Opinion

The war on thinking

The war on thinking

It’s hard to decide what I hate most about Donald Trump, pictured above with UKIP’s Nigel Farage. The lying? The corruption? The bullying and insults? The ignorance coupled with grandiosity? The emptiness? The stupidity?

I don’t know; I can never decide. I hate most whichever item I’m currently contemplating. There’s so much to hate about him that it’s difficult to keep track of it all.

He is particularly an outrage to freethinkers and thinkers more generally – to people who see thinking carefully and self-critically as indispensable to acting responsibly. If there is anyone who needs to act responsibly, you would think, it’s a head of state, especially one who is – alas – Commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military, and an enormous stash of nuclear weapons.

There’s a glitch here. The men (most of them slaveholders) who drew up the US Constitution didn’t imagine that world’s largest military, let alone nuclear weapons, so they didn’t know they needed to build in safeguards against impulsive ignorant buffoons being put in charge of both. That’s a problem. At some point shortly after the election I was snarling about the total lack of qualifications for the job the winner had, and someone gently reminded me that the explicit qualifications are bare bones. They are in Article 2 of the Constitution:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

It’s a real pity Madison didn’t read it over and then slap his brow and scribble an addition: “…and shall know more than a child of five and be able to utter a coherent sentence without prompting or artificial aids.” Something along those lines.

I’m kidding, because you can’t put stuff like that in constitutions. If you did it would just be another item like those vile “literacy tests” that prevented black people (but not white people) from voting in Southern states until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But there ought to be something – some way of filtering out ignorant mindless tv “personalities” from being viable candidates for the job.

That was what the Electoral College was for, at the time, but that ended up being too undemocratic. I think most of us had some vague idea that Wiser Heads in the parties would just do their backroom deals and arm-twisting and other undemocratic meddling to weed out the hopelessly unqualified. I suppose we relied on that, without really noticing it. The election of Reagan was a jolt, the election of Bush Junior was a jolt…we should have expected the triumph of the clueless.

Well, we know what the drill is. It’s a populist revolt. It’s a “throw the bastards out and start all over,” and the way to do that is to pick someone even more grotesquely unqualified and unprepared than the last populist revolter (the one who went to Andover and Yale and was the son of a former president – that populist revolter). But how could we expect that that would mean a millionaire property tycoon? How can we get a handle on the fact that the only criterion for being a populist revolter is being pig-ignorant? How are we to understand that a guy whose penthouse overlooking Central Park is literally encrusted in gold is the new Man of the People?

gold

I know how. It’s by realizing that it’s not money that makes people part of the Evil Elite, it’s thinking. It’s that intellectual, skeptical, critical, snooty brainiac crap that oppresses the people, while it’s the people who know nothing but how to cheat their workers and customers who are the true salt of the earth.

Trump settled a lawsuit against his “university” for $25 million dollars days after the election:

The complaints alleged that students were cheated out of thousands of dollars in tuition through deceptive claims about what they would learn and high-pressure sales tactics.

The students were not prosperous graduates of Harvard and Yale looking for an advanced degree in selling real estate, but people who can be more easily tricked into squandering their savings on a few seminars on marketing tips. But never mind that! Trump is a populist, and it’s those pesky thinking people who are the elite. The only way to restore power to the people is to make sure that ignorance is in power, and by god we succeeded at that in this recent election.

In other words, to drop the sarcasm for a moment, one reason Trump managed to get enough votes in enough states, despite being a nasty bully who cheats people out of their savings, is because there is a “populist” revolt against intellectualism. Trump is an enemy of thinking, and he’s popular not despite that but because of it.

For illustration, here is a bit of his conversation with reporters and editors from the New York Times on Tuesday, in response to a question about how he will deal with the conflicts of interest between his new job and his businesses:

As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest. That’s been reported very widely. Despite that, I don’t want there to be a conflict of interest anyway. And the laws, the president can’t. And I understand why the president can’t have a conflict of interest now because everything a president does in some ways is like a conflict of interest, but I have, I’ve built a very great company and it’s a big company and it’s all over the world.

People are starting to see, when they look at all these different jobs, like in India and other things, number one, a job like that builds great relationships with the people of India, so it’s all good. But I have to say, the partners come in, they’re very, very successful people. They come in, they’d say, they said, ‘Would it be possible to have a picture?’ Actually, my children are working on that job. So I can say to them, Arthur, ‘I don’t want to have a picture,’ or, I can take a picture. I mean, I think it’s wonderful to take a picture. I’m fine with a picture. But if it were up to some people, I would never, ever see my daughter Ivanka again. That would be like you never seeing your son again. That wouldn’t be good. That wouldn’t be good. But I’d never, ever see my daughter Ivanka.

Read it and weep.

trump-leading-liberty

11 responses to “The war on thinking”

  1. Paragraphing that Trump quote flatters him. Trump doesn’t paragraph. Sad!

  2. jay says:

    The alternative,however, was someone who had a history of conflicts of interest between obligations of the State Department and the interests of investment bankers and Saudi princes. Made quite a fat profit off that scheme.

    The ‘foundation’ will collapse now, with no favors to pass out.

  3. Rob Andrews says:

    We’re going the way of the British or the Spanish before them. It seems like ther are three thing that are contibuting to this:
    1) automation
    2) careing for an increasing number of elderly.
    3) loss of jobs to overseas companies.

    I only see one way out of thia two party fighting each other.thing; that’s a viable third and fourth parties. Because as above posters say both parties are in the hands of the rich.
    National debt clock:$19,843,168,249,999. AS of yesterday.

    “Millions of dollars to both parties, so whoever wins I got somebody in my pocket”.–Howard Hughes.
    From an unauthorized biography

  4. Dave – Ha! I had the same thought. I sent it all one para, as the Times published it, but the editor had mercy on poor babbling Donnie.

  5. CoastalMaineBird says:

    The lying? The corruption? The bullying and insults? The ignorance coupled with grandiosity? The emptiness? The stupidity?

    ALL of those also describe the Democratic nominee, as well.

  6. Lady Mondegreen says:

    ALL of those also describe the Democratic nominee, as well.

    No, in fact, they don’t.

  7. sailor1031 says:

    Where were you being sarcastic Ophelia? I read it all as perfectly fair comment.

  8. sailor – in “It’s that intellectual, skeptical, critical, snooty brainiac crap that oppresses the people, while it’s the people who know nothing but how to cheat their workers and customers who are the true salt of the earth” and “Trump is a populist, and it’s those pesky thinking people who are the elite. The only way to restore power to the people is to make sure that ignorance is in power, and by god we succeeded at that in this recent election.”

    Fair comment, yes, but meant literally, no.

  9. Derpitator says:

    If there is a question as to whether you are coherent in your sarcasm, let me be the one to raise my hand to say “no, your sarcasm lacks coherence and narrative flow.”

    But who would dare question anything you say, right, because you always write as if you had never heard the terms “rough draft” and “final draft” and if someone tells you to edit something you take it to mean spellchecking.

    Your grammar should go back to knitting tea cozies, also.

    Just my opinion, of course, and I am sure you’d disable commenting underneath your articles because you seem like that sort of person. I might be wrong about that, though. You might enjoy responding to your critics too much and never managing to take away any lessons learned or food for thought when all is said and done.

    Politics without any religious angle makes for a poor article here. Did you have anything to say about the candidates’ religious views?
    No. And that’s a damn shame, too.

  10. Edwin Salter says:

    Concern about a ‘war on thinking’ is relevant because meaningful atheism is based on reason and evidence.

  11. Edwin Salter says:

    Concern about a ‘war on thinking’ is relevant because meaningful atheism is based on reason and evidence.