Friday, September 19, 2008

Palin the Unmentionable

Give the way the Obama campaign is reacting to Palin’s nomination as the Republican vice presidential candidate, their pollsters have told them that it would be political suicide to criticize Palin. They have stumbled all over themselves to make sure that when they speak about Palin, that they say only good things. If there is any criticism to be made, it is to be made against McCain’s policies.

However, one of the biggest criticisms that can be made against McCain is that, in case of his inability to continue to function as President, he is willing to put the country in the hands of Sarah “George Bush” Palin – somebody who shares Bush’s worst qualities such as an unfounded arrogance, scientific illiteracy, and a faith it is okay to be stupid because God is going to tell her what to do.

The issue today is not how disastrous a Palin presidency would be (which I have written about before). We have a legitimate complaint against McCain that his first Presidential decision was to put the country at risk for the sake of his campaign to be President. He may well think that he will survive through the four years of his Presidency and that no harm will come from this move. However, he took the risk. He put America at risk of suffering some very significant harm in the hands of a Sarah “George Bush” Palin presidency.

Here we have a definite risk to the future of the United States, and we are not allowed to talk about it. We are supposed to pretend that it does not exist.

If we are not permitted to mention something, then we are not permitted to avoid it.

When we are talking about the future of the nation (and the future of a good part of the world, anything that threatens to do significant harm or that promises to do significant good should be on the table.

The Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office. This means that the government is place religious restrictions on the voters regarding what people they can decide to put in public office. However, there is no prohibition on the people themselves having a religious test. If a candidate believes that the end times are here and as President she will use the nation’s nuclear weapons against the agents of the devil, the voters have a reason to consider this. If a candidate thinks that blood transfusions are evil and plan to use the power of the Presidency to ban the use of blood transfusions, the people have the right to consider this fact.

To say that the voters are not permitted to do this is absurd.

I am a member of the major religious faction that faces the greatest amount of outright voter bigotry in the polls. Yet, I do not deny that the voters have the right to consider the factors that that keep atheists out of public office.

The problem is not that it is illegitimate to keep a person out of office who has no moral foundation and cannot be trusted to do the right thing. The problem is the bigoted belief that atheists lack a moral foundation and cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

The same applies to other forms of bigotry.

There is no fault for a voter to vote against a perspective terrorist who would use the power of public office to destroy this country. The fault is in believing that the fact that somebody is a Muslim means that he is somebody who would use the power of public office to destroy America.

The fault is not for a voter to vote against somebody who belongs to an economic clique whose sole interest in funneling money into that clique. The fault is in believing that simply because somebody is Jewish, he is a member of a clique whose sole concern is to funnel money to other Jews.

There is an objection to be made against voting for somebody simply because she is Jewish, or Muslim, or Christian, or Atheist, without naming any quality that makes the person unqualified to be President. This is like voting against somebody simply because she is a woman, or black, not because of a belief that women or blacks have some quality that makes them unfit to lead, but because one does not want to see a woman or a black in public office.

However, if a person believes that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, then she lacks a basic understanding of earth science that is essential to understanding many of the global issues that confront us today. A lot of the evidence with respect to climate change comes from evidence gathered from events hundreds of thousands of years in the past. If there is no “hundreds of thousands of years in the past,” how can one assess this evidence?

Global threats from tsunamis, volcanoes, asteroid impacts, are partially supported from evidence of events far in the Earth’s past, inferred from today’s evidence.

Just like evolution.

Evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences. It is the foundation through which we understand and make further advances in medicine (that is, to save lives and improve the lives we have). It is how we understand the environment – the interaction between elements in nature – by which we protect nature and protect ourselves.

If a person believes that the world will end in the near future, she does not have the incentive to protect us from long-term problems. She is not somebody who it is safe to trust the country to – not if we care about the future we leave our grandchildren.

And if a person believes that God will not allow anything terrible to happen to us, then she also is a threat to future generations. If she is not going to take seriously the harm that we can do to ourselves and our futures, she is not going to have an eye to protecting us (and our grandchildren) from those problems.

We would certainly have reason to object to the candidacy of a President who holds that the Bible not only condones slavery, but declares that God declared that the proper state for blacks was to be the slaves of whites. We have just as much reason to object to the person whose religion tells them that God has declared that the proper form of marriage is between a man and a woman.

If a person believes that there is something sacred about a zygote refuses to use those zygotes to save lives. This person will cost the lives and health of countless Americans – countless humans. Is it not the case that the humans whose lives are at stake have a right and a reason to consider the fact that a candidate might vote for their death? “If she wins, I die (or my child dies, or my best friend dies)” is a perfectly legitimate concern to carry into the voting booth.

The thing to do here is not just to take up the Obama Campaign’s slack in making these criticisms, but to criticize the Obama campaign for its failure to do so itself.

For the Obama campaign to fail to tackle a religious belief that holds that homosexuals are to be treated as second-class citizens is no different than his refusal to tackle a religious belief that holds that blacks are to be held as slaves. It’s refusal to criticize a religious belief that holds that stem cells have ‘spirits’ and, as a result, others shall be condemned to die is no different than refusing to condemn a religious belief that refuses to suffer a witch to live. If the Obama campaign does not criticize religious beliefs that putting our grandchildren at risk – either by assuming there is no future worth protecting us from or that God will do it for us – then Obama himself has decided not to protect future generations.

It is time to criticize, not only Palin for having insanely irrational beliefs, and not only McCain for choosing to put such a person in line to be President, but also the Democratic Party for its refusal to warn the nation of the dangers posed by such a person, and for its refusal to protect us from these threats by ignoring them and refusing to address them.

Even though the protest would likely not effect this particular election, it will put a little bit of grease on the wheel for the next election, and the next.

2 comments:

anticant said...

She's not a George Bush clone. She's a whole heap cuter, twice as stupid and ten times more bigoted.

Not a good outlook for the future of America, or of the world.

Still, if that's what US voters decide they want...

Don't forget Hitler was democratically elected.

peter said...

Palin and McCain keep repeating this lie along with the one about her opposition to the bridge to nowhere. What are they thinking? They are so busy trying to creating a narrative--more like a myth--about her that apparently they don't care if what they are saying is truthful or not. I will be pleasantly surprised it she ever goes on Meet the Press. Brokaw will have many clips to ask her about from her convention speech alone.
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