“Sometimes our right hand doesn’t know what our far-right hand is doing.”
— Ronald Reagan
Most politicians make a gaffe now and again, with Vice President Joe Biden providing more than his share, but what I find fascinating are the increasingly frequent, intellect-defying, science-ignoring statements from politicians with one thing in common.
They all seem to be Republicans running for office in Southern states.
In the interest of being as fair as possible, I did some research and found something ignorant said by a Democrat from a Southern state. Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson served the good people of Texas as their governor in the 1920s and ‘30s, and is reputed to have said this during a dispute about bilingual education.
“If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.”
OK, that out of the way, let’s review some of the recent babblings bubbling up from Dixie.
“I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old,”
That is according to a gentleman named Paul Broun.
The scary thing is that Mr. Broun is an educated man, a physician.
The scarier thng is that Mr. Broun is a member of Congress from the great state of Georgia.
The scariest thing is that Mr. Broun is a member of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Broun said this about his home planet. “I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
Now, everyone is entitled to his or her own religious belief, and I suppose if you want to support a literal interpretation of Genesis, you have every right to do so.
But you shouldn’t be serving on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the greatest deliberative body in the world.
The best science we have says the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that the universe goes back around 13.7 billion years.
Bill Nye,” the science guy” to millions of television viewers, said in an email to the Huffington Post: “The Earth is simply not 9,000 years old,” and “ Broun is, by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space, and technology.”
Rep. Broun has a colleague on that House Committee on Science, Space and Technology named Todd Akin.
Mr. Akin has said it’s “common practice” for doctors to be “giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant.”
But, of course, Akin’s main claim to notoriety came in August when he said this about the likelihood of women getting pregnant from rape.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” he said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Women’s bodies have ways to shut down pregnancy?
You’d probably want to avoid any doctors Mr. Akin may have spoken with. Most responsible Republicans disavowed Akin’s remarks and urged him to resign. But lately, GOP stalwarts such as Newt Gingrich and Mike Hucklebee have given Akin their support.
That’s because Todd Akin is the Republican nominee for the Senate in Missouri.
Want more Southern discomfort?
Charlie Fuqua is a Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives. He wrote a book this year in which he advocated expelling all Muslims from the United States and called for instituting the death penalty for “rebellious children.”
Fuqua is anti-abortion. I guess he just wants to wait a few years to bump a kid off.
In “God’s Law,” he referenced the Bible and said execution would involve judicial approval.
“Even though this procedure would rarely be used,” he wrote, “if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.”
When asked about adverse reaction to his views about expelling Muslims, Fuqua told the Associated Press that he was surprised.
“I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people,” he said.
He really said that.
In a 2010 book, Republican Arkansas state Rep. Jon Hubbard wrote that slavery “may have been a blessing.”
Loy Mauch is a Republican Tea Party member of the Arkansas House of Representatives who has called Abraham Lincoln a “fake neurotic Northern war criminal” and said “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”
It’s important to remember that the vast majority of Republican office-holders — North and South — are quite sane and learned.
Yup, keep remembering that.
Sam Pollak is the editor The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.