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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Braindead Currency

by digby

Here's a new one: evolution is an ancient Jewish conspiracy:

The second most powerful member of the Texas House has circulated a Georgia lawmaker's call for a broad assault on teaching of evolution.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, used House operations Tuesday to deliver a memo from Georgia state Rep. Ben Bridges.

The memo assails what it calls "the evolution monopoly in the schools."

Mr. Bridges' memo claims that teaching evolution amounts to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect's beliefs.

"Indisputable evidence – long hidden but now available to everyone – demonstrates conclusively that so-called 'secular evolution science' is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate 'creation scenario' of the Pharisee Religion," writes Mr. Bridges, a Republican from Cleveland, Ga. He has argued against teaching of evolution in Georgia schools for several years.

He then refers to a Web site, www.fixedearth.com, that contains a model bill for state Legislatures to pass to attack instruction on evolution as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Mr. Bridges also supplies a link to a document that describes scientists Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein as "Kabbalists" and laments "Hollywood's unrelenting role in flooding the movie theaters with explicit or implicit endorsement of evolutionism."

Ok, so this guy's just a lunatic crank, right? Anyone who believes this anti-semitic drivel thankfully doesn't have any real effect of people's lives. Oh wait:

In the world of family-planning and reproductive rights, it's been business as usual at the 80th Legislature: The agenda is schizophrenic and often steeped in hypocrisy...Consider the perennial quest to define "life" as the magical moment at which sperm meets egg. This year, that definition has found its way into House Bill 175, the so-called "trigger bill" filed by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, which would ban all abortion in Texas (unless the mother would otherwise die), if the U.S. Supreme Court ever decides to reverse Roe v. Wade.

The point of the bill, says Kathi Seay, spokeswoman for Rep. Frank "the Fetus" Corte, is to demonstrate that Texans are committed to upholding the sanctity of life. (Chisum agreed to carry the bill, but Corte's office is fielding all questions about it.) While Chisum, Corte, and similar-minded lawmakers champion the rights owed the unborn, they nonetheless fail to support the kinds of programs and policies – like the Children's Health Insurance Program – that might better demonstrate real concern for the living.

There's a good reason for that:

To hear Seay tell it, HB 175 does reflect real compassion: "Now, access to health care is a fine thing," she says, but "the point is, how a society treats life really matters and spills out into other issues." Some might think that unplanned pregnancies leading to unwanted children might correlate to the relative incidence of child abuse; Seay counters that abortion "devalues" life, which is what truly leads to child abuse and other social ills. Before Roe, none of our current social problems existed – end abortion, she says, and those problems will disappear.

So elected officials in Texas believe that that evolution was invented by the Pharisees and child abuse is caused by abortion. They have a very big agenda:

The session droned on until after 4am, dominated by a stream of middle-aged women determined to share tales of abortions past and the consequent turmoil in their lives. Rhonda Arias, founder of something called the Oil of Joy for Mourning, argued that many women in Texas prisons trace the source of their problems to abortion. (Arias played a video for the committee wherein one woman averred that abortion turned her into a "crackhead whore.") Abortion usually results in substance-abuse problems and, therefore, Arias concluded, actually leads to an "increased risk of becoming involved in auto accidents." Much of the evening was devoted to more of the same.

Yes, these people are cranks. But a majority of the Supreme Court basically agreed with them --- especially the Justice whom most people in the country inexplicably believe will honor precedent and vote with the four more liberal justices to uphold Roe. I don't know why they think that. Kennedy adopted the framework of the looniest, most sexist argument out there as justification for his opinion --- that women can't be allowed to make a decision they might later regret. It is only a matter of time before they are able to entrench the next step in that thinking --- that women who have abortions are a danger to society. They are, after all, out of their minds.

The forced childbirth movement quite wisely adopted this logic back in the 90's knowing that the stereotype of the hysterical woman who doesn't know her own mind would be convincing to an awful lot of very stupid people --- even a fair number of women. It convinced a majority of the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court buys this nonsense in 2007, it is not a stretch to think they'll believe that abortion causes car accidents in 2010 --- or that evolution is actually an ancient Jewish conspiracy in 2015. It's all part of the same braindead anti-intellectual streak that has gained currency in this country over the last few years --- from the Texas State legislature to the highest court in the land.

Now that the Bush administration has temporarily embarrassed the Republicans on the national stage, look for the states to become their primary "laboratory." And the state legislatures are filled with rightwingnuts who believe things like the above. They may not have many overt allies among national legislators at the moment, but they seem to have some close friends among the youngest members of the Supreme Court.

Here is an interesting in-depth article about the entirely made up "Post-Abortion Syndrome" from a January 2007 NY Times magazine which features the woman mentioned in the article above, Rhonda Arias. It reports on all the medical and psychological data which shows that this concept is bunk and it interviews members of the movement in depth:

On a rainy morning in November, a dozen women gathered a block from the Supreme Court, at a row house owned by the Gospel of Life Ministries, an anti-abortion group. The women planned to spend the day rallying on the steps of the court while the justices heard a challenge to the federal partial-birth-abortion ban. ..At the courthouse, the women unfurled banners and signs that read, “I Regret My Abortion” and lined up to hold them. A giant picture of a bloody fetus floated above the crowd. Behind Forney’s group, two dozen people in NOW and Naral T-shirts chanted: “Right to life, that’s a lie. You don’t care if women die,” and “You get pregnant, let me know. Anti-choicers got to go.” Forney eyed them. “All these years and they still haven’t figured out it would be wise to find common ground with women like us,” she said.

I asked her what she had in mind. She talked about making abortion “unthinkable” by making sure that women have better choices. At first this sounded like Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal and rare” formulation, or Hillary Clinton’s characterization of abortion as a “tragedy.” But along with promoting adoption, the reforms Forney and Morana described were Baby Moses laws, which make it easier not for women to avoid pregnancy in the first place or to take care of children to whom they give birth but to abandon newborns at places like fire stations and hospitals. [no trauma there, I guess. ed]

Forney and Morana compare abortion to smoking. “The suppression of truth about the harms of abortion is the same as the suppression of truth about the harms of cigarettes,” Morana said. Once the public understands the trauma of abortion, as they now do the health problems associated with cigarettes, then “changing the law will be an afterthought,” Forney predicted.

And this is why it is a terrible idea to try to make common cause with these people. They are liars and they are slightly insane. The dangers of smoking are scientifically valid. The dangers of "post-abortion syndrome" are not. When Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton call abortion a tragedy in order to make common cause with these people they are bringing the day closer when women will be crawling out of back alleys gushing blood again --- a process that truly does cause terrible trauma. The real kind.

You cannot allow anti-intellectual nonsense to dictate public policy, whether its anti-semitic drivel about evolution or made up statistics about "post-abortion syndrome." The very fact that they are lying and cheating and "strategizing" their allegedly moral appeal against the right to abortion should be clue enough that they do not have faith that they can convince people with an honest argument. I find this time and time again with the anti-choice crowd --- a disingenuousness that borders on psychopathy.

Everyone in the country should be very concerned about any group that lies for our own good, whether it's politicians in Washington lying about an unnecessary war, anti-choice activists who make up statistics to advance their cause or religious folks who claim they just want "all theories" taught in science class. It's all part of the same thing. They know they will not prevail if they tell the truth. That is fundamentally undemocratic --- and unamerican.