conservatives as self-parodies
This interview with Andy Schlafly [below] of conservapedia.com is hard to watch. It’s almost embarrassing. I think Colbert is at his best for most of the exchange, and the zinger about creating his own reality is marvelous. Schlafly really is the ultimate self-parodic conservative, and I’m not just saying that because he has one of the most annoying laughs in the history of television. He says, and I shit you not, that most of Jesus’ parables were lessons in free market economics. I really am spoiled reading the conservative writers that I do read at the Scene and the Porch and Pomocon and the other little pockets of intellectual conservatism remaining.
But really. Good grief. I’ve heard of conservapedia but I never realized how utterly inane the project really was. Of all the silly things on the internet, this one is beginning to take shape as a future hall-of-famer. That’s the magnificent thing about the internet – there’s always room for one more elegant disaster.
Let’s see – here’s the opening paragraph in the entry on evolution:
The theory of evolution is a naturalistic theory of the history of life on earth (this refers to the theory of evolution which employs methodological naturalism and is taught in schools and universities). Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gives the following definition of evolution: “a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations.” Currently, there are several theories of evolution. Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists.
As far as public support for the evolutionary viewpoint, an article by CBS News begins with the observation that, “Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that God was not involved.” A 2005 poll by the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Social and Religious Research found that 60% of American medical doctors reject Darwinism, stating that they do not believe humans evolved through natural processes alone. Thirty-eight percent of the American medical doctors polled agreed with the statement that “Humans evolved naturally with no supernatural involvement.”  The study also reported that 1/3 of all medical doctors favor the theory of intelligent design over evolution. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that the evolutionary position is gradually losing public support in the United States. The prestigious science journal Science reported the following in 2006 concerning the United States: “The percentage of people in the country who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45 in 1985 to 40 in 2005. Meanwhile the fraction of Americans unsure about evolution has soared from 7 per cent in 1985 to 21 per cent last year.”
Got that? Almost no information about the small-t “theory of evolution” but a CBS News article about American public opinion and the next bit which I didn’t excerpt is some Intelligent Design stuff.
Or how about this entirely “factual” opener on Barack Hussein Obama:
Barack Hussein Obama II aka Barry Soetoro (allegedly born in Honolulu Aug. 4, 1961) is the 44th President of the United States, and previously served as a first-term Democratic Senator from Illinois (2005-2008). Obama and his running mate Senator Joseph Biden won the presidential election after 23 months of campaigning that spent over $700 million, much of it raised from undisclosed or fraudulent donors. Obama spent far more per vote than McCain did: Obama spent $7.39 per vote, while McCain spent only $5.78 per vote.
Seriously people, you can’t make this stuff up. Now go check out the one on homosexuality if you can stomach it.
Now maybe this is old ground I’m covering. I may have been out sick that day when everyone was all a-flutter over Conservapedia and its many entertaining … twists. It just strikes me as a remarkable example of how absurd the conservative movement really has become. (There are so many examples but this brings them all under one roof.)
….or has it always been this way? Have the intellectual pockets of conservatism always been just that – merely pockets?
Watching Schlafly try to reconcile free markets and Christianity is just sad. It’s exactly why thoughtful proponents of free markets run into such jaded and hostile reactions from people on the other side of the fence. I think Christianity and free markets are reconcilable but only with the addition of some form of safety-net-state. The Christian Democrats understand this concept over in Europe. Americans like Schlafly think Jesus was the first coming of Milton Friedman.
It just makes me throw my hands up in the air. I try too hard to retain the word “conservative” – to hold on to some other sense of its meaning, some other definition that the American right has no hold over. I have great admiration for the paleocons, but I would never really fit in even with that idiosyncratic bunch. I’ve tried to come to terms with the idea that the movement can be changed for the better but I’m beginning to doubt myself even there. The invention of the modern Tea Party only reveals how deep the fraud runs.
In the end I’m just at a loss. I see less and less hope for the American right however much they bellow and bluster to the contrary. I don’t even mean this in terms of electoral hope. I mean this in terms of salvation.