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Anti-intellectualism in Middle America.

 
 
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 08:01 am
Please can someone explain the viewpoint/ideology to me, please.
pq x
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 08:21 am
Anti-intellectualism is not universal in "middle America." (By the way, there is no such "place." The regions of the United States can be described, very roughly, as the Northeast, "the Old South," the mid-South, the mid-West, the Great Plains, Texas, the Southwest, California, the Rocky Mountain states and the Northwest.) Among those who display the trait, one is most likely to find the religiously and politically conservative. The religiously conservative are, undoubtedly, motivated by that aspect of religious fundamentalism which finds all the answers it seeks in scripture, and therefore sees little value in education outside scripture. Politically conservative people have come to associate higher education with political "liberalism" (most Americans don't realize that in the eyes of the rest of the world, there is no political liberalism in the United States, just different degrees of conservatism).

Religious and political demagogues have found this a useful scourge with which to flog the opponents (often imaginary) of their agenda. Whether or not such people actually exist, it is useful to convince one's followers that there is a vast conspiracy by people with university educations to impose upon them a regime of toleration for things which they abhor, such as homosexuality, birth control, abortion and dancing. (That last part was a joke.) To the extent that many people with a "higher" education do support abortion rights, birth control and tolerance of homosexuality, it tends to make the screed of the ranting, canting preacher or politician more believable. But there are many people without a higher education who support the right to abortion, the use of birth control and tolerance of homosexuality. The great advances in the working conditions of Americans were made by members of organized labor, many of whom were poorly educated, and, in early days, quite a few of whom were functionally illiterate.

In the 1930s, there was a Canadian priest, Charles Coughlin--known to his huge radio audience as "Father Coughlin"--who became a popular radio personality. Originally, he supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" policies in Depression Era America, but rebuffed by many of Roosevelt's supporters, he became a critic of the New Deal. He was also unabashedly anti-semitic, and frequently and continuously praised Hitler and the NSDAP, and Mussolini and the Fascists. Because Roosevelt had established a "brain trutst" to run his administration, when Coughlin turned against Roosevelt, he wove a strong anti-intellectual thread into his rants. He has been called the "father of hate radio," and whether or not that is justified, i think he can be considered the father of the anti-intellectual strain in American politics and religion, at least in the modern era.

In the early days of our republic, there was a wide-spread enthusiasm for public education, and the foundation of institutions of higher education. I would suggest that anti-intellectualism is a recent phenomenon in our history.
Lightwizard
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 01:03 pm
Those who believe they are anti-intellectual aren't really smart enough to be anti-intellectual so it's either entirely an emotional response or an oxymoron.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 01:16 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Anti-intellectualism is not universal in "middle America." (By the way, there is no such "place." The regions of the United States can be described, very roughly, as the Northeast, "the Old South," the mid-South, the mid-West, the Great Plains, Texas, the Southwest, California, the Rocky Mountain states and the Northwest.)



Well, ...:

http://i40.tinypic.com/5jzoxx.jpg
Wikipedia

Quote:
Middle America
region, Mesoamerica
Main
the isthmian tract between the southern Rocky Mountains and the northern tip of the Andes (or, generally, from the southern border of the United States to the northern border of Colombia), marking the territorial transition from North America to South America. The difference between this designation and “Central America” is that Middle America includes Mexico; sometimes it also includes the Caribbean islands.

Middle America. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 14, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/381099/Middle-America
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 01:48 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Hmmm...perhaps Her Five-sided Highness might elaborate on what she meant by the term? Laughing Embarrassed Laughing
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:08 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Maybe "fair to middlin" America? Middle Class? Meddlin' America?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:10 pm
Alright, lighten up guys . . . you all know what she meant. She sure as hell ain't no Republican running for office, so cut her some slack.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  0  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:14 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter, your map described "Zentrum" America, when Americans speak of Middle America they describe a place near Peoria Illinois. Smile
0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:18 pm
What a faux pas.

I thought it was an english thing. My flatmate always talks of 'middle america' or did at the time of the election anyway. I just presumed it was a term, despite the fact I know Texas is south etc.

Well anyway, I meant rural america/bible belt america/republican america, you seemed to get the drift. Thanks for the explanation, set.

The main reason for the post is because the other day my friend and I were talking about his dad's family and their attitude towards education when his dad went to university.
'You don't need that son,' taking offence when he used words they didn't know the meanings of etc.

I just wondered what the american equivalent was.
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:21 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Quote:
Hmmm...perhaps Her Five-sided Highness might elaborate on what she meant by the term?


Five-Sided Highness.
Amazing!
0 Replies
 
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:21 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
I'm from the Midwest. Honestly I'll disagree with Set in that I prefer the phrase "Middle America" and that many people in Missouri where I'm from use the phrase, but that's for some other thread. :-)

Set is right though, the anti-intellectual movement is not unique to the midwest. It can be found in any part of the USA. The basics that you need to understand is that at it's root it is a means to manipulate people. The leverage is based on divisive memes targeting more rural Americans.

The most common phrase or word you'll hear used (mostly during campaigns) is "elitism." The idea here is that some new aged rich person you you (assumably) can't identify with knows better for you and thinks that they are better than you. It's an appeal to emotion.

I understand how it works though. I live out east now in the DC area and the attitude towards Midwestern states is terrible here. Same goes for California. Midwesterners feel culturally marginalized and less valued as citizens. These feelings are exploited and used to build resentment towards coastal and more specifically urban citizens; democrats.

Want to condemn gay under the guise of honorable principles? Appeal to the idea that those intellectuals are stomping on our rich tradition and culture.

Want to get evolution out of our schools? Make it seem like those intellectuals are just full of themselves. They aren't smarter than me!

PQ - Honestly I'm better off from experiencing it firsthand in my life. It's just a tool to manipulate people. I understand its potency. After meeting some of the most brilliant people in my life while being in the Midwest, I do harbor resentment for the way the fly-over-food-states are culturally obscure in the USA.

Every summer as a child, I'd go visit my family in California, and I'd play with the neighborhood kids. When I'd say I was from Missouri, they'd say "I'm sorry." That kind of arrogance boiled my blood even at a young age. I think however that anger I felt helped me understand why people are so vulnerable to this kind of thing.

T
K
O
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:24 pm
@Diest TKO,
If someday you find yourself touring about the USA, it's probably going to be the coastal cities you'll be interested in. I'm not sure what of the Midwest is ever positively promoted in our media culture, and exported overseas.

I'd challenge yourself to see some of the great cities and beautiful nature in the heartland. :-)

Hell, there's some A2Kers in Chicago. Great city. almost as cool as St. Louis. :-P

T
K
O
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 02:24 pm
They knew what you meant by middle America, darlin' . . . but it is a term used in derision to mock the Republicans, who coined the term in an effort to suggest that the majority of Americans are conservative, and are ignored by "liberal elites." In that sense, it was a very appropriate term to have used to introduce the topic of anti-intellectualism. You can see in the threads at this site, in which someone whose political or religious points of view are ridiculed will immediately accuse their interlocutor of intellectual snobbery--basically, the "oh, you think you're so smart" type of retort. I suspect it is common to all times and all places, in one form or another.
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 03:11 pm
@Setanta,
I think the general idea is the part of America far enough away from the big, more cosmopolitan and sophisticated coastal metropolitan areas -- which probably only includes Chicago in the North, but maybe excluding Portland Oregon in the West.
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 03:27 pm
@Lightwizard,
I think typecasting rednecks or middle americans as anti-intellectual is a form of bigotry. It's not a geographical mind set...there are plenty of anti-intellectuals in NY city. I see it more as a class clash, the sort of thing that so much English comedy is based on.
In fact I remember an episode of "Open All Hours" that showed the grocer mistrusting an upper class toft in the same way.
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 05:15 pm
@panzade,
Middle America hasn't been satisfactorily defined, so it's a guessing game to start with. I'm sure there are "anti-intellectuals" in New York City (and other supposedly hip metropolitan areas) but, then again, what separates them from non-intellectuals, or are they inseparable? What kind of class clash, or not so poetically, warfare, does it reveal? It's not economic bracket because people without great intellect get rich or inherit riches, their just talented at gaining in the money department, within or without the law. That's mostly smart, and street smart at that, not particularly intellectual. Intellectuals can also get rich for the some of the same reasons. That does leave labeling out of the question, doesn't it?

As I live in an area well-known for its conservatism, I know there are plenty of liberals in these parts as well. I know both have to be intolerantly devoted to his or their own opinions and prejudices but the majority of them are almost always too polite to reveal them, either among friends or relatives but especially not publicly.

That leaves the pundits (which includes op ed columnists, book writers as well as TV personalities), as politicians in office will nearly to the last one, conceal any of their intolerant prejudices (okay, sometimes not so successfully). The media bunch have got nothing to lose if their employer, like a Robert Murdoch, is paying them to expose their opinions, even though they are still mostly limited to being politically correct. Seems like lately, the pundits have been throwing about extreme language which they often retract or back-peddle because at the time they stated them, their brain wasn't attached to their mouth or fingers.

However, there is an -ism after the anti-intellectual which tries to define it as a movement of some sort. Rednecks, I doubt, are even in such a movement. Nor are all rednecks, in whatever Middle America one wants to agree is comprised of, geographically confined to any area even though you'd probably get an argument about where they usually reside.
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 05:28 pm
@Lightwizard,
Lightwizard
Quote:
Middle America hasn't been satisfactorily defined, so it's a guessing game to start with.


Right wiz...I was just redirecting the Queen's geographical interest into a class-clash subject which is more understandable for Brits.

However, when i thought about it the middle class is not middle america. Are there upper class people who are anti-intellectual?
Are there college grads who are anti-intellectual?

I think anti-intellectuals are showing the fears of their parents and their lack of education, and I don't mean just curricular education, but the ability and desire to find new ideas and contrary theologies.
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 05:42 pm
@panzade,
Certainly there has to be upper class wealthy people who are anti-intellectual (again, exactly what does that mean -- are they actively anti-intellectual are just passively anti-intellectual?) There are also college graduates who might be anti-intellectual but if they went to a specialized school and only learned a profession (like Harvard Business College which still requires at least a modicum of liberal arts courses as far as I know). Is it a reaction to having intelligent students lord over them as being stupid? Could be.

Maybe a new word has to be coined like intelliphobe. After all, most of the so-called anti-intellectual reaction is a fear the intellectuals are in control -- at least of something. What, I'm not sure. Is it the media? Just thinking Gore Vidal has control over the media makes me Laughing
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 05:42 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The way you used the term is fine in the content of it used.

Another way to ID the area in question is the fly over country as the land you fly over between the East coast and the West coast.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Jun, 2009 05:57 pm
Interesting observations, in my life my father (born in 1923) graduated from high-school and immediately went to work for Brown & Root in Houston Texas. My mother lived her entire childhood on a small farm in southern colorado, milking the family cow, slopping hogs and butchering chickens. My mom was the first in the family to graduate from high school from which she moved to Houston Texas where he uncle lived so she could go to secretarial school. Upon graduation she got a job at Brown & Root where she met my father. 5 months later they married and my father asked for and got a transfer/contract to go to Saudi Arabia (1945). My father did well with Brown & Root and after 12 years in Saudi we came home to america and he retained employment in an executive postion. He often told me that he could not even apply for a postion "these days" because he didn't have a college degree. I'm pretty sure he was proud of the fact that he had succeeded with only a high school diploma.
He was determined that I should attend college and , after military service I did. I earned a BA and then 2 post-graduate degrees.
After completing my education, I had only to comment "I think it might snow this weekend" and I would get back "Oh, sure, the college man can predict the weather"
I'm thinking my father was of the generation that went from 8th grade education as a norm to college degree as an expectation. He missed out somehow and for him college graduates became "intellectuals".
 

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