All you need to know about Republicans

Why is the ability to speak a foreign language a disqualification for the Presidency?

Newt Gingrich makes fun of Mitt Romney for being able to speak French. (Very badly, I might add.)

Joe Scarborough and Donald Trump attack Jon Huntsman for being able to speak Mandarin.

You might almost think that ignorance – especially ignorance about the rest of the world – was a Republican virtue.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

11 thoughts on “All you need to know about Republicans”

    1. Does “exceptionalism” mean that Americans are supposed to be exceptionally ignorant?

  1. Wow! I knew Newt Gingrich was habitually hypocritical, but blasting Mitt Romney for speaking French is incredibly shameless hypocrisy. Gingrich has long told the story of how his interest in politics came from when he visited Verdun at age 15 and reflected on that epic WWI battle. (See for example the PBS Frontline special “The Long March of Newt Gingrich” from back in the Gingrich’s prime, namely early 1996.) And this trip to Verdun was not some mere field trip. Gingrich was living in Orleans, France due to the army posting of his adoptive father. Moreover, Newt did his PhD thesis on education policy in the Belgian Congo, and though getting ample tut-tuts from academics throughout the blogosphere for not including any primary sources in any of the native Congolese languages (e.g., Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, etc.) or Belgian sources in Flemish, Gingrich certainly did cite sources in French.

    I’m so tempted to say, J’accuse Newt! J’accuse! But that’d be kinda hackneyed. So I’ll just say you’re a shameless hypocrite, Newt! A shameless hypocrite!

      1. Newt has always been forthright in his denunciations of hypocrisy. Also in his denunciations of denunciations.

  2. I think it’s more jingoism than ignorance (not that these two characteristics are mutually exclusive). For example, I was born in 1976, with the Cold War still far from winding down. My parents, as they later told me, got a fair amount of flak for giving me a Russian first name (I’m named after my father’s Russian grandmother who immigrated in the 1920s). Apparently, to a lot of people, American = English.

  3. At a park a child was 15 feet up a tree when his mother spotted him, grew instantly worried, and screamed for him to climb down. A nearby Republican noted the situation, turned down his Fox News stream, and strolled over to calm the beautiful but hysterical mother. He assured her quite glibly that the boy was feather-light, and even if he fell, he wouldn’t fall as fast as a heavier person and so probably wouldn’t be hurt.

    Believe it or not.

  4. Nihilism, hypocrisy, willful ignorance- the defining qualities of what calls itself American ‘conservatism’ these days.

  5. The far-right likes to blather about how the large-scale of dealing with things that are different from you is bad because loyalty to making other people more like you makes society strong. Therefore, hostility to understanding French, either as a Mormon missionary or grad student in history, would be good for them.

  6. Studs Terkel interviewed a man who told of how, when the U.S. entered World War I, a mob of Americans broke into a school and burned all the German language textbooks. They also burned the French textbooks, being unable to tell the difference.

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