MIke Hughes: Exercise the right to be brilliant

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 04:38 PM

While speaking to young people in Germany recently, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked, “Do you see a difference [between] Muslim teenagers in Germany and Muslim teenagers in America?” Kerry’s answer wasn’t entirely bad. He spoke of religious and political freedom and tolerance in America. He mentioned that freedom of speech applies to the tolerant as well as the intolerant. But he should’ve left it at that. As he continued, he said a few words that clearly demonstrate one of the major differences between conservatives and liberals.
“In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be … and we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.”
No. Tolerating stupidity is not a virtue. The right to be stupid is an undesirable side-effect of freedom, a necessary evil, if you will. It’s not worth fighting for. The right to be brilliant is worth fighting for. The right to be successful, rich, powerful, creative, generous, humane, religious, intelligent, unique … all worth fighting for. Being stupid isn’t on the list.
Tolerance of stupidity isn’t what made America great. The freedom to be the best we can be is what made America great. That freedom led young Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard to start a business in a one-car garage during the Great Depression. Their intelligent decisions led to great wealth for themselves as well as untold wealth and prosperity for many millions of other people all around the world. HP is now a household name.
When people use freedom to make their own world better, it tends to also make the world better for everyone else. This is not so when people use freedom to better themselves at the expense of others.
It should come as no surprise that a liberal politician like Kerry would see virtue in tolerating stupidity. Without that stupidity, Kerry’s political career would have ended when he threw his military decorations over a fence in front of the U.S. Capitol, or when he took it upon himself to negotiate with Vietnamese communists in Paris in 1970, or when he lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about atrocities allegedly committed by his fellow service members. As stated in a 2004 column by author Jerome Corsi, “Kerry’s 1971 message to the U.S. Senate was communist propaganda, pure and simple.”
The presence of stupid people in America isn’t new, but we used to have fewer of them, because we used to let them learn from their mistakes. Now the government sends them a check and tells them that their mistakes were someone else’s fault. Politicians subsidize stupidity because they know they’ll get votes in return.
Kerry said, “We somehow make it through that.” That’s a good summary of his career: Somehow he made it through. But the rest of us are stuck with the mess that he helped create – and we’re going to be stuck with the mess that he’s now creating in his new job. It would do America a lot of good to stop subsidizing stupidity, at all levels, including Secretary of State.

Mike Hughes is a Navy veteran who lives in High Point. His column appears here every other Sunday. To comment, visit www.hpe.com and click on local commentary. E-mail  him at mrmike27282@gmail.com. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.