Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Age of American Unreason

Last night I watched the 2004 Bill Moyer's interview with Susan Jacoby on PBS about her book, The Age of American Unreason, which I have added to my ever-growing reading list.

WATCH VIDEO

From PBS: "In 2004 author Susan Jacoby appeared on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS and discussed her alarm over the growing role of faith in politics.

"It's of alarm first of all because it's such a very dangerous thing when patriotism and religion become equated. So often the kind of religion which is melded with patriotism and not only in America - we see the horrifying implications of it throughout history - becomes nationalism and militarism and a complete intolerance for any other point of view. I think it's dangerous to - the God is on our side thing is extremely dangerous."

And from Jacoby's website:

"This impassioned, tough-minded work of contemporary history paints a disturbing portrait of a mutant strain of public ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism that has developed over the past four decades and now threatens the future of American democracy. Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a culture at odds with America’s heritage of Enlightenment reason and with modern knowledge and science. With mordant wit, the author offers an unsparing indictment of the ways in which dumbness has been defined downward throughout American society—on the political right and the left. America’s endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have been exacerbated by a new species of semiconscious anti-rationalism, feeding on and fed by a popular culture of video images and unremitting noise that leaves no room for contemplation or logic."

I'll have more on this after I read the book.

3 comments:

Greg said...

She's right to be worried.
With nuts like the Huckster going around saying that we should change the constitution (and still being taken seriously!!) to put that Gawd fella in it, we are heading for some dangerous times.

steph said...

if only her book and her logic would actually penetrate the minds of the people she writes about...

Stardust said...

I agree with the point she makes about the dumbing down that is happening in our educational institutions. Even in my own community, science, math and other academic subjects are getting pushed aside and replaced with classes on morals and ethics, feelings, etc.

Maybe if we actually gave our children something to learn and work for again they wouldn't be so self-centered and hung up with creating drama in their lives.

I have found religious folks to be the most dramatic people I know.