By Manifesto Joe
I will preface by saying that I don't think Americans are inherently more stupid than any other nationality. Stupidity is something that seems to know no boundaries of nation or group. Daily reading of the international pages of newspapers offers ample evidence of that.
But American stupidity seems less forgivable than that found in other places, because of affluence. And, ironically, it appears that much domestic ignorance is rooted in that very affluence.
Oh, there's certainly a sizable underclass in America. Somebody born to a crack whore for a mother, and who doesn't know who his or her father is, probably doesn't stand much of a chance, decent public schools or not. Income inequality is probably a big factor. And, I can't say that I grew up affluent, at least not by American standards.
But, the middle-class Americans I have known grew up largely taking plenty for granted that can't be taken so elsewhere. Among those things seem to be even the most modest intellectual achievements. Middle-class Americans often grow up complacent, with computer games and Smartphones, generally believing that there will always be "brains" out there who will manage to devise such things. Never mind where they came from. Affluence seems to furnish a path to intellectual laziness.
As Exhibit C, I will offer the findings of Newsweek, which gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. citizenship test. Candidates for citizenship are given a random list of 10 questions from among 100 included in the full test, and they have to get six of them right to pass.
Some 38% of Americans who took that test failed, including 29% who couldn't name the current vice president, and 73% who couldn't correctly say why we fought the Cold War.
I took the test with a sample of 20 questions, and got 18 of them right. I suppose that's very good, but as a career journalist with over three decades of experience, I should have gotten them all. What did I miss? I guessed that there were 26 constitutional amendments, rather than 27, and I named power to regulate interstate commerce as one of the original powers that the Constitution gives the federal government (that didn't come until later).
Here's a link to an article on the subject, and you can also take a version of the test here.
The big problem here is that a lot of those among the 38% who fail are voters. Are these people you want making civic decisions? I'll leave you to ponder that question.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.