Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter? (John Milton, Areopagitica)
In a perfect world, this would be the norm but obviously we are far from such a world. And at this time of the deadly pandemic caused by the Coronavirus, the ignorance as evidenced by Trump’s behavior may well cause the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans?
I don’t know what could be a more obvious example of how deadly ignorance can be? Because of this megalomaniac’s narcissism & sociopathic personality, the American public, well, those who didn’t fall for Trump’s rhetoric of fear & hate, are living in a state of terror!
And I am very concerned that I may not have much longer to live because I’m an old fart (67 years old) & have several of the highest risk factors, so this essay is probably going to be very raw & perhaps one of my most honest essays?
One of the things that most surprised me when Donny boy became president was the fact that there is clearly no requirement to be able to pass a basic intelligence test for the most powerful office in the world? Moreover, what does that say about our collective intelligence?
My central thesis in this essay is that I believe if we had true freedom of speech & specifically in the most common meeting places for average Americans i.e. bars, taverns, & pubs, we might have been able to persuade our neighbors to open their minds & not fall for Trump’s con job?
Obviously, it’s too late now but perhaps those who survive this pandemic will wake-up to the necessity of informing themselves so that it can’t happen again? I have loved learning from the time I was in first grade & I believe that it is the responsibility of those of us who are true educators, to share what we’ve learned with our fellow citizens.
To begin with, I stumbled across a list of 50 Characteristics of an Educated Person, which I’ll share with you at the end of this essay, & I challenge you to find a single one of these characteristics in “our” president. I, like many others, have to admit that this buffoon is very clever at manipulating the media & that’s how he managed to con his way into office. Those who believe in his honesty i.e. “he tells it like it is,” “he cares about the little guy & the working class,” “he’s draining the swamp,” etc. are beyond the pale of an ordinary or average intelligence & therefore easily manipulated by pushing their emotional hot button topics. And it doesn’t take more than two or three minutes of “conversation” with these individuals to determine if they are Trump’s cult members i.e. as soon as you make one critical remark about Trump, they shut-down & like that wall he’s building, they erect a wall in their “minds.”
Yeah, I know, I’m sounding like one of those elitists. You’re goddamn straight I am! You can trace my elitism back to when I was in the sixth grade & was reading at an 11th grade, sixth month level. Moreover, I was a closet elitist because I hid my elitism in my single-parent, working class background. Pretty clever huh?
One of the things that confuses me about Trump who keeps reassuring us that he’s a very stable genius, and uses big words, & is more knowledgeable in just about any profession you can think of i.e. scientists, doctors, generals, etc. So why has he threatened to sue any of the schools he’s ever attended if they reveal his grades? Could it be that like his tax returns, he’s afraid if his grades were revealed, the public would realize that his entire life has been one big scam?
Mental midgets like Trump believe that he who shouts the loudest in an argument is the winner of the argument. And he has the biggest megaphone in America i.e. the bully pulpit of the White House. As a result, the public is constantly bombarded with Trump’s lies & propaganda, and we have, as I said, very few places to refute his ignorance, racism, & fear-mongering. Moreover, Donald of the Duck Dynasty Klan has FOX “News,” to spread his lies 24/7 and we all know how “fair & balanced” they are, right?
And one of the key aspects of Trump’s reign of error & terror is his perpetual rallies throughout his term in office. Have you ever seen another president wage a non-stop propaganda campaign like his? It’s crystal clear that although Trump struts the world stage with his chest puffed-out and his chin protruding as far as possible not because he is supremely self-confident, but rather supremely insecure & this is why he needs constant praising from his sycophants.
Returning to the “free marketplace of ideas” in the title of this essay, it’s obviously a reference or an analogy to the mythical “free market,” that has been proclaimed for so many decades that it is now accepted as a truism or similar to a law of nature. But this concept is one of the most pernicious ideas in the lexicon of this perverted crony or casino capitalist system that is now literally killing us. And a little research will show that this “system” is a total farce created to keep the gullible & ignorant playing in a rigged-game that they can never win. Here is the truth behind this sham from Noam Chomsky, my intellectual & moral hero;
Because of the successful destruction of unions in America, we are no longer of much value to the powers that be i.e. we used to serve the purpose of consuming the manufactured products that were made in America but we’ve been beaten-down to such an extent that our only value now is our incarceration.
I am sharing this knowledge with you, my imaginary reader, not because I’m an egotist like Donald Duck but because I believe the central responsibility of educators is to share what we’ve learned & hopefully inspire students to take up their own self education. I forget if it was Plato or Aristotle that said this in a slightly different manner but it is the gospel truth!
Perhaps this would be a good point at which to share some of my bona fides, & unlike Trump who thinks that just by uttering whatever words he wants to, makes them a fact or the truth, I can back up my claims of intellectual abilities.
In brief, I attended community colleges in the L.A. & Orange County areas off & on for about a decade. I dropped-out of many courses half-way & sometimes even three-quarters of the way through a semester. Nothing really grabbed me until I stumbled upon philosophy. I told myself, now this is a subject I can really sink my teeth into.
And about this time, I had the great fortune of meeting my future wife who was a Special Education teacher & finishing up her Master’s degree in Special Education. Her B.A. was in Art. Her belief in me & her encouragement inspired me & I stopped dropping out of classes after that & within a couple more years, I earned my B.A. in English literature (the philosophy dept. where I was attending a four-year university, sucked & I figured, well at least I can enjoy the reading as a literature major.
Moreover, I have amassed a personal library of approximately 10,000 books over the course of my life. And no, I haven’t read them all but I have dissected so-to-speak, several hundred of them i.e. made copious notes in the blank pages so I can turn to the exact page if I want to show or prove to someone that I’m not making up what I’m trying to tell them about.
I’ve also been writing essays & working on two major writing projects for over 30 years. I would conservatively guesstimate that I have spent at least 50,000 hours over the past 40 years reading, writing, researching, watching documentaries, listening to political programs, etc. By-the-way, when some people try to dismiss that decade of switching majors several times & dropping-out time & time again, I ask them; So, you think that because I didn’t get the official credit for the course that I didn’t learn anything in all those classes?
And since we’re on the subject of education, here’s a quote by Aristotle who one professor told me, was one of the twin pillars of Western Civilization, Plato being the other; “The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead.”
Yep! Another one of those god-damn elitist snobs! Now, some of you who may still have some of that holy seed of curiosity left in you as Einstein put it, may be wondering how in the hell did we get to such a desperate state like the one we’re living in now? Let me break it down for you because I have also worked in the education profession for approximately 20 years.
First of all, our public education system isn’t set up for excellence but rather to crank-out cookie-cutter, conformist citizens much like that video clip of students in Pink Floyd’s song; “We Don’t Need No Education.” And if you’ll take the time to reflect on the 50 characteristics of an educated person at the end of this essay, I think you’ll see what I mean?
Because we have to face the ugly reality of the way our educational system is, we must rely on ourselves & that means self-education. Of course, we must first learn what is worthy of learning. And if you accept the current capitalist system that is once again fuckin’ us that I don’t see how anyone can fail to see it. But then again, I almost forgot about the Trump cult where ignorance is celebrated?
And this is what I’ve learned in my lifetime, the two most important skills a person can acquire that will help empower them against the constant forces that manipulate us & defraud us daily are Critical & Analytical thinking skills. The book I am about to mention was recommended to me by a Jesuit scholar. And they are some of the best educated scholars in the world!
Problem Solving & Comprehension by Whimbey & Lochhead. I see that the price of the book has definitely gone up over the years? I bought a paperback copy back around 1983 for maybe $9.00? Well, it saddens me to have to report that in all these years, I haven’t been able to persuade a single friend to go through the exercises/problems in this book that help to develop your critical & analytical thinking skills. Like I’ve long said, welcome to Illiterate America, another great book by one of our best educators, Jonathan Kozol.
Being proud of being stupid didn’t start with Trump, no, it’s long been a part of our history. And another book which I “dissected” is The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto is a guaranteed mind-blowing experience if you dare to read it? This is another one of my books that I dissected & read twice because I used it extensively in writing my magnum opus which is only three-fifths completed.
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist & I pray that you don’t lump me in with the likes of Trump’s buddy, Alex Jones, quite simply, the 1% don’t want a nation of well-educated citizens because we are then more troublesome.
Moving right along, the next destructive force that has brought us to the brink is the media or more accurately, the corporate media aka mainstream media. And there’s no better place to jump in than the Reagan presidency from which Donald the Dipshit, stole his campaign motto; Make America Great Again.
You see, before Reagan, the mainstream media which was ABC, CBS, & NBC in those days, were required to give us both sides of an issue when they weren’t just reporting the straight news/facts. By-the-way, there are far more than two perspectives on the serious issues humanity faces.
Yep! Reagan was the father of “fake news,” is it any wonder Trump has emulated him? Ronnie’s elimination of the “Fairness Doctrine,” paved the way for FOX “News,” Trump’s daily briefing sessions. I say this because it’s pretty common knowledge just as Trump’s non-attendance at who knows how many of the daily presidential briefings. And those that he does deign to honor with his presence must boil the complex issues down to a single page with pictures.
This is the leader of the “free world.” Doesn’t it make you all fuzzy & warm knowing you can rest assured that the child behind the desk in the oval office wants to keep it simple? Yeah, he’s simple alright, he’s a fuckin’ simpleton but one with the capability of starting a nuclear war if somebody hurts his feelings.
Returning to our slide down the slope of journalistic integrity, the mainstream media was gutted by the corporate elite who saw ratings as the key to ever greater wealth. So, like a deadly virus, “infotainment” became the accepted norm & who other than Trump was a master at entertaining with his circus act of smoke & mirrors i.e. a barrage of lies & fake news i.e. before he became a “celebrity,” he’d call in to radio programs & pretend to be somebody else & sing his own praises.
Moving right along in our exploration of how America became so uninformed & wide-open to manipulation by the greedy & corrupt like Trump, we have the destructive rise of “reality television.”
I have heard very few, if any critics point out that the basic premise of “reality T.V.” is built on the premise that a fake medium i.e. television, can & does provide us with an accurate & honest view of ‘reality.’ And who else but Trump who built his celebrity on fake stories & his grandiose lies about his success, could “succeed” on such a massive scale in a fake portrait of reality?
Tragically, this too helps to shed light on this dangerous phenomenon of an absolute moron & moral degenerate in charge of a nation. Trump is not merely mediocre, no, he’s monumentally incompetent intellectually as well as totally morally bankrupt!
There’s a mountain of evidence proving he doesn’t have a single ounce of compassion or empathy for anyone but himself. And again, this is why I argue that if his Walking Dead zombies had even basic critical & analytical thinking skills, they could see through his grand sham.
Remember my friend, television & movies succeed the more skillful they are at causing us to “willfully suspend disbelief.” Do you understand what I’m saying? Speaking of which, I believe that a major turning point in the dumbing-down of America came when FOX “News” was allowed to call itself an authentic news station.
And I hold “mainstream media” responsible in that they didn’t raise hell about this propaganda channel posing as “fair & balanced” reporters of the news. This clearly was an attempt to portray themselves as loyal exemplars of journalism before Reagan eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine.”
But speaking of “fairness,” American journalism had been failing us for decades before Reagan. And Edward R. Murrow as well as his mentors like I.F. Stone & George Seldes revealed this in their noble & brilliant careers of fantastic dedication & tireless work in uncovering the facts behind the lies of government & corporations.
Another nail in our collective coffin is the birth of the so-called “social media.” Moreover, it’d be rather amusing if it weren’t for the fact that it’s so dangerously serious. If you give a shit about true reality vs. the artificial world of the plastic people like Trump, you’d eventually have to acknowledge that this supposed “social media” is de facto anti-social.
Why you may ask? Facebook & Twitter being the two major exemplars of this fake reality, in fact encourage people to be anti-social and hurl ugly epithets back & forth. Tristan Harris, a former employee of Google;
“he worked as a design ethicist at Google, where he studied ethics of human persuasion.”
This young man’s courage & intellectual honest touched my heart. And I’m sure if you’ll take the time to read the bio about him on Wikipedia or watch any of the You Tube videos by or about him, you’ll agree.
In a nutshell, Mr. Harris shared with us the key to the kingdom that has become Google i.e. razzle & dazzle people with bells & whistles so like a slot machine in Vegas, they become addicted & will keep checking back for how many likes, etc. they have received in the past few minutes i.e. they become addicted to the constant feedback. Hey, does that sound like anybody you know? Hint: Donald of the Duck Dynasty Klan who spends the majority of his “work day” watching FOX “News” for his agenda of what American domestic as well as foreign policy should be.
Yes, we have a teenage girl as president. And she can never be more than a few feet from her “smart phone,” because she must constantly monitor her “social approval ratings.”
Are you still confused or wondering why we’re in such a state of fear? Or why we are so woefully unprepared for this pandemic? No, it isn’t just Donald the Dumb-fuck, it’s this capitalist system that only cares about profit. We’ve been through this before but the “Masters of the Universe,” chose to ignore common sense & have a stockpile of the necessary equipment because they could make greater profits by keeping it ‘close to the vest’ i.e. only manufacturing on demand or as the need arose for products so as to not have stockpiles in their warehouses that weren’t being used or sold. They could save money by eliminating every possible unnecessary product until it was needed. And lo and behold, now that we’re in a national and world-wide crisis, they can’t manufacture what we, the peons need fast enough so many of us will die because of their greed & shortsightedness.
And I gotta chuckle or I will double-over in a fit of rage that these corporate cockroaches have the balls to ask for bail-outs in this time of crisis? Yep! Trump’s very own children are asking for their share of the government handouts while Jared Kushner tells renters they must pay their rent but he needs help from the banks regarding his loans.
One that really caught my attention was Goldman Sachs, dubbed “the Goldman Sachs” treasury department is also asking for help? Matt Taibbi wrote a book about Goldman Sachs called “Vampire Squid” and I don’t know where this particular quote by him came form but I feel it’s as succinct a summary of why, once again, we, the 99% are being fucked while Wall St. is once again, being bailed-out against our wills & we have to foot the bill even as we are kicked out of our homes.
‘Nobody goes to jail.’ This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth – and nobody went to jail.
This is in reference to the 2008 Crash that came seriously close to collapsing the entire world’s economic system. But hey, no big deal, right? Place your trust in a fake billionaire who is using the White House as an ad agency to promote his business interests.
You see, my imaginary reader, if we were truly free to speak & I mean anywhere & everywhere, most importantly in ye olde public houses i.e. bars, taverns, & pubs like our founding fathers did when they were plotting their revolution, we might just be able to stem the tide of stupidity that has engulfed us?
Those of us who survive this pandemic owe it to the memory of all those who didn’t survive. I just hope that the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans may at last galvanize the apathetic to rising up and slapping those greedy pigs down & imprisoning them so those who attempt to follow in their footsteps at least know that they’re not going to get a cell in any of those federal country club “prisons.”
We seem to be fond of declaring wars against drugs, crime, welfare cheats, etc., how about we declare a War on Stupidity? And what say you about requiring our presidents to be above a fourth-grade level intellectually?
It is only through exercising our minds that we self-empower ourselves & stop being victims. We must retake our places as human beings who deserve to be treated respectfully & as people worthy of all that is laid out in “The Declaration of Human Rights” or Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights.”
I leave you with this reminder; “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” and that has been the game plan of the powerful & wealthy throughout history i.e. to divide and conquer us. It’s only our stupidity or ignorance that is holding us back.
My hope is that like the peasants of France who finally had enough of watching their children die of hunger & the queen consort of Louis the 16th, Marie Antoinette’s callous remark; “Let them eat cake,” was the final straw that caused the people to rise up and take back what was rightfully theirs & their right to be treated with dignity as human beings!
And here’s a little reminder for all you in that special category of the “1%,” you might take a lesson from history i.e. the French peasants finally reached their breaking point & chopped the heads off of half the elite of France.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
50 Characteristics of an Educated Person
- An educated person has the ability to think clearly and independently.
- An educated person has good judgment.
- An educated person knows how to learn.
- An educated person knows how to acquire desired skills by identifying and utilizing available resources, deconstructing the process required for learning a particular skill, and experimenting with potential approaches.
- An educated person has the ability to take initiative and work alone.
- An educated person has the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas in writing, clearly and concisely.
- An educated person has the ability to speak clearly.
- An educated person has the ability to reason analytically and critically.
- An educated person has the ability to think inductively and deductively.
- An educated person questions assumptions.
- An educated person doesn’t blindly accept what they are told; they go see for themselves. They can discern truth from error, regardless of the source.
- An educated person knows how to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information (between the important and the trivial).
- An educated person knows how to make productive use of knowledge; they know where to get the knowledge that they need, and they have the ability to organize that knowledge into a plan of action that is directed to a definite end.
- An educated person understands human nature and has the ability to establish, maintain, and improve lasting relationships.
- An educated person knows how to establish rapport with others; they know how get others to trust and respect them.
- An educated person knows how to cooperate and collaborate effectively with others.
- An educated person knows how to resolve conflicts with others.
- An educated person knows how to persuade others.
- An educated person has the ability to conceptualize and solve problems.
- An educated person knows how to make decisions.
- An educated person has the ability to see connections among disciplines, ideas and cultures.
- An educated person is able to cross disciplinary boundaries and explore problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.
- An educated person is someone who has been educated holistically: creatively, culturally, spiritually, morally, physically, technologically, and intellectually.
- An educated person has a broad liberal-arts education. They have a good overview of the following subjects: the natural sciences; the social sciences; history; geography; literature; philosophy; and theology.
- An educated person has depth of knowledge—that is, specialized knowledge–in a particular field.
- An educated person has achieved victory over themselves; they know how to withstand discomfort in the short term in order to achieve important goals in the long term.
- An educated person has the capacity to endure and persevere.
- An educated person is self-aware; they know how to perceive and manage their own internal states and emotions.
- An educated person knows where and how to focus their attention.
- An educated person has ethical values and has integrity.
- An educated person has the ability and the discipline to do what is right.
- An educated personis well-readand has cultural sophistication.
- An educated person has equal esteem for everyone, without regard to gender, race, religion, country of origin, and so on.
- An educated person understands their obligation to leave the world a little better than they found it.
- An educated person is capable of doing new things; they have the ability to generate ideas and turn them into reality. An educated person is innovative.
- An educated person is one whose natural curiosity has been awakened with the purpose of satisfying that curiosity.
- An educated person has the ability to identify needed behaviors and traits and turn them into habits.
- An educated person has the ability to identify harmful behaviors and traits—including thinking habits that are not serving them well—and the ability to modify them.
- An educated person has the ability to keep their life in proper balance.
- An educated person has the flexibility to admit when they’re wrong.
- An educated person has quantitative literacy; they know how to use arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics to solve problems.
- An educated person can speak at least one language other than their own.
- An educated person has financial literacy; they have the knowledge necessary to make sound financial decisions.
- An educated person is adaptable and knows how to deal with change.
- An educated person knows how to handle ambiguity.
- An educated person has the ability to explore alternative viewpoints.
- An educated person has aesthetic appreciation; they can sing and dance well, play at least one musical instrument, and can appreciate architecture, great art, and other expressions of creative genius.
- An educated person has developed the personal philosophy that will allow them to be happy and successful.
- An educated person has the ability and the discipline to constantly improve.
- An educated person has the ability to pursue lifelong learning.
As often happens when I think I’ve finished an essay, I remember some important points that I meant to make but got sidetracked from in the essay.
I think a lot, if not most people don’t realize that watching T.V. is a passive experience i.e. you’re just receiving the information, images, etc. & you are definitely not thinking critically or analytically when you’re watching T.V.
And the proliferation of T.V. shows (sit-coms, soap operas, sports programs, etc.) has slowly turned our minds into Swiss cheese. Moreover, with the advent of the Internet, the nefarious powers that only seek profit not enlightenment, have enhanced the deterioration of our mental capacities.
We are living in a post-literate society because reading requires mental effort & people primarily just want to be entertained. For example, I allowed myself to get sucked into the world of Facebook several years ago & I was excited and thought I’d be able to exchange important ideas with people. I used to write paragraphs, if not abbreviated essays in response to the important posts I read & once in a while someone would say; “I learned so much from your posts & comments.” And it became rarer over time to even get a single sentence in response. With the introduction of emojis, I became angrier because a sentence was now almost nonexistent. Yet people think they’re communicating?
Trying to get people to write is like pulling teeth & I finally gave up altogether & deleted my Facebook account about a year ago. And to illustrate even further America’s enfeeblement, it seems people today prefer texting over talking to someone on the phone. Yeah, pretty depressing! So, we don’t read, we don’t write, & we’re getting to the point where we won’t even talk.
I believe these factors that I have mentioned in this essay all point to how we’ve arrived at this tragic & deadly point in our history. The simple fact that a third to a half of the American public actually support Trump no matter how venal, crude, & brazenly only concerned about enriching himself he is. And that says more about us than it does about him.
Bottom-line, Trump has always followed his mentor, Roy Cohn’s simple battle plan for everything i.e. Deny, Divert, & Detract. Every time someone accuses you of something, Deny it. Divert their attention by changing the subject & not allowing them to pursue their accusation, & Detract i.e. start attacking their character, make shit up, do whatever you can to keep tearing them down.
This is abundantly clear in how he’s avoided taking any responsibility for his ineptitude, mishandling, & lying every step of the way in this dark time of the coronavirus spread which may kill a hundred thousand or more Americans & which was largely preventable if we had an intelligent person of moral character in the White House.
The Koch brothers & several of the wealthiest oil & gas corporations employed these same tactics in funding the massive propaganda campaign of Climate Change Denial. All they had to do was muddy the waters, question the credentials of the 98% or better of the world’s scientists who have warned of the impending disaster that will make the coronavirus pale in comparison!