Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Enlightened Few

As western civilization struggled during the post-renaissance era between choosing art, science and discovery over the church’s attempts to re-impose its authority in the form of the “Christian Reformation”, there were a few lesser known historical figures who helped shape western culture for the next few centuries. Faced with the prospective of having their imagination stymied, their curiosity arrested and their expression proscribed, the choice of socio/political direction was clear for a generation who defined themselves by their intellect. Christian rule? Hell no.

The church had their chance to govern, and for a thousand years humanity suffered needlessly, died young, and lived in fear, poverty and squalor. Today we refer to that period of history as “the Dark Ages.” Choosing to revert back to that after western civilization had the chance to experience progress would have been somewhat equivalent to returning to prison for a crime one never committed once they’d already experienced freedom. Thanks, but no thanks.

In what’s known today as the “Age of Enlightenment” –or the “Age of Reason”– there was a cultural movement of intellectuals whose purpose was to reform society using reason, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. Intellectuals such as Isaac Newton, Voltaire, and John Locke built upon the genius level contributions to humanity of the renaissance, and challenged ideas grounded in tradition, mythology and faith. They determined that societal precepts should be able to survive the test of scrutiny. To put it simply, truth should supersede superstition.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Enlightenment was a movement that hoped to undo the abuses of power by the church-run state by promoting factualism as arrived at through peer reviewed evidence. Folklore and unfounded beliefs promoted by the church were assaulted with skepticism, and as such were exposed as blatant falsehoods. It wasn’t enough to believe that demons caused illnesses when there were cures that needed to be found.

It was in the eighteenth century that the Enlightenment had reached the American colonies, and which eventually led to the founding of the United States of America. Men like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and James Madison –intellectuals all– recognized that when the church and state become one, the people suffer. Hence, they wrote the single greatest document in the history of civilization specifically disassociated from church authority… The United States Constitution.

The founders of our nation were men of the enlightenment.

Which leads us to today, and the rules of socio/economics mirroring those of physics, leading to the equal and opposite reaction to the force of enlightened reason. There is a concerted political effort at a re-imposition of church authority, and it goes by the name of Christian Dominionism. And it is as rooted in ignorance, greed, and lust for power at the expense of the populace as their medieval predecessors.

For the twenty first century Dominionist Christian, they hope to transform our nation back to a time when fear, intolerance and superstition governed our choices, and science was viewed as heresy. We see it today, with Dominionist politicians denying genetic biology (evolution), the origin of our species, the age of our planet, and even climate change. Dominionist Christians are replete within our legislative body (they help write our laws) and in the 2012 presidential election, ran several Dominionist candidates. One almost got the Republican nomination.

The thing is, it really takes a malevolent, psychotic derangement –at this point in history– to deny peer reviewed, scientific facts and evidence in favor of promoting superstition and fairy tales. However political Dominionists need to do this in order to create a fearful, ignorant –albeit fervent– voting base. The main difference between twelfth, and twenty-first century Christian fundamentalists is that the former had the luxury of scientific incomprehension, while the latter is burdened with contradictory scientific confirmation. Which means that the contemporary Dominionist has to outright lie to his or her constituency.

For example, the Dominionist conceptions for our nation needing to “return to” mosaic (biblical) law are based on the fundamental lie that is that our nation was founded on “Christian principles”. As if they –in the name of Christianity– claim ownership of basic morality (while simultaneously ignoring the founder’s departure from the church when forming the precepts of our nation). The truth is that the United States citizenry were never subject to mosaic law, or church authority in the first place.

The most glaring example of the founder’s intentions regarding the church place within our legislative process, is that there is no mention of God, Jesus, or Christianity anywhere in our constitution. So either our founders simply forgot –which is an absurd assumption– or they did not define their moral principles under Christian terms. Which might also explain why seven of the ten commandments are unconstitutional to enforce, while the three that remain –killing, stealing, lying under oath (bearing false witness)– are laws that have spanned millennia, culture, and religion.

These basic moral precepts are not Christian-only principles. In fact, virtually every civilized culture in history has had these very same laws. Still, Dominionist politicians blur the concept of “morality”, as they do science and history, to coincide with their socio/economic agenda. This might come as a shock to good Christian folks, but Jesus wasn’t the first character in literature to have determined that we should try not to be jerks to one another.

The truth is, that even the founders who did identify themselves as Christians understood the need for a separation of church and state. It was the oppression of the church in England which caused many of these intellectual giants to brave the Atlantic ocean and start life anew in the colonies in the first place. However despite these very researchable historical and scientific facts, there are many who revise history and science to coincide with their astigmatic, Dominionist Christian predispositions. After two hundred and fifty years of church/state separation, Christianity is being re-packaged as patriotism.

There is certainly a reason why we refer to the millennium of church rule as the dark ages, and the period of discovery from which this nation was born as the “Enlightenment”. One needs only to read a few history or science books. The struggle between Christian Dominionism and secularism is literally between willful ignorance and intellectual subjugation, versus sociological advancements in science, medicine, economics, and technology …Or as some might put it, Dark vs. Light.

Our great nation was founded by those who defied church authority, and chose the light.

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Obama Anxiety and Racism Denial

When human nature collides with subjectivity, rarely does intellectual honesty override passion. Truthful introspection more often gives way to projection of one’s own irrational fears in others, and denial of the darker parts of who we are. Our cognitive ability to reflect inward is mired in human frailty, and often prevents us from making uncomfortable admissions about ourselves.

Which is to say that bigots rarely recognize themselves as such, rather they’ll internally rationalize their predispositions as something else, and find ways to express themselves thusly.

Where it concerns our brown skinned President and uncomfortable admissions, the new racist tag line goes something like this: “Anyone who disagrees with the Obama is automatically called a racist by liberals.” … or something like that. I’ve heard variations of this a thousand times, and it usually accompanies partisan platitudes, and accusations of anti-Americanism, a love for Islam, or imaginary socialism. It’s a clear deflection of the nature of one’s bias in order to justify becoming selectively appalled at the present administration. So allow me to explain why this ad-hominem premise is not only false, but is also the projection of one’s self in how he or she might form political opinions, and the denial of one’s own bigotry.

As the American cultural topography becomes increasingly darker skinned, the natural reflex against change can reveal itself in ugly ways. When confronted with one’s own bias, rather than cognitively admitting to ourselves that there is a cultural effect at work regarding how certain predispositions might have caused overzealous reactions heretofore never experienced with other presidential administrations, the internal defenses immediately rise. No one wants to admit that their principles are influenced by something unbecoming of a lucid free thinker. And although the intent is often not malicious, that is how fear manifests itself as racism. You mind if we dance wif yo’ dates?

As such, political centrists often find themselves in the unenviable position of defending a president that they would rather not, rather than acquiesce to the sometimes racist, and often irrational criticisms which defy socio/political facts. Centrists often find themselves appearing to lean left (in order to better frame their perspectives in a reasonable manner) in the face of racist ravings. Sometimes, rational political perspectives –which many in the GOP might accord– go unheard because there is little hope of their acumen being understood by such zealous, right leaning lunatics.

For instance, I have taken the president to task many times over policy, capitulation to the will of capital lobbies, and even chided his cavalier attitude over what I perceive to be an abandonment of his base –in very liberal minded company– and I’ve never been called a racist for doing so. Likewise, when I’ve done the same in the company of conservatives, what I often experience is that uncomfortable look over the shoulder that one performs before telling an inappropriate story… before becoming bombarded with racially tainted, mostly inaccurate assaults. What the GOP electorate rarely acknowledge is the nature of their criticisms, and how it rarely concerns policy. Rather its more often personalized –if not downright fallacious– attacks.

Ridiculous Meme’s posted to social media that misrepresent circumstance and disregard truth in favor of racist innuendo are all too common. Like other forms of institutionalized racism, it is more comfortably delivered through anonymity, or a third party. And like when we shout epithets from behind the wheel of a car knowing that we do so removed from accountability, the vitriol is severe. Still, the present day political climate allows for internal reconciliation, and permits otherwise decent republican folks to name call their President and bear false witness under the guise of patriotism.

Which is not to say that there aren’t plenty of things to criticize this, or any President over. That’s part of the job. However it’s instances of selective outrage over things like President Obama’s use of predator drones, or his administration’s handling of the attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi… when the prior (Republican) administration had several such attacks which have never garnered the calls for investigation –let alone impeachment– that the Benghazi failure to save lives did. But the disparity of outrage for the same acts committed by the Obama administration as opposed to other administrations, is directly proportional to one’s willful political ignorance. Only honest introspection can determine to what extent racism plays a part in determining the singular direction of one’s own level of angst.

The problem for many is that President Obama represents the cultural change in our national landscape, and thus the malevolence directed at him is more a function of anxiety than it is personal. I get that. It’s often not intentional. Nevertheless, it’s still based in racism.

Which is not to say that everyone who has experienced a negative racial reflex regarding the changing cultural topography is worthy for membership in the Klan. The acumen of one’s life’s experience while formulating these percepts should never be dismissed. However to “double down” on ignorance in the light of actuality, and remain steadfast in bias for no other reason than to find comfort in racist proclivities is an abhorrent social dynamic, that unfortunately, has become more prevalent with the election of President Barak Obama within the Republican voting base. For the GOP to move forward into the twenty first century, it must change that dynamic within their party.

But before they can solve the problem of reflexive racism, they have to recognize that there is a problem.

Basic Mental Competency and the GOP

When people are chosen for high profile professions where lives and livelihoods are at stake, one would think that sanity would be a basic requirement before even being considered. For instance, we’d never think to offer an important job to someone who unabashedly displays irrational thoughts, if not mental and emotional instability. Imagine your retirement being invested on your behalf by someone who routinely denied facts and evidence in favor of superstition. We’d shutter at the thought of our life savings being in the hands of someone who made decisions based upon voices they heard from an imaginary co-conspirator.

“My invisible friend Ajax whispered in my ear that I should invest your entire portfolio in a company that uses mental telepathy to cure hepatitis.”

One would think that Americans would embrace leaders who are able to keep their wits about them, and display reason, and intellect during a crisis. That is unless those would-be leaders are Republicans seeking public office. Then those of us on the right apply a completely different criterion. In this “king has no clothes” scenario, as long as irrationality accompanies a new age American, “Jesus guided the hands who wrote our constitution and wanted us to hate President Obama, have lots of guns and persecute gays”, version of Christianity… then Republican voters just pretend that the delirium is not delirium at all, but rather a valid perspective.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Which brings us to the state of denial that the “GOP body politic” have to place themselves in order to mentally reconcile what they want their party to be, as opposed to what it actually is…. a haven for Dominionist Christian lunatics. For numerous reasons, Republican voters ignore the maniacal “god” ravings of people whom they elect to office, and more importantly who write our laws. In what I can only assume is a reflexive disdain for Democrats, Republican voters are able to rationalize –if not justify– their candidate’s craziness, no matter how unreasonable, or unattached to reality it is.
Routinely, GOP candidates exhibit what can only be described as a serious misfiring in their synapses which must allow them to not only experience psychotic delusions, but proudly speak about them on television. It’s as if they’re under the misconception that everyone can hear the voices in their heads. Here are just a few examples:

“They (Guns) are used to defend our property and our families and our faith and our freedom, and they are absolutely essential to living the way God intended for us to live.” — California Rep. Tim Donnelly (R)

“These are people who are going to have to answer to a much higher power than me about why they have appealed and appealed and appealed.” — Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), saying critics of his Jobs Ohio program will have to answer to God.

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.” Rep. Paul Broun

“One of the things I will talk about, that no President has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country…. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” —Rick Santorum

“A woman [Terry Schiavo] was healthy. There was brain damage, there is no question. But from a health point of view, she was not terminally ill.” – Rep. Michele Bachman

”I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” – Rep Richard Murdoch

“I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” – Rick Santorum

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.” –Rep. Michele Bachmann, suggesting that the 2011 East Coast earthquake and hurricane was a message from God

“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.” -Texas Gov. Rick Perry

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down” – Rep Todd Akin

The tragedy is there are thousands of these less-than-rational Republican god-quotes spoken within this past election cycle alone. I could copy and paste for hours. And while both Republican *AND* Democratic politicians are capable of saying really stupid things about policy from time to time… this is not about bumbled words or even bad politics. This is about electing people to public office who should be given a coloring book between electro-shock therapy sessions.

Although our American melting pot has become a mosaic of cultures and philosophies, and we struggle with the neanthropic changes in our social landscape, we must not allow the fear of change to alter our perspectives enough to embrace bigotry and hatred as justifiable via religious scripture. We humans figured out a long time ago that if we are to make a better world, that –at most– these religious books were to be interpreted metaphorically. To translate the bible literally with the 21st century knowledge we have is tantamount to believing that Spiderman defeated the Green Goblin because you read it in a comic book.

Yet that very fear of change drives many voters to embrace the mad jabber of Dominionist Christian politicians who would prey upon their assailable psyches. The Republican constituency is now willing to vote based upon their candidate’s belief in fairy tales. Political evangelists tell their voting flocks that they are the stewards of the nation as told to them by God, and those words are comforting to hear… if not, batshit crazy.

But it wasn’t always this way… there was a time when the GOP wasn’t run by maniacs, and their policies did not reflect a 12th century socio/economic perspective. Here is a reflection of a true conservative Republican:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

And:

The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom…. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are?… I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

– Barry Goldwater, (1909–1998), five-term US Senator, Republican Party nominee for President in 1964, Maj. Gen., US Air Force Reserves, author of The Conscience of a Conservative.

You cannot separate the stage 4 dementia from the Republican Party as it has infested its very marrow. So here’s the thing for Republican voters, because until they recognize the cancer within their own party, they can never help remove it. Do they really hate Democrats enough to want to willfully elect deranged mental cases? If so, what does that say about the Republican electorate?

To live in 2013 and to believe in the biblical story of creation, to deny scientific consensus derived from peer reviewed evidence, and to claim that you hear voices from above guiding your decision making… it doesn’t make you pious, godly, or even a decent human being. It makes you certifiably, cukoo for Coco Puffs, get-the-net, Jodi Arias, crazy.

… and not-fer-nothin’, but a total lack of sanity should prohibit anyone from holding public office.