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Danehy

Tom remains distressed by the nation's cult of ignorance

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We're coming up on eight months since that awful November evening and the sting isn't going away. Oh, there are all those breathless pronouncements on MSNBC about how Congress is useless and that Trump is self-destructing, but he's still there and we're still here. About all we have is that one moment in the morning between where we wake up and see that the sun is shining and when we remember who is the President of the United States.

I remember when the Sex Offender in Chief was running for President and he said that the whole world was laughing at us. He was, of course, right about that. They were laughing that Americans—badass and bold and resilient—could take such a buffoon seriously, even for a moment. They were laughing that the greatest country in the history of the world could have an election system so convoluted and arcane that a person could get three million more votes than her opponent and somehow suffer a humiliating defeat. And they are laughing to this day when the Head Dolt In Charge stands up and boldly declares that "when it comes to science, I are stupid and my loyal minions they be stupid, too."

In the days and weeks after the election, self-proclaimed "cooler heads" sifted through the ashes and came away with the conclusion that those of us with brains in our heads hadn't been listening to the people who swept Trump into office. We were told that elitists who lived on either coast had failed to gauge the mood of the country.

Well, I wear a WalMart wardrobe and I live in land-locked, sweltering Arizona, but I've always known that there are way too many pissed-off white people. And they're pissed off for the wrong reason or no valid reason at all.

I didn't need to go to Michigan to talk to some guy who spent his time carving his initials in the desk instead of paying attention in math class and then was shocked when the plant where his father (and maybe even his grandfather) had worked was suddenly shut down because some guy in a suit decides that he can squeeze out a few more dollars in profits if he has the work done somewhere across the ocean.

I suppose I feel a little bit sorry for that guy, but not much. I'm really upset with his father (and maybe grandfather) for not stressing the importance of education, through which one gains options in life.

Here in America (even with the deck stacked as it is these days), a family can climb out of poverty in one generation.

I know this to be true because my family did it. We lived in Poverty with a capital P. But my immigrant parents fully believed that the strategy was simple. Take school seriously, don't hang out with too many knuckleheads (a couple sprinkled in is OK as long as they're not the majority), and aim high.

(It's way better to aim high and fall short than to aim low and hit your target.)

My father-in-law (may he rest in peace) was a great man. They took him right from high school into the Army for World War II. He became one of the few non-Anglo tank commanders under General George Patton.

After the war, he went home to Douglas and got a job at the copper smelter.

Even here, he had to put up with petty nonsense.

Well into the 1970s, the Phelps-Dodge smelter had separate showers for "Mexicans" and "Whites."

He got married and he and his wife had six kids. Every one of those kids went to college and they all earned degrees (some of them multiple degrees). They're teachers and engineers and executives. Every single one of them will tell you that they succeeded because that was what was expected of them by their parents. Why can't the factory workers in Michigan do that with their kids?

Despite the pleas of the bi-coastal intelligentsia, I don't really want to talk to the people in the Rust Belt who couldn't see disaster coming and so took it out on the rest of us (and maybe the world) by voting for a bigot and a bully.

What am I going to learn from talking to them? You ask 100 of those people to say one word that comes to mind about former President Obama and 75 will say "uppity."

It's like telling me to go back to 1955 and talk to people in Mississippi. Or, for that matter, go to the house of Jefferson (as in traitor Davis) Beauregard Sessions III in 2017.

My intellectual horizons are not going to expand even one micron by interacting with bigots, bullies and buffoons. Life's too short to waste on stuff like that. Please just give me smart and wise.

I guess Isaac Asimov said it best:

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread 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.'"

Well, it's not and, despite the temporary ditch of stupidity in which we currently find ourselves, it never will be.

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