Living Through the Culture Wars

I know that sociologist pooh-pooh the “culture war” thesis. They insist that Americans have more in common than the prominence of wing-nuts of all varieties would suggest. I sure hope they are right, because it sometimes seems that reason and logic have been banished from the horizon.


A couple of recent examples (if we held a contest, there would be too many contestants to review!) include the following:


·        In the ongoing effort to pretend that “Intelligent Design” is science, and thus introduce a religious philosophy into public school science classes, there are a number of pseudo-scientific websites where “research” by “credible scientists” is posted. My absolute favorite—and I am not making this up, honest—was a post a couple of days ago that purported to “explain” why human males, alone among mammals (I don’t know if this is true, by the way), do not have bones in their penises. According to the post, all other male mammals have such a bone (no sick jokes about “boners” please), but the human must rely upon “hydraulics” to achieve an erection. The scientific paper examining this phenomenon found the reason for the disparity: we have misread Genesis all along. When God removed a rib from Adam in order to make Eve, it wasn’t the rib at all—it was the bone from the penis. And the evidence is there for all to see, because the scrotum is the scar left from the surgery. (The post did not address why an operation by an all-powerful God would have left a scar. Oh well…details.)


·        The ongoing mental case named Bill O’Reilly continues his vendetta against the hordes of Satanists who make War on Christmas. Of late, his hysterical accusations have taken a dangerously anti-Semitic tone; he recently accused George Soros (Jewish) of wholly funding the ACLU (not even predominantly Jewish—last numbers I saw suggested the ACLU is about 5% Jewish—but frequently portrayed that way) in order to wage war on Christianity. And boy, have they been successful! I guess we just don’t see that success as we listen to the most Christian President in history, pass Ten Commandment monuments erected in courthouses and city halls, and pass constitutional amendments based upon specifically Christian doctrines.


I could, unfortunately, go on and on and on. Tolerance seems quaint—indeed, the wing-nuts claim that failure to privilege their beliefs is intolerant.


In Indiana a few days ago, a federal judge—following unambiguous precedent—told the Speaker of the Indiana House that he could continue to begin sessions with prayer, but the prayer had to be genuinely inclusive—not just inclusive of different Christian denominations (arguably, it hadn’t even been that—the plaintiffs were all Christians. One was a retired Methodist minister.) The outcry was immediate. The Speaker, who knows a wedge issue when he sees it, called it outrageous, part of the plot to eradicate Christianity, and a violation of freedom of speech.  This from a man who went to law school, and presumably would not have graduated had he not known the difference between government speech and private expression.


On the national level, we are quite likely to place Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. This is a man committed to expanding government power, overturning a woman’s right to choose, and dismissive (at best) of civil rights for women and African-Americans.


I keep telling myself this will all pass, that we are just having a bad couple of decades. But if something doesn’t re-establish sanity soon, I may have to abandon that increasingly forlorn hope.