The News-Gazette commentary section gave us a double helping of crazy this past Sunday from nationally-syndicated columnists. On the whole, that makes it a light day of crazy for the News-Gazette commentary section, which is often capable of reducing my faith in humanity to a point where I look forward to robots, aliens or even apes taking over.
This week’s entries are from Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and Cal Thomas, far right-wing Christian apologist.
Gerson bemoans how polar bears are now threatened. He mentions that temperature change predictions on the low end will cause suffering in places already most affected by poverty and on the high end will result in catastrophes of a global nature. Plus, Al Gore is annoying, and it will take a broad consensus to address the problem.
So far, so good, except the cheap shot against my main man, Al Gore. I suppose at this point I should praise any high ranking Republican who acknowledges that climate change exists. After all, they rarely emerge from their cavernous mansions and their idling, air-conditioned mega-SUVs long enough to notice how hot it is outside. As long as efforts to curb climate change will cost anyone any money at any point in time, they seem biologically unable to concede that there is a problem. So, Gerson is at least ahead of the game.
But then he wanders off into the woods by blaming our environmental problems on … environmentalists. You see, we are unable to solve this problem as a society because environmentalists are so partisan and extreme. I mean, you ruin one little planet’s atmosphere, and some people just get so angry. A few of them even think that the planet can’t sustain too many more humans, and want to lower birth rates. Why, that’s almost like believing in genocide! Mostly though, Republicans think environmentalists are icky, and don’t want to work with them, so we won’t be able to do much about global warming because of them. The environmentalists, that is.
Suppose insect-like aliens invaded Earth, intent on destroying it for its natural resources and environmentalists had figured out how to destroy their mothership to kill them all. If conservatives refused to help and the plan failed, Michael Gerson apparently believes this would be environmentalists’ fault. I mean, who could blame conservatives for not wanting to help environmentalists? If only those environmentalists had been less extreme, we could have all avoided the destruction of the planet by insect-like aliens. Shame on them! (The environmentalists, that is.)
Next up: Cal Thomas, Thomas who ends up being more hypocritical than crazy. He starts out quite reasonably, expressing concern that a Muslim school in Virginia uses a textbook that says that killing adulterers and apostates is justified (and, no, it isn’t the Bible, in case you were worried). But that is just a launching off point for his big concern: the systematic effort of Muslims to brainwash their kids.
What are they being brainwashed with? Is it creationism? No, not that. Are they teaching their children to fear homosexuals? Well, maybe they are, but Cal doesn’t say. Are they convincing their children that men should be dominant over women, or that women should not speak in church? Almost certainly they are, but that’s not what Cal is talking about.
No, Cal doesn’t like that they are teaching their kids that Jews and Christians are the enemy, and are preparing them for a global struggle against the west. Also, they call us names, like The Great Satan. I don’t know about you, but I hate it when people call me The Great Satan. One failed attempt at virgin sacrifice during my idealistic youth, and people just can’t seem to let it go.
But don’t get me wrong. I totally agree that religions should not brainwash their children to fear other religions as the enemy. I also agree that they should not prepare them for a global struggle or call them names. I just wish Cal Thomas would spend less time doing exactly that. He is prone to convincing others that our true enemy is radical Islam, Islam is by nature violent, most terrorists are Muslim, Muslims are intolerant and taking over England, Muslims are invading the US by recruiting here which will lead to the same kinds of riots that happened in France, and finally, that one way to control them is make them sign loyalty oaths. I guess this just proves the old adage that you are most bugged in other people by things you do yourself.
I also enjoyed Cal’s solution to religious brainwashing: our government should shut down the school, because that’s what they would do in Saudi Arabia. It may seem strange that Cal would want to emulate Saudi Arabia here, but remember that he is a big supporter of state sponsored religious schools. It’s just that his version of Saudi Arabia is one where Christianity gets the support of the state, while other religions are silenced.
I have no doubt that there are radical Islamic schools, here and elsewhere, that are dangerous and preach hate, fear, and intolerance. I think this is just as wrong as Jesus Campy, right-wing fundamentalist Christian schools that do pretty much the same thing. The problem is that one person’s brainwashing is another person’s enlightenment. This is why the founding fathers thought separation of church and state was a good idea. Teach kids whatever crazy stuff God tells you to, but do it with your own money and your own kids.
All I can say is, thank God for Garrison Keillor. His rambling column on why dumb stuff doesn’t matter (strategically placed directly below Cal’s column) restores my confidence that humans have some hope of survival after all.