What is it that the good folks in Idaho, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, (13 states and counting) have against LGBTQ folks? We hear a lot of, “I believe ….”, and “god said, …, ” from them. They may well, but, for sure, he-she-they didn’t. Folks, it turns out that the same percentage of your kids are LGBTQ as are anyone else’s. Seems it is all a part of the spectrum of being humans. Speaking of which, what sort of parent would be against the best interests of their own or anyone else’s child? All too likely, the same sort that doesn’t want their child to know about our history of racism, or — to learn about and understand science. All too likely, too, those who would impose their ignorance on their own children would impose it on all of us and our children. They seem to think that their beliefs grant them rights. They don’t. They do have the right to their beliefs, but their beliefs do not, cannot, grant them rights. All importantly, the First Amendment of our Constitution says that they cannot impose their beliefs upon others, nor can others theirs upon them. That’s why it’s first. The writers had learned from history.
It should come as no surprise that from this same cast of folks and states, we get the most opposition to such things as the teaching of evolution (science), and the truth about our nation’s past.
Why science? Because science is seen as a threat to their beliefs. There are all sorts of reasons to believe. Beliefs may be based on wishful thinking, what one is taught, …, or on best thinking. People believe in science because of the balance of evidence behind the science. If that evidence is contrary to someone’s beliefs, it is a threat to those beliefs. To defend their belief, they must ignore (deny) the evidence. If they wish to instill their beliefs in their children, they must shield their children from any evidence that is a threat to those beliefs lest the children choose to go with the evidence. Denial leads to denial.
The opposition to the teaching of the truth about the whole of our nation’s past is a denial of those parts of that past that make us uncomfortable. How terrible if one’s children were to learn that their parents had deliberately taught them the big lie; especially, if it were willfully done. Terrible though it might be, it was done for generations across large swaths of America. Opposition to the truth was perpetuated not so much in defense of ignorance as it was in the fear of their children learning that they had been deliberately engendered with the big lie by their own parents. Isn’t the fear of knowledge a sign of weakness in one’s beliefs? Some fear of the future is understandable. Fear of the past is self-incriminating. The right to know should be a constitutional one.
A few questions for these defenders of ignorance: Is it that parents have rights in re their children or is it that they have responsibilities in re their children? Do not their children have a right to know? Did your parents have a right or did they have a responsibility? Is there any evidence that denial ever protected anyone from anything? Ever worked? Do you have any evidence that denial is an effective prophylactic against anything?
Given that there is no constitutional right to be ignorant, can individual states pass laws against ignorance? Why should we accord any validity whatsoever to beliefs based on anything other than facts? Do beliefs without evidence even merit political discourse?
Defenders, for you and for yours, not knowing is by far the more dangerous. At least 300,000 Americans died because of not accepting the science about COVID-19. Because of denial, 82% of transgender individuals considered killing themselves and 40% have attempted suicide. That is getting really real. More than half of transgender male teens who participated in a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, while 29.9 percent of transgender female teens said they attempted suicide. Among non-binary youth, 41.8 percent of respondents stated that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. A high price to pay for your right to deny science. Likely, because it was counter to your beliefs.
Many transgender young people experience family rejection, bullying, and harassment, or feel unsafe for simply being who they are – all of which can be added risk factors for suicide. Earlier this year, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released its 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report, which detailed similarly alarming experiences — but also significant perseverance among LGBTQ young people in the face of daunting challenges.
The founding fathers — each of the thirteen originals — were well aware of the consequences (were the consequence) of belief-based systems of governance. Then, Europe had come close to collapsing as a consequence of such. Today, around the world anachronistic theocracies pose one of the greatest threats to humankind. Belief-based systems of governance were the before before the enlightenment.
It is these adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles who provide a market for such as today’s Fox News, Newsmax, Breitbart, …, QAnon. Demand — meet Suppliers. The adherents want to hear nothing that questions their beliefs. Purveyors like Fox, Newsmax, Breitbart, …, QAnon, said: “One all-belief, fact-free burger coming right up.” “News to order; to your taste.”, was the business model. Before Fox, somewhere along the way, the Republican Party said, “tell me more about these beliefs my most cultured new best friends,” (Culture and beliefs are first synonyms). The demands of adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles have launched careers, spawned dozens of right-wing talking head $multi-millionaires.
Wokeness is a first synonym of awareness, which may explain the strong reaction by defenders of ignorance everywhere to the very idea that children, and adults, should be made aware of such as racism and inequality. Worse, the very term itself seems to have originated with those suffering from discrimination.
Denial, the first antonym of wokeness, has not worked in the past. There is no evidence that it ever will. Wokeness is a good thing. One of those things we need a lot more of.
Easy to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) from elementary and secondary schools since it was never there to start with. Advanced Placement (AP) high school students, given to being a curious lot, might want to give trying to figure out what it is all about a go. These kids understand that knowledge is not the enemy. As to academia, critical thinking at the academic level brings light to an issue. A good thing. Even more so today with all the equity, racial, and cultural issues at hand. Critical thinking play’s a big role in humankind’s advancement. If CRT can withstand scrutiny, it survives. If not, it doesn’t. Sadly, it’s likely probable that it is the ‘Race Theory’ of part of CRT that sparks much of the opposition.
It’s 2023 and, zombie-like, the book banners are at it again. Led by Texas, Tennessee, and Florida, book banning is now being carried out in 32 states. In the same states where parents have vociferously demanded protection of their rights to keep their children ignorant; their demands have been eagerly embraced by craven politicians promising to meet those demands for protection and to defend their beliefs unto perpetuity. Demand — meet Supply — meet the new defenders of the defenders of ignorance.
Sometimes the demands from the defenders of ignorance are not about beliefs at all. Sometimes the defense of ignorance is all about protecting the equity of those with lots of it. Even those without equity can be depended on for the protection of those with when their demands for defense of ignorance are met. Given the side buttered; in the short term it kind of makes sense for the politicians from fossil fuel extracting states to deny Climate Change in defense of their patrons’ equity, in the defense of jobs. In the long run; their denial will cost millions and millions more jobs, millions and millions more lives. Liberal ideas are not the enemy. Climate Change is the greatest existential threat to humankind; it is real; and, yes it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Denial only increases the level of harm done.
The freshman congressman from Oklahoma promises his constituents that he will protect them from the incursion of liberal ideas. The good congressman does not, nor do most of his constituents, believe in Climate Change.
At the very best, most of our beliefs aren’t even our own. Maybe they were handed down to us by our parents or, perhaps, their genes. If we were really lucky, our parents sought to make sure we got a good education so that we could form our own beliefs. To be deprived of the right to choose what to believe is tantamount to being deprived of the right to live a life that is our own. There are many places in the world today where each generation lives the life of their parents who lived the life of their parents who …. ad infinitum. Surely each of us deserves to live a life of our own. What kind of parent would deliberately deprive their child of a life of its own? Likely, some of the beliefs you hold dear were purveyed to you by your government, by wealthy interests, or by sleazy politicians.
Another aspect of beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles is the claim to their own version of history. Problem is, historically, the truth will always out. May take a while, but — always. Having one’s own version of history becomes a self-imprisonment. A prison of one’s own making that demands constant denial of the evidence, constant defense of ignorance. A self-imprisonment from which only the truth can set you free. History belongs to the ages.
Unsurprisingly, adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles, being conditioned to believe, are very susceptible to manipulation. When these purveyors of fake news told the adherents that the 2020 election was stolen, they believed them. Wanted to. Then President Trump understood that the adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles could be manipulated. Deliberately did so in lead up to the January 6th Insurrection. Trump, Fox, Newsmax, Breitbart, …, QAnon, et al are all guilty of deliberately manipulating the manipulable into believing the 2020 election was stolen, of inciting the January 6th Insurrection.
A 2022 Pew Research Center study showed Democrats and Republicans had moved apart over the past 50 years. The study showed that on average congressional Democrats had moved somewhat to the left over the period; this mostly due to there being fewer conservative democratic members (a lot of conservative democrats became Republicans after the passage of the 1960s Civil-Rights legislation). In the meanwhile, the Republican party had moved 4.7 times as much to the right in the Senate, and 3.4 times as much to the right in the House. The movements of the two parties were not even close to being equivalent. It was during this period that the Republican Party became the party of southern whites (major practitioners of the big lie) and Christian Evangelicals — the party of adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles. Most, if not all, of the partisan gridlock of the past 50 years is attributable to the Republican Party; a Republican Party now mostly the party of adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles.
Adherents to beliefs-sans-facts-uber-alles, what if: You or your child were the ones being discriminated against; were the ones whose history is being denied? It was your favorite books that were being banned? It was yours or your child’s sexual orientation that was being called deviant, aberrant, abhorrent, or sinful? Would these things be OK with you?