Saturday, September 15, 2007

Facts, Beliefs , Opinions & Other Animals

Let's begin with a recent American Survey:

Survey: Most Americans Say Founders Intended Christian Nation by Lillian Kwon

In the First Amendment Center’s annual survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and press, 55 percent of Americans said they believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. Furthermore, three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican agree while about half of Democrats and independents do.

Compared to previous years, more Americans were found to support Christian activities in public schools. Most respondents (58 percent) say teachers in public schools should be allowed to lead prayers, up from 52 percent in 2005. Moreover, 43 percent say public schools should be allowed to put on Nativity re-enactments with Christian music while only 36 percent said so in 2005, according to the survey released Wednesday and titled "State of the First Amendment 2007."

Only 50 percent, however, said they would allow schools to teach the Bible as a factual text in history class, down from 56 percent in 2000.

"While the survey shows Americans highly value religious freedom, a significant number support privileging the religion of the majority, especially in public schools," said First Amendment Center senior scholar Charles Haynes.

Amid concerns from conservative Christians about the secularism of public schools, bestselling author Stephen Prothero, who wrote Religious Literacy, has expressed support for teaching the Bible in schools, saying that it plays a major part in the nation's culture and politics.

"The strong support for official recognition of the majority faith appears to be grounded in a belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, in spite of the fact that the Constitution nowhere mentions God or Christianity," Haynes argued in the survey report. "Of course, people define 'Christian nation' in various ways – ranging from a nation that reflects Christian values to a nation where the government favors the Christian faith."

also see article by Don Byrd at Talk To Action

What such surveys show is that a large proportion of the American populace have not critically examined for themselves the major official documents created at the founding of the American Republic . Is this a failure on the part of the public & private educational institutions in America . Isn't it also a failure on the part of the American mass media to better explain such notions to the American people or would they think that exploring , discussing & separating fact from fiction on this important issue is not their job or none of their business or would it mean that journalists would be seen as taking sides . According to this view educators & journalist are supposed to be objective claiming that there are at least two sides to every story each one as valid as the other - so if some people believes in a " flat earth " then as journalists or educators one shouldn't take sides - this is a rather strange extremist point of view . This notion is relevant in a number of issues such as the environment & Global Warming or other negative impacts on the environment by human activity - in the end it is all up for grabs according to this view - facts are therefore meaningless !

How then does one determine if something is true or not - is Evolution merely the simple minded opinion of bigoted scientists who are anti-religion & anti-God as many Radical Christian fundamentalists believe including a number of Neocons like President Bush & their propagandists Ann Coulter Glenn Beck Bill O'Reilley & our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper who are more interested in promoting their religious & political & economic agenda .

These days even the more respectable journalists working for tv networks or Newspapers are afraid of just stating the facts & then from those facts come to some reasonable conclusions based on those facts . For instance Iraq did not have WMDs & was not in cahoots with Al Qeada & hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed during the US Invasion & Occupation of Iraq - but no the facts are rather whatever the Bush Spin-doctors claim to be the facts - Journalists sit around twisting facts about to suit whatever those in power tell them are the conclusions which they must adhere to- We see this again & again . For instance when American Soldiers & officials torture detainees that's okay when Saddam tortured people it was not okay & was proof of how evil he was or when the Soviet Union's police tortured & imprisoned people without due process again this showed how evil the Soviets were - there were no two sides to the issue of whether or not the Soviets were committing crimes against humanity but it is different when the Americans or other western nations do the same thing - I guess because we have God on our side so whatever we do is permissible as long as we don't blaspheme or use condoms or question our countries policies etc.

So we are told that journalists & educators cannot tell the public that something is an irrefutable fact such as 2+ 2 =4 sometimes it equals whatever one wants to believe it to equal or that Helium is an inert gas & Hydrogen on the other hand is not inert & will explode as it did in the Hindenburg but on the Evangelical Christian Neocon planet things are quite different -the Hindenburg exploded because these were bad people on board & had nothing to do with science - or for instance pouring various noxious chemicals into streams rivers & lakes does not have an affect on the environment or people especially if we pray & are Godly & just believe & cross our fingers or like in Peter Pan if we do believe in faeries then there will be faeries & Tinker Bell will live - is this what these people mean by being " objective ". ( of course these days they argue that some objects kids' toys or whatever manufactured in Evil China maybe bad for your health but not anything made in America or by American Corporations and so it goes)

Or to use a more extreme example did the Holocaust take place - Most people given the evidence believe it did take place but to some it is debatable ie Anti-Semites , neoNazis & other Nutters - but given the way Journalists are today & given this notion that they be objective & open-minded & not take sides then how could they if they were around during WWII how could they claim that they knew the Holocaust was taking place after being given all the evidence & further even if they agreed that it was taking place how could they say whether it was a good thing or a bad thing -being objective at that point is madness or depraved indifference which to a great extent is just what happened Western Leaders , The Pope & the Catholic Church & other religious bodies ignored what was going on in part because Anti-Semitism had been part of Western Civilization for about a thousand years or so - though against all the facts & evidence many now claim that's why we went to war against the Nazis that is to stop the Holocaust -I myself wish it had been true but History shows this to be nonsense & is merely a re-writing of history -( no one wanted to take in the Jews except for maybe tiny Denmark - the Swiss wanted their money & gold teeth & now refuse to give it all back)- such re-writing of history means that we are bound to learn nothing from it & notions such as objectivity & the refusal to take sides or make a judgement call allow the journalists & the public to be indifferent & ignorant without sharing in the collective guilt for inaction -

I know some will take exception of any comparisons to the Holocaust but Anti-Abortionist make this comparison all the time - & the Neocons have compared Saddam & various other leaders they don't like to Adolph Hitler or Stalin - it seems only Neocons & the religious Right are permitted to make such comparisons since they are on the side of the Angels & the rest of us are agents of Satan & the Anti-Christ or Communism or Anarchism or Terrorism or whatever convenient label they can grab off the shelf of the Propagandists & Spin-Doctors -

The facts about Iraq or environmental damage caused by Human Activity are similar in the sense of being facts - what in other words do we know - what are the Facts on the Ground as it were - is it okay to destroy streams rivers & lakes & the oceans to kill off numerous species & even to kill or shorten or diminish the lives of other human beings so that some corporation can increase its profits -

There is "open-mindedness " & then there is foolishness ,madness & willful ignorance . Should we encourage adults to believe in the Tooth Fairy & the Easter Bunny & Santa Claus or are we by doing so encouraging them to be ignorant - if we tell them otherwise are we being harsh , cruel & are we by doing so not respecting their cultural or religious beliefs . This may sound funny but it is merely a way to make a point- that there are facts that can be known about the world from which we can draw reasonable conclusions for instance if you flap your arms up and down the chances are you as a human being will not be able to fly but if create some sort of apparatus hot air balloon or jet plane or rocket ship then human beings can fly - if you did this in the middle ages you would be burned at the stake since they believed only witches & wizards could fly ala Harry Potter - see Jesus Camp film for instance where the Preacher seems to think that the Harry Potter books are creating a generation of Witches & Wizards as if the kids reading these books couldn't distinguish between fantasy & imagination & reality.

There maybe two or more sides to every story but not all are of equal value some are merely based on opinion & belief systems . To say for instance that the War in Iraq is " Going Well " as US General Petreaus claims is an opinion & not necessarily a fact but of course if you define " Going Well " as vaguely as possible then it can be seen as a reasonable conclusion but creating a more stringent litmus test of " Going Well " may show that it is not true at all . For instance Bush's eighteen Bench-marks shows things are not just not " Going Well " but that it is a disaster but don't tell Bush or the mass of War Mongering Islamaphobics that they'll lock you up ...

Or to share another example for instance journalists, politicians & Public Relations people are all too eager to claim that the American or Canadian or British " economy is doing well " -But it depends on your definition - ie is the dollar strong , is national debt up or down , is employment up or down , have peoples incomes increased or decreased or are they static , is the country's infrastructure intact has it improved or is it falling apart , or how is the housing market doing or do you base the economy on how certain corporations ie. Fortune Five-hundred are doing , or are the rich doing well or the Middle Class or the Working Class or Heaven forbid we talk about visible minorities & how they are doing or the poor, the homeless , the disabled , the unemployed , the disenfranchised... of course in our Politically Correct Fantasy World there are no classes no disadvantaged minorities no disenfranchised etc. As long as the Rich the Super Rich & most of the Middle Class are doing well then everything is okay & those who complain supposedly have no one to blame but themselves they just need more Seminars in Positive Thinking & Motivational Training or whatever in the end its just another way of blaming the poor & others who don't fit into the Middle Class Fantasy World .

That's enough for now -

take care,

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