Just Another Day

"Any idiot can handle a crisis, it's day to day living that wears you out." - Chekhov

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Al Kennedy at the Guardian lays it out nicely: education is the enemy of Blair and Bush. Keep 'em stupid and they won't know any better about what they're trying to do to us.

No government with any sense - and many politicians have had excellent educations - wants a populace that's confident, articulate and mentally alert. They are fundamentally opposed to education, education and education.
Our current prime minister is well aware that only an electorate with an average IQ of 12 would find him credible. (And this would be the case even if all Tony's teeth were perfect.)


But it could be worse.

No, really, it could. State education in the United States favours teaching 11-year-olds about capital letters and self-esteem - should funds be available. And beyond a horrifying national curriculum lies the strange land of home schooling and Christian Reconstructionist institutions like the Robertson School of Government and Patrick Henry College. (The same Patrick Henry College that supplies so many White House interns.)

Here, in the intellectual equivalent of Tupperware boxes, students are isolated from the media, the internet and any information which is not "biblical". Which is to say, most sciences, much of literature, medicine and history - and definitely no astronomy or archaeology.

And even in this rarefied, if not medieval, atmosphere, it's reckoned risky to attempt anything beyond a masters degree for fear of undermining your "core values".

But expose its adherents to an uncensored news broadcast, a CS Lewis novel, a snippet of Jerry Springer - The Opera, or a single Private Eye cover, and you can expect a replay of The Exorcist within moments.

Perhaps it's simply tricky to keep people who believe themselves to be good, inside what is effectively a cult devoted to death - intellectual death, imaginative death and (for other people) physical death.

And in a climate where facts are irrelevant and belief all-important, politicians in the Bush/Blair mould will hope to prosper.

Increasingly, US institutions are asked to provide "balance" of the kind that would add, say, biblical endorsements of slavery and hypothesised links between Lincoln and Satan to serious studies of the civil war.

We don't quite have a fantasy channel like Fox News, but the softening or avoidance of inconvenient realities is already here.

Another few years and, no doubt, it's hoped that our under-informed citizens will simply believe what they're told, however bloodstained and loony that may be.

Then we can all crusade our way towards the Rapture, untroubled by doubt or independent thought. They don't have to burn the books, they just have to make sure no one reads them.

If I had a dime for every time I heard right wingers spew about why they hate college education...