detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Wednesday, July 25, 2001


: . ‘The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations’:

Ah, Dubya’s America. The air sizzles with the speedy to and fro of knowledge. Colossal bookstores sprout in once intellectually barren places. The Nerds have had their sweet revenge. The quality of education has become the one true measure of good governance. Ivy League sperm and eggs are all the rage, holding within their jumble of genetic script the promise, the security of social uplift. And yet we are eerily at ease with a president who is at best, hooked on phonics and at worst the best argument for stem-cell research. In a bizarre twist, ignorance has been upgraded into a virtue in this age of information.
America may be the home of the brave but Americans also have a soft spot for underdogs, for dimwitted but determined Forrest Gumps with hearts of gold. Eight years of Clinton’s sophistries have made us yearn for Mr. Smiths and John Does, naïve figures that can inject dignity back into politics and not much else. During the presidential debates, Dubya argued that to deny minority children the strictest educational standards is to practice ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’ But Dubya has been coasting on just such a bigotry. We have set the bar so low that whenever Dubya shows the faintest signs of life we act as if he had not only stepped over the bar but limbo danced under it. Each word properly pronounced is deemed a major triumph, each nice turn of phrase, read from a crib sheet from one of his able handlers but read nonetheless, a mark of pure genius. As the saying goes: One small step for the average Joe, one giant leap for Dubya.
What explains this turn of events? Visit the Mother Jones site to find out. Ian Frazier has an answer.

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