How leftists view knowledge

The leftist-in-chief told a graduating class over the weekend:

With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations,—none of which I know how to work—information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.

How many members of today’s society reading those words of the president of the United States will recognize what is profoundly false and ugly about them? As a leftist, Obama can form a positive view of a thing only insofar as he sees it as a means of “empowerment” and “emancipation”—overcoming oppression. He cannot conceive that knowledge is desirable for its own sake, because knowledge shows us the nature of the world, and because the world is good. The leftist does not participate lovingly in reality, he asserts himself against reality, in order to change it.

- end of initial entry -

Olivier R. writes from the Netherlands:

Isn’t that what the progressive approach to education is all about? With utter conviction progressives believe it is better to focus on the supposed interests of the individual pupil, than on the actual transmission of carefully gathered knowledge about things that go beyond the (interests of the) individual pupil. For all their talk about solidarity, progressives know little of real, rooted solidarity.

Jim C. writes:

While I agree with your incisive analysis, let me add that Obama is addressing a low-IQ black audience which is far more likely to misuse technology developed by a foreign race (see guns). Obama knows that, without affirmative action, these graduates will never be economically “empowered”—so why not urge them to be “emancipated”? Surely these fine grads are cognitively prepared for some serious emancipation (see community organizing). Hell, you wouldn’t want them to develop a browser better than Google Chrome—then Barry would cease having a raison d’etre.

Bottom line: Obama is making excuses for their eventual failure—and is offering up Mr Honkie’s technology as the excuse for their failure.

LA replies:

I missed the following in the Telegraph article:

Hampton University is a historically black college, and Mr Obama noted the huge disparity in educational achievement between African Americans and other racial groups in the United States and the world.

LA continues:
Below are the relevant parts of the speech. I don’t think he’s saying what Jim C. suggests he is saying. He says blacks are way behind whites academically. Then he says that what makes America great is a “stubborn insistence on pursuing our dreams,” which, given the examples he then gives, sounds like the usual Obama thing of equating the American virtues of “hard work” with hard work to change the government and pass egalitarian programs. But he’s not only saying that; he also says that the stubborn insistence “led generation after generation of Americans to toil away, quietly, your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, without complaint, in the hopes of a better life for their children and grandchildren.”

So, given that context, he’s not setting up an excuse for failure. He’s saying that they need to toil and work to get ahead, and that electronic toys can be a distraction from that.

From the speech:

Now, the good news is you’re already ahead of the curve. All those checks you or your parents wrote to Hampton will pay off. (Laughter.) You’re in a strong position to outcompete workers around the world. But I don’t have to tell you that too many folks back home aren’t as well prepared. Too many young people, just like you, are not as well prepared. By any number of different yardsticks, African Americans are being outperformed by their white classmates, as are Hispanic Americans. Students in well-off areas are outperforming students in poorer rural or urban communities, no matter what skin color.

Globally, it’s not even close. In 8th grade science and math, for example, American students are ranked about 10th overall compared to top-performing countries. But African Americans are ranked behind more than 20 nations, lower than nearly every other developed country.

So all of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change this; to offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy. That is our obligation as a nation. (Applause.)

But I have to say, Class of 2010, all of you have a separate responsibility. To be role models for your brothers and sisters. To be mentors in your communities. And, when the time comes, to pass that sense of an education’s value down to your children, a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect. To pass down a work ethic and an intrinsic sense of excellence that made it possible for you to be here today….

So, yes, an education can fortify us to meet the tests of our economy, the tests of our citizenship, and the tests of our times. But what ultimately makes us American, quintessentially American, is something that can’t be taught -– a stubborn insistence on pursuing our dreams.

It’s the same insistence that led a band of patriots to overthrow an empire. That fired the passions of union troops to free the slaves and union veterans to found schools like Hampton. That led foot-soldiers the same age as you to brave fire-hoses on the streets of Birmingham and billy clubs on a bridge in Selma. That led generation after generation of Americans to toil away, quietly, your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, without complaint, in the hopes of a better life for their children and grandchildren.

That is what makes us who we are. A dream of brighter days ahead, a faith in things not seen, a belief that here, in this country, we are the authors of our own destiny. That is what Hampton is all about. And it now falls to you, the Class of 2010, to write the next great chapter in America’s story; to meet the tests of your own time; to take up the ongoing work of fulfilling our founding promise. I’m looking forward to watching.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 11, 2010 12:11 PM | Send

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