Friday, July 18, 2008

How 'Stealth Ideology' Helped Bush Shred the Constitution

In his short reign of terror, Bush accomplished what no terrorist could ever have accomplished by any means including those crimes called '911'. Bush will have left our Constitution in an ash heap. His tragic legacy can be summed up in three clauses: he destroyed the separation of powers and ruled by decree; he denied every citizen every right that is associated with being an 'American; he waged war upon a deliberate and treasonous fraud and is, thus, criminally responsible for the deaths of some 1.5 million innocent people! Bush infamously stated: 'The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper!" In his wake, it is not even that! It is ashes up in smoke, a fading memory.

Bush's rise to power was made possible by the strong support given him by America's religious right or more accurately, the 'religious wrong'. Of the many crimes that may be attributed to Bush alone, let us consider the endemic dishonesty that may be found among his early supporters --the proponents of a focus-group ideology called 'Intelligent Design'.
The Conservative Movement, as its progenitors like to call it, is now mounting a full-throttled attack on Darwinism even as it has thoroughly embraced Darwin’s bastard child, social Darwinism. On the face of it, these positions may appear inconsistent. What unites them is a profound disdain for science, logic, and fact.

...

The modern Conservative Movement has embraced social Darwinism with no less fervor than it has condemned Darwinism. Social Darwinism gives a moral justification for rejecting social insurance and supporting tax cuts for the rich. "In America," says Robert Bork, "‘the rich’ are overwhelmingly people – entrepreneurs, small businessmen, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, etc. – who have gained their higher incomes through intelligence, imagination, and hard work."

...

The only consistency between the right’s attack on Darwinism and embrace of social Darwinism is the utter fatuousness of both. Darwinism is correct. Scientists who are legitimized by peer review and published research are unanimous in their view that evolution is a fact, not a theory. Social Darwinism, meanwhile, is hogwash.

--Robert B. Reich, Of Darwinism and Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism does not follow from "Darwinism" and, worse, it attributes to Darwin positions he never took. Interestingly, the term "survival of the fittest" was never used by Darwin. It has been variously attributed, but Hofstadter seems to attribute that phrase to rail road men:
Railroad executive Chauncy Depew asserted that the guests of the great dinners and public banquets of New York City represented the survival of the fittest of all who came in search of fortune. They were the ones with superior abilities. Likewise railroad magnate James J. Hill defended the railroad companies by saying their fortunes were determined according to the law of survival of the fittest.

—Hofstadter, Richard; 1959; Social Darwinism in American Thought, Braziller; New York.
Hofstadter identified Social Darwinsism not in terms of any school that used the term to describe it ... in tterms of the usage of key prases such as "natural selection', "struggle for existence", and "survival of the fittest". After Hofstadter the term "Social Darwinism" was used not only as a general description for abuses of biology by the Nazis and other, but also as a means of sustaining the established separation between the societ science and biology. Despite the decisive defeat of fascism in 1945, the use of the term rose inexorably and exponentially for the remainder of the twentieth century. It acquired mythological attributes, referring to a pre-1914 era when its use was assumed to be prevalent. At least as far as the Anglophone academic journals are concerned this assumption is false.

--Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Social Darwinism in Anglophone Academic Journals: a Contribution to the History of the Term, p430
Elsewhere, the term is attributed to Herbert Spencer who clearly inspired a generation of radicalized, latter-day robber barons and, bluntly, few of them evince the "...quality of mercy" so immortalized with but a few words by Shakespeare:
[Herbert] Spencer said that diseases "are among the penalties Nature has attached to ignorance and imbecility, and should not, therefore, be tampered with." He even faulted private organizations like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because they encouraged legislation.

Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism
An equally fallacious corollary to "Social Darwinism" is often phrased this way: the rich are rich because they are better, work harder and are more intelligent. George W. Bush put it more crudely: “The poor are poor because they are lazy!” In the same vein, the conservative economist Joseph A. Schumpeter likened recessions to a "douche" leaving us to wonder just who is "douched" and how? More importantly: who gets to make those life and death decisions? It is difficult not to conclude that New Orleans after Katrina is but the disastrous consequence of this kind of "blame the victim" thinking.

It is not surprising, then, that Spencer's influence continues, not in the field of biology, but in economics, specifically those theories most often associated with the right wing: the American apologists, William Graham Sumner and Simon Nelson Patten.

No doubt, Spencer’s ideas received a major boost after Darwin's theories were published, but unfortunately the issues have been muddled ever since, The application of "adaptation" and "survival of the fittest" to social thought is known as "Social Darwinism". Social Darwinists have fallaciously confused Darwin's description of an observed phenomenon with an ethical commandant.

Of late, critics of Darwin have taken a new tact, a 'stealth ideology' that it is hoped will pass for science among those who think science is nothing more than ideology expressed with big words. The stealth ideology is called 'intelligent design'. Intelligent design was thus packaged. It is stealth ideology designed (not so intelligently) to pass itself off as science. But it was found out and exposed.
Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs' scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator. To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

—Judge John E. Jones III, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District
An issues clarification is in order. The case was not about whether one has a right to believe, indeed, teach "intelligent design". It was about whether or not the state has a right to teach religious dogma in state and locally supported schools.

It was not so long ago, that opponents of evolution had, in fact, passed laws that prohibited the teaching of real science in the public classrooms. That attempt was made in Tennessee where a law was passed on March 13, 1925 which forbade the teaching, in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The case has been called a 'a watershed' in the history of the creationist-evolutionist argument.

The issue was forced. Scopes broke the law intentionally so that it might be challenged in court. The trial attracted one time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, famous for his 'Cross of Gold' speech on behalf of an agrarian population that had favored the free coinage of silver and, for the defense, the champion of liberal and labor causes --Clarence Darrow. At a time when many trials were called 'the Trial of the Century', this 'Scopes Monkey Trial' might well have been. --H. L. Mencken, "THE MONKEY TRIAL": A Reporter's Account


Edward R. Murrow: Darrow, Darwin and Dayton, a video by Len Hart

Future discoveries will modify our view of Darwin, but that does not discount it. Our view of Einstein is already modified but he is, in no way, discounted. Moreover, no one has ever sued because Einstein is at odds with a particular dogma. It is certain, however, that no future discovery will confirm "intelligent design" —a logical fallacy on its face and quite beyond any confirmation of any kind!

'Intelligent design' is religious dogma but it's modern proponents have not the integrity of William Jennings Bryan who simply admitted his religious bias upfront. I disagree with Bryan. But he at least had the integrity to admit and defend his bias. Modern proponents of ID, by contrast, have no such intellectual honesty. Bryan did not pretend that his ideas were 'science' or 'scientific'. He did not try to re-package or spin his religious dogma. He didn't try to wrap it up in a fancy package or worse, a cloak, and try to sell it for something that it was not. Proponents of ID are liars and shysters, modern snake oil salesmen, practitioners of a 'stealth ideology'!

While Judge Jones struck deep into the heart of the conspiracy, Mill's objections may still be applied to so-called "faith based initiatives" and other voucher programs. They amount to nothing more nor less than the state finance of parochial schools. With regard to "faith based" initiatives, any federal expenditure in support of religious schools or religious, "faith-based" programs is a prima facie violation of the First Amendment which states:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
Having lost that argument, the religious right now tries to re-frame the debate. It is more recently insinuated that "God" should not be kept out of the affairs of state. But —whose God should be consulted? The fact that Muslims, Christians, and Jews, presumably, worship the same "God" hasn't kept the three "religions" from warring with one another over a period of some 2,000 years. And what of Satanists? Is their 'God' --Satan --to be given equal status? What of those who worship Moloch? Should either Moloch or Satan share equal influence in the conduct of our public schools?

The founders of this nation were absolutely correct. Thomas Jefferson was properly blunt when he espoused a "wall of separation" between church and state. The US Supreme Court and Thomas Jefferson have been very clear on these points:
Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State'.

--The U.S. Supreme Court, 1947
The United States was NOT founded upon the principles of the Christian religion --though religious toleration is guaranteed in the First Amendment.

In the America envisioned by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison (who authored our "Bill of Rights), all Religions should be tolerated but none should receive preferential treatment by the established governments —local, state, or federal.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

--U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, First Amendment
The language is plain and unambiguous: "Congress shall pass no law..." etc etc.

An "...establishment of religion" is defined as follows:
...a church that is recognized by law, and sometimes financially supported, as the official church of a nation. Also called state church. Cf. national church.
Therefore, it is a violation of Constitutional law should tax revenues find themselves in church coffers. "Faith based charities"—like “intelligent design”—are therefore religious in nature.

Surely that fact is not lost on the Bush administration which clearly refers to them as "faith based". A program cannot be, at once, "faith-based" and "secular". But that is precisely the issue that Bush folk have tried to have both ways. What is a faith based organization apart from its affiliation with an established church? And what is a church if not a place where religion is practiced?

Jefferson's language ["wall of separation"] is unambiguous:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

--Thomas Jefferson, in his historic Danbury letter, January 1, 1802
George Washington also chimed in on the issue:
"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine."

--George Washington, Treaty of Tripoli

And it was James Madison --author of the First Amendment, indeed, the Bill of Rights --who penned the very words: "Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, It ill never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

--John Adams
John Adams was a primary rabble rouser, witness to and instigator of revolution. He was a mover in the founding of this nation and, in a position to know whether or not it was founded upon Christian principles. It was not.

A final point needs to be made about the Preamble to that document George W. Bush called “…a goddamned piece of paper!” According to the "Commentaries" of Joseph Story, the Preamble to the Constitution establishes the vert source of U.S. "sovereignty’, the people themselves.
We the people of the United States ...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
That means that these 'United States' belong to us. 'We' --the people --literally and by law --created them. They belong to us --not George W. Bush, an illegitimate usurper at worst, a caretaker at best. And, in that role, he has likewise failed us utterly by subverting the Constitution which establishes as a principle of supreme law that the people are sovereign. The nation thus belongs to the people. It is, therefore, our right --as Thomas Jefferson himself told us --to overthrow any regime and any federal authority which presumes to rule outside the rule of law!

Bush who serves at our pleasure, displeases us! We may, therefore, declare him 'fired' and, should he refuse to leave, he may be thrown out on his ass by force! The people of England understood this principle if the people of the US do not! When King Charles was determined to have placed himself above the law, he was beheaded for his hubris. I will be content to leave the Bush's fate to the judgement of a bona fide court which should --by right and by law --hear the case that our own King George Bush II is guilty of capital crimes.
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