3 years ago: Empathy and epistemic closure

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.

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  • Nirrti

    I see the Tea Party people as tools corporatists manipulate to retain the status quo in their favor. The sad part is most of these TP people do have access to good schools unlike so many of my fellow people of color. And they willfully refuse to take advantage of it all the while scapegoating us by saying we’re the ones who don’t care about education. We may not have access to the best educational resources but we sure as hell know better than to support people who don’t have our best interests.