofar as evolution is based on "the scientific method" (ie that all knowledge is based on observation) which is, in itself, not an observable truth, and thus, believed on faith. So, according to him, why does it have primacy over other options--religion. Seems to me those questions were all answered when we went through the enlightenment...but that's just me.


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