Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Intelligence in America

My favorite thing about Barack Obama is how smart he is. Honestly, I think that he's great because of the hope and the integrity and all that, but I really do believe that all that stuff is really just a function of his intelligence. People keep talking about how his speech was risky and brave...I don't agree. I think that once that speech began to form in his mind he lost all fear of how it would 'play out,' because he knew that he could write a speech that was exactly what the country needed to hear. Not many people can do that.

I've been scanning the news and the blogs for reactions to his speech, and I kept stumbling across some really kooky shit. We've got the people who got it. But, then, you've got people who say unintentionally ironic things like "He avoided the real issue, which is the comments of Rev. Wright" (paraphrasing an NPR commentator my boss told me about today). Or the people who continue to try to make an issue of Rev. Wright, by saying things like:

"The more I think about what was actually said in Obama's speech, the more infuriated I am. As if I, as a white person, have something to answer for when it is OBAMA that's been mentored by a hate mongering racist!"

Okay, that was a little unfair. Who knows who that fucking guy was, I found that in the comments section of some random thing. BUT it illustrates my point, which is that when you have someone making speeches this intelligent (more importantly, when the President of the country makes all his speeches and decisions with this level of intelligence), it casts a much-needed light on the intelligence of everyone else. Valuing ideas for their intelligence has become pretty rare in our public discourse--or, if not rare, warped beyond recognition.

So when I hear people talk about Obama, it's amazing. It's like I've got a heat-seeking radar for intelligence: Wow, she's smart. Wow, he's a moron. Smart. Moron. Moron. Smart. And to be honest, I'm a bit surprised at times. Like Huckabee, who I had assumed (due primarily to my own bias towards the religious community, it's worth noting) was a complete idiot, had some pretty intelligent and open-minded things to say on the issue of Rev. Wright.

Valuing intelligence is very important. I'm not saying that stupid people should be deported or anything like that--most of these people are not even really stupid, they're just saying stupid things (and who can blame them? Saying stupid things has made many a lucrative career in this country). Many (MANY) of the things that are wrong with the country and furthermore with the world can be attributed to people just not thinking. If we put people's ability to think intelligently back in the spotlight, not only will those ideas with the most merit rise to the top, but those aspects of our collective stupidity that are largely self-imposed (choosing not to think as opposed to not being able to) will begin to right themselves. That makes me excited, for sure.

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