Stupid Americans prefer comfort to truth, myth to facts. This amounts to denial at a national level.
"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
John F. Kennedy
With this epigram, Rick Shenkman opens the first chapter of his book, which I wanted to write, entitled, Just How Stupid Are We?
Shenkman writes, "Even after 9/11, when fresh thinking was needed most, we neglected as a society to confront the harsh truths about the limits of the public's wisdom. Busy spreading democracy around the world,we refused to reflect bravely on the defects of our own. Instead of admitting our flaws, we settled, somewhat defensively, on the myth that we a good and great people with noble aims." p. 12
Of course this is highly questionable. We had just elected two convicted drunk drivers to the highest offices in the land, President and Vice-President. That alone should give any thinking person pause in considering the wisdom and intelligence of the American people. We not only elected them, we re-elected them rejecting a decorated war hero for two leaders who avoided and dodged military service.
As Shenkman points out, when the American voters are faced with the truth or the myth they vote for the myth that gay marriage is bad, and that abortion is ruining our nation even when the bulk of the information from a public health perspective is the opposite. However, facing up the truths which fly in the face of fiercely held myths is not something the American public has proved itself good at, and disaster has occured and continues to develop as most Americans aren't smart enough to understand how they have been had by their politicians and the corporate media.
It is easy to blame the policticans for fear mongering, lying, manipulating, spinning, and being bought off by lobbyists, and it is easy to blame the corporate media for skewing the news in their desired directions and not asking the tough questions and digging for the real facts behind the public relations spin, but few people have questioned the myth of the wisdom of the American people. The fact of the matter is that the American public is stupid. We get what we deserve. Perhaps working together we can look at our myths and start questioning "authority" so that we can come to a functional and healthy understanding of our national and international situation.
The American peple are in denial as surely as the alcoholic and drug addict are in denial about the nature of their disease. When first confronted, the alcoholic says, "Screw you. I don't have a problem." But as more negative consequences occur, the alcoholic can't avoid and deny any more. Reality starts to set in as the alcoholic hits bottom. America is hitting bottom. The myth that we are fighting pre-emptive, immoral wars like Viet Nam and Iraq for freedom and democracy around the world because we are morally superior while we loose democratic freedoms at home, and working people become poorer as the rich become richer, is becoming contaminated.
As Shenkman points out, it is not the lies that harm the most, but the belief in the underlying myths which make the lies necessary to maintain order and compliance of a people who otherwise might object to the policies of those in power.
Video with Rick Shenkman lasts about 6:42