In the course of an interview discussing Rick Perry’s intellect, Richard Dawkins suggested a possibility I’ve often thought about, and indeed written about: namely, that the little men pulling levers and pushing buttons behind the curtain of Republican political theater are trying deliberately to make their public representatives look stupid, ignorant, and incapable of understanding basic logic …
When I first wrote about this, I was talking about the persona Gretchen Carlson adopts for her show with Steve Doocy. She pretends to be a stereotypically stupid, ignorant, naive, wide-eyed blonde. In fact, she’s well-above-average smart, and she’s been well educated at prestigious universities in California and England. You might or might not think she’s pretty. You might or might not like her actual social and political principles, assuming you had some way of knowing what they are. But you have to admit she’s a good actress.
So the real question is why she’s being asked to play this role: a smart, well-educated woman pretending to be a brainless bimbo. Why does Fox News, propaganda agent of the Republican Party, want one of their on-screen “personalities” to seem this sarcastically stupid and gullible? My suggestion at the time (I’ll try to find it) was that they must think her persona is one with which a great number of their viewers will identify. Here’s the rationale:
“The majority of our viewers are themselves stupid, ignorant, naive, and gullible. So they’ll certainly be drawn to identify with the imaginary brainless ‘Gretchen Carlson’, who’s just like them except prettier.”
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OK. Forget that. As I said, Dawkins articulated it more gracefully and with a nastier twist of the dagger. From Alternet:
In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
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