Letter: Dumbing down?
Wednesday 17 March 1999
America is plagued by anti-intellectualism. As a former politician there, I can attest to an active disdain for higher education except among the committed few, who are often chided for their privilege and elitism. In most political circles, campaigning for funds for higher education was seen as a waste of money that could be better spent on roads or tax breaks for businesses. I even know of one person who ran for office on the platform that there were too many "educated" people in government, making it unrepresentative of the public at large.
This anti-intellectualism reduces political discourse to personal jabs, and limits policy to short-term, simplistic, populist proposals. The evangelists of the religious right fare well in a society with few analytic, evaluative skills.
I have been endlessly impressed with the level of debate and discourse in England. There is a much higher level of awareness of world events, history, and culture. This is as true of taxi drivers as it is of my colleagues. America often serves as a warning for cultural trends to avoid.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Interstellar: What we know about Christopher Nolan's new film so far
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth sent home in double firing
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt stars in visceral and brutally ugly drama that reminds us war is hell
Benedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours: 'I probably shouldn't be saying this'
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are