Why Does the West Breed Imbeciles?

Umair Haque is director of the London-based Havas Media Lab. He is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, which also published his popular book, The New Capitalist Manifesto. Haque is also a popular author at Medium.com. He has 128,000 followers…

That’s where I came across his latest article today. Haque is witty and writes in a breezy, acerbic style. As with Wild Duck, his Blog and Medium articles traverse an eclectic array of topics—not just politics. But when he wades into Washington, he is somewhat left and profoundly thoughtful. He expresses thoughts in the vein of CNN commentator, Fareed Zakaria.

In one recent article, Haque speaks eloquently about the need to bear witness—and that, in the face of hatred, this is not an easy task.

In his newest article at Medium, Haque argues that Donald Trump is a product of a bigger problem. He asserts that the west (US, UK and other western democracies) are generating a Tidal Wave of ignorance, demagoguery, and self-inflicted catastrophe.

So what is it that makes America lead the world in denying climate change, evolution or the age of the universe? (Whatever you believe it to be, it certainly isn’t 6,000 years! Even a 5th grader knows about carbon dating dinosaur bones or the time it takes light to arrive from other galaxies).

In my opinion, ignorance and aversion to science that is a prevalent aspect of western democracy—especially America—is driven by the far right and religious fanatics. It is the stuff that Bill Nye, Bill Maher, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Penn Jillette fight each day.

The late Carl Sagan fought ignorance, superstition and fundamentalism throughout his career and even during his physical decline. (*Blush* Both Bill Nye and I had Sagan as a professor at Cornell). DaVinci and Copernicus recognized the same threat to society. But now, the stakes are much higher. Instead of the personal risk (being burned at a stake), we risk the extinction of all life on Earth.

Fortunately, there are voices that continue this critical mission. Let’s just hope that they aren’t in too late, or in vain.

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1 thought on “Why Does the West Breed Imbeciles?

  1. I never heard of Haque, but i enjoyed the articles. Good read! He seems very much like Fareed—an intellectual horsepower.

    Thanks for the links.

    FTR ….

    As much as I enjoyed the Haque article, I do take exception with his declaration that this is an “Anglo” problem. The problem, ‘the rise of the imbecile’ in fact is NOT limited to Anglos. It is regrettably a global trend spreading everywhere – like a virus. It is spreading in South America as well as throughout Europe (east and west) and Israel. They are illiberal, nationalistic, neo-fascist, anti-democratic, non-tolerant, xenophobic movements on both the far-right and far-left. They are, at times, cross-bread with warped religiosity.

    One can argue that the rise of Isis, Taliban, and radical Islam has a similar pathology. What they all have in common is the ‘imbecile’ and the ‘greater imbecile’ as Haque has so well articulated.

    — We have met the enemy, and he is us.

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