Ignorance Chic

Americans don’t celebrate stupidity - we glorify ignorance.

All I wanted was to do was hit one more bucket of balls before Indian Canyon Golf Course closed for the season. I’m what’s known as a “regular” down there on the end of the range, where head professional Gary Lindablad holds court. This day, Sunday, the range was almost deserted. Just me and the man to my left, maybe 20 feet away. I had never seen him before.

As I lifted my five-iron from the bag and gathered my thoughts for this one last go on the driving range, another man walked over for a chat. He wanted to know what I was going to write about this week. “Well,” I said, as I waggled the five-iron, “I don’t know. I’m sick of this campaign, and anyway the election will be over by the time the issue comes out, but not over by my deadline. I’ll think of something.”

A few words about my swing, three or four more shots, my friend bid me goodbye and walked to his car. I hit the remaining few balls, worked on my follow-through and prepared to leave the course for the last time this season.

Then, out of the blue came the entirely uninvited: “I overheard you.” I turned toward the man who had been hitting balls a few yards away.

“Overheard what?” I asked. “You said that you write a column.” “Well, yes, I do. I write two columns a month for The Inlander.”

“What’s your name?” he inquired. I told him, and he said something like, “I think I’ve seen your stuff.”

I continued walking towards my car.

But he wasn’t done: “I’m a political junkie,” he said, and then continued, “…that Obama, he must have thought that everyone agreed with his policies.” He followed with a grimace, which implied that he thought we were on the same page. I said something about most people not knowing enough about Obama’s policies to have an opinion.

That did it.

He re-sized me up — we weren’t on the same page after all — and immediately launched into a tirade about how educated people (like me?) think all the Tea Party people, like him, are stupid.

He then blurted something about how all elites misconstrue the Constitution. “Do you know,” he said, “that Jefferson didn’t write anything in the Constitution about the separation of church and state? He only mentions it in a letter somewhere.”

“Actually,” I responded as I shuffled on, “Jefferson didn’t write anything about anything into the Constitution — he wasn’t even at the convention. But, yes, the Constitution does address the separation of church and state.”

“Oh, yeah, where?” he demanded to know. “The First Amendment,” I answered. Then he read right off Christine O’Donnell’s script: “It’s in the First Amendment?”

“Yes,” I said, “the very first line in that amendment opens with, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…”

“See, he didn’t use the word ‘separation.’”

I could have gotten into the meaning of words, the 14th Amendment, the “Incorporation Doctrine.” Ah, what was the use? This man was too busy waving his “Proud To Be Ignorant” flag to listen.

It was right about then that the idea came to me. How about a sequel to the 1966 bizarro party Lenny Bernstein and his wife Felicia threw in their Manhattan apartment for the Black Panthers?

This party became the subject of Tom Wolfe’s 1970 New Yorker article “Radical Chic.” All the good liberal Manhattan people were invited. Otto Preminger, Barbara Walters — you get the social drift.

White guilt, meet black rage. So cool!

Now when it comes to White Ignorance, I have zero White Guilt, so I regrouped sufficiently to end things with: “No, I don’t think you Tea Party people are necessarily stupid, but I do think that almost all of you are unforgivably and willfully ignorant.”

And that’s the idea. A party for the “Proud To Be Ignorant” set. It’s become “in” to be ignorant — the Radical Chic of our times. We could even invite Wolfe to come and write a sequel.

“Radical Chic” was all about black rage and white guilt enjoying a friendly evening of chitchat, while sipping Armadale Vodka martinis and munching on “little Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts.” Lenny and Felicia were up to big-time relevancy.

We want to be relevant, too, so why not call our party “Ignorance Chic”? It will be all about the White Exploitation of White Ignorance. Our guest list will include all the usual luminaries off the White Ignorance list, starting, of course, with Sarah Palin. We can look forward to hearing her sage views on bombing Iran and “manning up” and having big cojones. And what would any Ignorance Chic party be without the king of White Ignorance, Glenn Beck? We’ll ask Glenn to bring his chalkboard — he’s so entertaining when he draws those silly lines from one “progressive” conspiracy to another. We might also ask him to tear up. That’s his specialty.

Our White Exploiters guest list should include the likes of the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, Jim DeMint and that Tea Party godfather, Ron Paul. They’ll be required to suffer through the entire evening while pretending to take, oh so seriously, their Ignorant Chic creations.

Just as Lenny and Felicia and their White Guilt friends did that evening they spent with the Black Panthers. 

Hillyard Festival @ Hillyard

Aug. 6-8
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About The Author

Robert Herold

Robert Herold is a retired professor of public administration and political science at both Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University. Robert Herold's collection of Inlander columns dating back to 1995, Robert's Rules, is available at Auntie's.