dumb Americans

sarah palin's political hit list

Though it’s not actually clear that Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC “targeting” of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, incited the gunman who shot her in the head at point-blank range earlier today, it is clear that a sizable portion of the population in Arizona is bat-shit crazy.

A reader of Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish reported overhearing the following conversation shortly after word of the shooting began to spread through Tucson:

I am standing in the aisle at Costco when I found out my Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, has been shot dead up on the north side.

While I’m scrambling with my phone, two couples in front of me are talking about it and suddenly I hear one of the women say, “Well, that’s to be expected when you’re so liberal.”

And the other woman says, “Ohh, so we get to appoint a Republican?”

I did not trust myself to speak. I’m a Soldier. Please remind me what country I am fighting for? At least seven people are dead. She happens to be the only member of Congress married to an active duty military — he’s a Navy officer serving as an astronaut.

Giffords herself, in a eerie moment of prescience, about the dangers brewing in her state during the midterm elections that inspired Palin to “target” Democrats in close races had this to say,

“They really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up, and, you know, even things for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. When people do that, you gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

A friend, (via my late husband) who lives in Tucson, had this to say about the shooting when someone asked her why she was worried that Democrats would retaliate,

“Because that is why she got shot. Not because she is a Dem, it is the issues. She supports liberal immigration views and most of AZ does not. She supports the healthcare reform and many are violently against it. The border of Mexico is very close to Tucson and many shots have been fired over this already, just never on a public figure. They have put other politicians and figures under protective custody on both sides of the debate.”

It’s the issues, stupid.

But not really. They claim it’s about immigration and being forced to go along with health care reform, but it’s heart is that the American Dream – built on unlimited acquisition and unsustainable upward mobility, whose heart is unlimited acquisition – is gone.

Not that it – the Dream – ever really existed. The whole thing was the ultimate cliché, a house of cards built on a sandy beach. But those in the middle bought in and those just below them were semi-content to pretend that with the right pair of straps on their boots they could move up too, and the illusion took root and grew in soil that has long since played out.

This last decade oversaw the last gasp and the bitch known as “payback” has moved in for good.

Because the shooter is in custody, his MySpace page and YouTube vids shutdown, it’s unlikely that the public will ever really know the truth. Which serves both sides. The GOP and Fox News can claim that he was a disturbed individual and that their courting of the lunatic fringe known as The Tea Party had nothing to do with the attempted assassination of Giffords, the death of an Arizona judge or the snuffing of an innocent nine-year old girl, while the Democrats can underplay and conciliate, letting their own liberal loony lap-dog fringe scream and cry conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the people, who have no fucking idea of what is really going on, will take uneducated sides and continue to give away their rights and trust in the wrong people. They have spent so much of the last couple of decades blindly rubber stamping the theft of their freedom that they haven’t any idea where they actually stand on the playing field anymore.

Immigration and health care are distractions. There are real, credible threats afoot, and it’s the people who are fiddling among the burning ruins of an America that never existed in the first place. It’s hard not to admire the brilliance and scope of what is going on, even while recognizing that something wicked continues its inevitable march our way.

I guess the revolution might be tweeted after all.

Twenty-five per cent of Americans don’t know that the United States won its independence from Great Britain according to a poll conducted by Marist University this last Independence Day weekend.

The Marist poll asked just one question: “On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day.  From which country did the United States win its independence?”

And though 74 per cent of Americans were able to give the correct answer, a disappointing 26 per cent didn’t know with the majority of them saying they were “unsure” of the correct answer.

And those who guessed incorrectly? From whom did they believe Americans liberated themselves?

China. Spain. France. Japan. Mexico.

It gets a bit worse.

Those folks who knew the correct answer were mainly white, earning over $50,000 a year and male. People in the northeast knew their American history better than those in the south (no surprise as they have always been revisionists), and people under 29 would probably benefit from a Wii version of the American Revolution because they were most likely to not know that the United States fought against Great Britain in the epic revolution that led to the holiday we so love to celebrate every July.

Another public education failure?


I don’t really buy into the idea that America was ever a nation of Rhodes Scholars who’ve been dumbed down over recent decades thanks to a fiendish conspiracy of elementary school teachers and a steady diet of insipid television programming.

We were all quite dumb to begin with.

Over the last decade, the study of civics and history of any kind has taken a back seat to those subject areas that are most heavily tested like math and reading. Because only a few subject areas count in the standardized testing game, those that aren’t get shorted. Civics and American history aren’t make or break tests in determining whether a school is a success or failure. When your school’s reading or math scores can push you into a turnaround, that’s where the time and effort goes.

It could also be a byproduct of our television and movies that “re-imagine” historical events with more attention to the entertainment aspect than the facts, and the sad reality that we are a culture of now. If it happened yesterday or last week, it’s old news. In a world were everything is tweeted and updated within seconds, how can anything that happened over 230 years ago matter?

Our public school system came to be not just as a way to warehouse children once they were no longer put to hard labor the moment they could fetch and carry. It existed with the intent of producing a literate citizenry able to participate as members of a democracy. Our nation’s history and the rights and duties of its population were as important to the curriculum as the 3 R’s.

When I was in middle school, I learned some of my American history watching cartoons on Saturday morning. Schoolhouse Rock cartoons ran in between shows and regaled me and my peers with ditties designed to teach us about the American Revolution, The Constitution and how bills became laws. Simple? Yes.  Effective? Very. Over thirty years later, I can still sing along with most of the tunes.

Schoolhouse Rock should remind us that it takes a village to teach our children well, but the first step towards ensuring that future generations are less ignorant about America’s roots might be the unshackling of public education from mindless testing and allowing teachers to get back to all the basics.