Reading this article at the New York Times website about an authors new book on American anti-intellectualism. The usual stuff — Americans know little about the world, Americans distrust smart people and learning (just look at their President for proof of that). But the most amazing thing is how little many Americans know about even their own history and country. This quote says it all:
Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:
“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.
The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”
“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.
At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”
I mean, what can you say to people who clearly are so in the dark about their own history, let alone anyone elses.
But that wasn’t my overall point. I think this sort of anti-intellectualism has been pretty prevalent in Australia as well in recent years, though not quite in the same way. We just came off 11 years of a PM who really didn’t want people to learn a lot of our history, just the history he liked. We have a certain kind of conservative elite who take every opportunity to demonise educated people as some kind of bad influence on society.
While I think American has a very unique brand of anti-intellectualism, Australia is definitely not immune to it.
Though hopefully this might change a little now — after all, we have a self-described “nerd” for PM 🙂