Thursday, November 19, 2015

Not-so-smart Dr. Ben

You don't often see a definition of the word "smart." At least I don't. But this one from "neuroguy" (Dr. Ben Carson Is Not Smart Alternet 11/10/2015) strikes me as a good one (italics in original):

“Smart” is a multifaceted cognitive feature composed of excellent analytical skills, possession of an extensive knowledge base that is easily and frequently augmented, possession of a good memory, and being readily curious about the world and willing, even eager, to reject previously accepted notions in the face of new data. Being smart includes having the ability to analyze new data for validity and, thinking creatively, draw new insights from existing common knowledge.
As the title indicates, it's about Dr. Ben, who seems to be dropping in some recent polls. (Sophia Tesfaye, Ben Carson is cratering: New polls show controversies taking a toll on the wingnut favorite Salon 11/19/2015) The actual caucuses and primaries will be here soon enough, so I'm not putting a lot of faith in the opinion polls at this point.

But he does have some big hurdles to get past as a Presidential candidate. (Adele Stan, Is Ben Carson's Campaign About to Implode? The American Prospect 11/18/2015)

As Adele Stan points out, he may not pass some of the ideological litmus tests that the Christian Right applies.

Even more serious, though, is that he's a black candidate running in the Republican Party, aka, the Christian Republican White People's Party. The Republican Party since 1968 has been working hard to establish and maintain itself as the anti-black party. It's very difficult to imagine them nominating Dr. Ben as their Presidential candidate. Chauncey DeVega describes that reality this way (The Paris Terror Attacks and the Right-wing Media's War on Reality, Indomitable 11/17/2015; bolding in original)

In the post civil-rights era, conservatism and racism is now the same thing. The Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization. As a matter of policy, it uses overt and subtle racism to win votes from racially resentful white people. To point, almost immediately, overt and open white supremacist websites began to feature content from more “mainstream” right-wing websites in response to my essay on the Paris terror attacks. Their “analysis” and “commentary” were almost identical: violent threats, racism, lies and disinformation.
DeVega sees Dr. Ben's candidacy this way (Is He a Genius? A Fool? Or Both? Ben Carson Now Has a "Rap Music" Political Ad 11/05/2015):

Ben Carson now has a rap video that is designed to appeal to "black voters". Although hip hop as an art form has fallen so far below the artistic and musical creativity and majesty of even ten years ago (never mind 20 years when Biggie, Nas, Tribe, Outcast, and Wu-Tang released seminal albums) Carson's rap video will of course have no appeal to "black" voters. The only folks who will be moved by it are Carson's racially resentful and bigoted white conservative supporters. Why? Because it lets them feel "cool" and "hip" as they groove to the negro race record croonings of Carson's emcee and the jungle rhythms of the synthesized drum. ...

He is fleecing dumb white conservatives of their money, getting rich off of campaign donations, and engaging in a type of post modern performance art and spectacular politics that mocks the stupidity of the American public.
But, even if Dr. Ben remains a major contender for the nomination, the ascendancy of spectacle over reality in politics proceeds.

Guy Debord wrote in Society of the Spectacle (1968; Black & Red translation, 1970) :

The spectacle is not a collection of images but a social relation among people mediated by images.

The spectacle cannot be understood as the abuse of a world of vision, as the product of the techniques of mass dissemination of images. It is, rather, a Weltanschauung which has become actual, materially translated. It is a vision of the world which has become objectified.

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