Recently Americans have taken to lash out at a man named Jonathan Gruber. A few weeks ago, no one had heard of him. Now, he is all over the headlines.
Because he did something you’re not supposed to do in politics.
He told the truth.
Inasmuch as he is a wonderful specimen of human slime, I happen to like Gruber. He is one of the most honest people I’ve ever seen in politics. Such men are useful. Like Dr. Strangelove and his perfunctory Nazi salute, they are incapable of concealing their intent for the sake of pretenses. They tell us what they think rather than what they want us to think they think. The latter is the name of the game in the D.C. Swampland and anywhere else politics exists. Deception is a necessity.
Apparently in several of videos recently uncovered, he called Americans stupid. The outrage was something to be behold. One side declared him to be a symbol of everything wrong with this current administration, while the other side insisted he was a nobody – until more videos surfaced of politicians praising him – and that his comments were merely his personal opinion and as far away from that of D.C.’s attitude as possible.
Two thoughts: One, the outrage is not because Gruber’s opinion of Americans is so low, which it is. It’s because he’s right. We had the Speaker of the House declare that we needed to pass a bill to find out what was in it. Only a stupid person, or someone in the know, thinks such comments don’t warrant suspicion.
For further proof, listen to those who try to explain away Gruber’s existence like the “perfect” family trying to conceal their child who naively blurts out that their home life is a disaster.
When the news blew up on social media, I followed many conversations between the two warring factions and couldn’t help note the irony. Those who said Gruber was a nobody only showed that he was right about Americans being stupid.
The notion that politicians think highly of the people who elect them is only believed by those who deserve no such respect.
The truth is unpleasant, but obvious. Americans are, generally speaking, stupid.
Now, before someone thinks I am a self-deprecating American seeking praise for my “edginess,” let me add that I don’t see them as anymore stupid than people in other parts of the world. I also don’t see stupidity as unique to America. Stupidity is practically a part of the human DNA. The history of the Israelites, for example, is one of stupidity adding on top of stupidity.
Varying definitions of stupidity abound, but the one I prefer is Doug Casey’s: Stupidity is the unwitting tendency to self-destruction. It is also the inability to connect actions with consequences. You can be a brilliant mathematician and handle quantum physics with ease, but you think banning “assault weapons” is an effective means of preventing crime. Or, you fail to see how creating enemies with everyone around you might affect your social life.
Hence, there are plenty of intelligent Americans who could make me seem dumb, but they are still stupid. Everyone, in at least one area of their life, is prone to foolishness and stupidity. God knows I’ve got more than my fair share of stupid decisions. But there is a difference between acting stupid and remaining in a persistent state of stupidity.
Nowhere is stupidity more evident in American society than in the political realm. We have had the same two parties running the show for over a century. Yet despite things getting worse and worse, people continually forget all the sins of a particular party as they vote to “throw the bums out” one election, only to toss them back in a few more years. It’s like a girl perpetually choosing between two guys, both of whom slap her around, while insisting she has no other choice.
What causes this stupidity? Hard to say.
Truth be told, much of the reason I’m not stupid has little to do with what I ascertained on my own and much to do with the writings of men who made the mistakes so I didn’t have to. They wrote to pass their knowledge to the next generation.
I’m merely carrying on the tradition by articulating what has been imparted to me which, if you think about it, is as vital as it is lacking in society today.
Unlike animals, humans have no innate knowledge. A spider does not need another spider to tell them how to spin good webs and not get caught in them. It just knows. Humans, on the other hand, must learn practically everything from someone else. Historically, this has been their parents, family, and their community. Who teaches them and what they are taught matters. If the wise do not actively offer wisdom to their progeny, they will become fools. Anything that is learned in one generation is forgotten by the next if they do nothing.
Therefore, those who forget the past….
You’d think that after the repeated military disasters in Afghanistan since ancient times by various armies, our military commanders would have learned that invading a region known as the “graveyard of empires” would not bring about a positive outcome. This is not me playing Monday morning quarterback thirteen years after the fact. Simply looking at Elizabeth Butler’s “Remnants of an Army” through a Google search might have done the trick.
Some historical lessons seem more obvious than others.
When the economy turns south, people practically hand their rights over to anyone who claims to bring them prosperity, which they rarely ever do. Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Prohibition causes the price of a good or service to rise, the quality to decline, and unnecessary violence due to criminals controlling the industry. Foreign interventions always ultimately fail.
The inability to correlate actions and their consequences plays a huge role in stupidity. Our secretary of state declares openly on TV that the starvation of half a million children was “worth it.” We have numerous military bases in foreign countries. Yet Americans can’t connect the dots on how other nations loathe and detest our government except for maybe they don’t like our pop culture.
Our country repealed Prohibition in the 1930’s after it was an abysmal failure, yet somehow people today think these lessons do not apply to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and even meth. Wilson sent troops to Russia to occupy Arkhangelsk and fight in their civil war in 1918, yet Putin’s meddling in the Crimea on Russia’s own border is seen as a national security threat to our country on the other side of the world.
One of the biggest moments of stupidity for this country without question was the election of our current president. I was a college student in 2007-08 during the campaign. It was somewhat frightening. People were so optimistic, so joyful about the idea of “hope and change,” yet they couldn’t explain for the life of them what they hoped for or what changes they wanted to see, or how a politician from Chicago would make it happen.
I’m genuinely amazed when people react indignantly at the claim that Obama was elected because he was black. There was no other reason for Americans to elect him.
Well, maybe because they are stupid, like everyone else.