Back in 2021, I wrote how you can’t fix stupid. It seems like every day, though, I see evidence of stupidity all around me. It’s discouraging to confront how so many Americans are willfully ignorant and proud of it. Of course, some of them don’t understand that they’re ignorant. Or that they can’t think their way out of a paper bag because they lack the tools to do so.
That takes me to three kinds of stupidity, which we see on display every day.
Stupidity #1: Willful Ignorance
Yesterday I saw a video on X, FKA Twitter, with a reporter asking people on the street whether they would rather have four years of Donald Trump as a dictator or another four years of Joe Biden as President. They all chose four years of a dictator.
It didn’t seem to occur to the reporter that his question was ridiculous. No one gets just four years of a dictator unless said dictator dies at that time.
Dictatorships Don’t End Peacefully
Neither did the interviewees grasp that dictators go on and on, regardless of Constitutional terms of office. Or that a dictatorship isn’t replaced with what we had before. In other words, democracy doesn’t just come back. What’s likely to come afterward is the chaos of rebellion or revolution.
This ignorance is what takes us down the steep path to tyranny and too many Americans don’t understand that. Stupid is as stupid does.
Stupidity #2: Willful Blindness
Then we have the media, which apparently learned nothing from the 2016 Presidential campaign. Theirs is a different kind of stupid; a willful blindness, or conscious avoidance, to the dangers of doing the same thing all over again but expecting a different result.
Back then the news outlets saw Donald Trump as a useful idiot but one they could employ to bump up their profits. None of the mainstream media thought he would win, so they gave him lots of airtime to take advantage of the controversy and outrage he generated. It added up to millions of dollars in free advertising for a man who loves to get others to pay so he doesn’t have to.
Stupidity in Action
As if that wasn’t bad enough, they covered Hillary’s emails relentlessly, again to create controversy and outrage that would improve their ratings. They didn’t think it would really affect the outcome. Unfortunately, the one-two punch had an effect the media never anticipated: he won. Stupidity in action.
Now they’re doing it again. This time they’re treating a man facing four indictments and 91 felony charges as if he’s just another candidate on the campaign trail. Pundits write about his policies and ideas instead of calling out the dangerous plans he has for a second presidency.
He says he wants to be a dictator for the first day. But that’s not how it works. It’s stupid not to say so.
Stupidity #3: No Historical Context
Third, we have the stupidity that comes with our dumbed down schools not teaching relevant parts of history. Thus, most Americans have no idea why the Founders, particularly James Madison, insisted on separating church and state.
They have never heard of Oliver Cromwell or the Gunpowder Plot. They don’t know what the Edict of Nantes was and how its revocation by King Louis XIV affected America’s Revolutionary War. The multiple vicious wars between Catholics and Protestants that scarred England and Continental Europe might never have happened for all they know. Or that Bloody Mary was a queen, not just a drink to have at brunch, and that she earned her nickname.
(I would direct them to the very last episode of The Crown in which Queen Elizabeth II explains how a British Catholic monarch would mean the end of the Church of England.)
Lacking any historical context whatsoever, they simply see what’s going on around them today and think that gives them all the information they need to know. But it’s wrong.
Ignorance breeds stupidity and often does so intentionally. Nikki Haley seemingly did not know the Civil War had anything to do with slavery. As a girl, she attended a segregation academy—a school that taught the war had more to do with states’ rights than with one side insisting on chattel slavery to underlie its economy. I guess she never learned more than that.
Curiosity and Willful Ignorance
I am old enough to have received a good education. I even learned to write in cursive—which means I can also read cursive, in which most historical documents were penned. More importantly, I am curious enough to want to know how things came about and the reasons why our forefathers acted the way they did.
To me, willful ignorance is unacceptable. To go through life incuriously and without knowledge of history comes close to being a sin. Yet, it’s a sin we tolerate in our schools as they grow dumber and dumber.
I’m not sure what’s more stupid: knowing nothing or understanding that our schools don’t teach our kids what they need to know to make intelligent decisions. It doesn’t look like they’re going to improve any time soon, though.
That’s too bad because you can’t fix stupid.