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The return of intelligence

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It is time for intelligence to make a comeback.

Actually, let me rephrase that: It is time for America to again aspire to and value intelligence.

Somewhere along the way — and I think it was when Americans decided that “who’d you rather have a beer with” was a good way to choose a president — we lost our love and respect for intelligence and intelligent people.

Suddenly, instead of being revered and respected, intelligent people were the butt of jokes, a nuisance, the uppity know-it-all. “Regular people” became revered, while exceptionally smart people were shunned by Americans as a whole.

If you doubt this, forget the fact that we have elected some of the dumbest people imaginable to serve in Congress and our state legislatures, and just look at our entertainment.

TV is dominated by reality shows, allowing us to wallow in the day-to-day adventures of idiots who do increasingly more idiotic things. Our scripted series have moved away from making the smart people the hero and instead have turned him or her into the butt of the jokes.

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We used to laugh at the dummies, like Coach and Woody on “Cheers,” Chrissy on “Three’s Company,” Barney and Goober on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Ed Norton on “The Honeymooners” and Gilligan. Now, we laugh at the smart guys, make them out to be real losers for flaunting their intelligence and knowing stuff — people like Ross from “Friends” and Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory.”

This, of course, is how we ended up with a buffoon for president.

He was on TV for awhile, pretended to have a lot of money, said idiotic things out loud and connected with average people who also think the F-35 fighter plane is truly invisible.

This is America’s greatest failing: The devaluation of intelligence.

From telling kids (mainly the non-white ones) that it’s OK not to have college aspirations to telling adults that they’re entitled to state their idiotic opinions as facts so long as we pretend everything is an opinion, we have decided as a country that intelligence is overrated.

And we’ve done so for one simple reason: Attaining intelligence is hard and uncomfortable.

After all, it’s easy to say that rural Alabama hospitals are closing because of Obamacare, if that’s what you’d like to believe. It’s much harder to research the topic and learn that a combination of complicated issues are the cause of those closures — issues that indict both political parties and upend popular ideology on both sides.

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It’s easy to say we’ll stamp out terrorism through a wall and a religion ban. It’s harder to research the complicated and nuanced history that drives so many people, including Americans from two-parent, Christian homes, to slaughter innocent people.

So, we’ve taken the easy road.

We’ve accepted what we want to hear as fact, built our lives around it and then insulated ourselves from any source of information that might pop the bubble in which we live.

That is the only possible explanation for a president like Donald Trump or a potential U.S. Senate candidate like Roy Moore.  

Those who support and vote for such men could only do so if they receive their information through a filter. They could only do so if they live in a bubble so strong that it both protects from alternative sources and discredits any that might seep through.

The same can be said of the regular Americans who support the Republicans’ tax reform plan, which simultaneously cuts taxes on the wealthy while jacking up taxes on middle class Americans, cutting health care access and wiping out numerous deductions for small businesses and entrepreneurs. All because someone once slipped the phrase “trickle down” into the bubble.

We cannot continue on in this idiotic way.

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And that is not hyperbole.

The dumber you are, the more people take advantage of you and your families. The more you watch the Kardashians and the less you watch real news sources, the more likely you are to support idiotic legislation and hold extremely ignorant beliefs.

And it’s not OK.

We have more sources of information more readily available to everyone than at any point in the history of the world. You shouldn’t be dumb. You shouldn’t take pride in not knowing important things. And you shouldn’t dismiss those people who have taken the time to learn about the world in which we live.

It is time to reverse this. It is time for a bit of shame to be associated with ignorance. It is time for the smart guys to be the heroes again.

And it is time for intelligence to make a comeback.


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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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