Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just a Theory

I suppose everyone has heard about Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar while he was addressing the house last night.  I suppose Joe thought he was back in his Hummer, listening to Rush -- sort of thing that can happen to anyone, especially anyone who has been fed a steady diet of lies, obfuscations, smears, and hate radio.

In any case, I don't have much to say about this particular incident, except, as we say here in the south, well bless his heart; no, what I want to comment on is his apology.  In case you didn't see that, here it is:

This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.”

He disagrees with what, exactly?  As others have noticed, the plan Obama is discussing does not, in fact, cover illegal immigrants.  (See here for an extensive coverage of that issue; it's very thoroughly covered in the comments section.)  So he's not disagreeing on the facts.  On what basis is he disagreeing with the President's statement?  

Well, due to my extensive sojourn here in the Redstates, and my lengthy discussions with Red-State thinkers, I believe I can shed some light.

Bear in mind these are all conjectures, since I have never spoken to Rep. Wilson, as delightful as this incident makes him seem.

However: frequently when I am teaching History of the English Language (HEL, as we call it) or Chaucer or the first half of World Lit, it will become necessary, while I am discussing historical events that shape the language or the literature, to discuss certain events related to the church.

Specifically, I'll have to mention that the Catholic church was once the only church, that until the Protestant Reformation, no other sort of church existed -- every Christian was Catholic. "Though of course," I always add, "they just called it Christian then."

I wouldn't say this irks my Pentecostal and Evangelical students, of which Pork Smith is, well, let's say, 60%? I don't know the exact percentage.  Always more than I am hoping for.  We have many, many Catholics here, though, and the Pentecostals and Evangelicals know for a fact those Catholics are not really Christians -- like Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses, those are just cults, see, that split off from the one true church, which is their church.  Theirs is the real church which always existed.

This is what some of them will come and tell me, after class.  Gently.  Correcting me.  I'm wrong about this Catholic church and Reformation thing, they say.  Brother Rob told them --

"Well, no," I tell them.  "I'm not wrong.  You can look it up."

They smile.  "You're entitled to your opinion, but I disagree."

Thus also when anyone gives them evidence that Benjamin Franklin was a Deist (as I do when I teach American Literature and we read his autobiography) and that indeed the country was not created as a Christian Nation, but far otherwise (That's one theory, a student told me), or when you show them how Tennyson, in writing, In Memoriam, was affected by how science as well as textual research at the time was exploding his culture's certainties in the 6000 year old world and the certain Christianity of his childhood or you talk about what Chaucer might really be doing with religion in the Canterbury Tales.

Apparently in the Christian Schools round about, when they teach Chaucer at all, they claim that he's praising the church in CT -- and, of course, it's the one true Church i.e. not the Catholic one.  

"Um," I say.  "It's 1380?  The only church around is the Catholic church?"

Sweet smiles.  (No one calls anyone a liar round here, not openly.)  "That's not what we learned."

By which they mean: you can say what you want, but we know The Truth.

See, this is why wingnuts can believe that Obama was not born in the US, and that his healthcare plan will cover illegal aliens, and that he's a Socialist overlord AND a fascist, at the same time, and that he's going to kill grandma, too.  Since they were two years old, their entire culture has been grooming them in just this behavior.  Cultural dissonance is no deal at all for them.  An omnibenevolent God who nevertheless condemns billions of people to endless fire for telling a single lie or simply not saying the magic words?  A world created 6000 years ago which has pottery older than that?  A central text telling you not to do certain things (lie, steal, murder, disrespect your parents) that is nonetheless full of tales about people doing just those things and being rewarded for doing so?

Not to mention how they have to go out and interact in a world that shows them, every single day, that the central tenents of their worldview are bankrupt: obviously feminists aren't evil manhater,  (here's their Chaucer professor, she seems sort of nice), obviously the world acts like it's older than 6000 years old (these scientists keep talking about cities from 8000 bce, stars from 15 million years ago...), obviously people from other religions think their religions are just as sane....

So either they learn to shut their heads to reality -- learn to deny truth, to call truth a lie -- or they stop being one of the Elect.  Some do stop, by the way.  I have many, many students in my classes who, after reading enough books, and listening to enough people talk about pottery that is ten thousand years old and how the Spanish Inquisition did this and the Black Plague did that eventually throw their hands up and say, okay, I'll stop denying and start thinking.

But the others?  They end up like Rep. Wilson.  He doesn't disagree with Obama's statement; he disagrees with Obama's existence


78rpm said...

Fantastic post, although some (many) may interpret it to mean that Joe "Uraliar" Wilson is ultra religious. He's not; he's just ultra beholden to his healthcare industry masters. And he barked on command.

By being uncivil, he managed to take all of the attention off of the Democratic president's message and put it onto the Repugnant Party instead. Even though the attention was negative, the old advertising truism holds: People might hate the slogan or the stupid song, but if they remember the brand, that's all that matters.

Anyway, thanks for a great overall take on the situation.

Bardiac said...

Imagine what the right would have said if a democrat had said that to Bush when he spoke to congress at some point. Words such as "treason" and "traitor" come to mind as possibilities.

zelda1 said...

Because Obama is a man of color and not like all the other presidents that we have had, it is okay to call him a liar. Democrates would never have acted so rudely to their white with somewhat of a red glow to their neck presidents.

Oh, I have those students who say, you can believe what you want to believe, but I know that it is such and such. And, this year, most of my up here students are seniors and one would think they would have expanded their world view just a bit. Not so much.