Thursday, August 16, 2007
Solar Prints, Excerpts, and Unkind Remarks
I receive so much political commentary from so many sources that I cannot begin to keep up, but friend Willie's recommended smirkingchimp.com seems to have made good selections from what is available. From there, I select this comment from Sidney Blumenthal's observations on Karl Rove, "The Rise and Fall of Turd Blossom [Bush's nickname for his buddy, if you haven't heard]: ""Rove's radicalization of government was early described by the first member of the administration to quit in disgust, John DiIulio, a University of Pennsylvania professor and the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He discovered that 'compassionate conservatism,' Rove's slogan for Bush's 2000 campaign, was little more than a sham. 'What you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis,' said DiIulio."
THE PRINCIPLE OF IGNORANCE
It is time to face the fact that a great many people are not just uninformed, ignorant of facts, or under the influence of some demented guru. Some know they are ignorant, but cling to the wonderful simplicity of ignorance, rather than open the door to the real world that is seldom simple, but ever-expanding into greater complexities, lively and open to growth. Echoing the remark in the entry above, I might call them those dedicated to remaining backward, the Mayberry Nihilists; they would burn down the house of intelligence than give up the simplicity of their beliefs.
You have heard about the 49-acre, $27 million dollar museum in northeast Kentucky where, contrary to scientific evidence about the timeline of evolution, "Man and Dinosaurs Frolick Happily Together"?
The people behind the museum, and the people who go there, know it glorifies Ignorance (although it is thought that some go there for a laugh): The one true joy of the ignorant is in their knowledge that they irritate the informed and intelligent. Still untouched by taste, they are not too embarrassed to name a food concession "Noah’s Café" or by leading people down a much-abbreviated "Trail of Life." In their Garden of Eden, as described on the Independent/UK, 19 August 2007, "there are Adam and Eve taking a dip, and not far away another dinosaur lurks, and a lion too."
"'It’s a very comforting feeling to be here,' admits Nancy Spivey, 65, who has driven all the way from North Carolina to visit the museum with her husband, Al....'A lot of so-called intelligent people think that if you believe in creationism you are not very bright, but you get away from that here,' Nancy adds. 'Everywhere else, we feel bullied and pushed around,” says Al."
I don't want to be a bully. From now on I am going to respect (the existence of) the ignorant and simple-minded. However, I do hope they will wear blinders on their caps so we might recognize them and not waste time trying to communicate. I wish the ones who wed corporate government with religion would warn potential worshippers by placing dollar signs at the top of their steeples. Let us respect them by keeping our distance and granting them their dark fantasy world. Beware their poison, of course: If one of them mistakes you as a friend, hold up the V sign and chant, "Scopes Trial! Scopes Trial!" If you feel sympathy because they appear to feel "bullied," or have had their feelings hurt, you might say softly, while looking through them, "May their god console the simpleminded and ignorant."
Excerpts from "Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes" (1998) by Richard Rorty, included in his book, PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIAL HOPE:
"Memories of the dungeons of the Inquisition and the interrogation rooms of the KGB, of the ruthless greed and arrogance of the Christian clergy and of the Communist nomenklatura, should indeed make us reluctant to hand over power to people who claim to know what God, or History, wants."
"Christianity and Marxism still have the power to do a great deal of harm, but both the New Testament and the Communist Manifesto can still be effectively quoted by moral hypocrites and egomaniacal gangsters. In the U.S., for example, an organization called the Christian Coalition holds the Republican Party (and thus Congress) in its thrall. The leaders of this movement have convinced millions of voters that taxing the suburbs to help the ghettos is an unChristian thing to do. In the name of 'Christian family values,' the Coalition teaches that for the U.S. government to give a helping hand to the children of unemployable and unwed teenage mothers would 'undermine individual responsibility'."
"The bourgeoisie/proletariat distinction may now be as outdated as the pagan/Christian distinction, but if one substitutes 'the richest 20 percent' for the 'bourgeoisie' and 'the other 80 percent' for the 'proletariat,' most of the sentences of the Manifesto will still ring true."
"Most of us can no longer take either Christian or Marxist postponements and reassurances seriously. But both the New Testament and the Communist Manifesto are
expressions of the same hope: that some day we shall be willing and able to treat the needs of all human beings with the respect and consideration with which we treat the needs of those closest to us, those whom we love."
"We should raise our children to find it intolerable that we who sit behind desks and punch keyboards are paid ten times as much as people who get their hands dirty cleaning our toilets, and a hundred times as much as those who fabricate our keyboards in the Third World. We should ensure that they worry about the fact that the countries which industrialized first have a hundred times the wealth of those which have not yet industrialized. Our children need to learn, early on, to see the inequalities between their own fortunes and those of other children as neither the Will of God nor the necessary price for economic efficiency, but as an evitable tragedy. They should start thinking, as early as possible, about how the world might be changed so as to ensure that no one goes hungry while others have a surfeit."