Monday, February 13, 2012

Heart of Ignorance

You may remember in Joseph Conrad’s famous novella, Heart of Darkness, when Kurtz, the ivory trader, on his death bed, suddenly perceives what he has seen and done for what it was, and cries out, “the horror! The horror!

That is what I perceive when I look into the heart of ignorance that now constitutes the current Republican Party, and what I fear if by some grotesque failure of the electorate we were to mistakenly elect any of these absolute pea brains, horror! This is not mere ordinary everyday ignorance I am speaking about, it is ignorance on a truly grand scale. Take for example their latest attempt to do away with contraception. Contraception has been with us for quite some time now, probably 99% of American women have used it, including even Catholic women. Thus trying to do away with it, just on political grounds alone, is a demonstration of almost unbelievable ignorance. Their opposition to Gay marriage, insofar as they insist marriage has always been between a man and a woman, reveals their ignorance of human marital patterns around the world, as well as the fact that a majority of Americans, especially younger Americans have no problem whatsoever with Gay marriage. Here their ignorance is twofold, their lack of knowledge about human marriage patterns and their apparent ignorance that a majority are now in favor of Gay marriage. We should also not overlook their current “war” on women. They wish to do away with Planned Parenthood entirely, an institution that primarily has to do with the health care of poor women, their rationale for this unbelievably ignorant idea is that Planned Parenthood offers abortions. Only some 3% of Planned Parenthood has to do with abortions, and, by the way, abortions are perfectly legal in the United States. If they truly believe something might be gained by failing to look after the basic health of poor women they are truly ignorant of the facts of life in the country they live in.

The Republican opposition to birth control and Gay marriage is trivial when it comes to their profound ignorance on the subject of global warming. Santorum and others want us to believe that global warming is some kind of hoax, a belief so ignorant (and so dangerous) as to be laughable if it were not so serious. Then there is their erroneous belief and insistence that our Nation was founded on Christian principles, simply not historically true and apparently founded upon their ignorance of the facts. What is far worse is their insistence that creationism should be taught in the public schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution, a position so incredibly ignorant as to be dismissed out of hand. What is even more ignorant and frightening about this is the rejection of science in favor of mythology. No country in the 21st century can deny science and scientific facts in favor of fairy tales, to do so reveals an ignorance so profound as to be truly frightening and also points the way to the eventual demise of our country.

I have yet to mention the mostly Republican belief in Armageddon that lies behind their uncritical support for the criminal state of Israel, the unbelievable claims that Palestinians do not exist, the idea of American exceptionalism, the belief we can export democracy by military means alone, that the entire world aspires to our brand of “democracy,” and that our constant meddling all around the world is to promote peace and democracy (and not our blatant interest in their oil and other commodities). Need I even mention our incredible ignorance of geography and the cultures of other people.

Of course it is also true that Republicans are opposed to funding education, environmental protection, regulations in general, and most anything that has to do with our future if it interferes with short term profits. How they could possibly be so short-sighted is just another example of ignorance. No nation or group of any kind can possibly continue to exist if they fail to educate their children, protect their environment and plan for the future. The Republican failure to grasp these basic facts is just another example of their mindless ignorance. Similarly, their apparent belief that our nation will survive over time with a tiny majority of billionaires controlling most of the wealth while the 99% are living like peasants is terribly ignorant.

I have not bothered so far to discuss their ignorance when it comes to reality and President Obama. Obama, they claim, is not really a citizen and therefore should not be President. He needs to present his birth certificate (that he has already done). He is, they claim, a socialist, a belief so unspeakably ignorant it should disqualify them from further discussion. He’s a communist, a fascist, the anti-Christ, a Muslim, an “Other” or some kind. He’s destroying America, leading a “war” on religion, and on and on, claims so ignorant it is difficult to believe anyone would possibly hold them. This is not to forget their support for people like Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, and others so patently unqualified for the Presidency as to be ridiculously ignorant.

I would not argue, of course, there are no ignorant Democrats or Independents, but there is no doubt in my mind that the true locus of ignorance resides now in the Republican Party as presently constituted. We are no longer involved in a contest between Republicans and Democrats, between Conservatives and Liberals, between red states and blue states, we are involved in a potential death struggle between reality and fantasy, truth and falsehood, success and failure, ignorance and intelligence, survival or oblivion. Time is running out, the earth is warming, our resources are disappearing, the environment is suffering, our people are suffering, our children living in poverty, millions without health care, our homes disappearing, our hopes disintegrating, we simply can no longer afford ignorance. What, ultimately, is even worse and more basic, Republicans do not even believe in the social contract, preferring instead a primitive idea of social Darwinism where everyone is completely on their own.

“The American Left hates Christendom. They hate Western civilization.”

Rick Santorum

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