You Decide: Are Americans Stupid? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

It's one thing to be uneducated; it's another to be stupid. If a new report on drop out rates in major U.S. metropolitan cities is to be believed, fewer Americans are educated. If the following video represents a cross section of the United States, far to many Americans are also stupid. Taken together, they paint a frightening picture. It's a mixture that may well explain our diminishing economic advantage and it may also signal our waning relevance on the world stage.

From The Washington Post:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration announced Tuesday it will require states to report high school graduation rates in a uniform way instead of using a variety of methods that critics say are often based on unreliable information.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the change at a news conference at which a report was released showing that 17 of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent.

Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.

"When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.

Now take a look at the following video. While this piece was a tongue-in-cheek presentation aired on Australian television, it is difficult to ignore the subtle threads of truth that underly the humor.

When I traveled around the world in late 2004 and early 2005, it became apparent that many foreigners were beginning to mistrust the American public. Generally speaking, the message I received was that the world could excuse the unfortunate election of George Bush in 2000...but his reelection in 2004 had set in motion doubts about the electorate's judgment. Further, the prior willingness to separate the unpopular actions of the U.S. government from the generally positive perceptions of the average American was beginning to erode.

At the same time, I sensed a forgiving tone predicated upon America's long history as a force for good in the world. Notwithstanding, it was apparent that granting the benefit of the doubt would eventually come to an end if our trajectory remained the same.

While the 2006 election may have been viewed as a step in the right direction, I think it's safe to surmise that little has happened since my travels to reassure the rest of the world that a sea change has occurred. The seeming ineffectiveness of the Democrats to reduce or remove our troops from Iraq couldn't have been encouraging.

The world may well view 2008 as our defining moment. Should the American voter install a president who "stays the course", I would anticipate a much stronger backlash and an accelerated erosion of credibility.

In the end, it becomes a question of the meaning of freedom. America has always been a beacon for independent thought and the champion of the oppressed. If our actions in November appear to be an affirmation of the status quo and an acquiescence to conformity, I suspect we will not only be seen as uneducated and stupid; we will soon be relabeled as representative of a mindset that chooses dictation over diplomacy and preemption over persuasion.

If that should transpire, the world may rightly conclude that fear has become the catalyst that will lead a once fearless people to further embrace the suspension of freedom. Hopefully, most Americans are smarter than that. Only time...and the ballot box...will tell.

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