April 30, 2010, on this blog: Empathy and epistemic closure
It is widely regarded as impolite, or uncharitable, or counterproductive to speak of this egregious stupidity. To call it what it clearly is is considered “condescending.”
But to view this as condescending is to misunderstand and misrepresent the stupidity of the tea partiers as something both innate and intractable. It is neither.
These stupid people do not have to be stupid. Their stupidity is a choice, an act of will. Or, rather, an ongoing series of acts of will. And their only hope for liberation is for them to make better choices — to choose to see what can be seen if only they would stop actively choosing not to see it. To choose, among other things, to be receptive to empathy.
The stupidity of the tea partiers has nothing to do with innate intelligence or with acquired intelligence. It has nothing to do with smartness or brainpower or where anyone falls on the bell curve of Stanford-Binet test scores. It is, rather, a moral stupidity — the inevitable intellectual consequence of a selfish refusal to listen to what empathy is shouting from all sides.