I will admit, before I found atheism and humanism I had little interest in the American government. After some time following and reading, I found something that was quite alarming. The Christian Right stunningly convinced Americans that the country’s roots were firmly planted in Christianity, completely defacing the secular foundations of America. Social and political commentators such as Madeline Murray O’Hare and Christopher Hitchens popularized the idea that the United States Constitution still existed, containing its secular tradition.
But that sometimes doesn’t matter.
The fat-pocketed Christian movement eventually won over the GOP. After that, the rest is history. What’s truly depressing is this: The typical American is unaware of the idiocy that exists behind closed doors. And Werleman delivers what every American should know. After reading this alarming book, it became quite clear to me that Werleman truly cares for America and where it seems to be heading. Not only does he eviscerate the GOP with wit and conviction, he calls for us to stand against this absolute evil before it’s too late.
In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, the late Neil Postman wrote, “Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.” I believe Postman was a little too kind. I would argue that this generation of Americans is the dumbest and least intellectually inquisitive the Western hemisphere has ever seen, and I include Tasmania, Australia. But our collective dumbness is just the way the corporate elite would like us. You see, the goal of anti-intellectualism is to oppress political dissent and, in the Christian Right, corporate interests have again found the perfect partner to help them in their goal of cutting taxes, opposing green initiatives, expanding oil drilling, increasing military spending, and eliminating benefits for the working class.
Now that the Christian Right has seized control of the Republican Party, up is down, and down is up. Black is white, and greenhouse gases are good for the environment. In fact, intellectualism, thinking, and facts are sneered at as if they were a pedophile moving into the apartment next door. Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman wrote, “Know-nothingism – the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggest otherwise – has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: ‘Real men don’t think things through’.”
The GOP’s primary process to choose its nominee for the 2012 election revealed to the world just how far the party had been pulled to the right by religious conservatives, asthe party base and its leaders openly mocked education, and successfully turned “intellectual” into a generic slur. In fact, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who would only later lose the nomination to Romney because of a lack of cash, called President Obama a “snob” for saying he wanted all Americans to have access to college.
The collective policy announcements of the 2012 GOP contenders amounted to, in terms of substance, a race to the intellectual bottom. Absent details, facts, and independent enquiry, the candidate’s respective hashed out social and economic policies were no more than emotion-driven bumper stickers, and at complete odds with reality. Pizza delivery CEO Herman Cain called for a 9-9-9 tax, which would only reward those at the top, while punishing everyone else in the middle and at the bottom, and would fail to balance a budget. Michele Bachmann said the HPV vaccination causes “mental retardation”. It does not! Newt Gingrich’s solution to immigration is a double electrified fence on the Mexican border. Rick Perry said he’d get rid of three government departments but could only name two of them. When asked how he’d handle foreign policy better than Obama, the Texas Governor criticized the President, “Well, I wouldn’t try to outsmart everyone in the room.” Ron Paul said we can solve all of America’s problems by getting rid of every single federal government institution. What he would suddenly do with nearly 5 million government employees he didn’t say. Nor did he answer how, in turning all power back to the States, he would be able to stop Republican controlled states re-enacting Jim Crow laws and establishing laws to award the death penalty to doctors that perform abortions. Newt Gingrich’s solution to high levels of black teen unemployment was to make them janitors.
The only true moderate Conservative in the GOP race was former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who mocked his fellow candidates, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” So, while Huntsman cast a lonely figure when it came to climate change and evolution, let’s see what his Republican opponents had to say:
• Michele Bachmann: “Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas; it is a harmless gas… And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the Earth.”
• Herman Cain: “I don’t believe… global warming is real. Do we have climate change? Yes. Is it a crisis? No. … Because the science, the real science, doesn’t say that we have any major crisis or threat when it comes to climate change.”
• Ron Paul: “While it is evident that the human right to produce and use energy does not extend to activities that actually endanger the climate of the Earth upon which we all depend, bogus claims about climate dangers should not be used as a justification to further limit the American people’s freedom.”
• Rick Perry: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”
• Mitt Romney: “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is. I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans…What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”
• Rick Santorum: “I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air … To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it’s really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm.”
On evolution, the candidates had this to say during the campaign:
• Michele Bachmann: “I support intelligent design. What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”
• Ron Paul: “I think there is a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don’t accept it. … The creator that I know created us, each and every one of us and created the universe, and the precise time and manner … I just don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side.”
• Rick Perry: “I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.”
• Mitt Romney: “I’m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design. But I believe God is intelligent, and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body … True science and true religion are on exactly the same page. They may come from different angles, but they reach the same conclusion. I’ve never found a conflict between the science of evolution and the belief that God created the universe. He uses scientific tools to do his work.”
• Rick Santorum: “I believe in Genesis 1:1 — God created the heavens and the earth … If Gov. Huntsman wants to believe that he is the descendant of a monkey, then he has the right to believe that — but I disagree with him on this and the many other liberal beliefs he shares with Democrats. For Jon Huntsman to categorize anyone as ‘anti-science’ or ‘extreme’ because they believe in God is ridiculous.”
Now, these are the leaders of the Republican Party appealing to the base – the Christian Right, so imagine how much further the rank and file of the GOP are from accepting science and fact. You get people like Delaware Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell who said, “If evolution is real, how come there are still monkeys?” Well, Christine, education is real, and there are still morons.
Now, the purpose of this chapter is to not argue the merits of evolution or climate change, because if you don’t accept both, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this book. Also, I’m not a scientist, so I will leave it to the “snobs” as Rick Santorum calls them, or professors as I call them, to explain the robustness of scientific rigor. The objective is to show how the anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism of the Christian Right, the core of the Republican Party, is fostered and encouraged because not only does it suit the interests of corporations, but it also poses an indelible threat to our democracy.”