Paul Neff defines the current of anti-intellectualism as a backlash against academic elitism and reminds us that our Founding Fathers were versed in the teachings of the Age of Enlightenment. But herein lies a two-edged sword, for the Enlightenment brought about the successes of the American Revolution, the fallout of the Industrial Revolution and the failings of both the French and Marxist Revolutions.
So we do well to be skeptical of the “marvels” handed to us by some intellectuals. The French deferred drafting a Constitution while they rooted out the enemies of the state as thousands of people went to their deaths without the protection of due process. Some Marxists themselves were forced to flee for their lives as the Revolution began to feed on itself while the citizenry were left behind to die.
Nor is Neff’s lamentation on anti-intellectualism new. Forty years ago physicist and writer Jacob Bronowski was saddened by a trend in the west of what he characterized as a “terrible loss of nerve,” a retreat from knowledge into mystery. The trend has continued as the children of Woodstock and the New Age have found their ways into the Halls of Academia, Congress and the White House. Herein lies the real source of the backlash toward such agencies as the Department of Education where we have seen a dumbing down of our schools, revisionist history and dubious social engineering.
Mark Godwin, Lebanon