This post had been at least partly inspired by a post by David Price entitled Wilful Ignorance And The Contempt Of Expertise. The title is fairly self-explanatory. In the post David talks about the rise of politicians like Donald Trump and the misinformation in the Brexit campaign. He points to comments from Michael Gove like ‘the people of Britain have had enough of experts’. David further despairs, “How can blatant lie-telling and a contempt for facts appear to not only go unpunished, but in Trump’s case actually improve ratings?” Indeed so, it is troubling and speaks to the disconnect and outright rejection that many voters feel.
David’s next point is where I come in. “For people who work in education, or with knowledge, it’s hard to know how to counter the anti-expertise virus that is being intentionally spread by Trump, Gove, and the others. President Obama and John Oliver have recently placed their faith in satire.” While I’m a fan of John Oliver, I want to argue that for people who work in education and have a desire for our students and leaders of tomorrow to be globally aware citizens, we need to be aware of something far more sinister than the Trumps of this world. I’m talking about the ‘respectable’ face of anti-expertise, the mostly hidden but decidedly post-democratic, opaque face of anti–intellectualism. President Obama is their champion. Lets bounce.
Yes Donald Trump is an outrageous, boorish, mobile fact free zone. He touts himself as anti-elite and anti-politician, but of course he is one of the elite and shows himself to be consummate at the political game. But at least you know what he stands for, what he is about. What you see is what you get. He is easy to challenge. Far more dangerous is the rampant hypocrisy and lies of the charismatic, calm, reasoned leader of the free world.
This article from Consortium News is an excellent place to get an overview. Some questions that should be asked of the Obama administration:
Who calls into question the designation of Russia as the number 1 security threat to the United States and our military moves in its vicinity?
–Who queries when U.S. generals acquired the right to verbally declare war on foreign powers as has been done repeatedly by former NATO Commander General Philip Breedlove and his successor General Curtis Scaparrotti?
–Who points out that we have been aiding and abetting al-Qaeda in Syria for years – and asks ‘why?’
–How have we placed ourselves in the absurd position of the CIA facilitating the transfer of anti-aircraft ‘man-pads,’ and TOWs to al-Qaeda/al-Nusra while the U.S. Army is training and advising their Kurdish enemies in Northwestern Syria?
–Who asks why we have allowed the Islamic State to carry on a lucrative oil commerce to finance their operations without taking military action against it?
–Who examines in detail why we give Saudi Arabia and Turkey a free pass to succor both terrorist organizations?
–Who asks why have we participated tangibly in the destruction of Yemen while our enemies there – al-Qaeda and ISIL – exploit what we are doing to gain strength?
–Who demands that President Obama explain how he could declare the Afghan war over in a White House ceremony in December 2014 and now commit us to an open-ended fight on the ground?
–Who bothers to correct the record on our leaving Iraq in December 2011 to explain that we were told to leave by the duly constituted government of Mr. al-Maliki and had no choice?
–Who indicts the President for personally approving the CIA’s hacking into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee?
–Who has undertaken an investigation of the plotting that went into the secret drafting of the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty whose terms contravene principles of the Constitution?
–Who condemns the American orchestration of the coup in Ukraine?
–Who asks as to the American role in the Brazilian coup now revealed in published documents?
–Who strives to uncover why the Obama administration has committed us to spend $1 trillion on a massive upgrade of our nuclear arsenal when there is no stated or evident enemy and the logical implication is that “modernization” will produce a greater readiness to use the “bomb”?
This is for starters. The list of neglected domestic matters would be even longer. Engaging these issues ultimately is what free speech is all about.
I get angry when I see Obama rightly condemning the latest gun atrocity in his country and asking us to pray for the American lives lost. Call me cynical, but what about the civilians dying overseas from his weapons as he speaks. What about the people who, including Australians, lost loved ones in the MH17 atrocity? The US has long finished their report but won’t release it. Apparently it doesn’t fit the narrative that Russia did it, so too bad for families seeking some answers. Yes this list is just for starters, this would be a 100 page post if we attempted to document the utter contempt that the President has for transparent democratic government.
David Price pointed out that “One might hope, with Trump’s ratings plummeting, and both Gove and Johnson facing the end of their political ambitions, that such ridicule is working, and that, eventually, the truth will out”. But it will be a sliver of the truth; it will be the tip of the iceberg. The real enemy of a sense of belonging and connection and thus has implications for education itself, wears a mask of respectability and a cloak of peace.
“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”
If you have read this far thank you and well done.