Friday, October 1, 2010

Ignorance Had a Good Run. It's Time to Bring Intelligence Back to Politics

"Dispelling ignorance should be the first duty of the intellectual" Adrienne Clarkson

Is anyone else as tired as I am with the notion that politicians must dummy down? That messages must reach the ears of the of the ignorant because it's those voices that will drown out all others?

Do we really aspire to be stupid? The Conservatives believe that we do, and we can only hope that they are wrong. As Andrew Potter suggests, however:
The storyline of the summer was the emergence of the federal Conservatives as a party committed to principled ignorance. Whatever the issue—crime, climate change, the census—the government has made it a point of pride to actively ignore facts, research, and expert opinion. Baird’s crack about “elites” is part of a strategy that believes there is little to be gained in politics by having good ideas and implementing evidence-based policies. Instead, the key to success is being able to control the meanings of words used in political discourse.
Words that work, are replacing words that inspire. Lawrence Martin called it a bumper sticker mentality.

And ignorance is being promoted by Fox News, who appeal to the worst in everyone. And it's a destructive force:
Obama took specific aim at Fox's Australian-born chairman and chief executive, accusing Rupert Murdoch of being more concerned about generating profits than promoting an agenda to improve America's well-being. The U.S. president likened Murdoch to William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper baron whose sensational publications produced the term 'yellow' journalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We've got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints," Obama said in the interview, conducted Sept. 17 by Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.

"I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It's a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world. But as an economic enterprise, it's been wildly successful. And I suspect that if you ask Mr. Murdoch what his No. 1 concern is, it's that Fox is very successful."
Journalism as a business with no agenda other than dumming down a viewing public, to make their nonsense palpable. The Brits are just as concerned with Rupert Murdoch, who is set to launch his Fox News North in Canada.

Potter suggests that the Liberals need to reduce their message to the level of the Conservatives, Republicans and Fox News. I hope they don't. We don't need more ignorance.

The Fox News inspired Tea Parties south of the border, should be American political debate hitting bottom. Because while they have some just concerns, they have no reasonable solutions. And the Republicans don't want them to have reasonable solutions.

Because if they did they would never vote Republican.

It's easier to appeal to emotions where little thinking is involved. And an ignorant public is a compliant public. They can be talked into anything.


  1. I'm very glad President Obama is as opposed to Rupert Murdoch as I am.
    I began working in the newspaper business in the 1960s, when a true journalist was unbiased and fair. I knew and respected many of them.
    You know, and President Obama knows, what the big news stories of the 1960s were. Imagine if Fox News had been around at the time. Where would equal rights have been? Pushed aside as the high-falutin' notions of the intellectual elite because college students and instructors were marching for those rights?
    I cringe to think how North America would be today if facts were hidden then, and right-wing agendas publicized instead.