Xykademiqz (fucken ridiculous blogge name, I know, but don’t blame the messenger) is wondering what we academics need to do to make the average American understand how awesome we are and that they should support us in our academic pursuits and not hate our guts with a burning passion:
I don’t know what it is that we can do to convince the public that we do an important job, that most of us would make considerably more in industry and that tenure is a way to attract talent, and that research at the US universities is an important economic engine [because we can’t speak of broadening people’s horizons (bad! blasphemy!) or instilling critical thinking skills]. We can’t say “Whatever, let people believe what they want,” because this public opinion is a base for squashing research funding. So we can’t stop trying to get through to the people around us about what we do and why it’s important. I just don’t know how to do it in a way that actually matters.
The big mistake here is thinking that the average American just needs more information, and if they understood what academics do and how “important” it is, they’d love us and want their kids to become academics. Sorry, but this is delusional. Americans are on the whole a hateful spiteful people, and they basically just hate everyone, because they hate themselves and their own lives, which mostly suck. The reason they hate academics isn’t because they give a fucke how much money we make or how hard we work or whether we are lazt or what we do is “important” versus “useless”. They hate academics because we mostly come across as not miserable and as enjoying our lives.
The average American hates anyone whom they perceive as less miserable as they are. This is why the Republican electoral strategy of (1) enact legislative policies that make the vast majority of people’s lives more miserable, (2) highlight convenient spite targets whose lives (at least supposedly) aren’t as miserable: Hollywood elites, welfare bucks eating steaks while driving cadillacs, academics, jews, gays, foreigners, etc, (3) run candidates who promise to fucke over those spite targets, and hard. The reason that gay pride parades are (well, at least used to be) so perfect for right-wingers is that LOOK HOW MUCH FUCKEN FUN EVERYONE IS HAVING.
(h/t to commenter “Andy Groves” at my blogge for pointing me to this excellent article, which explains in a lot more detail where this comes from. Interesting corollary to all of this is that if Democrats want to win elections both national and state-wide, they need to give Americans someone to hate. No one gives a shit about whether Democrats are going to “help” them. They need someone they perceive as less miserable than they are to hate and whom the Democrats will promise to fucke over. The most obvious target is the super-wealthy, of course. But the problem is they have all the fucken money to buy teevee ads, etc. Republicans have it easy, because they can promise to fucke over people who have no money.)