I don’t think that anyone can explain anything to Sara Palin. Does anyone know what her IQ is? I know that the United States sees a rugged individualist out fighting bears and wolves in the wilderness whenever she looks at herself in the mirror. Ignorant ruffian is not the source of our Constitution or our Bill or Rights.
None of the founders of this country were ruffians and all fancied themselves to be both men of letters and of the people. Diplomacy, freedom, liberty, and self-determination are things that came from the foundry of Enlightenment.
Americans mis-remembers their history: the founders of our country were not the same people who settled the continent on the shoulders of Puritanism, they were revolutionary humanists! The were men who valued the rights of man above anything else, believing men to be worthy the responsibility of being stewards of both a Nation and each other. Worthy of a democracy!
I don’t know what people think smart is, but I don’t count street smarts when it comes to world politics and diplomacy. Are we in an anti-intellectual, anti-thought, anti-rational US now? Is being a maverick better than being wildly capable. I value intellect, education, training, capability, creativity, compassion, altruism, generosity, humanitarianism more than most.
You know, good rational thought. A good sense of logic and fairness. A deep background in philosophy, history, civics, poetry, literature, and the law. We always forget — or fail to state — that Barack Obama is a Harvard-educated civil rights lawyer! This is a blessing in a world wherein we, the United States, are single-handedly dismantling the same rights, protections, privacies, and freedoms that our founding fathers, soldiers, and Americans have been fighting and dying for since we were born as a nation.
One’s mind is only knowable through the things one expresses, be it in writing or spoken word. After taking a bunch of multiple-choice tests, one’s left only with one’s capacity to communicate.
I really don’t know what to say except there are even brilliant people in my career who have trouble writing a good sentence. In communications and PR, well-written messages, conveying complexity, simply, are so valuable yet so under-valued. While I have not yet read The Age of American Unreason, we’re too close to our own dumbing-down and have become what we fear in other countries: intolerance.
We don’t even see that our own personal behavior as a country, supposedly protecting us from tyranny and “wrong-doers,” is making us tyrannical! We’re sacrificing many of our freedoms of a perception of safety. Safety from what? After 9/11, there is not been a brutal follow-up of discotheque bombings, the like of which marred 1980s Europe. We have not had to suffer any of what the UK needed to suffer under the IRA. We have not needed to avoid city buses the way Israelis sometimes do during real and present threat.
Since 9/11, nothing’s happened. Nothing. And don’t even suggest that our democracy is 100% sealed against such things and that our military intelligence, our domestic intelligence, our federal and local police, our FBI, and our special operations commandoes can protect us were there another bold and well-funded attempt against any place in our continent. Impossible! Nothing’s happened.
And yet, our civil rights, our freedoms, and our personal privacy is constantly being eroded and threatened just because people are scared out-of-proportion to the real and present threat. Hell, we’re not being stolen from, we’re actively pursuing perceived security at whatever cost is necessary. Egad.
Back to writing. Back to communication. Back to anti-intellectualism. The problem is: people don’t know what “bad,” “wrong,” “imprecise,” “inarticulate,” or “confusing” writing is. I don’t buy the “anti-East Coast” thing. Mid-West universities are some of the best. There’s Rice and Austin even in TX! I see people pissing and moaning about how they need to use “SMS shorthand” on Twitter because Twitter keeps your microblogging posts under 140 characters. Well, I am “restricted” by 140 characters, too, as are we all; however, I use complete sentences, never blaming Twitter’s 140 limit!
I agree that one needs to read and read to become a better writer. It is like that in everything, including painting and photography. My dad was a shooter. He told me, “to know good photography, one must both shoot, shoot, but also look, look, look!” When your job is to communicate, “knowing social media” isn’t enough. We win gigs because we can communicate exceptionally. I don’t know German yet. I would never consider doing PR in Germany unless I hired exceptional writers and thinkers.
In America, yes, but around the world, subliteracy abounds. I love Frank Luntz’ tagline: “It is not what you say, it’s what they hear.” Understanding comprehension is key to controlling the message. When I started on USENET in ’93, it was still an ivory tower in many ways. You would win or lose argument threads through precise argument.
If I didn’t think my USENET post through, I would have my argument — my post — picked apart. The argument is every bit as important to communication and persuasion — the process and proof — as is the truth you’re trying to convey. Not being able to think through one’s own political or esoteric argument as well as being incapable of parsing and comprehending another’s argument is what is getting the United States into such a mess.
If you can’t map historical context, rigorous research, and experiential perspective to current events, you’re liable to be manipulated or persuaded against your will based on your emotions or fears instead of logic or reason. Yes, there is a sucker born every day, and it is my passion to do my best, day by day, to avoid being that sucker. I recommend that we all try to check the facts, the history, the recommendations, the logic, and the reason of all of the news and political discourse that we’re listening to right now, in these few days before the U.S. General Election.
Are you thinking things through or are you carrying someone else’s ideas, convictions, or beliefs? Do you even have your own? What do they even look like?