Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is waging a holy war against higher education, and that war is being driven by the anti-intellectualism of conservative Christian extremists.
Walker, a college dropout and the son of a Baptist minister, is doing everything in his power to destroy one of America’s premier public universities, the University of Wisconsin.
Forbes reports on Walker’s attack on the University of Wisconsin:
First, back in January he proposed an enormous $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin’s budget, at a time when other state universities are finally recovering from the recession. Now he’s proposing to get rid of academic tenure, not only threatening faculty jobs but also destroying academic freedom for professors at the University of Wisconsin.
It is no secret that Walker is campaigning for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, and it seems clear his contempt for higher education is at least in part motivated by a cynical political calculation aimed directly at the anti-intellectualism of the conservative Christian extremists that make up the base of the Republican party.
Anyone familiar with the recent political landscape understands that the conservative Christian values that currently dominate the GOP all too often translate into anti-intellectual policies. From climate change denial to teaching creationism in public schools, the current GOP seems determined to reject intellectual and scientific progress while embracing extreme Christian dogma.
Walker is simply playing to the base by attacking higher education. Denigrating higher education is a familiar and well worn tactic of conservative Republicans.
As a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum gave voice to the fears of the anti-intellectual, conservative Christian, when he attacked proposals made by President Barack Obama to boost college enrollment.
Santorum claimed Obama was trying to “indoctrinate” students. Fearing that a college education may lead many students to abandon religious belief, Santorum lamented:
62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.
Santorum’s fears are the fears shared by many other religious conservatives. Yet while it may be true that after acquiring the critical thinking skills that come with a higher education many may abandon religious superstition, this fact speaks not to the poverty of education, but to the poverty of religious belief.
As for Walker, one thing is clear: His attempt to destroy the University of Wisconsin exemplifies the destructive and harmful effects of the anti-intellectualism embraced by many conservative Christians, and poses a threat to the long term health and well-being of the nation.
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
― Isaac Asimov
(H/T Science on Religion)