In the wise words of Clementine Ford, “Jacqui, I think we have established you have no idea what you are talking about”.
Recently an ideological fight between Jackie Lambie and Yassmin Abdel-Magied on Q&A caught my attention. They were discussing the Quran and Islam, and even with a successful muslim woman in front of her Lambie continued to argue uninformed, and plainly, wrong rhetoric about Islam. Yassmin slammed Lambie stating how she clearly knew very little about the religion, and has wrongly associated the cultural issues of the muslim countries in the world with the religion. Yassmin stated that the religion is peaceful, has empowered women (way before any western society or religion did) and stated how the Quran implores muslims to obey the law of the land in which they reside. All of Yassmin’s points being extremely true, yet why do so many Australians have the same wrong perceptions of Islam as Lambie does? And why are politicians allowed to spread wrong and potentially harmful information to the public?
This is just one example of how politicians can wrongfully provide the community with false information and how the ignorance of the masses tolerate and even believe it.
Ignorance is Bliss.
We are all guilty of this. I go to a relatively liberal (lefty) university, and study a degree that promotes human rights values and celebrates diversity and equality. This reinforces my own preexisting values and beliefs, rather than challenging my beliefs, allowing me to be blissfully reinforced, and disregard any other opinion as plainly false. Which… isn’t a great thing (As much as I admittedly enjoy it).
Politicians do the same thing. They seek out fellow politicians who have the same beliefs and values and morph together (like the alien creatures they are) to form political parties that emphasise such beliefs. They then seek out “professionals” who share the same beliefs to produce “evidence based research” to back up their beliefs and values. This then legitimises their preexisting ideas rather than challenging them, or providing the every day Joe with bias-free information. Lambie was stumped on Q&A when she was confronted by Yassmin’s version of the truth, but the fact that Lambie hadn’t studied such a topic to be well informed enough to comment, yet was so adamant that she was right made her look foolish and ignorant.
We then do the same thing when we pick the political party we align ourselves with, vote for and seek opinion from. Even if our beliefs, opinions and values are fundamentally flawed it is super easy to find a politician, website or book that will reinforce our opinion.
(Search anything you want to know about aliens online and you will find it my friends) And if we don’t have an opinion on particular issues, it is easy to believe the opinions of the leaders who seem most informed and relatable to ourselves. Politicians have been given a position of power and authority where we expect them to provide us with legitimate information, and as soon as they say “evidence based research” we are quick to believe it, rather than challenge it, as it comes from a “powerful” person who is supported by “research”.
Sometimes we just like having someone to blame for our issues too. Politicians often provide a perpetrator group in society who are to blame for all the flaws in society, rather than reflecting on their own misgivings as leaders. Politicians also love to give society an enemy, some existential threat that is going to obliterate society unless it is stopped. Fear is a massive tool to subjugate and coerce people into giving up their own rights and thoughts for a better cause *aka saving the western world from total domination of some unknown threat*. When people are scarred they are much more easily swayed into believing anything, thus threats such as ISIS are a massive power tool for politicians. When in reality, you’re bathtub is a bigger threat.
Some people even just agree with anything a political party says because their parents were staunch party supporters, therefore they believe the party must have some credibility. There is SOOOO much that is wrong with this choice. The ideas of the generations before us don’t replicate modern ideas, or even provide the solutions to modern issues. AND political parties change more often than I wash my hair. How could a party be kept accountable when you are unwittingly agreeing with everything they preach. America has a bigger issues with this, where party preference seems to be a family affair instead of an individual choice.
So where do we get our preexisting ideas from? Most of us inherit our ideas from our spheres of socialising (duh), family, friends, our greater community including social institution which shape society and give preference to certain groups. A lot of us gain our preconceived notions from the positions in society in which we have been born into. For example, white people such as myself, have historically, politically, socially and culturally been placed in positions of privilege where we have been continuously reinforced with the subconscious idea that we are superior, from slavery to modern racism it has been embedded in us. The only way our perceptions change is if we make the conscious decision to acknowledge said privilege and actively try to challenge it. This has happened over the years. People started to challenge the notions of superiority over other racial groups during the civil rights movement. However this didn’t stem from white people. This stemmed from the oppressed groups who fought to be recognised, whilst the white people in society were blissfully ignorant of their harmful ideologies. Then mindsets began to change. However, remnants of white superiority still exist in the subconscious of many.
So how do we be blissfully (or perhaps unblissfully*) aware?
Reflexivity. (Yes it is a real word).
We need to reflect on our opinions, values, beliefs and alignments and question “why?”.
Why do I feel this way about a certain group of people? Why do I agree with a particular politician? What has brought me to this point and where have my beliefs and values come from? Are they my own, or have they been shaped by the people around me? And are these people qualified or knowledgable enough to make a comment about such issues? Have I really thought this belief of mine through, or have I been blissfully ignorant and believed the popular rhetoric of my community and politicians?
These questions are extremely important, particularly when we are engaging in important conversations and political choices that could potentially be harmful to groups in society.
Don’t be ignorant, until next time nerds. x