Tuesday, July 13, 2010
#5: Being Right
If there is one thing Americans love more than fast food, football, and/or God, it's being "right." If you're reading this and you're not an American, perhaps you've recognized this aspect of the American character. You know, how Americans will argue just about anything? What's more, you've probably also noticed that in those arguments, in spite of anything else, being "right" is more important that fickle things like logical facts or actual empirical data. If you're reading this and you're an American, chances are you're thinking something along this lines of, "this douchebag doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."
I hate to tell you, but you're wrong, friend (see!). Americans love to "argue" about almost anything. Yet, the worst part isn't that they love to argue, it's that they love to argue over shit about which they have no stinking clue. If that wasn't bad enough, Americans don't want to "know" anything - they just want to argue about it. Most are, what I call, "aggressively ignorant." The majority of Americans are distrustful of knowledge in any real sense of the word. They hate anything associated with "academic," "scholar," "intelligentsia," or the like. But that doesn't stop them from having an opinion just about every friggin' subject known to mankind.
Many of America's aggressively ignorant fall into the category of "conservative" or "religious Right" or, the newest brand of red-blooded Americans, "teabaggers." For the most part, this special breed of American gets his or her information from pundits and radio disc jockeys who, because they ARE Americans, disseminate all kinds of falsehoods veiled in "truth" and "facts." Whenever someone calls the idiots on some fallacy, that someone (probably educated or, even worse, foreign) is immediately categorized as one of the following: 1)a liberal, 2) a socialist, 3) unAmerican or any combination of the three. You can always tell when the aggressively ignorant get riled up because their voices immediately rise about 100 decibels and they start saying things like, "you're an idiot," or "just more liberal/socialist/bedwetter nonsense" and thus the argument ends. And that's how most arguments in America go, especially those dealing with politics, religion, or individual lifestyles. Then, the disciples of these blowhards regurgitate the same nonsense at any given chance. When faced with an opposing viewpoint they, like their idols, raise the volume or, when that doesn't work, resort to name-calling, belittling or otherwise attacking the individual who had the gall to put up the challenge - all in the name of "being right."
And don't think that it's just the "conservatives." Nope. Those "well-intentioned," "elitist" liberals are just as bad, if not worse because they actually have paperwork to back up their sense of intellectual entitlement. While the more right-leaning people of this country distrust education (because education is, after all, a sanctuary for dangerous liberal thought), the lefties commandeer education as a platform for a kind of veiled aggressive ignorance. Pseudo-intellectuals and recent college graduates wave their education around as though a mandate from the nation's ivory towers giving them an intellectual "carte blanche." They manipulate knowledge to fit their own agenda and, like their conservative brethren, disseminate said knowledge as "truth" and "fact" and do so with an air of superiority because, after all, they ARE educated. The "leaders" of both sides massage the populace in one direction or the other, and work the unwashed masses into a dervish of self-proclaimed "experts" on everything from abortion rights to economic policy.
However, most of these idiots will never take the time to actually research any such issues on their own. The one side will never step foot in a library and the other will never really take the time to listen to any counterargument because neither of those scenarios satisfy that ingrained American lust for being right. The consequence of this brand of stubbornness is an intellectual gridlock stretching from the heartland debates in America's diners to legislative arguments on the floor of congress - everyone scrapping for a piece of the "right pie." And while Americans are fussing over the ownership of "rightness," the nation's economy, education system, industrial infrastructure, health care system and government are all falling down around us. Pretty soon, being right will be all there is that is left - will anyone take a break from the argument to notice? Probably not.