Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stupidity attack

Ben Carson: Two words that together seem to be turning into a synonym for stupidity. The man may have been a good brain surgeon, but he’s an absolute moron when it comes to public policy, and nearly every day he says something so utterly batshit crazy that it proves that fact yet again.

There were, of course, his bizarre statements on guns, and especially about guns and the Holocaust. Experts have already demolished Ben’s utter idiocy on that point, though it didn’t stop one of the star contributors for Fox “News” from blaming Jews for the Holocaust. The American far right is really smart and classy bunch, isn't it?

Ben’s latest dumbassery came in a speech at a church in Gainseville, Georgia, where he preached:
“The pledge of allegiance to our flag says we are one nation under God. Many courtrooms in the land on the wall it says ‘In God We Trust.’ Every coin in our pocket, every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’

“So if it’s in our founding documents, it’s in our pledges, in our courts and it’s on our money, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, what in the world is that? In medicine it’s called schizophrenia. And I, for one, am simply not willing to kick God to the curb.”
This is such basic, elementary stuff that it’s frankly embarrassing to have to debunk Ben, but duty calls.

“In God We Trust” wasn’t an official motto until 1956, and wasn’t added to US paper currency until October 1, 1957. The story of the pledge is even better.

In 1892—116 years after the Declaration of Independence—Francis Bellamy, a Socialiast Christian preacher, wrote the original pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” No mention of any gods or goddesses of any kind.

Thirty-one years later, in 1923, words were added: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” STILL no mention of any gods or goddesses of any kind.

It wasn’t until 1954, in the midst of the Cold War anti-communist hysteria, that the words “under God” were added to the pledge. The motto “in God We Trust” was officially adopted a couple years later, because of the same hysteria, and it wasn’t added to paper currency until the following year.

References to any deity in the Declaration of Independence have to be understood in terms of The Enlightenment, especially the fact that most of the “Founding Fathers” weren’t even Christians—they were Deists.

The Declaration of Independence refers (in order) to: “…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” (the only time the word God is used in the Declaration), “…they are endowed by their Creator…”, “…the Supreme Judge of the World…”, and “…with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence…” All of those references are to a Deist conception of a god, not the Christian one. At most, Ben could have claimed there were religious references, but even that’s pushing it.

It gets worse for Ben. While there’s no explicit reference to the Christian god in the Declaration, there’s absolutely NO reference to ANY god, by whatever name, in the US Constitution. In fact, the ONLY reference to religion in the Constitution itself is in Article VI: “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Obviously Ben thinks there should be a religious test.

Moreover, the only reference to religion in the Bill of Rights is in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, and that’s the only reference to religion in any of the Amendments to the Constitution.

The inconvenient truth denied by Ben and his friends is that the USA was founded as a nation in which church and state were meant to be totally separate. The US Constitution—which is the supreme law of the USA—clearly and unambiguously says that all power in the Constitution is derived from “We the people”, not some deity. Even the Declaration—the only founding document with any reference to a divine power of any kind—states that the Continental Congress declared the independence of the United States “in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies”, not in the name of some god or goddess.

All of this matters because it proves Ben’s fundamental ignorance of American history, of the founding of the USA in particular, and of the tradition of separation of church and state that is so vital to the functioning of a free society. Instead, Ben seems to be promoting a Christian theocracy, and that cannot be tolerated—EVER. People of conscience are required to defend liberty against those who would take it away, even those who seek to do it in the name of their religion.

And finally, I could attack Ben’s use of the word schizophrenia, which he used incorrectly, either deliberately or through ignorance, but—unlike Ben—I’ll stick with subjects I know a lot about and have actually studied. I’ll leave that debunking to experts in mental health.

If only Ben had paid more attention in high school, it wouldn’t be necessary to debunk nearly every single thing he says. Sadly, he leaves us no choice but to point out how utterly wrong he is about nearly everything he says. The stakes are too high to do anything else.

Update: Steve Benen at MSNBC points out that every time Ben says something outrageous, his poll ratings go up—just like Trump found out. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum says on Mother Jones that "Ben Carson is a paranoid nutcase."

No comments: