Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Is Ivy League education accurate measure of ‘well-educated’?

In justifying why Botswana MPs should be paid more money, Mmadinare MP, Kefentse Mzwinila, may have employed a fallacy that connects being well-educated with having gone to Ivy League schools in the United States.

The MP stated that he, Botswana Movement Democracy president Ndaba Gaolathe and the Leader of the Opposition, Duma Boko, are “well-educated” because they went to Yale, the Wharton Business School of Business and Harvard respectively. To be clear, all three men demonstrate superior intelligence and in that regard are themselves well-educated. However, not all Ivy Leaguers are well-educated and two infamous men from the United States itself (current Republican front runner, Donald Trump and former US president, George Bush) are living proof of that. 

While he brags about having gone to Wharton where he was an “intelligent” student, Trump doesn’t demonstrate that in his appreciation and articulation of even the most basic issues. In a past televised debate, Trump said that an opponent of his in the Republican race, Senator Ted Cruz, criticised his judge sister for “signing” a certain bill. The problem is, judges don’t sign bills into law. In another debate, Trump who as president would be commander-in-chief, had no idea what the “nuclear triad” is. The latter refers to America’s nuclear delivery capability which rests on three pillars: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. Asked what his priority would be among the three, Trump rambled on and on, clearly showing his ignorance. In an interview that he did with the Washington Post a fortnight ago, Trump cited an invasion of privacy case as an example when responding to a question about libel. Asked to explain how he would “open up libel laws” as he suggested, his response was that “I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you, but I would loosen them up.” Generally, this intelligent Wharton graduate has not been able to back up his positions on issues with comprehensive policy detail. Trump is unable to speak in complete sentences and his answers are rambling, incoherent and unfocussed. Little wonder then that a CNN host has compared his reasoning to that of a five-year old. Somebody has fretted about how simultaneous translators would do their job under President Trump.

Then there is Bush who went to both Harvard and Yale and is the reason the Middle East is currently being roiled by turmoil. If terrorist organisations carried the surname of the person who created them, ISIS would be called “ISIS Bush”. In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel last year, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a retired Defense Intelligence Agency director, blamed the 2003 Iraq war ÔÇö which is Bush’s handiwork ÔÇö for creating ISIS. A well-educated person would have been able to make judgement similar to that of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who predicted that invading Iraq would lead to the chaos that has seized the Middle East. With his Harvard MBA, Bush (who holds the record of being the only US president to hold an MBA) didn’t even know what a recession was, telling a CBS interviewer in 2000: “Dick Cheney and I do not want this nation to be in a recession. We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work.” Neither did he understand the roles of two branches of government: “The legislature’s job is to write law. It’s the executive branch’s job to interpret law.” Shown his first budget, Bush quipped: “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.” 


With his Mike Tyson-esque vocabulary, Bush couldn’t even speak proper English and singled-handedly inspired a cottage industry of what are now known as “Bushisms”. Here are just some Bushism gems: “I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy”; “They misunderestimated me”; “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we”; “I regret that a private comment I made to the vice presidential candidate made it through the public airways”; “I want you to know that farmers are not going to be secondary thoughts to a Bush administration. They will be in the forethought of our thinking”; “Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream”; and, “You’re working hard to put food on your family.”

Then again, this may be no laughing matter. Late journalist and pundit, Christopher Hitchens, suggested that Bush may be dyslexic “to the point of near-illiteracy.” However, that didn’t stop him from obtaining two degrees from as many Ivy League universities.


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