by Charles Marowitz
(Swans - September 7, 2009) Ultimately, it seems to me, the fundamental division in America boils down to the Smart and the Stupid. The Great lumpenproletariat (the Stupid) honestly believe that social reform is tantamount to government dictatorship and that a health care bill will usher in unchecked immigration, euthanasia, and the elimination of senescent grandmothers. The Smart tend to believe that given the dire economic crisis the government's duty is to try to rescue as many citizens as they can using stimulus packages, banking bailouts, employment opportunities, "Cash for Clunkers" programs, etc.
At the moment, the Stupid appear to have the advantage. Contrived raids against politicians trying to explain the Obama Health Plan are blatantly sabotaged by members of both parties and Obama's dream of bipartisanship lies bleeding in the marble halls of Washington. The Stupid, we have to admit, are to be found just as readily in one party as in the other. It is Stupid to believe mutual agreements on health care can be made between politicians who are subsidized by the insurance monopolies or that legislation, which threatens their staggering profits, can be exchanged for a bill that would intensify competition and thereby reduce their stranglehold on the sick, the needy, and the elderly. Given their behavior, some of the most Stupid are to be found in the ranks of the alleged Smart thereby diminishing their smartness and adding to the overall dumbing-down of the nation.
The inescapable reality is that The Stupid are not only Stupid but vengeful, vicious, and violent; gun-packing mommas and poppas who are easy prey to conservative fear-mongers. President Obama is supposedly Smart -- then how can be he be so stupid as to not realize his political enemies will never approve legislation that threatens vested interests that have taken half a century of avarice to secure?
The Stupid, led by the nose by greedy brokers and venal health corporations, are smart enough to realize that lies, regularly repeated in the media, greatly strengthen the opposition by simply covering their activities -- effectively dispensing half-truths and brazen lies because they feel they have a duty to tell the American people what the Stupid are up to.
It is The Smart who, with cunning, caused the nation to tremble with fear about an imminent second 9/11 that paved the way for Bush's re-election in 2004. It is The Stupid, outsmarted by Cheney and his mob, that ushered in four more years of Iraqi slaughter and the willful desecration of our Constitution. So you see how easy it is for The Smart and the Stupid to run in double harness. The Really Smart would have prevailed in the election of 2004 but, because the nation was dumbed-down, they were defeated by The Cunning and The Devious who, in one sense were more Stupid than Smart as they believed their crimes and cover-ups would never be found out. But it has now become clear that under the new administration The Smart may well seek them out and punish them -- unless certain members of the Stupid in that administration cling to the belief that crimes committed in the past are in some sense, no longer actionable; as if there was a statute of limitation on evils performed by previous administrations. An idea so blatantly stupid you would think the Smart would have pounced on it much earlier, but often the Smart are also more timorous than they are smart.
We need to purge the Stupid from the national dialogue by constantly exposing the stupidity of their positions, and the Smart have to be smart enough to realize that the cost of not doing so is to render the entire nation more Stupid. It's very easy for Smart people to behave stupidly and for Stupid people to overwhelm The Smart with calculated and well-advertised falsehoods. After all, in America, they -- the Stupid -- are in the majority.
Will The Stupid ever yield to reason sufficiently to become Smart and change their ways? There is little hope of that because in America what is Smart for one person is always seen as Stupid by another. The Really Smart, being largely apolitical, withdraw from the conflict altogether leaving the playing field to The Stupid and so Stupidity and Smartness no longer become the arbiters of Right and Wrong, Good and Bad. In a world where The Smart no longer take part -- "can't be bothered" -- "don't care one way or the other" -- the victories inevitably fall to The Stupid. If the Really Smart ever found their voice, they could easily drown out The Stupid and the world would be a better place, but I fear the greater majority lies in the hands of the Stupid and, that being the case, the cause is already lost.
It was Oscar Wilde in The Critic As Artist who said, "There is no sin except stupidity." Which goes to show you how dense even one of the smartest-of-the-smart can be, for there are lots of heinous "sins" and they multiply rapidly in a country where stupidity prevails. Oscar Wilde thought he was being smart when he sued the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. It turned out to be the stupidest -- and most fatal -- move in his brilliant career. The stupid Marquess (who really was stupid) managed to destroy one of the smartest and most brilliant writers of the l9th century. There is, as we know, such a thing as being "too smart for one's own good." One can only hope that in this combat between Smart and Stupid, we all make the right choices.
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