Monday, February 13, 2017

Know-Nothing Follies, American Style | radical eyes for equity

Know-Nothing Follies, American Style | radical eyes for equity:

Know-Nothing Follies, American Style



Some time in the 1980s while I was teaching high school English in rural upstate South Carolina, my home town, a student turned in an essay about Pink Floyd, a group my students knew I liked.
The student’s essay raved about Pink Floyd—as a person, not a group. The irony of this, of course, was totally lost on the student. [1]
Throughout my 30-plus years teaching, I have encountered dozens of smug, cavalier know-nothings like that student. Too uninformed to even be able to conceive that their ignorance is entirely transparent.
Know-nothings often surround themselves with know-nothings, and the resulting echo chamber is truly stunning. They find themselves clever, and cool; they are ultimately self-perpetuating, and self-sustaining.
Young males often fall into this trap as a pursuit of coolness to hide their insecurities; young women are drawn to feigned know-nothingness as a ploy to attract guys, also a defense against insecurity.
Many if not most grow out of the know-nothing-as-cool/attractive phase.
But enough don’t that the know-nothings have now elected the master of know-nothing president, and that know-nothing president has surrounded himself with know-nothings to run the country.
The great irony of the culture of know-nothingness is that these people are compelled to appear knowledgable while having no capacity for knowledge.
The evidence is easy to confirm:
  • Trump completely oblivious to who Frederick Douglass is.
  • SOE Betsy DeVos’s Tweet misspelling W.E.B. Du Bois, and then misspelling again in the apology.
  • Trump’s inauguration poster using “to” for “too.”
  • The GOP Tweeting a false quote attributed to Lincoln.
These examples from our political elites have their roots in right-wing radio where Rush Limbaugh often holds forth quoting Shakespeare’s “brevity is the soul of wit” (clueless that this is the comment of a buffoon, not a pearl of wisdom) and repeatedly calling Ayn Rand “Anne.”
Here are the remnants of know-nothings to add to the culture of lies and the flippant serial plagiarism that characterize Trump and company.
And as a result of this flurry of know-nothingness, post-truth, and fake news, many have begun to turn to literature, from George Orwell to Margaret Atwood.
While I appreciate the focus on dystopian science fiction that addresses the power of manipulating words, facts, and truth—see Orwell and Atwood—many are glossing over the importance of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New 
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