Following up my recent entry about the GOP and the presidential race, which cited Charles Simic’s article “Age of Ignorance,” a friend posted an article by Fred Schaeffer on Facebook that supports and enlarges this view that an illiterate and/or poorly prepared American electorate is open to extremist views like Trump’s.
Trump exists as the likely Republican nominee for two reasons:
First, Neil Postman’s prophetic book Amusing Ourselves to Death has been vindicated. It’s not coincidental that Donald Trump is a reality TV star. He is the face of an illiterate America that gets its “facts” from TV news and talk radio hosts. He is the result of a celebrity “culture” gone wild.
Second, Donald Trump is the creation of white angry lower and middle-class Americans who have come through our educational system that failed to educate them. … They are not moved by facts, but their energy is fueled by overt racism, hate, xenophobia, isolationism and ignorance.
Wow! These are serious charges, but let’s examine them calmly.
Reality TV? About as far from reality as you can get, but sadly becoming too many people’s ersatz or substitute reality. If you sit in front of the TV and drool for entertainment, then you’ll accept any fool business to lift you out of your torpor, your low sense of self. But here comes my own living room billionaire to hire me and fire me, and tell me who I am!
Racism and xenophobia? I don’t know right-wingers who aren’t fueled by these hateful emotions.
My neighbor A prides himself on being a hard man: he runs and works out and has a lean, toned body. His mind is similarly hard. Because he has made it, he says, on his own, without much help from his parents or advantages in his roots, anybody can make it. Then he cites a list of numbers about murders and imprisonment — “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” in Mark Twain’s words — that prove that black people are responsible for their own sad plight.
My gym rat buddy Z, whom I’ve mentioned above, doesn’t pass on a chance to revile blacks and Latinos — anyone else who looks a little different from him, as if he were the Great White Hope that would save the race from the mongrel hordes! Of course, he’s a gun nut too, ignorant and paranoid about the real threats to America: the main one not being that someone is going to break into your door and slaughter your family but that you yourself in you family, your house, standing your ground, as they say, will continue to be an ignorant right-wing redneck and live with as much imagination and compassion as a zombie.
Yes, my countrymen, the living dead, awakened by Donald Trump and walking around the landscape with their mouths open and their brains shut.