The embarrassments just keep coming, and the continued descent into self-parody of a once-rational political party is painful to watch. It seems that every day brings a new “WTF moment,” another occasion to shake one’s head and contemplate the GOP’s penchant for self-destruction.
A couple of days ago, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled–a treaty modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Treaty would not have required a single change to current U.S. law; its ratification was, in a sense, a formality, intended to bring the rest of the member nations up to the standard set by the United States. Bob Dole came in his wheelchair to urge Republican Senators to ratify it. Dick Lugar and John McCain were among the eight GOP “defectors” who joined all of the Democratic Senators voting for ratification.
According to media reports, ultra-conservatives associated with the Tea Party, led by former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, opposed the treaty on the grounds that it threatened U.S. sovereignty and parental rights. Santorum, who has a daughter with special needs, argued that the treaty would effectively put the United States under international law and give the U.N. discretion over decisions about how special needs children are educated.
This, of course, is nonsense–part and parcel of the paranoia that characterizes the Right’s frantic rejection of anything connected to the United Nations and increasingly, Europe. Even Bob Dole and Dick Lugar couldn’t shame them--but then, how do you shame crazy? So–add the disabled to the growing group of constituencies–women, immigrants, gays, young people–that the party has infuriated.
Washington is hardly the only habitat of the legislative loon, of course. Here in Indiana, we breed dozens of them.
The Northwest Indiana Times captured a quintessential example, under a headline that deserves some sort of prize: “Indiana Senator’s Plan to Teach Creationism Evolves.”
State Senator Denise Kruse has sponsored some of the Senate’s most constitutionally-suspect measures. Most recently, he’s been trying to pass legislation that would require the teaching of creationism in public school classrooms. Last session, his measure passed the (overwhelmingly Republican) Senate, but House Speaker Brian Bosma killed it in the House. Bosma is a lawyer, and obviously is aware that the courts have settled this debate, holding that creationism is religion, not science, and cannot be taught as science.
Kruse told the Times that he would not submit a similar bill this time. No, he said, he “wants to empower students to challenge their teachers” and “to make sure what is being taught is true.” He will sponsor a bill require teachers to justify and support their lessons.
I don’t know what Kruse thinks happens in a classroom. Given his public pronouncements, it’s fair to assume he hasn’t been in many. But I can’t imagine a classroom where students don’t challenge their teachers, or a classroom where teachers aren’t absolutely ecstatic when they can share with students the evidence and research underlying the substance of their subject-matter. Does he think students come into the classroom for indoctrination sessions? That teachers hypnotize children, or pour pre-packaged lessons into the tops of their heads?
Since conspiracy theories seem to be the order of the day, here’s mine: someone is putting hallucinogenic substances in the food of Republican elected officials. And baby, those substances are strong.