In 2009 a wonderful book was published, titled “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.” It was written by a fellow called Charles P. Pierce, who is enviably described in Wikipedia as “an American sportswriter, political blogger, author, and game show panelist.” Life is good.
This fine book, which I enthusiastically recommend, describes in detail a phenomenon I’ve decried since the prehistoric era of Ronald Reagan’s presidency – that a terrifyingly large number of Americans are convinced that persons and institutions dedicated to knowledge, expertise, proof, and fact are not to be trusted as guideposts for forming opinions on the critical issues of the day. Instead, the ignorant, uninformed and prejudiced — notably preachers, crackpots, charlatans, loudmouths and actors — have replaced learned men and women as reliable experts on any and all issues facing the republic.
The triumph of willful ignorance over knowledge nails shut the coffin on the very movement that gave birth to America in the first place – the Enlightenment – and it’s not only the province of the bellowing blowhards found on talk radio, cable news and in the slimiest corners of social media. It’s running amuck in the halls of our nation’s government in Washington DC, as well as in state houses, town halls, schools and homes from coast to coast. And, if left unchecked, it will be the death of America too.
Despite ample reason for suspicion, in the end, America is still a democracy of sorts. The American people do, regrettably in ever-dwindling numbers, still vote, and that vote still determines much of how our country is governed. The truth is, contrary to what you may hear on AM radio, we do still largely govern ourselves. But, as our beloved Founding Fathers sagely pointed out at the dawn of the union, self-government is a complex and precious and fragile process; it’s not a plaything for ham-handed idiots to toy with. The problem being, even in America self-governance DEMANDS an intelligent, educated, sensible citizenry, lest we end up destroyed by laws we cannot enforce, injustices we cannot remedy, wars we cannot win, debts we cannot repay, and other self-inflicted wounds we cannot heal. Government of the idiot, by the idiot, for the idiot, shall most certainly perish from the earth, and doubtless not a moment too soon either.
But the noble experiment in equality and freedom that is America need not be slain by a relentless onslaught of self-congratulatory ignorance. Not if people of sound mind and good character fight back against the forces of stupidity, superstition and lies. That’s why American Slander was created. It’s a weapon in the war against intelligence. It’s a soapbox for the progressive, the radical and the rebel to make their voice heard. It’s a haven for the educated, the innovative and the creative during these dark days of our wounded nation. And it’s a line in the sand where this country’s forces of willful ignorance must give pause. They shall not pass.
American Slander has coalesced around six basic themes we see as critical to the long-term health and safety of America. They are learning, progress, justice, empathy, creativity and beauty. We hope to convey these themes through the vehicles of knowledgeable exposition, activist journalism, satirical fiction, radical argument, and provocative art.
American Slander will be a vehicle for new voices and visions that celebrate diversity in gender, race, class, sexual orientation and more, open to many modes and methods of expression. But the cement that binds the many, disparate pieces and personalities of American Slander together will be a ruthless adherence to a belief in the intellectual and moral superiority of progressive ideals, held fast by an unwavering opposition to the bullies, loudmouths, fear-mongers, bigots and death-dealers that belch mindless filth into the American public discourse, the sheer volume of whose idiocy lessens American intelligence, poisons American minds, weakens America’s defining principles, erodes America’s sense of morality and decency, and threatens America’s future.
We intend the core audience of American Slander to be people of good will, with open minds, free spirits and a yearning for a better future. We plan to deliver to that audience thoughtful and at times controversial discussion, as many constructive ideas as we can write down or conjure up, and inspiring expressions of creativity and beauty. We dearly hope to motivate our audience to fight for a better future, armed with a sense of progressive optimism, righteous indignation and implacable purpose.
We realize of course that American Slander will not be able to articulate solutions to all of America’s monumental problems. We’re only too aware our goals are ambitious and our resources meager, and that our enemies are organized, well-funded and really, really loud. Sometimes we may fall into cynicism and pessimism, especially when the forces of ignorance gain ground in the war for America’s hearts and minds. But we shall remain committed to the fight to keep moving America forward, into a future that embodies a true manifestation of our nation’s awesome potential. Into a future built on thoughtful, intelligent, progressive principles, not on willful, self-congratulatory idiocy.
On a purely personal note, I’ll just add that I’ve been involved in this sort of grass roots advocacy for reason over ignorance for many, many years. The seed was planted for me in reaction to the trickle-down idiocy of Ronald Reagan, and it grew to full flower during the darkest days of the international bloodbath that was the presidency of the idiot boy-king George W. Bush. I’ve had more than my share of ups and down along the way, mostly downs it often seems. But I’m ever the optimist, and American Slander is the latest manifestation of my relentless desire to keep American moving on a path toward a righteous future. Truth be told, I simply can’t help it; my thirst to make America a better place is unquenchable. Let’s hope yours is too.
I wrote this post long before the 2016 election of Donald Trump. My friends, despite our best efforts, Idiot America has won.