Obstinate ignorance

The people who sell Hummers know their market fairly well, and judging by their current commercials, intelligence is not the characteristic they’re most interested in appealing to among prospective buyers. The Hummer marketing strategy is selling aggression, self-assertion and obstinate ignorance to self-centered buyers who harbor the kinds of insecurities that can be compensated for with a behemoth vehicle that proclaims indifference to such matters as global warming, dependency on foreign oil or road-hoggishness.

The chief poster boy for the Hummer mentality is our very own governor, a man who owns five of them and is devoted to singing their praises, regardless of his recent image makeover as an environmental leader. His seeming endorsement speaks to the kind of ignorance that muscles its way through the world, indifferent to almost everything except its own desires. This mentality constitutes a kind of cultural arrogance, an attitude that says we need not answer to anyone, either individually or as a nation, so long as we have enough money and enough power. If you don’t like such an attitude, then you’re one of the “girly men.”

Another example of obstinate ignorance came from the president of the United States recently when he said he had no intention of seeing An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s film about the perils of global warming.

We’ve gotten entirely too complacent about such stupidities from people in high office. People who should be leading us away from wasteful and dangerous consumption of resources are, instead, fueling our addiction to fossil fuels, by word and by deed. In the case of the president’s determined stupidity on the issue of global warming, we have yet another instance of leadership by the willfully blind. The only action the Bush administration has taken on the matter of global warming is to turn away from the Kyoto agreement and then to conduct a disinformation campaign that supplements the propaganda efforts of the energy industry as it buys the opinions of a narrow band of “scientists” willing to sell their souls for money.

Vice President Dick Cheney argued for invading Iraq by saying that even a 1-percent chance that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction required that we take action. But there is no such urgency on the part of the administration when it comes to global warming, though there is undeniable evidence that the threat is real and far more threatening than the worst nightmare about Saddam Hussein.

But the president of the United States cannot even be bothered to see a film on the subject. His mind is made up, and he will not be daunted by evidence. He will not deign to participate in the dialogue the rest of us are having on the subject, a dialogue fostered, at least lately, by a film the president refuses to see.

We’ve grown entirely too accustomed to such obstinate ignorance, though the price of such “leadership” grows larger every day.