Celebrating Ignorance


Andrew Romano ,of Newsweek-The Daily Beast, highlights the level of ignorance of Americans in this sad article. Out of 1,000 people who took the citizenship test, 38% of people failed. Yes, 380 out of 1,000 US citizens no not have the basic knowledge to pass the citizenship test if they were applying. This is basic information, things that people need to know in order to be informed and engaged citizens in their county, their state, city, town and even in their own home.

To appreciate the risks involved, it’s important to understand where American ignorance comes from. In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs. The Europeans clobbered us. Sixty-eight percent of Danes, 75 percent of Brits, and 76 percent of Finns could, for example, identify the Taliban, but only 58 percent of Americans managed to do the same—even though we’ve led the charge in Afghanistan. It was only the latest in a series of polls that have shown us lagging behind our First World peers.

For more than two centuries, Americans have gotten away with not knowing much about the world around them. But times have changed—and they’ve changed in ways that make civic ignorance a big problem going forward. While isolationism is fine in an isolated society, we can no longer afford to mind our own business. What happens in China and India (or at a Japanese nuclear plant) affects the autoworker in Detroit; what happens in the statehouse and the White House affects the competition in China and India.

I can understand some level of ignorance when it comes to complex foreign affairs, however when we are involved in wars overseas, and our military is actively engaged  there is no excuse for people to know know what is going on.  In addition, forget about international affairs, in the present and future economy people in cities in the US are not only competing with other workers in their city, or state, or within the country, but are having to go up against workers from all over the world. If they are more informed, more aware and more tuned into the global economy they will continue to surpass us and people will be left wondering what happened to the America of twenty years ago. The problems is that they are still living in that past and the rest of the world has passed them by.

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