Susan Jacoby wrote an op-ed piece, based on a book she is releasing, entitled The Dumbing Of America. She decries the anti-intellectualism of America today, citing the rank ignorance about history and geography that is rampant today, as well as statistics such as 40% of Americans have never read a book in the last year. She also discusses how our culture tends to denigrate intellectuals as “elitists,” as opposed to the down-home democratic ideal of average “folks.” What she neglects to address, though, is that when it comes to anti-intellectualism, our elites are the worst offenders! It is precisely our intellectual elites–university professors, cutting-edge artists, culturally-in-tune authors–who are denying the efficacy of reason, insisting that truth is relative, and holding onto exploded ideas (such as Marxism and neo-Marxism) against all evidence. Who is training the teachers and writing the curriculum that have gutted our young peoples’ education and deprived us of our knowledge base? Who is denying that there is such thing as truth or goodness? Who is denying the existence of beauty and purposefully making art that defies the canons of classical aesthetics? Most common “folks” have better sense. So I agree with the author in lamenting the dumbing down of our culture. But until not just the “common people” but the intellectual elites who need to change their thinking.
About Gene Veith
Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.