-By Warner Todd Huston
There was a day in the United States when the citizens of this great nation celebrated intelligence in those whom they raised to the level of “celebrity”. It was a day when cogent thoughts were related in high style, where literacy and learning were prized, a day when to be “smart” meant to actually have some sort of culture and ability to write. To achieve fame one had to exhibit some level of education even if it was one realized by one’s own efforts alone, an amalgamation of knowledge not the result of a program from an institute of higher learning. The general public in America once looked up to people who embodied the highest education, even that had from the veritable slate in a log cabin.
Lincoln, for instance, was celebrated for being a self-taught man. He read classics such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume and Locke. He was able to quote extensively from the Bible and completely from memory at that. He was the true self-made American. But, even as he didn’t have that ivory league pedigree, something that caused many to look down upon him even still, a reading of nearly any document he ever wrote will reveal a highly educated man with a eloquence gained from a wide range of reading and study.
And Lincoln was typical of the common American who once upon a time strove to better themselves. The highest selling books in America were the Bible and the Pilgrim’s Progress. The “readers” created to teach the young to read were chock full of excerpts of classic literature from throughout the ages. And literacy rates have always been quite high in the USA.
Rarely was an American celebrity an unschooled, ignoramus. Few were unread or unable to write in a clear, concise, even literary style. Americans rarely raised to celebrity status the low or mean, the uneducated or the stupid.
Until, that is, the 1960s.
After that Americans began to bestow the mantle of fame on the stupid, the uneducated, the inarticulate and the foolhardy and the ultimate example of this type of infamy — because “famous” is not the correct word for village idiots of this nature — now has been awarded a platform from which to influence the public debate that millions willingly subject themselves to on a daily basis.
Here is a sample of what passes for “writing” with this particular example of nitwit of which I speak…
a huge terrible storm is coming
a nor easter
the potential hail has bumped imus
off r top story tonight
dont fear “TERRORISTS” – they are mothers and fathers
since terror been used to scare americans
since 9 11
terrorists – terrorists – everywhere
all of them – bad guys
terrorists – after us – here and there
they sold it
we bought it
we gave away r civil liberties
here is the point
i was trying to make
that day to elisabeth
like y thousands still live in renaissance village
18 months after katrina
or that 28 million american children live in dire poverty
that 1/2 of all black and hispanic kids in america
do not graduate from high school
half a million children r in foster care
they r lost
the system is broken
There was a day when such a fool would have been laughed at and dismissed as a person unworthy of praise, regardless of the content of their thoughts. The mere fact that this person cannot even coherently compose a sentence, cannot spell, knows nothing of grammar and punctuation… well, that would have been enough for even an average American to dismiss such a moron entirely. The above excerpted example of “writing” alone would have been enough cause even the least schooled American to imagine the writer of such an illiterate mess was not worth the time of day.
In today’s celebrity world, however, a dunce like Rosie O’Donnell is celebrated as someone whom is “smart” enough to be looked up to by millions of adoring fans. She is given a powerful place on television to disseminate her uninformed tripe in a loud, uncouth, brash manner, shouting down all around her all the while treating them with the utmost rudeness. This beast of a person is called “famous”, today. This bellowing rhino in a pantsuit is termed a celebrity by our lowered cultural definition.
Regardless of whether you think her ultimate points against the war are right or whether you agree with her politics in general, the woman is a loud-mouthed bore. Her comportment is as low as it gets and in days past no American would think of her with anything but contempt — maybe even pity.
But, these days, such a thing as a Rosie is made a millionaire and said to embody the best of her side of the political argument. Her fame is a sad, sad example of how education, literacy and intelligence have so fallen into disfavor. She is the perfect example of how America raises up the dregs of society to celebrity status requiring nothing of them but an endless spewing of invective and outrage. Entertainment is no longer geared to raise up but to tear down, no longer meant to inform and improve, but merely to celebrate the lowest common denominator.
Gone are the likes of Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain or even a Will Rogers. Gone are the days when a person of insight and learning, well spoken and widely read was held up to celebrity status in this country.
Now we have Snoop Dog, Paris Hilton and Anna Nichole Smith who between them couldn’t fire up enough mental synapses to flip on a light switch much less quote Aristotle or the Bible. And we have the illiterate stylings of a Rosie O’Donnell foisted upon us as considered opinion.
Sadly, we have allowed the ugliest of society to be held up to the height of fame.
And it isn’t a pretty sight.
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, townhall.com, men’snewsdaily.com and americandaily.com among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a guest on several radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston
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