“How Dumb Are We?” Might Not be the Right Question

I saw this headline on the Newsweek website:   “How Dumb Are We?” That’s the kind of headline that gets your attention but it’s probably too weak.  The better question might be “How willfully ignorant are we and could we be more self-righteous?”

The article explains that Newsweek gave 1000 Americans the test that’s given to immigrants before they can become citizens.  38 percent couldn’t pass it.

Americans are great at being proud, but we’re not so great at knowing stuff.   The desire to be among the like-minded is nothing new.  What is relatively new is how readily available the like-minded have become.  Liberals have MSNBC and the Huffington Post.  Conservatives have Fox News and the Drudge Report.

Fewer and fewer people are seeking out new information and alternate viewpoints.  More and more people are getting a steady info-diet of things that back up what they already believe.   Almost no one is able to have a spirited public debate the way James Moore and I did just last week and still be friends after it’s over.

The ignorance cultivated by this incessant self-gratification politics is used to beat up on the very people who regularly pass the citizenship test and many more who would desperately welcome the chance to take it:  immigrants.

William Gheen, the head of Americans for Legal Immigration, recently stated on KRLD that “all illegal immigrants have committed a series of crimes.” Gheen has also started meetings of his group by asking people to raise their hands “if you think illegal immigration is bad.” 

I like William but I believe he’s playing on the ignorance he knows to exist.  Yes, illegal immigration is bad but does that mean all illegal immigrants are bad? They can’t be since one of the most conservative members of the Texas House wanted to make it a state crime for people to employ illegal immigrants unless they work as your maid or landscaper.

Governor Perry and others are right to point out the federal government hasn’t done anywhere close to enough to secure the border or to deal with illegal immigration.

Let’s get real.

People pay illegal immigrants to do dirty jobs.  Many of those same people say the illegal immigrant has no right to be here.  Why do we refuse to set up a system where the people doing those jobs would pay taxes so they don’t get a free ride?  I think it’s because people would rather pay those poor folks nearly-slave wages, buy really cheap food, and stay in cheap hotel rooms.

Current immigration laws were written in the 1980s to deal with the reality of the 80s.  President Reagan signed it with the correct vision that the laws should be updated to reflect the needs of the time.

When will we have a president and congress with the vision to realize our laws again must be updated to meet the needs of the world we live in, not the world we wish for?  Maybe when more Americans can pass the citizenship test.

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