Much research has been done in the past few years into differences in the ways conservatives and liberals think. A lot of the research merely reaffirms the obvious: Liberals are more open to considering new ideas and information that contradict their normal beliefs, while conservatives often have a nearly instinctive resistance to new ideas and situations. Those arent judgments of either persuasion, just measurements of how their thought processes usually work. Now, however, some conservative pundits and spokespersons are taking that resistance to new ideas and situations to new levels of absurdity, by slamming the World Cup as un-American, alien, and even gasp! socialist!
Call me crazy, but if I found out that a particular form of, say, music, or beer or what-have-you, was, by an overwhelming margin, the most popular music, beer, etc., in the world, my first reaction would be to want to know more about what Ive been missing. Not so, apparently, with conservatives and soccer. They dont understand it, and more importantly, they dont want to understand it not any more than they understand, and dont want to understand, the rest of the world. In fact, right-wing guru/clown Glenn Beck recently laid it out plainly when he said, I hate [the World Cup] so much, probably because the rest of the world likes it so much.
Read that last sentence again, please, because, that is exactly the dumb-and-happy, I dont care about anything I dont already know attitude that exemplifies the conservative mindset at its worst. I call it Gooberism, or, in a recent column, deliberate dumbassedness," and if theres any justice left in the world, it will be the downfall of the American right.
Beck isnt the only right-winger who suddenly feels that soccer and the World Cup are terrible. As a new column by Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker relates, the Washington Times, a very conservative paper, wrote that silly leftist critics like soccer because the most popular sports in America football, baseball, and basketball originated here in the Land of the Free (never mind the many leftie fans of those sports, much less the fact that football and baseball evolved out of British games). Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen actually wrote, Soccer is a socialist sport, while talk show host/famous nutcase G. Gordon Liddy hosted a conservative media critic who said the left is pushing [soccer] in schools around the country because its popular with Hispanics.
So, says the right, soccer which around five million grownups play regularly in the U.S., and which more American kids play than any other team sport is un-American. Not only that, they say, but Americans as a rule hate soccer yet another instance of the right-wing brain having difficulty processing new information. Heres an important fact Hertzberg points out: The U.S.-Ghana match in the World Cup was watched by 19.4 million Americans. Thats a ton of people for a sport that we supposedly hate. Hertzberg writes, Its more people than, on average, watched last years World Series games, which had the advantage of being broadcast in prime time. Its millions more than watched the Kentucky Derby or the final round of the Masters golf tournament or the Daytona 500. And for the anti-Latino faction out there, you may be interested to know (but probably not) that only a quarter of those 19.4 million viewers watched the Cup on Spanish-language Univision.
What Id like to understand is: How did conservatism, which, agree with it or not, used to be the province of serious thinkers, devolve into the Gooberism it peddles today to the point that it embraces the kind of small-minded, mulish B.S. that would try to make a bogeyman out of ... well, the most popular team sport of humankind?