The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Tea Party Speaks

Choice quotes from today's NYTimes:
  • “It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”
  • “This so-called climate science is just ridiculous,” said Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots. “I think it’s all cyclical. Carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue,” Ms. Khuri added. “Some people say I’m extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme, too.”
  • “They’re trying to use global warming against the people,” Ms. Deaton said. “It takes way our liberty. Being a strong Christian,” she added, “I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.”


20 comments:

Hank Roberts said...

Nehemiah Scudder
by any other name
would smell as sweet

King of the Road said...

With regard to so-called Christians and their tenuous relationship with truth and facts, I though you might find this post by Dr. Steven Dutch in the Earth Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay interesting. As you've probably gathered, I have a very high degree of regard for him.

Steve Bloom said...

KotR, these are very much fringe views even relative to Midwestern Christianity. As the Birch reference demonstrates, these fringers have been there for a long, long time, albeit sans NYT front page coverage. What's different here isn't the fringe, it's the NYT.

Neven said...

That was a fun read, KotR, thanks.

Michael Tobis said...

Despite being an increasingly enthusiastic if somewhat ironic Texan, I am new here. I have had very little exposure to evangelicals.

Montreal, urban Chicago, Ottawa and Madison are not hotbeds of evangelical activity (though there's a good deal of it in rural Wisconsin). So I shouldn't say much about this "if God had intended me to fly he would have bought me a ticket" way of thinking other than that, um, I find it unconvincing.

The frontier mentality, though, historically does have a "use it up" attitude that is mutually reinforcing with apocalypticism. If the Lord is going to renovate soon anyway we might as well scribble on the walls. There is, of course, biblical text about stewardship of creation that can be used as a counterweight.

It's ironic, but it works out that the people in the most unspoiled places are the ones most inclined to despoiling them. (cf. Alaska) I guess you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Steve, what's different is that the fringe is increasingly controlling a major political party in the world's dominant economy. That makes the fringe more newsworthy than it has been. The casual republican voter needs to be made aware of what his party is becoming.

Steve Bloom said...

I won't disagree with that last comment, Michael, but would just add that what we're seeing here is not any fundamental shift, but rather a conscious campaign on the part of a faction of the Republican leadership to promote these views. It was a tactical move aimed at this election, and I suppose time will tell if it has any strategic resonance.

keith said...

Those quotes are rich. Also Makes me think Richard Cizik has not made as many inroads into the Evangelical community as he would like to think.

http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2009/04/22/the-resurrection-of-richard-cizik/
--kkloor

Ben Vandergugten said...

Being a Christian for all of my young 30 year life, I find it disturbing when Christians use God as an excuse to continue activities that are known to be damaging to the environment. Anyone who uses the Bible to deny that climate change (aka climate disruption) is occurring and will be detrimental to us and rest of creation is doing eisegesis, and that is a very bad way to read the Bible.

Michael Tobis said...

"eisegesis". Fascinating.

Jay Alt said...

"some people say I'm extreme, but they said the John Birch Society was extreme too"

Tthe Koch brothers have paid well to to fan the flames of Tea Partiers. Ironically, daddy Fred Koch was a founding member of Birch Society.

David B. Benson said...

Mad Hatters all.

crf said...

It's black, sulfurous and smelly! How can someone be sure that coal's not the Devil's mineral?

Steve Bloom said...

Er, Jay, that's not ironic at all. Synchronous, yes.

Keith, I don't think Cizik included this particular crowd among the audience for his outreach efforts in the near term. Fortunately for him and us, there's a much larger persuadable community out there.

guthrie said...

I don't want to sound alarmist, but...

You guys in the USA have 2 out of 3 of the requirements for the possibility of a fascist takeover - namely agitated extremists and corporate funding for them. All you need now is a charismatic leader with some followers who are good at organisation and you'll have a few problems.
I'm not saying you'll suffer such a thing, but you might like to keep your eyes open.

Richard Reiss said...

"Norman Dennison, a 50-year-old electrician...'I read my Bible, He made this Earth for us to utilize.'"

Is electricity in the Bible?

David B. Benson said...

Probably something about lightning somewhere in the Old Testament...

Adam said...

guthrie said...
You guys in the USA have 2 out of 3 of the requirements for the possibility of a fascist takeover - namely agitated extremists and corporate funding for them.


That money issue is the key. Since the right-wing majority on the U. S. Supreme Court opened the door to unlimited corporate funding of broadcast propaganda, the corporatist message has dominated. It is so powerful a tool that it can get outright kooks elected: willing, ignorant stooges who will do the corporations' will in Congress behind smoke screens of jingoism and "family values".

It is hard to imagine how the ideals of enlightenment and reason in America will maintain any voice in government, given the avalanche of fascist political cash waiting to bury progressive candidates.

Michael Tobis said...

I believe the risk of fascism is not something that we've somehow missed entirely, over here, though I admit you wouldn't know it from the mass media.

I think the best remedy is not to cower in fear and contemplate all the advantages that a fascist tendency has in place, but rather to mock the people with the fascist tendency mercilessly.

It is a saving grace of the situation that American proto-fascists are an especially ridiculous bunch. It's important to get that concept across to the vast majority of people who aren't paying attention.

frank -- Decoding SwiftHack said...

MT:

"It's important to get that concept across to the vast majority of people who aren't paying attention."

You do realize that that's a Catch-22, right? If you can already blare out your message more efficiently than the corporatists can blare out their misinformation, then the corporatists won't even be a problem in the first place anyway.

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

Frank, good point. But humor, especially less-than-gentle mockery, and the internet are a powerful combination.