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无知即力量?

更新时间:2017-2-15 10:32:59 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Ignorance Is Strength
无知即力量?

When I travel to Asia, I’m fairly often met at the airport by someone holding a sign reading “Mr. Paul.” Why? In much of Asia, names are given family first, personal second — at home, the prime minister of Japan is referred to as Abe Shinzo. And the mistake is completely forgivable when it’s made by a taxi driver picking up a professor.

我在亚洲旅行时,经常在机场看到有人举着牌子,写着“保罗先生”。为什么会这样呢?因为在亚洲大部分地区,姓在前,名在后,日本首相在国内被称为安倍晋三(Abe Shinzo)。如果是一名出租车司机在接一位教授时犯了这种错误,是完全可以被原谅的。

It’s not so forgivable, however, if the president of the United States makes the same mistake when welcoming the leader of one of our most important economic and security partners. But there it was: Donald Trump referring to Mr. Abe as, yes, Prime Minister Shinzo.

但如果美国总统在欢迎我们最重要的经济和安全伙伴的领袖时犯同样的错误就非常不能原谅。但这种事还真发生了:唐纳德·特朗普把安倍首相叫成了晋三首相。

Mr. Abe did not, as far as we know, respond by calling his host President Donald.

据我们所知,安倍没有称他为唐纳德总统。

Trivial? Well, it would be if it were an isolated instance. But it isn’t. What we’ve seen instead over the past three weeks is an awesome display of raw ignorance on every front. Worse, there’s no hint that either the White House or its allies in Congress see this as a problem. They appear to believe that expertise, or even basic familiarity with a subject, is for wimps; ignorance is strength.

你觉得这事无关紧要?呃,如果这是个孤立事件,你可以这么说。但它不是。在过去三周里,我们在各个方面看到了可怕的一无所知。更糟糕的是,不管是白宫还是它在国会的盟友似乎都不觉得这是个问题。他们似乎认为,专业知识或对某个话题的基本了解是懦夫才需要的,无知就是力量。

We see this on legal matters: In a widely quoted analysis, the legal expert Benjamin Wittes described the infamous executive order on refugees as “malevolence tempered by incompetence,” and noted that the order reads “as if it was not reviewed by competent counsel at all” — which is a good way to lose in court.

我们在法律问题上看到了这一点:在一份被广泛引用的分析中,法律专家本杰明·维茨(Benjamin Wittes)将关于难民的臭名昭著的行政令描述为“被无能冲淡的恶意”,称它读起来“好像完全未被称职的律师审核过”——这是在法庭上败诉的捷径。

We see it on national security matters, where the president continues to rely on a chief adviser who, suspicious closeness to the Kremlin aside, appears to get his strategic information from right-wing conspiracy theorists.

我们在国家安全问题上看到了这一点:总统继续依赖一名似乎从右翼阴谋论者那里获得战略信息的首席顾问,且不提他与克里姆林宫那令人生疑的亲密关系。

We see it on education, where the hearings for Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, revealed her to be completely ignorant about even the most elementary issues.

我们在教育领域看到了这一点:教育部长贝茜·德沃斯(Betsy DeVos)的听证会表明,她甚至对最基本的问题都一无所知。

We see it on diplomacy. How hard is it to ask someone from the State Department to make sure that the White House gets foreign leaders’ names right? Too hard, apparently: Before the Abe flub, the official agenda for the state visit by Theresa May, the British prime minister, repeatedly misspelled her name.

我们在外交方面看到了这一点。让国务院的某个人确保白宫把外国领导人的名字弄对有多难?显然是太难了:在弄错安倍的姓氏之前,英国首相特丽莎‧梅(Theresa May)国事访问的官方日程多次把她的名字拼错。

And on economics — well, there’s nobody home. The Council of Economic Advisers, which is supposed to provide technical expertise, has been demoted from cabinet rank, but that hardly matters, since nobody has been nominated to serve. Remember all that talk about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan? If you do, please remind the White House, which hasn’t offered even a ghost of a concrete proposal.

在经济方面——呃,完全没人在家啊。本应提供技术专业知识的经济顾问委员会(Council of Economic Advisers)已经被从内阁降级,不过那也无所谓了,反正没人获得任命。还记得关于1万亿美元基础设施计划的那些讲话吗?如果你还记得,请你提醒白宫,因为它还没提出一丁点儿具体方案呢。

But let me not be too hard on the Tweeter-in-chief: disdain for expertise is general in his party. For example, the most influential Republican economists aren’t serious academics with a conservative bent, of whom there are many; they’re known hacks who literally can’t get a number right.

不过我还是不要对这位Twitter统帅太过苛刻了:在他的党内,对专业知识的鄙视很常见。比如,最有影响力的共和党经济学家不是具有保守主义倾向的严肃学者——这种人其实很多——而是连数字都弄不对的著名笔杆子。

Or consider the current G.O.P. panic over health care. Many in the party seem shocked to learn that repealing any major part of Obamacare will cause tens of millions to lose insurance. Anyone who studied the issue could have told them years ago how the pieces of health reform fit together, and why. In fact, many of us did, repeatedly. But competent analysis wasn’t wanted.

或者想想共和党目前对医改法案的恐慌。共和党内的很多人似乎震惊地发现,撤销奥巴马法案的任何主要部分都将导致数千万人失去保险。任何研究过这个问题的人都本可以在多年前告诉他们医改的各个部分是如何整合到一起的以及背后的原因。实际上,我们很多人都多次解释过。不过,称职的分析并不被需要。

And that is, of course, the point. Competent lawyers might tell you that your Muslim ban is unconstitutional; competent scientists that climate change is real; competent economists that tax cuts don’t pay for themselves; competent voting experts that there weren’t millions of illegal ballots; competent diplomats that the Iran deal makes sense, and Putin is not your friend. So competence must be excluded.

那当然才是问题的关键。称职的律师可能会告诉你,你的穆斯林禁令违宪;称职的科学家会告诉你,气候变化是真实存在的;称职的经济学家会告诉你,减免税额不会没有成本;称职的选举专家会告诉你,并不存在数百万非法投票;称职的外交官会告诉你,伊朗核协议是合理的,而且普京不是你的朋友。所以,称职必须被排除在外。

At this point, someone is bound to say, “If they’re so dumb, how come they won?” Part of the answer is that disdain for experts — sorry, “so-called” experts — resonates with an important part of the electorate. Bigotry wasn’t the only dark force at work in the election; so was anti-intellectualism, hostility toward “elites” who claim that opinions should be based on careful study and thought.

在这方面,有人会说,“如果他们那么蠢,怎么会赢?”一个原因是,对专家——对不起,是“所谓”的专家——的鄙视引起了很多选民的共鸣。偏执并不是在选举中起作用的唯一黑暗力量,还有反智主义以及对“精英”的敌意——精英们认为,观点必须基于认真的研究和思考。

Also, campaigning is very different from governing. This is especially true when the news media spend far more time obsessing over your opponent’s pseudo-scandals than they do on all actual policy issues combined.

另外,竞选与统治截然不同。当新闻媒体把更多的时间用于报道对手的伪丑闻而不是对所有切实政策问题展开研究时,尤其如此。

But now things have gotten real, and all indications are that the people in charge have no idea what they’re doing, on any front.

但现在,他们要处理的是现实的事务,但各种迹象表明,掌管大权的人在各个方面对自己做的事情一无所知。

In some ways this cluelessness may be a good thing: malevolence may indeed be tempered by incompetence. It’s not just the court defeat over immigration; Republican ignorance has turned what was supposed to be a blitzkrieg against Obamacare into a quagmire, to the great benefit of millions. And Mr. Trump’s imploding job approval might help slow the march to autocracy.

在某些方面,这种一无所知可能是好事:敌意的确可能被无能淡化。不只是在移民问题上的诉讼失败。共和党的无知把对奥巴马法案的突袭变成了泥潭,成百上千万人因此受益。人们对特朗普工作认可度的骤降可能帮助减缓独裁进程。

But meanwhile, who’s in charge? Crises happen, and we have an intellectual vacuum at the top. Be afraid, be very afraid.

不过与此同时,谁在掌控大局?危机发生时,我们的顶层存在一个智识的真空。要警惕,要十分警惕啊。

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