Monday, June 27, 2005

Are people waking up?

49% Say Bush Responsible for Provoking Iraq War
Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that President Bush is more responsible for starting the War with Iraq than Saddam Hussein. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 44% take the opposite view and believe Hussein shoulders most of the responsibility.

[...] 78% of all Democrats say that Bush is more responsible for starting the War than Hussein. Just 18% take the opposite view.

Republicans, by a 76% to 17% margin, say that Hussein is responsible.

Among those not affiliated with either major party, 52% name Bush and 34% Hussein.
I never thought Americans were stupid, only gullible. Maybe our intellectual prowess is slowly, painfully emerging from beneath the tangle of deceptions and misdirections that hoodwinked people into thinking that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States.

I actually think gullible is a term that is quite underused when referring to people, particularly those in this country who seem to swallow everything the Bush administration fires at them. There is a word for people who always question what they're told and want evidence to back up claims: skeptics. But when people say you should blindly support the President, or that you need to have faith, or that you don't need to ask so many questions, what they are telling you is that you need to be gullible.

Gullibility is not something to be proud of, but it is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. It is a trait that is encouraged in conservative, religious society. The gullible majority of Americans aren't gullible out of stupidity or even ignorance, but because it is taught and promoted. Trust those with authority. The pastor studied the Bible a lot more than you did, so he knows best. President Bush has the CIA and information that we aren't privy to, so he knows best.

But the best thing about gullibility is that it can be unlearned. Even the most devout fundamentalist will often say that it is important to question your faith, but when he says that he means that if you pray enough you will blind yourself to objections. In politics, you rarely see this concession to skepticism. But both cases of chronic gullibility can be cured by reason, a talent all of us possess.

There will always be differences of opinion. Many of the most skeptical people around are libertarians, while others tend towards socialism. In utterly different fashions, both of these political/economic philosophies are based around the idea of not blindly following the status quo. The difference between libertarians and socialists is one of goals and effectiveness. Obviously, I think the libertarians are utterly wrong in their goals, but I would much prefer a world of libertarians and socialists arguing about balancing self-interest against social-interest than a world in which people simply looked to their leaders and said, "Yes."

[via The Regular]