An epidemic is sweeping across America at record speed.
This epidemic is ignorance -– a fatuousness way beyond the malady of merely ill-informed.
Alarmingly, this epidemic of ignorance has received too little attention despite the quintessentially existential danger it presents to the very existence of America. America’s Founders proclaimed that an ‘informed electorate’ was essential for democracy to flourish. It is an immutable fact that ignorance floods the flourishing of that element for democracy- – informed electorate –- the Founders deemed essential.
The latest example of the debilitating impacts of this epidemic of ignorance is the vile and violent reactions to a recent incident in rural Virginia that involved President Trump’s ever-prevaricating press secretary, Sarah Sanders.
The owner of that restaurant asked Sanders to leave because workers in that eatery, who are gay, expressed discomfort with the presence of The-Public-Face of the Trump Administration that has taken discriminatory stances on gay rights and other issues.
Reaction to that perceived slight of Sanders from Trump loyalists involved ire directed not only at that Virginia establishment but ire dumped on many restaurants with the same name: Red Hen.
Exhibiting clinical levels of ignorance, complete with willful disdain for facts, Trump supporters unleashed a variety of assaults/insults on Red Hen named restaurants in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and even in Ontario, Canada — all far from Virginia and all having absolutely no affiliations with that Virginia restaurant beyond sharing a name.
For example, a restaurant named Red Hen in a small South Jersey town located 25-miles south of Philadelphia has endured a barrage of harassment according to news accounts.
A news article about this barrage posted on NJ.com stated this Red Hen-named restaurant “has been the target of harassing phone calls, negative write-ups on review websites, and even threats of the building being burned down.”
That NJ.com article quoted the manager of that Red Hen-named restaurant that complained of receiving telephone calls that were “very abrasive and very aggressive and threatening.”
That Red Hen restaurant in South Jersey turned to Facebook to try to counter attacks from Trump loyalists rooted in mistaken identity. Part of that Facebook posting stated, “Kindly check your facts before you erroneously defame an innocent business on Facebook in an attempt to destroy their business where they welcome all irrespective of their race, religion, views or opinions.”
Yes, Trump loyalists enjoy the same First Amendment free speech and protest rights as Trump critics, like those who have jeered Trump officials, particularly over that Administration’s widely condemned ‘Zero Tolerance’ immigration policies that include separating children from their parents and caging children in detention facilities.
Activists, for example, confronted Trump’s Department of Homeland Security head, Kirstjen Nielsen, inside a Mexican restaurant in Washington, DC. Those activists, who opposed the Trump policy of snatching children from their asylum-seeking parents, assailed Nielsen with chants: “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.” Nielsen, days before that restaurant encounter, had publicly and falsely proclaimed that there was no Trump policy to separate children from their parents.
The trouble for Trump loyalists, with these assaults on Red Hen-named restaurants, is that their rage is rooted in the ignorance of not caring to even determine if the target of their ire is actually a business where an insult of a Trump official has occurred.
The same slice of Trump loyalists who strike out to cripple businesses with no affiliation to the business that triggered their ire are in the same segment of Americans who –- ignorantly –- dismiss the reality that climate change is real and devastating and who hate Obamacare but love the benefits of the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that the ACA is Obamacare.
Trump loyalists who back Trump’s “beautiful Wall” across the border with Mexico as an immigration deterrent do so despite the fact that such a barrier is unlikely to deter desperate people from sneaking into the US from south of the border, and will have no impact on high-levels of immigrants from countries in Asia – another example of ignorance.
It is odious that the same Trump loyalists who scream at restaurants named Red Hen are silent about governmental practices that keep their taxes high, like payments in police brutality cases. Remember the Tea Party surge against high taxes?
The same Trump loyalists who lather that Red Hen-named restaurant in South Jersey and who place ‘Support Local Police’ signs on their front lawns look away from instances of egregious police abuse like that by a member of a police department a mere 18-miles from that eatery.
The same male policeman in that department who is now at the center of controversial fatal shooting of a female shoplifting suspect was sued for assaulting an elderly woman and criticized on social media for battering a younger woman.
The ignorance that leaves Trump loyalists comfortable with neither knowing nor caring that all Red Hen-named restaurants in different parts of the country are not under the same ownership is ignorance that will accelerate through the dismantling of public education, a plank in the Trump Administration’s proclaimed ‘Make America Great Again’ initiative.
With education often cited as an antidote to ignorance and education from pre-school to post-graduate under assault by the Trump Administration, America’s epidemic of ignorance will surely grow.