Now that the impending birthdays in the Cope family have all been milked to whatever extent I can milk them (for this year, at any rate), it's high time to return to the fundamental dichotomy that is ripping the very fabric of human endeavor to tatters. I refer to the dichotomy between smart people and stupid people, or as I call it, the dichotomy between liberals and conservatives. Some would call it the unbridgeable divide between Democrats and Republicans, but I am not prepared to take it to that extreme. First, we must acknowledge that not all Republicans are idiots, nor are all Democrats geniuses. Indeed, while most smart Republicans have left their party behind and now consider themselves independents, there are a handful of relatively bright people who—either as a result of 1) their bizarre and twisted upbringing, or 2) their abnormal pig-headedness—still insist on calling themselves "Republicans." Furthermore, I've personally known one or two stupid Democrats in my day. (One was accidentally trampled by excited grunge music enthusiasts in Seattle, and the other eventually switched parties.) Secondly and more relevantly: All nations are comprised of both smart people and stupid people, undoubtedly in the same proportions as the U.S. Yet while those countries may be split between liberals and conservatives just as ours is, foreigners rarely call themselves "Democrats" and "Republicans"—formal designations that are as identifiable with the American zeitgeist as, say, jazz and jello wrestling, and to the same relative degrees of intellectual depth. As it is evident to me that the Great Threat of our age boils down to the plague of stupid acts being committed by stupid people—be they stupid Iraqis, stupid Afghans, stupid Chinese, stupid Brits, stupid Americans, etc.—for the purposes of this particular conversation, let us restrict our terminology to stupid conservatives rather than confining ourselves to these shores by making it a matter of stupid Republicans. The whole world is in this together, whether or not some can fathom that reality.
At this point, let us take a short breather while the Republican readers catch up.
You may have guessed that I initiate this discussion at present because of the announcement last month of highly scientific data that proves, indisputably, what liberals have know all along—that conservatives aren't as smart as liberals. To be precise, the study results demonstrate that our conservative neighbors are slow to assimilate information that doesn't conform to their expectations, and David Amodio (NYU psychologist and primary author of the work) was careful to stipulate that these results in no way indicate that liberals are smarter than conservatives—only that liberals adapt more readily to what their senses are telling them.
Certainly, if it makes you feel nicer, do go ahead and think of conservatives as being "otherly wired" or "more sluggishly inclined" or whatever. I will continue to interchange "conservative" and "stupid." How better can stupidity be characterized, I would argue, than "that feller's about three cognitive steps shy of a full comprehension."
We must ask ourselves, though, why any of this matters. "So what?" you cry. "There have always been stupid people, yet we've managed to come this far. Hasn't most of history been the entwined narratives of smart people dealing with the consequences of stupidity, and stupid people undoing the accomplishments of smart people?"
Of course. But rarely have the consequences of stupidity been so potentially devastating as they are in this modern era, and never before have stupid people been so well-equipped for undoing the accomplishments of smart people. If you doubt this, just consider the damage one demented moron with a nuclear weapon could do—or his own "news" outlet, should that demented moron happen to be Rupert Murdock. To compound the horror, witness what ruination organized networks of demented morons—e.g., al-Qaida or the Bush administration—can bring upon us. It's enough to make one question whether smart people will ever recover from the blows these epically stupid people have dealt civilization.
But recover they must, for as stupid as the situation is at present, it could always get stupider. One such potential escalation in the battle to see who can be the stupidest was on vivid display to my wife and me as we manned the Ada County Democrats tent at this year's Hyde Park Fair. A fellow who, even from 10 yards out, was easily recognized as a man just itching to tell someone what he thought, approached the booth and announced his favorite Democrat was Harry Truman.
And why, sir, is that? Because Harry Truman dropped the bomb on those Jap bastards, that's why! And you know what else? For every American killed by those Arab bastards, we should blow one of their goddam temples or whatever they're called to smithereens! That'd show 'em!
See what I mean? Even more alarming, there is no way my imagination can stretch far enough to believe this particular demented moron came up with his plan all by himself. We have all seen that it's common among stupid people to simply repeat what they hear other stupid people say, as that is so much easier than burning up what few intellectual resources they possess on original thought. So I am convinced he adopted the idea, possibly from someone with a radio talk show. Or maybe an opinion column in The National Review. I wouldn't even be surprised to learn there is an entire network of people who believe such a stupid thing is the answer we've been looking for in the Middle East.
I wanted so badly to ask the man how he would react were his place of worship blown to smithereens as a generic response to something others had done, but he'd made the only point he had within him to make and was off, striding away with jaw thrust forward.
It would have been futile anyway, yes? Had the man been smart enough to grasp the rhetorical nature of such a question, he wouldn't have taken such a stupid position in the first place. And while it's clear to anyone with a brain in their head that such a stupid, brutal act would only incite more stupidity and brutality from the stupid conservatives on the Muslim side, smart people must come to grips with the reality that this is what all stupid people yearn for—more and more and more stupidity. After all, it's the only thing they're good at.