Friday, November 29, 2013

The Silent (Unthinking, Well-Educated) Majority

“Both the allegiance and socialization processes cause the educated to believe that what America does is right. Public opinion polls show the nonthinking results. In late spring 1966, just before the United States began bombing Hanoi and Haiphong in North Vietnam, Americans split 50-50 as to whether we should bomb these targets. After the bombing began, 85 percent favored the bombing while only 15 percent opposed. The sudden shift was the result, not the cause, of the government’s decision to bomb. The same allegiance and socialization processes operated again when policy changed in the opposite direction. In 1968, war sentiment was waning; but 51 percent of Americans opposed a bombing halt, partly because the United States was still bombing North Vietnam. A month later, after President Johnson announced a bombing halt, 71 percent favored the halt. Thus, 23 percent of our citizens changed their minds within a month, mirroring the shift in government policy. This swaying of thought by policy affects attitudes on issues ranging from our space program to environmental policy and shows the so-called “silent majority” to be an unthinking majority as well. Educated people are overrepresented among these straws in the wind.” [Emphasis added. —CWJ]

Excerpt from: James W. Loewen. “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” 2nd. edition. Perseus, 2010-09-16. iBooks.