Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Teaching the Controversy
I'm sure most of you have heard the above phrase. It has arisen, in the last few years, as a battle cry among evangelical Christians and their enablers, after it became clear that they were never going to be able to convince sane people to replace the established scientific facts of evolution with a pack of infantile myths crammed down the throats of school children. So, they fell back on their "compromise" position, which involves battering us into treating their patent nonsense on an equal footing with scientific fact. This would be the "centrist" thing to do, and therefore, it would be fair to everyone, right?
Well, I am sure most of you are familiar with this idiocy, but what I have been noticing lately is that it is a paradigm of the entire Republican approach to reality- the fabrication of a wholly specious (and in the end utterly ridiculous) alternate reality, and then immense pressure being applied to force people to grant this mythology equal validity with real evidence about the world in which we live. The result of this behavior, normally abetted in every way by our miserable excuse for a mainstream press, has been the watering down and eventual neutralization of every attempt to respond meaningfully to the problems that we face.
We are seeing a classic example of this at work today in the gun debate provoked by the recent school shooting in Connecticut. Even the most rational, harmless proposals from the left, like eliminating the gun show loophole or requiring guns to be kept securely, are obscured and neutralized by endless, moronic right wing bleating about video games and violent movies- in fact nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to blame the left (and the Jews in particular, as is always the case when someone on the right attacks Hollywood) for the damage wrought by uncontrolled gun possession in this country. The real evidence that violent murder is directly related to the number of available guns, and that people with guns are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than people without them, is washed away by the endless crackpot theories from the right, which continue to receive respectful treatment from the press. The result this time, as in all previous occasions, is inevitably going to be a slow draining away of any momentum for dealing with the problem, until nothing but the most superficial action is taken; where the issue will rest until the next appalling gun murder, at which time the process will repeat itself.
Of course, there is no more blatant example of this phenomenon than the supposed controversy about global warming. Although scientists who study this subject agree 100% (okay, okay, in reality only 99.83%) that man made global warming is a threat to the continued existence of the human race, pseudo-scientific lies paid for by the energy industry are routinely treated as equally trustworthy as scientific research; the result being that the real issues (which are beyond doubt to anyone who cares about the truth) are obscured, momentum for dealing with this very real problem is dissipated, and nothing is done.
And let us not forget the most damaging and destructive of all Conservative pseudo-theories: supply side economics. Despite this notion being patent nonsense from the very beginning, and despite the fact that every effort to implement it has resulted in nothing but disaster, its proponents- rich people who stand to benefit from it regardless of its effects on everyone else- continue to pour money into spreading this looking-glass lunacy, and the mainstream press continues to collaborate with them in treating their claims as equally valid as conclusions derived from actual real world evidence. And thus, no amount of being right time after time can result in the likes of Paul Krugman being treated as anything but a crazy ideologue, while conversely, the many people who have pushed this disastrous nonsense in the face of failure after failure are still treated as if they were serious participants in some sort of actual dialogue, rather than hired intellectual thugs employed to prevent the truth from interfering with the schemes of their masters.
Though I could go on here, let me finish with right wing, neoconservative foreign policy, whose total reliance on belligerent bullying and massive acquisition of military hardware has, as far as I can tell, produced nothing but one disaster after another, but which is still promoted far and wide as the answer to every foreign policy problem the country ever faces.
And thus, government in the United States today: reality versus deliberate lies concocted to achieve a desired outcome for a small fraction of the people, on every single issue; and a playing field in which the rules- that both sides must be given equally respectful treatment- insure that those who want to deal with our country's problems are simply worn out fighting against idiotic but highly financed nonsense from their opponents. Thus, despite occasional victories, we seem to be able make little real headway in our fight to right our country, which continues to founder in seas of dissembling and self-serving nonsense.
Given this situation, it is amazing that Obama and the Democrats were able to muster enough support to enable them to avoid a total depression. Of course, the forces of ignorance keep doing everything they can to push us back off the economic cliff, so sad to say, the results aren't really in on that one. It is enough to make most any rational person just give up and move to Costa Rica or something; of course that is exactly what it is intended to do, so that the forces of destruction can continue eating away at the flesh of the country until its corpse collapses on top of them. So far, their strategy, no matter how implausible and ridiculous it may seem from the outside, seems to be making slow but continued progress as it slouches toward inevitable apocalyptic destruction. Of course, to the religious lunatics on the right, that would be a wonderful thing too.