By Denise Clay
While it won a lot of Oscars and got a lot of notice, I was never a really big fan of the movie “Forrest Gump.”
Sure, Tom Hanks did a good job in portraying Gump, a character who managed to do a whole lot with his life despite being more than a little slow on the draw. But sappy movies tend to wreck my nerves and let’s be honest; “Forrest Gump” was as sappy as they come. I sat through it at the movies because I went to see it with friends, but the rest of the times I’ve ever seen it, i’ve seen it for free and because nothing else was available to watch.
But while watching “Forrest Gump” sends me into insulin shock every time I do it, it did provide me with a line that I’ve found very useful. That line: ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’
That’s exactly what Forrest would have said had he been at Saturday’s “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally, one of two dueling gatherings held on Saturday to coincide with the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was designed to, and I’m not kidding, “take back the Civil Rights Movement”.
What made the premise of “Restoring Honor” so side-splittingly hilarious was that it was put on by a combination of Tea Party Folks, flat earthers, and these two Geniuses: Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.
In terms of a justification for having “Fool-A-Palooza” on the same Lincoln Memorial steps where King gave his ground-breaking speech, Beck said, and again I’m quoting here so you don’t think I’m making this up, that “Black people don’t own Martin Luther King.” The cherry and whipped cream of that argument being the appearance of King’s niece, Alveda, as part of his program. To see a really good take on her, I invite you to visit The Domino Theory, my friend Jeff Winbush’s blog, at www.jeffwinbush.com.
Now combining Beck, who got stuck in the character of Howard Beale from “Network” without having any of the late Peter Finch’s talent, Ms. King, who my friend Jeff describes as that crazy cousin that you can’t get away from at the family reunion; and Palin, whose most recent claim to her cult of personality was saying that Dr. Laura Schlessinger should “Reload” and fire off all of the “ni**ers” she didn’t say in the advice call that made her sponsors decide that they no longer wanted to pay for her fruit stand in the Marketplace of Ideas, gets you an event complete with some Class A stupid, complete with folks who wear T-shirts like “Obama is a socialist, fraud, liar and a racist bigot.”
Now I admit that I’m more than a little annoyed that Beck held Fool-A-Palooza on ground that is sacred to me as an African American because of what happened there, especially in light of the fact that a group of Muslims are being told that they shouldn’t be allowed to put a community center two blocks away from Ground Zero because of what happened there.
But what annoys me even more about this particular hoedown is that it’s yet another example of the fact that America has chosen to follow its fools, not marginalize them.
I was reading the August 25 entry in the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog from contributor Timothy Egan entitled “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings.” In his post, Egan talks about how folks are believing some pretty stupid hype in the form of “Obama’s not an American Citizen; he was born in Kenya”, “Obama’s a secret Muslim” “Michelle Obama took her kids and her friends to Spain on the people’s dime” and my personal favorite, “Obama bailed out the banks.”
As Egan points out, all of the above can be very easily proven as false. President Barack Obama’s birth certificate from Hawaii, which is still a state unless something’s changed in the last few days, has been requested so much that the Hawaiian government now refuses to show it to people. But if you really want to see it, it’s on the Internet. The Prez has proclaimed his Christianity on anything that is not a neon sign. Before she became First Lady, Michelle Obama was a vice president for the University of Chicago Hospital system. She’s got more than enough money to take folks to Spain.
As for the bank bailouts, that happened a full year before Sen. Obama became President Obama, so nice try there.
According to a study done by the Pew Center for the People and the Press, the fact that these falsehoods continue to be the coin of the realm stems from a willingness on the part of 46 percent of all Republicans (those who believe the “Obama is a Secret Muslim” lie) and 27 percent of all Republicans (those who believe the “Obama was born in Kenya” lie) to believe what they hear in the right-wing press.
Actually, I can’t blame the entire right-wing press. While news organizations like the Washington Times annoy me, they by and large report the facts.
I can, however, blame what I call the Asshat Media. That’s the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, and others of that ilk who know that there are folks out there who want to believe the worst about this President so that they can justify wanting to harm him, harm his family, or otherwise do something so stupid that it’ll cause a riot that will make South Central LA look like a clambake. These clowns give their followers just enough misinformation to make them dangerous, then they turn them loose.
But while the anti-Obama insanity is one branch of stupid, there are others. The folks who don’t believe that climate change is real despite the fact that Philadelphia has temperatures in the high 90s this week while Los Angeles is in the 70s. The poor and middle class people who think that it should be okay to continue tax cuts for the top 2 percent of incomes despite all of the evidence that “Trickle Down Economics” has never worked because the wealth, despite the tax cuts, never trickles down in any way that helps them.
And don’t get me started on the folks who made such folks as Kim Kardashian, Jon and Kate (and their brood of eight), and the entire cast of “Dancing With the Stars” household names.
Actually that’s not stupid. That’s a willingness to view a train wreck trackside instead of at a safe distance, which I guess is its own brand of insane.
The truth is, we’ve been on an anti-intellectual downslide for a long time now. During the Bush Administration, the smart were dismissed in favor of the ideologically pure. No Child Left Behind is a law that encourages stupid because it locks teachers into a test instead of letting them teach. Look at how smart folks are portrayed on television. When’s the last time that you saw someone on a TV show that was not only smart, but also good looking?
(And no, Blair Underwood doesn’t count. His new show doesn’t start until later this month.)
What kills me is that the same people who want to cut teacher salaries, cut school budgets, and decrease the number of college openings to save money are also the same people who piss and moan about our inability to compete with the rest of the world when it comes to academics.
Wanna know the difference between us and them folks? They spend money on education. Lots and lots of money. We’d rather pay a guy $30 million to miss free throws than pay a teacher a living wage.
But don’t blame us. We’re just keepin’ it real….real dumb.