It's my blog, and I'll slack if I want to

I was all set to write a lengthy and thoughtful piece about intellectual humility, philosophy for mass consumption, and the brilliance of Vilayanur Ramachandran, all inspired by this post from Julian Sanchez. Honestly, I was. But I'm on call this weekend, and I had to get out of bed at 3:30 in the morning for a delivery, and damned if I'm not just too tired and cranky to write something that thoughtful and humble. (Maybe later.)

So, instead, I decided to write about a couple of crazy, crazy Republicans. I give you Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee urged Christians to get involved in politics to preserve the presence of religion in American life.

"I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history," Gingrich said. "We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism."

Having been raised in a church where I was taught on a regular basis that the woods surrounding my home town were full of Satanists that were all too willing to sacrifice me in some dark ritual (I am not making that up), I know the target audience for this. Having left that church quite some time ago and found a nice, sane one, this makes me want to laugh hysterically and weep like a banshee. (Sorry. Couldn't help the gratuitous pagan reference.)

Nothing, but nothing infuriates me like politicians using the religious biases of America's credulous evangelical mass to whip up votes. Only in America would members of the vast majority religion, who supported the majority party for six years of the past decade and held the Presidency for eight, try to tell themselves that they are dangerously set-upon by some hostile "other." I know Jesus said ""Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me," but I'm pretty sure he only meant circumstances where people are genuinely persecuting you, not when your candidates don't win, gay people are being treated like real human beings, and the new Harry Potter movie is set to open big.

Then there's this:
Huckabee told the audience he was disturbed to hear President Barack Obama say during his speech in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday that one nation shouldn't be exalted over another.

"The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," Huckabee said. The United States is a "blessed" nation, he said, calling American revolutionaries' defeat of the British empire "a miracle from God's hand."

The same kind of miracle, he said, led California voters to approve Proposition 8, which overturned a state law legalizing same-sex marriages.

Voters "did it because some things are right and some things are wrong and they had to make a stand," said Huckabee, who enjoyed some early grassroots support in Hampton Roads during his unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination last year. He may run again in 2012.

Gingrich, now a consultant and author, said the ties to religion in American government date to the Declaration of Independence, when Thomas Jefferson wrote that men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights.

"I am not a citizen of the world," said Gingrich, who was first elected to the U.S. House from Georgia in 1978 and served as speaker from 1995 to 1999. "I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our creator."

That's a whooooooooole lot of arrogance right there. Leaving aside the nauseating hubris of saying that your country is the The Best EVER! because God said so, and that your citizenship of the United States precludes your being a citizen of the world, one wonders if G & H & Co. have ever pondered that part of what makes America great is the separation of church and state? That the Constitution, which they apparently believe was divinely inspired, protects the rights of Americans who don't happen to think that "citizenship starts with our creator"?

I also find their referencing Thomas Jefferson incredibly ironic. Somehow, I doubt he would have ascribed the political success or failure of Proposition 8 to a miracle.

It makes me want to sent Richard Dawkins a mash note. And I hate Richard Dawkins.


  1. Dan, I don't really understand what it means to be a citizen of the world. A citizen of the US, yes, I have responsibilities and privileges which are spelled out by our history and government. But the world? Where exactly do I find similar ideas of privilege and responsibility just for living on Earth?

    I suspect that "citizen of the world" is an alternative label for "be a decent human," but there is no concensus among the world's cultures about what it means to be a decent human.

  2. One isn't, perhaps, a "citizen" of the world in the same way one is a citizen of a particular country. But the sense of the phrase, at least insofar as I understand it, is that one is a human being among many, and that one's country is one among many. It may have its particular virtues and prerogatives, but those do not necessarily supersede the prerogatives of other nations just because one happens to live there. In addition, being a "citizen of the world" entails a certain respect for history and one's country's place in it, as well as a respect for the well-being of citizens in other countries.