I did something stupid on the subway the other day. I got in an argument with one of those dumbass racist “black Israelite” fellows. The black Israelites are a bunch of dweebs who insist that white people eat babies (this dude actually said that) and that Christ will come to enslave the white man (any day now.) I’ll spare you the details of the conversation.
Anyway, walking back from the station to my apartment building I got to thinking. What’s the point of fighting ignorance? It’s one thing if someone displays a desire to learn, for example, by posting a question in GQ. That kind of ignorance fighting is valuable and useful.
But you can’t convince a kook that the moon landing were real. You can’t convince a religious zealot racist that white people don’t (usually) eat babies. You can’t convince a screwball fundy that the Earth is a bit older than 6,000 years. So what’s the point?
Then I realized what the point is.
Fighting ignorance is a great vehicle for me to learn things. So amazingly pissed off was I about the legion imbeciles who refuse to believe that man walked on the moon, that I went and learned a tremendous amount about the Apolo Program, orbital mechanics, physics, 1960s technology, radio communications, Van Allen Belts, radiation, optics, and any other number of topics, just so I could argue with the kooks. And I came away from the experience with a tremendous amount of knowledge, despite the fact that I had convinced no one.
During the JDT fiasco, I learned a lot about the practice of circumcision and its history, a topic previously completely uninteresting to me.
And when I got home the other day, I went and did some googling about these Black Israelite chaps. Just so I know WTF they’re all about.
In all of these cases, the ignorant remained ignorant. But ignorance was faught – my own.
And that makes it worth it.