Socialist progressive atheists are more Christian than capitalist regressive bible-thumpers

Katha Pollit tells it like it is. I’m also tired of all the news stories that tell us that we have to empathize with Trump voters, that it’s our fault that Trump won, that gosh, this dumbass who voted for a racist psychopath is just a down-home salt-of-the-earth fella. We know all that. But really, it’s time to stop the one-sided efforts to humanize people who dehumanize the rest of us.

But here’s my question: Who is telling the Tea Partiers and Trump voters to empathize with the rest of us? Why is it all one way? Hochschild’s subjects have plenty of demeaning preconceptions about liberals and blue-staters—that distant land of hippies, feminazis, and freeloaders of all kinds. Nor do they seem to have much interest in climbing the empathy wall, given that they voted for a racist misogynist who wants to throw 11 million people out of the country and ban people from our shores on the basis of religion (as he keeps admitting on Twitter, even as his administration argues in court that Islam has nothing to do with it). Furthermore, they are the ones who won, despite having almost 3 million fewer votes. Thanks to the founding fathers, red-staters have outsize power in both the Senate and the Electoral College, and with great power comes great responsibility. So shouldn’t they be trying to figure out the strange polyglot population they now dominate from their strongholds in the South and Midwest? What about their stereotypes? How respectful or empathetic is the belief of millions of Trump voters, as established in polls and surveys, that women are more privileged than men, that increasing racial diversity in America is bad for the country, that the travel ban is necessary for national security? How realistic is the conviction, widespread among Trump supporters, that Hillary Clinton is a murderer, President Obama is a Kenyan communist and secret Muslim, and the plain-red cups that Starbucks uses at Christmastime are an insult to Christians? One of Hochschild’s subjects complains that “liberal commentators” refer to people like him as a “redneck.” I’ve listened to liberal commentators for decades and have never heard one use this word. But say it happened once or twice. “Feminazi” went straight from Rush Limbaugh’s mouth to general parlance. One of Hochschild’s most charming subjects, a gospel singer and preacher’s wife, uses it like a normal word. Equating women who want their rights with the genocidal murder of millions? How is that not a vile insult?

Somehow, the idea that the tolerant side is the side that tolerates Nazis annoys me.

I’m also tired of people who preach their goodness (because God) but don’t practice it. In particular, the Ryanesque theology that equates Jesus Christ with Ayn Rand. Capitalist Christianity has gone down an evil path.

These statements from Arrington and Marshall are rooted in the same religious idea: that the poor and sick — or at least a subset thereof — supposedly deserve their plight, and healthy and more financially secure Americans shouldn’t be forced to care for them.

This theology has incensed many progressive Christians of late, but it didn’t appear overnight. It’s the result of a decades-long campaign by conservative lawmakers, intellectuals, and theologians to craft a theology that rejects longstanding Christian understandings of society’s needy.

But they love Jesus! Therefore we’re supposed to sympathize with them. That’s the game skin-deep Christian exploiters have been playing for centuries.

The very stiffest of upper lips

Crispian Jago is dying of renal cancer, and he’s been writing an account of the progression of the disease. It’s a grim read, except that Jago is resolutely stolid throughout, determined to make the best of his remaining months. It’s just so British.

I’m an American. If I were in a similar situation, the story would be full of whining, wailing, caterwauling, hot tears, and angry denunciations of the universe. At some point I’d probably lash out, launching a cruise missile at some blameless smaller country that had said something that annoyed me. So it’s an interesting contrast.

He does have a bit of anger in him, but he reserves it for those who deserve it. Read the illustrated chapter, the Book of Extremely Tedious Oncological Platitudes, in which he takes on all the people who have been giving him advice on how to cope with cancer.

Attendance was light, even when they throw buckets of money at it

I think this was a request to publicize this fabulous (literally) conference.

Well, gosh, thanks a lot. You never invite me to these things, and it looks like it was pretty posh.

Oh, wait, never mind. It was in Turkey, where I’d probably be arrested for blasphemy the moment I stepped off the plane. I’d rather not spend my golden years languishing in a Turkish prison, thank you very much.

The people who were invited didn’t have to worry about that: simpering apologists for creationism, every one, as you might expect at a goofy event organized by Adnan Oktar. I’m sure they had a grand time at an event where no one would question their ignorance and lies. Here’s the line up of shameless grand high fuckitymucks of creationism:

Dr. Fazale Rana, Reasons to Believe – “DNA’s inspirational design”
Dr. Anjaenette Roberts, Reasons To Believe – “Why did Good God create viruses?”
Dr. Paolo Cioni , psychiatrist – “Psyche and The Crisis of Materialist Reductionism”
Dr. Oktar Babuna, Neurosurgeon – “The Secret Beyond Matter”
Fabrizio Fratus, Sociologist – “Evolution: Myth or Reality?”
Carlo Alberto Cossano – “Informatics Records and Proteins Production”
Jeff Gardner – Founder of the Picture Christians Project – Closing speech

Oops, typo: these might be muckityfucks of creationism. They’re hard to tell apart.

What is going on in Wisconsin?

Or, as Charles Pierce calls it, the wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. They’re arguing over a neutrality bill in their legislature that would require the University of Wisconsin system to be neutral on “controversies of the day”, whatever those are.

That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publically[sic] express a given view of social policy.

It’s weird. It’s kind of the reverse of the “teach the controversy” tactic creationists have taken in the past — now conservatives (this is a Republican bill) are demanding that criticisms be silenced, because they’re discovering that college campuses tend to get rather ferocious in those criticisms. It’s really about sheltering conservative positions from debate.

In an introduction to the legislation on its website, the Goldwater Institute paints the recent flurry of protests against conservative speakers on college campuses as a clear and present danger to democracy.

“As both a deeply held commitment and a living tradition, freedom of speech is dying on our college campuses, and is increasingly imperiled in society at large,” it reads.

The spread of campus free speech legislation across the country will open a national debate that will influence the broader culture, it predicts.

As evidence of the peril in Wisconsin, lawmakers supporting the bill pointed repeatedly to the November 2016 appearance of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro at UW-Madison. Students opposed to Shapiro’s mocking of a push for “safe spaces” on campus interrupted his talk, shouting him down for about 20 minutes. Police then escorted protesters out and Shapiro resumed his talk.

Vos, who has complained about the dearth of conservative guest speakers on UW campuses, said that without a law requiring the university to remain neutral, chancellors can block speakers whose views they don’t see as legitimate.

Wait. So Shapiro got to speak, but because many students used their right to speak freely to vocally oppose him, Republican congressmen want to shut down the students’ free speech in the name of free speech. Got it.

A few obvious concerns have been raised. Here’s one:

Rep. Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat, was quizzing Rep. Jesse Kremer, her Republican colleague from Kewaskum, at a hearing for his proposed Campus Free Speech Act before the state Assembly’s Committee on Colleges and Universities recently.

Berceau wondered what would happen under the bill — which requires University of Wisconsin System institutions to be neutral on “controversies of the day” — if a student in a geology class argued the Biblical theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

“Is it okay for the professor to tell them they’re wrong?” Berceau asked during the lengthy session on May 11.

The earth is 6,000 years old, Kremer offered. That’s a fact.

Who gets to decide what is controversial? The age of the earth is actually not a controversial fact at all, and no, it’s far older than 6,000 years. Does this bill demand that the geologists and biologists and physicists on the UW campuses are not allowed to disagree with Kremer? That the students aren’t allowed to argue with their professors? I’m also not sure how this is going to work. Is the UW going to have to hire political officers to monitor and police speech on campus, to be sure that no faculty representative expresses an opinion not approved by the Koch brothers? Oh. Actually, this is in the bill.

Yet Kremer immediately speculated that students who felt intimidated from expressing their opinions in class could bring their complaints to the Council on Free Expression, an oversight board created in the bill. So the law could potentially cover things that happen in the classroom, he suggested.

This doesn’t sound like any kind of free speech as I understand it. I see the Republicans retain their superpower of hyper-ironic naming: the Council on Free Expression is going to make sure your professors don’t say anything a conservative might disagree with!

And what about genuinely controversial issues?

“The bill gags the university,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of the advocacy group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. In his argument, Rothschild referenced political controversy over stem cell research, something UW-Madison lobbied vigorously to protect from prohibitive legislation in 2015.

“So the university stem cell researchers, and the deans of the departments where they work, would not be allowed to take a position on the importance of stem cell research to cure diseases?” Rothschild asked. Would the chancellor be prohibited from weighing in on such issues as student debt or whether higher education should be free of charge, he queried in his written testimony.

“You are saying that UW institutions should remain neutral on the question of Darwin and natural selection versus creationism,” Rothschild said. “This is ludicrous and hidebound.”

Or how about this “controversy”?

Probably the biggest debate is global warming, Vos said. A lot of people think it’s settled science and an awful lot of people think it isn’t. I think both sides should be brought to campus and let students decide.

Here we go again. “Both sides”. Sometimes the two sides are “truth” and “lies”. I think it’s part of a university’s mission to always favor “truth”.

For instance, if a speaker shows up to say The earth is 6,000 years old. That’s a fact., I think it’s perfectly fair for a thousand students to show up and shout him down and tell him that he’s an idiot who shouldn’t be holding public office. But I guess Representative Kremer just wants to legislate a safe space for himself.

It’s been festering for a long time

Trump has just brought it to a head. Watch this young white man go on a tirade against black fellow citizens.

Shut up, slave! yelled the man, later identified as 23-year-old William Boucher. Do not talk to me!

Boucher also referred to the man as livestock and suggested he should be tagged with a bar code involving his Social Security number.

You’re disgusting, the man yells.

The argument spilled outside, where the dispute became violent.

Your children are disposable vermin! Boucher yells at one man, who is also videotaping him, and spits on the 30-year-old man and a 34-year-old woman.

The man shoves Boucher, who continues ranting at black bystanders.

Get on all fours right now! he yells. Get on all fours! Do not walk off on two legs! You don’t deserve to walk on two legs, vermin.

That’s the kind of contemptible attitude that it takes years to incubate: you need to get kids when they’re young and bring them up with those kinds of dehumanizing beliefs. It’s hard to teach kids a basic understanding of science, but what’s even harder, and isn’t usually taught in our STEM classes, is an appreciation of humanity.

This is one of those situations where we need more sociologists and psychologists. This country is just way out of whack.