Ignorance is Right

It is significant that ignorance plays a large role in the politics of conservatives. I wish I could define that as “of ultra conservatives”, but ignorance has spread beyond the extreme right.

Gross ignorance, for instance, is at the heart of the tea party movement. It is not always as obvious as, for example, when someone in a recent tea party protest against health reform held up a sign that said, “Govt, keep your hands off my Medicare.” (Someone should have told that moron that Medicare is a government program; without government, there would be no Medicare.)

There are many other indicators of ignorance. Tea Partyists like to see themselves as reincarnations of the original patriots who founded this country. But dressing up as them is as close as they ever get, for the founding patriots were not at all like the tea partyists. They were about unity, stability and working together; they were not about disunity and destabilization. Above all, they did not protest taxation. In Boston, after the real historic tea party, they continued to pay their taxes to the colonial government. What they were opposed to was “taxation without representation”, a different matter altogether. The present day tea partyists are actually the antithesis of the real tea party patriots.

The tea partyists do not want to accept the results of the last election. They are stridently anti-Obama, but to call him a Nazi and make him a latter-day Hitler is nothing short of absurd. Obama is the opposite of the extreme right wing that Nazism represents, and of the white race supreme leader of the Third Reich, whose minions set out to purge the land of non-white races, to destroy democracy, and to raid and smash homes and offices of opposition leaders. Uh oh! It’s beginning to sound like the behavior of some of the tea party’s very own members.

Other commentators have noted the racism that is at the heart of the tea party movement, so I’ll leave this one to them. “Take back America,” means in effect, “Take back America from a black president.”

Away from the tea party, conservatives are on the move to rewrite the history books in their own image, especially in Texas, but also on radio and TV and in written publications. This is not simply an exercise in cynicism. It is a genuine exercise of ignorance. In this Right version, Franklin D. Roosevelt caused the Great Depression. (He didn’t, but he was a Democrat, so let’s blame him.) Theodore Roosevelt, one of the great Republican presidents, turns out to be a socialist. (He wasn’t.) Jamestown in 1607 was a socialist experiment that (naturally) failed – ignoring the fact that Jamestown was the result of a capitalist venture that set out to make a profit; it did come close to failure, but eventually made it. Joe McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts of the early 1950s, was actually an American hero and should not have been censured by the Senate. (The censure, incidentally, was led by Republicans.)

More details on the conservative effort to rewrite history are to be found at http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/01/91478/some-conservatives-rewrite-history.html.

Of course, to some extent, history can be interpreted in different ways. For instance, one might debate the extent to which Ronald Reagan’s policies contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The circumstances around this event are complex; some are open to interpretation, while others do not provide clear indications of significance. What are not open to interpretation are facts and first person statements. But these are exactly what the conservatives are fudging, glossing over, ignoring, or simply misrepresenting (that is, simply lying about) to make the case for their new version of history.

By politicizing history into their own image, they are doing what the very ideologies they most oppose do. These are precisely the activities that non-democratic totalitarian governments (such as Nazism and communism) indulge in to twist history into a model that supports and justifies their ideologies.

Christian Implants and Other Wonders

Carrie Prejean, as a conservative Christian Miss California, got her first nationwide publicity when, in answer to a Miss USA pageant question, she said that she was opposed to gay marriage. She was criticized for her answer, but what did the interviewer expect? Should she have lied? It was a stupid question by an idiot who had his own agenda. She was entitled to express her belief and she should be admired for daring to say it. Her later preparedness to switch off Larry King, during an unacceptable line of questioning, shows that she still has spunk.

The publicity from the gay marriage answer, however, led to other revelations, and she lost her the Miss California title. The subsequent happenings made her look like an airhead, especially when she proclaimed that Sarah Palin, the primo political airhead, was her idol. Some commentators suggested a joke Palin/Prejean presidential ticket for 2012!

First, it turns out that she had breast implants. Prejean defended these by saying that there was nothing un-Christian in getting them. “I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn’t get breast implants.” Then she had posed for half nude photographs, which she blamed on the wind blowing her top open. She did not say it, but there’s nothing in the Bible that says you shouldn’t pose for nude photographs. Then a solo sex video surfaced. Then many more. There’s nothing in the Bible that says you shouldn’t make masturbation videos. Now she has had a firm offer for a porn movie. Carrie, there’s nothing in the Bible that says …

I shouldn’t make fun of her conservative Christian rationalizations, since the fabric of her world may be crashing around her, or perhaps those fifteen minutes of fame are being effectively extended. Maybe her Christianity will allow her to venture into the seedier world into which she seems to be heading. If so, I feel kind of sorry for her.

Conservative Christians are very good at rationalizing. In Prejean’s case, what may be embarrassing to her, is no more than harmless amusement to the rest of us. Where it is not harmless, is when it appears in the people to whom we may someday entrust society and government. The ultra-right wing of the Republican Party is trying to purge the moderates of the party, and, together with the “screamers” on radio and Fox News, it defines itself solidly as Christian.

But what kind of Christianity is this?

It is certainly not the caring, charitable kind of Christianity we associate with Jesus, when its main characteristic is denial, when it takes rather than gives, when it says no to need and care. It is a selfish Christianity without moral depth and without charity. Christianity with implants!

It is okay to lie and deceive, both openly and through manipulation. We can divorce our wives, even as they are confined to bed with cancer. Adultery is fine, because our colleagues will forgive us (which is just about as good as God’s forgiveness.) We can send prurient emails to boy pages we lust for. Being “unclean” (Matthew 16:10) is now perfectly fine and Christian.

Additionally, we can now place money above morality. We can bow to special interest groups that line our back pockets with green and then we go and do their bidding, even if it flies against national and humane interests. We operate as back pocket gophers and persuade ourselves that this is in everyone’s best interests. Yes, our Christian implants say; yes, yes, we can worship both God and money (Matthew 6:24).

The two references I gave are to actual words of Jesus. The rest of the Bible, both old and new, has many prohibitions that are either ignored or simply flouted by these professed Christians. In fairness, I should point out, though, that when it comes to health care, the biggest back pocket gopher seems to be Joe Lieberman, the senator from Connecticut, who is neither Republican nor Christian, but the political conservative Christians are not far behind.

Prejean defended her implants by saying that there was nothing in the Bible against them. But the actions of the super-conservative Christian Republicans fly directly in the face of what is proscribed in the Bible. Clearly, they must have implants that allow them to put on this front.

The wind is blowing.

Your implants are showing

And you don’t care.

God is all knowing

And you will be going

To you know where.