Some recent letters deal with anti-intellectualism in America. Anti-intellectualism is a backlash against what is perceived to be academic elitism or favoring practicality over pure intellectual pursuits. That is: negative feelings against experts, academics, scientists, freethinkers, philosophers, and artists of all types, with more favorable feelings toward those who actually do work such as craftsmen, doctors, soldiers, shopkeepers, etc. There is a certain populist notion that practical work has more value than pure ideas.
Mr. James McAfee’s letter justifiably praises the workingman that built this country with sweat; but as letter writers David Busse and Lee Pitzer point out, our nation was founded by intellectual elites using Enlightenment era ideals.
Anti-intellectualism is evident in the emotional populism that Trump used to its fullest in his campaign to get votes from a right-wing base. Using emotion rather than evidence based consensus from those who actually study and work in science and international relations, Trump threatened to back out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and other international treaties and agreements. He even expressed the desire to get rid of the Department of Education, perhaps the height of anti-intellectualism. Trump prides himself on not reading much and does not attend daily intelligence briefings. Ignorance is not bliss.
A distrust of scientists, academics, and experts in their fields; and lack of critical thinking by the general population and politicians will result in America losing its world leadership position to nations who do value their intellectual capital.
Make America Smart Again!
Paul Neff, O’Fallon