Thursday, 20 August 2009

Bigotry, Stupidity and Superstition in the Age of the Internet.

Last night, my friend and I, after sitting through Dune: David Lynch’s beautiful mess of a film; we traversed into the dark heart of America - via the omniscient power of the internet. My friend, perhaps a little naïve, was shocked to discover that the Prophet Muhammad had sex with a nine year old girl (this came up after the discovery that Dune has many allusions and parallels to Islam and the oil situation in the Middle East.) He was dumbfounded when he saw the Conservapedia site; laughed outright at the sheer verbal and intellectual incompetence of Sarah Palin; and, was thoroughly disgusted by a evangelical propaganda video.

The omnipresent question one always has to ask oneself: how can anyone believe this? You can have perfectly sound explanations of course, indeed, you can even have deep and penetrating psychological and scientific accounts of why people believe the “darndest” things, But still, despite someone like myself, (who is oddly familiar with quite a bit of human credulity), I find myself - adrift in sea of apoplexy and confusion, which, finally, waves into amused apathy and despondent futility.

Why are so many Americans, from the point of view of everyone else - so seemingly ridiculous? Now I am no crude despiser of America; on the contrary rather - it is a great country. Nevertheless, the Republican cum Christian right cum paranoid maniacs are - a menace to society. It seems miraculous, that in the age of the internet, space exploration and instant global communication, people, indeed, “high ranking” politicians can still believe in something like witches. Somewhere close to fifty percent of the American electorate believe in the actual existence of Satan; a higher number almost certainly believe that all living organisms were created in their present form by some kind of celestial creator - the same people believe that Man was created in a special act of creation, thus making him, indeed HIM, the centre of a cosmic sit-com. It generally goes unmentioned that many of the same people, who’s beliefs are of the sheerest ignorance - even to a reasonably educated six year old, are the same "loons" who are stymieing, what is perhaps the most important piece of legislation that the US government has attempted to pass in a generation: healthcare reform. It also goes without saying - literally - that many of the same group, believe that Obama - a confection of so many fears: liberal, black, educated; moderately religious (if religious at all); these fearful facts that are, on their own, shocking to the “average American” are married to a perception of Obama as a avatar of Satan; a messiah of Marxism; a closet Muslim; and a “figure” from the book of revelations.

Consider the lies that has been perpetuated concerning healthcare. The irony tapers ever upwards towards astronomical heights of surrealism when one considers that many on the Republican wing would benefit from reform. Johann Hari from the Independent, pointed this out recently with poker faced hilarity - recounting that a Republican “activist” was injured fighting in a town hall meeting concerning healthcare -only to waill later that he had no insurance. Never-mind also, the fact that America already has “socialised” medicine. Ponder over some of these examples, drawn from; if one did not know better one would think these are taken from the spoof political website: the Onion.

How could anyone fall for this? We need to remember, that right from the cradle many of them were brought up to believe in Jesus, the virtues of carrying firearms and the sinfulness of Homosexuality; that anyone you ever knew believed this; you parents believed this and expected you to believe this, moreover, demanded that you believe it. It would then, take a exceptional individual to overcome such a social pressure and maladaptive upbringing. The problems of individual autonomy and clear thinking are further sabotaged by the fact that the majority of evangelicals are home schooled - thus prevented from coming into contact with other children - other ways of thinking - other ways of seeing the world. Evangelicals, live in a sequestered world, they live in a closed society; despite all the technology of the 21st century, most Americas are as ignorant of the world as a Afghan peasant. This brings me to my next exhibit: Conservapedia.

Could anything be more forlorn when you read “An encyclopaedia with articles written from a conservative viewpoint.” - “the trustworthy encyclopaedia”. Edited and maintained by a posse of creationist wing-nuts; the purpose of the site: counter Wikipedia’s “bias” and provide “material” for “homeschooled children” - we should abandon this euphemism and simply call a spade a spade - this is, and always was - indoctrination.

Check out the hilarity -

(my friend was puzzled when I wondered whether the site would indulge the “birther” conspiracy - it does - (“Barack Hussein Obama II (allegedly[1][2][3][4][5] born in Honolulu Aug. 4, 1961)”

Accuses Obama of mind control: “Obama used techniques of mind control in his campaign, as in this speech: "a light will shine down from somewhere, it will light upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will say to yourself, 'I have to vote for Barack.'"

The icing on the cake: Obama is the “first Muslim President” and possibly an atheist!?? Where is the epistemology people!

If you thought that it was bad enough that half the American electorate hold beliefs that were first developed at a time, when a bicycle would appear as a masterpiece of technological creativity - it is not, just “regular folk” but Governors, Senators and, yes, Presidents. Enter stage right - Sarah Palin, or “Sarah Barracuda” former beauty queen, hockey mom and mayor of a little town no bigger than the hamlet out of Last of the Summer Wine. Palin: almost certainly will run for President in the next election. A President who is a believer in witches;

A liar:

A fool:

Over the last couple of days, I have repeated to myself the infamous and rather ambiguous line of Thomas Jefferson: “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is Just”. that, is more than I can say of “God” as conceived from this video

Let me quote another famous, and somewhat abused line of Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” perhaps, in place of patriots and tyrants, we should have idiots and creationists - only joking.



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