NYU Professor: ‘Willful Blindness To Inconvenient Facts’ Has Led To A Republican ‘Culture Of Stupidity’

Posted on Fri 02/19/2016 by

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Tom Johnson picture-58-1409692124By Tom Johnson ~

A famous T-shirt of the early 1990s featured Bart Simpson’s message that he was an underachiever “and proud of it, man!” Such shirts would be fitting garb for the many Republicans who squander their brainpower for ideological reasons, implied NYU public-policy professor Mark Kleiman in a Wednesday Washington Monthly blog post.

Mark Kleiman_0“I doubt that Republican office-holders or voters have, on average, lower IQs than their Democratic counterparts,” wrote Kleiman. (pictured) “But there’s a deeper kind of stupidity that involves not only willful blindness to inconvenient facts…but active celebration of that blindness…When that sort of rejoicing in folly becomes an accepted social practice within a group, it is fair to say that the group has a culture of stupidity.”

From Kleiman’s post (bolding added):

If intended literally, references to the GOP as “the stupid party” are just nasty snark. I doubt that Republican office-holders or voters have, on average, lower IQs than their Democratic counterparts. Ted Cruz, for example, would seem to be roughly on a par, in sheer brainpower, with Barack Obama.

But there’s a deeper kind of stupidity that involves not only willful blindness to inconvenient facts – a tendency never far from human nature – but active celebration of that blindness…When that sort of rejoicing in folly becomes an accepted social practice within a group, it is fair to say that the group has a culture of stupidity.

Which brings us back to Sen. Cruz, [who] went aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown for a national-security speech, which included the following remarkable sentence.

The last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments — or providing gluten-free MREs.

The political point of the exercise, of course, was to make fun of “political correctness” and “social experiments.”

…[The term “political correctness”] is designed to make a virtue…appear to be a vice. “Social experiments,” as used now, means integrating women and LGBT people into military service, as it once meant integrating African-Americans. In each case, the idea was to present an obvious act of justice as a risky venture.

It’s not hard to understand why some speechwriter – or perhaps Cruz himself – thought “gluten-free MREs” was a good punchline. “Gluten-free” has indeed become a rather silly food-label fad…

However…about 1% of the U.S. white population…suffers from celiac disease, and an unknown but probably larger share of the population suffers from other gluten-sensitivity conditions.

If you have the misfortune to suffer from one of these disorders, a gluten-free diet isn’t a joke, it’s a necessity…Given that the military buys MREs by the carload and can easily get them made to any set of specifications, it seems obvious that, where logistically possible, gluten-sensitive servicemembers should be given food that is healthy for them to eat.

Again, Sen. Cruz is plenty smart enough, in the IQ sense, to be able to figure that out…[But] within the current culture of the Republican Party he will likely pay no political price for his blunder.

And that, my friends, is stupid.

Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.

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