How we got to this: a brief history

trump-clintonNorm Hall, Getty Image, LA Times, Oct. 26, 2016

Scared shitless by Kent State, my generation abdicated its civic duty and opted to bury its collective head at the shopping mall.

Early hint: Unlike earlier classes that sought discourse and a path to conflict resolution before protest, the freshmen of 1970 at my university conducted a food war and then claimed, after the fact, that it was a demonstration against dormitory food quality. The school’s food service unit possessed a nationally-recognized, award-winning program.

Beginning in the 1970s, politicians and their staffs realized they could spin just about any kind of bullshit and a boob-tube mesmerized American public would buy it. Fox News, established Oct. 7, 1996, proved the point with its anything-but fair and balanced reporting. MSNBC took up the flag about a decade later.

In 1970, there were 1,748 daily newspapers in America. By 2014, the number had plummeted to 1,331. Only 54% of Americans read a paper today.

Teachers have lost all authority in the classroom to overpaid, off-sight administrators and ill-advised parents that think they know more than trained, experienced, underpaid and dedicated educators. We have come to value mostly-meaningless achievement tests over a liberal arts education and a focus on teaching children how to think for themselves.

In 1987, Wall Street movie character Gordon Gekko proclaimed “Greed is good.” We missed the point.

Karl Rove: for oh so many reasons.

“There has been a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in America, unlike most other Western countries. Richard Hofstadter, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his book, Anti-Intellectualism In American Life, describes how the vast underlying foundations of anti-elite, anti-reason and anti-science have been infused into America’s political and social fabric. Famous science fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ~Ray Williams, Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America, Psychology Today, July 7, 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201407/anti-intellectualism-and-the-dumbing-down-america.

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