Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When your enemy is reality

When your enemy is reality, ignorance is your friend. That's why the right-wing has become anti-science, and it's why knowledge in general isn't welcome in today's GOP.

It probably began with the tobacco industry. After all, there was a lot of money to be made selling tobacco products. Were they really going to let medical researchers put an end to that?

And most smokers wanted to be fooled - at least, they wanted to believe what they wanted to believe. So, even if Big Tobacco couldn't fight the science (since it was true), they could muddy the waters and let their addicted customers continue to believe what they wanted.

That was a lesson today's right-wing has taken to heart. Big Oil, especially, has followed the lead of Big Tobacco. But global warming deniers have actually improved upon those earlier tactics, partly by allying with everyone else who's also fighting against reality, turning the Republican Party completely anti-science.

Still, the political success of the NRA is just astounding, don't you think? They're a very small minority, but a determined minority with a lot of money. (The NRA pretends to be a grass-roots organization, but it's funded by gun manufacturers.)

At first glance, it's just astonishing that the NRA should so totally dominate Congress that they could ban the Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence at all. After all, the NRA position has always been the minority position. Common-sense gun restrictions have always had majority support in America.

And as Stephen Colbert notes, recent polls show that nearly 93% of Americans favor background checks for all gun buyers. So that should be a slam-dunk in Congress, shouldn't it? But how many of us are willing to work for that? How many of us are even willing to vote, based on that issue?

Gun nuts, on the other hand, might be a small minority, but they're vocal and active. And the gun lobby - funded by wealthy gun manufacturers - has a lot of money for bribes donations to Congressmen (or to fund attack ads against politicians who don't go along with them).

Plus, as I say, the gun lobby has joined with other wealthy interests - like Big Oil, and the defense industry, and right-wing religions - to control the entire Republican Party. They all push the party line so their small part of it gets backed by everyone. That's how wealthy minorities can dominate our political system, especially in the age of Citizens United.

I keep seeing these articles and videos about how Democrats might do well in 2014. (Typically, the party in power loses seats during midterm elections.) But Americans overwhelmingly back Democratic positions, rather than Republican positions, from gun control to increasing the minimum wage, from immigration reform to a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

But so what? Polls show that even Republicans generally support Democratic positions, but they'll still vote Republican. Partly, that's through ignorance (Republicans from Fox 'News' on down work very hard to keep them misinformed), partly, it's because they might only care about one particular issue (guns or abortion, typically), and partly, it's just due to solidarity. They're Republican, so they go along even when they disagree.

To some extent, we all do that. We're never going to agree with a politician - or anyone else - on everything. If you do, you're not thinking, you're just following mindlessly. But if you identify with a political party, it's very easy to dislike the people you actually agree with, just because they're 'the other side.' Or, of course, because of their race or ethnic identity (the Republican 'Southern strategy').

Anyway, I didn't mean to write all that (story of my life!). I posted this because there's a lot in this video segment I loved, like Colbert's comment that "Some journalists are so prejudiced against guns they've sunk to journalism." Or "Let the CDC know they can take our ignorance when they pry it from our cold, dead minds." Or his mention of David Barton getting 'history' from a fictional western (which I previously noted here).

My favorite part? After Colbert said, "Even if Barton did borrow the story, there's nothing wrong with taking a story from a book and saying it's real," on the screen, it says "Works for Religion." Heh, heh. I was cheered by the applause that got, too! (Hmm,... this is the second time recently I've noticed Colbert taking a swipe at religion. I'm beginning to wonder if his own Catholicism is just as fake as his Republicanism.)

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