Image by Getty Images via DaylifeThere is an anti-intellectual streak in the United States. It is not new, but it is perhaps most visible during election season. Barack Obama has been called an elitist for having attended Ivy league schools. So, he uses code language, saying he was lucky enough to live the American promise and go to the "best schools." Anything but the "H-word": Harvard.
Portrayal Of Obama As Elitist Hailed As Step Forward For African Americans
George Bush, Al Gore and John Kerry all have Ivy League degrees and all have tried to downplay their connection to these schools because they are afraid of being tarred with the reputation of elitist. The further implication is that well-educated people are utterly disconnected from the "real world" (whatever that is) and that the academic elite should be quarantined inside their ivory towers! Sarah Palin (who attended 5 colleges, culminating in a degree from the University of Idaho) proudly compared herself to Harry Truman, the last president without a college degree.
What's going on here -- especially from candidates who argue for a meritocracy (rule by the best qualified) on issues related to affirmative action?
That's why I was so excited to hear that Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics yesterday. It was a sort of Revenge of the Nerds. Krugman is not only a widely admired Princeton scholar, he is also a columnist for the New York Times. In other words, he is a public intellectual. He is not only a world-class thinker, but also a man of enormous common sense. As a small example, click on the title of this post. Krugman is blunt here as always -- and check the date of his piece. He warned of a housing collapse long before it happened.
Do you agree in the existence of what historian Richard Hofstadter has termed the Anti-Intellectualism in American Life? Extra credit if you can explain what the title of this post means!