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John Ridley Headshot

The Unbearable Whiteness of Anti-Intellectualism

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Chris Rock had a joke about black anti-intellectualism that roughly went
"those people are keeping it real. Yeah, real stupid!" One can't help but
think these days there is a creeping anti-intellectualism in some segments
of white America. The nation was originally founded on the aspirations of
higher achievement. The dream that each generation would attain more than
the last. Recall when people said with pride "I'm the first of my family to
go to college."

Seemingly, no longer from the fringes of white society. Faced with the rise
of minority intelligence -- be it on the left or the right -- the "blame
crowd" has no way to fight back other than to turn elitism into a
pejorative. As though striving to be the best is in fact the worst of
attributes. Delaware GOP-by-way-of-the-Tea-Party Senate nominee Christine
O'Donnell spent her 17 minutes of speaking time at the "Values" Voters
Summit attacking the ruling-class elites and the small elite and the beltway
elite but came of sounding more like the angry kid not bright enough to make
it as a Mathlete.

And, seemingly, she's not smart enough to do a better job of covering her
tracks with alleged campaign fund malfeasance.

But O'Donnell is more the victim of the fringes' infatuation with
witlessness.

Witness the inexplicably increasing adoration for Newt Gingrich whose
greatest achievement was quitting as Speaker of the House.

Sarah Palin -- whose greatest achievement was quitting as Governor of Alaska
-- bounced around five colleges in as many years before earning a Bachelor's
degree in communications... so that she could rail against the "elite media."

The quintessence of the... I guess subpar media... being Glenn Beck.

Need I say more?

I would like to be very clear that I don't offer any of this as an implied
indictment of either whites or conservatives. I personally know many very
intelligent white folks and some quite bright conservatives and some who are
even both. However I would be very hypocritical, after hectoring people of
color to embrace intellectualism, to not do the same with those on the paler
margins who believe that settling for sub-standard is somehow acceptable. I
would not seek council from a doctor who advertised in the Penny Saver or
hire a lawyer who took coupons. Regular and spectacular aren't mutually
exclusive. Have we had a more accomplished president than the
up-from-humble-beginnings Abe Lincoln?

Wasn't President Bush quite privileged?

C'mon fringe. Don't get bitter. Get better.