Demonizing Academia

What Kepler and Copernicus theorized, Galileo proved. The sun –not the Earth– was the center of our solar system. For his efforts in discovering this truth (which every grade school child understands today) Galileo was rewarded by the Pope with being forced to denounce his work publicly under threat of torture, and spending the remainder of his life under house arrest. Discovery that conflicted with scripture was considered blasphemous, regardless of truth.

And so it is in certain parts of America, in 2013.

As the “TEA-vangelical” movement takes over total control of the Republican party, there has been a concerted effort to impose a sixteenth century suppression of academics via policy. In a barrage of anti-education platitudes — worded so-as-to convince the TEA Party proletariat that higher education is more accurately liberal propaganda design to dis-inform the masses by using science to steer good Christian folks away from biblical truth– there is now a rationalization amongst GOP voters which allows for an intellectual concession. A significant portion of our country now denounces academics as a matter of party-line protocol as explained via conservative, mono-syllabic diatribes on cable news.

But the motivations behind these attacks on education are much more sinister than one might think. Just as it was during the medieval inquisition, the constraining of knowledge is being portrayed as something other than what it’s intended as. Since Evangelical Christian politicians can’t come right out and say that “we want to keep you less educated so you’ll be more easily manipulated, and therefore easier to control” they attack the institutions of higher learning under the guise of “fiscal responsibility”. As if there is anything fiscally responsible about reducing the earning potential of the populace through suppressing intellect. Education (more accurately educating people) within the Republican economic stratagem is simply not worth the investment.

Well, the world needs ditch diggers too. Lots of em’.

Since the merging of the Republican party with Christian fundamentalism, there has been a slow, but systematic attempt to dismantle Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s wall of separation between church and state. As any other historical movement towards theocracy suggests, the most effective way to accomplish this is through the bastardization of the education system. Rather than be the nation born of the Enlightenment, and who first put a man on the moon, the GOP is revisiting the 1925 Scopes trial. Although a dark spot in our own history almost a hundred years in the American past, an un-subtle attempt to re-introduce creationism in science class is occurring all over the under-educated red-state south .

Following the 2012 pasting that the Republican party took in the national elections, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s instinct for political self preservation cajoled him into publically proclaiming that the GOP had to stop being the “party of stupid”. It is an admirable sentiment. Except that despite this, he continues to capitulate to his evangelical masters in supporting (un)intelligent design being taught alongside evolution in public schools. Stupid is, as stupid does, Governor Jindal.

To make educational matters worse in the predominantly Christian, red state south, there are no laws to mandate that medically accurate information be taught in sexual education classes. The results have been a significantly higher teen pregnancy rate than their blue state counterparts. In fact, the top ten states for unwanted teen pregnancies in 2013 were Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina are all Christian Red States. But the Christian TEA Party can’t allow reality to seep into their method of education when it defies their pedestrian interpretation of biblical precepts.

God apparently wants abstinence through blind obedience, not via choices made through understanding reproductive facts. However the TEA-vangelical economic goal –as it has been throughout history when Christianity vies for political power– is to create poverty amongst the masses. Not (as they are claiming) to educate, or avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The thing is, the Republican strategy is working perfectly. The most effective method of deriding education is to convolute the meanings of socio/political terminology. In some cases it is to apply a feckless insincerity and mean the exact opposite of what one says. This is how they can sell the attack on education to red-state America. For instance, teaching children facts about science and history in public school is now being referred to by the Christian Proletariat as “indoctrination”, whereas actually indoctrinating them with factually inaccurate versions of these same subjects is being referred to as “freedom.”

Freedom to remain ignorant, I guess.

But the reality is that in order to control the masses, you must keep them –not only uneducated– but wary of those who are. Republicans have even gone so far as referring to academics as “elitists” and “snobs” in order to create a hostility between middle-America and institutions of higher learning. We’ve seen what happens when people become educated. The middle class and the economy grow, and generations prosper. That is the socio/economic opposite of what any theocracy in history has endeavored to create.

Indeed, an equitable distribution of wealth is the theocratic ruling class’ worst economic nightmare. So the TEA-vangelical/GOP has re-branded its educational policy to equate to “Lack of knowledge is Power”. And they are correct, for those at the top of the economic pyramid, anyway. The march backwards towards the twelfth century socio/economic division of wealth and power requires non-thinking, unquestioning, uneducated, easily manipulated Christian soldiers.

“The Kin-yun So-Sha-list wants to destroy ‘Murrica”

The very basis for Christian fundamentalism is derived from the story of what happens when one seeks knowledge. In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve’s fall from grace occurred when they defied God by eating fruit from the “forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Despite being an awfully long name for a topiary, it stands as a warning to Christians that comprehension defies God. Avoiding knowledge is the premise from which Christianity operates.

As I write this, the interest rates on college tuition loans have doubled. Despite the direct correlation –both individually and communally– between education and prosperity, there has been a TEA-vangelical inspired socially conservative movement in America to circumvent the process by which we garner knowledge. It begins with teaching grade school children that women were created from the first man’s rib, and it ends with denying entrance to the institutions where they might learn otherwise. It is right wing social engineering.

There is a reason why scientists, and intellectuals –AKA “smart people”– tend to shy away from the Christian led GOP. Academics stand for everything that those who would profit from an uneducated nation are afraid of… socio/economic equity, and knowledge. However being afraid of the dark, while irrational, is one thing. But being afraid of the light is quite another.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on July 6, 2013, in Recent Posts, Socio/Political and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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