Celebrating Ignorance

I believe the psychological term for it is "projection."  TIME magazine's painfully liberal writer Joe Klein came on MSNBC's painfully liberal commentator Chris Matthews' Hardball show to do what is routinely done there -- share painfully liberal ideas with whoever is watching.  And, not surprisingly, Matthews and Klein decided to pile on the Todd Akin business out of Missouri. 

Amidst all the typical drivel about how Republicans are bad for women came this little jewel from Klein: "The Republican Party has a major grassroots problem, which is that a good part of its grassroots now celebrate ignorance.  It's more, it's more than abortion and women's rights."  Pushed by Matthews to explain what he meant by "celebrate ignorance," Klein rambled on.  "It's, you know, denying evolution, denying the science behind climate change, the birtherism.  How is it that when Donald Trump comes out of the closet as a major league birther, he shoots to the top of the polls, the presidential preference polls among Republicans?  I mean, there is an awful lot of celebration of ignorance going on in that Party right now.  It's really sad for me because there was a point 20 years ago when I thought the Republicans were coming up with some of the best policy ideas."

Right.  I would have given anything to see Joe Klein make a similar comment in front of a responsible host who would logically follow up by asking, "What policies of the Republicans were you applauding, Joe?"  For some reason, I am quite confident that he wouldn't have come up with many.

Nevertheless, let's take on the heart of what Klein suggests.  First, saying that it is anti-intellectual to deny the "science" behind climate change or the "science" behind evolution is itself anti-intellectual.  What many conservatives reject is not science.  It's the scientific interpretations offered by liberals.

Conservatives see liberals distort and misrepresent the climate data to arrive at pre-determined conclusions, making irresponsible leaps of logic in the process.  So they reject those interpretations of the data.  They see liberals pretend that theoretical explanations of unobservable phenomena that allegedly occurred at the origin of the universe is the same as testable and repeatable operational science, and then supposedly "validate" their conclusions through circular reasoning without ever acknowledging the assumptions at the heart of "evolution."  So many conservatives reject those interpretations of the data.

Now, it's fair to say that not all conservatives who reject evolution (just like not all liberals who accept it) have done much digging into the issue.  But exactly what is their offense?  They are simply content trusting the Word of God over the word of people like Joe Klein.  Based on the Bible's track record for both scientific and historical accuracy, as compared to Klein and company, that can't be characterized in any way as ignorant.

And in terms of "birtherism," let's set the record straight.  A lot of conservatives have long believed that President Obama was born in the United States but were very uncomfortable with his militant refusal to show something as simple as a birth certificate to prove it when legitimate questions arose.  Shouldn't we be more concerned at the blind willingness of liberals like Klein and Matthews, who apparently care so little for the U.S. Constitution that they weren't concerned at all about the issue?

And just so we're clear, Donald Trump shot to the top of the polls momentarily not because of his "birtherism," but because of his willingness to boldly confront Obama.  Conservatives were tired of candidates who cowered in the face of the media and their support of this failed presidency.  They wanted a fighter, and that's what caused many to gravitate towards Trump...for a very short period of time.

But while Klein's thesis is absurd, the subject matter is not.  I think it's high time we have a conversation about ignorance in our political system.  And we could begin by talking about a Democrat Party that thinks you can spend your way out of debt; that boasts charismatic visionaries like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Joe Biden as their chosen leaders; that thinks it makes sense to forbid the death penalty for rapists but to allow the death penalty for the innocent child that is the product of the rape; that thinks an increase in food stamps stimulates economic growth or that extending unemployment checks is a sign the economy is on the rebound.  We could talk about a Democrat Party whose best policy ideas are the very ones that were attempted and failed throughout the 1930s and the 1960s, and that continue to bankrupt state and local governments around the nation. 

And if Klein is particularly interested in evaluating the intellectual prowess of the "base" of the Republican Party, perhaps we could put a magnifying glass on the "base" of his own party: from whacked out eco-terrorists to Code Pink war protesters to the Occupy Wall Street public defecators. 

No, Joe: when it comes to celebrating ignorance, conservatives can't hold a candle to you and your liberal comrades.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana.  E-mail peter@peterheck.com, visit www.peterheck.com, or like him on Facebook.