The dumbing down of America
Dan Tackett – November 11, 2021
I enjoy reading opinion pieces in the newspaper. Sometimes I agree with the writer; other times I disagree. Whatever, I think it’s good to understand the varying viewpoints of the day.
One of my favorite columnists is Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. He definitely leans to the left, but more importantly, he leans heavily on common sense. Last month, he nailed it with a column about the dumbing down of America, only Robinson framed it into a more blistering description. He expressed his personal fear the country is quickly diving into “lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy. How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb?”
He cited what he believes are clear examples of a dumb America, including Congress too often flirting with economic chaos and disaster, all in the name of politics, to the large segment of citizens who deny science and ignore some 700,000 deaths to preach against the evils of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Evidently, some folks on the loonier side of reality read Robinson’s column and set out to give him even more and stronger proof we as a country are going bonkers. I’m referring to two recent news stories, one involving QAnon believers waiting for the dead to return in Dallas and the other, an attack by right-wing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas against Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Yes, you read that last part correctly; you can’t make things like this up.
First, the QAnon tale. I will tell you truthfully, even though I’ve heard the term “QAnon” many times on the news, I’m still a bit puzzled by what it is. Is it a group? An individual? I turned to Wikipedia for its take, which describes QAnon as “a far-right conspiracy theory and movement centered on false claims made by an anonymous individual or individuals, known by the name ‘Q,’ that a cabal of Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles operate a global child sex trafficking ring that conspired against former president Donald Trump during his term in office. QAnon has been described as a cult.
“One shared belief among QAnon members is that Trump was planning a massive sting operation on the cabal, with mass arrests of thousands of cabal members to take place on a day known as The Storm.’ QAnon supporters have baselessly accused many Hollywood actors, Democratic politicians, and high-ranking government officials of being members of the cabal.”
If you are still scratching your head, still wondering what QAnon is, sorry, I can’t offer more understanding than the Wikipedia explanation. What happened in recent days in Dallas, Texas, has truly skewed my viewpoint of the mysterious group far into the Twilight Zone.
A group of QAnon disciples gathered in Dallas to await the promised Nov. 2 return of John F. Kennedy Jr.
QAnon had promised its many followers that JFK Jr. was returning to Dealey Plaza, where his father, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated, to declare Donald Trump president of the United States. Not only that, Trump intended to name JFK Jr. as his vice president.
There was a minor problem with QAnon’s visions. JFK Jr. died in a plane accident in 1999. As such, he indeed was a no-show at the Dallas rally.
But visions and conspiracy theories don’t die easily. Followers who expressed mild disappointment that JFK Jr. never appeared were now clinging to a new vision by their leadership, that Junior would suddenly make his appearance on July 4.
Other disciples took a more – dare I say it – outlandish path. They embraced the theory that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones is actually JFK Jr. That made good sense to those embracing this theory. After all, Richards and the Stones were in Dallas for a concert on that very date. It might be just too much of a coincidence to ignore, don’t you think? Well …
So much for the Kennedys, Rolling Stones and QAnon. Let’s take flight to the controversy Ted Cruz hatched up over Big Bird, that sweet, loveable, canary-yellow critter from Sesame Street.
Big Bird and his Sesame Street pals Elmo and Oscar the Grouch have been part of an outreach effort that included a town hall on CNN on Saturday morning — the Muppets’ sixth such special since the pandemic began. Afterward, Big Bird tweeted: “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy.”
That may have assured Big Bird’s young followers, but it lit a fire under Ted Cruz. The Republican Texas senator called it “government propaganda for your 5-year-old.” The “government propaganda” claim apparently was a reference to Sesame Workshop receiving a small amount of its budget in the form of government grants.
But gee whiz, doesn’t the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, both publicly funded agencies, rely almost exclusively on government funding? And, aren’t both groups highly involved in promoting vaccinations against COVID-19? For the sake of goodness, Senator, give the beloved Big Bird a break. Shame on you!
No matter how ridiculous Cruz’s attack seems, it nonetheless received support from the right-wing media. Said Fox News host Lisa Boothe: “Brainwashing children who are not at risk from COVID. Twisted.”
And this from Seattle conservative radio host Jason Rantz: “Big Bird is spreading misinformation. He didn’t get the vaccine. He’s lying.”
To which, I respond by repeating Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson’s words: “How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb?”