Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And they're off!

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” -- Hamlet; Act III, Scene 2

Sometime during the state of the union speech an official 2012 presidential campaign starter’s pistol was fired. Its reverberating pop was quickly drowned out by the furious republican shuffle to stage a response to the president’s constitutionally-mandated speech. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) gave the official response for the Republican Party where he listed ‘logic-lite’ talking points for the upcoming political battles. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) gave an official Teabagger response which did much the same as Ryan’s speech only with way more hairspray and medication. Since Bachmann is ‘examining’ a bid for the white house other potential candidates had to speak up to prevent being eclipsed by Michele’s notoriety. One such candidate was Mitt Romney. Mitt’s response was a lot like Michelle’s only hair gel was substituted for the spray.

One thing that should be too obvious for any candidate to need mention is that they have god on their side. This superfluous fact will be alluded to with increasing fervor over the coming year. The last presidential election witnessed a staggering number of front-runner candidates for republican nomination who either proudly boasted of believing in young earth creationism (YEC), or refused to fully elaborate. I think we are in for some transcendently idiotic statements this coming year. Republican candidates will outdo themselves in courting the ill-educated alcohol-muddled “Joe-six-pack” voting bloc they think will carry them to their party’s nomination. Somewhere in the deserts of the American mindset headless illegal-immigrant zombies are stumbling towards the nation’s brains to eat its constitution. And everyone knows all zombies are atheists.

Since I think belief in YEC is a sign of mind-numbing foolishness I have a hard time not using it as a de-facto test for office. Most candidates’ speeches are littered with the words “I believe”. We are somehow supposed to take into account what they believe when choosing someone to vote for; unless what they believe is utter foolishness. Many candidates will be detailing their personal religious beliefs in such a way as to communicate similarity to the largest possible voting bloc. The American atheist will be pushed from view as candidates struggle to insist the populist nature of their religiosity.

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom” – Mitt Romney 2007

I have often said that, confronted with the proselytizing efforts of a bomb or gun, my conversion to the religion of the trigger-wielding missionary would be swift and doubt-free. But the big guns of any religion should not be aimed by mere mortals. Where does god weigh in? How does god weigh in? Some of the more secular-adapted religious folks maintain that one can see evidence of god’s preference only in hindsight; look at the outcome and know what god wanted. I think this coming year we will see widely advertised evidence of god’s preferences long before any outcomes are certain. One of the ways that god has spoken to his chosen people is through prophesy. One of the ways one can tell whom god has chosen is by listening for who got the best prophesy.

One popular prophesy here in Utah is called the “White Horse Prophesy” (WHP). The WHP states:
“When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they [American citizens] will have to call for the 'Mormon' Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it.”
Who will get the WHP nod this year; Huntsman or Romney?

Despite the fact that this would appear to be empty bragging on the part of the Mormon Church it is taken very seriously by quite a few people. One reason for this is that the statement was not simply transcribed from a proclamation of Joseph Smith (Founder of the Mormon Church) but reiterated by Brigham Young (Founder of the Mormon settlement in Utah) and John Taylor (An official prophet of the Mormon Church). When god repeats himself the chosen people listen.

The WHP is a significant motivator for the true believers. It can serve as a justification for otherwise morally questionable activity. Prophet John Taylor’s version of the WHP delineates the lines of righteousness:
“When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men" -- John Taylor, JD 21:8, August 31, 1879.

What will be done to “the people” who have torn the constitution to shreds is a bit vague. There are multiple mentions over the intervening century-and-change of measures that go beyond voting. The exact ways that one can identify “the people” and what to do are mostly left up to the individual.

"The first casualty when war comes, is truth" -- Hiram W. Johnson (R-CA) 1917

Though there are certainly true believers who will be stocking up on explosives and ammunition I think most of them will be hiding in the dark places under rocks where they feel most at home. There will be a greater proportion of believers who will be willing to simply deceive and cheat the sub-moral “people” to achieve their divine goal. Through the use of prophesy aggressive behaviors are justified. In the case of the WHP the behavior is seen as defense against an evil that god has tipped them off about.

Despite the fact that Xtians control all portions of the US government, and weigh heavily in most economic activities, many Xtians feel like they are under attack. Somehow atheists and Muslims are attacking everything good. The WHP resonates with those feelings of persecution. The biggest problem with mapping those feelings of persecution to action is the disappointing lack of substantial evidence of the persecution. Lack of evidence, however, can be fixed.

In November of 2007 Mitt Romney loudly decried the use of “push polls” aimed at discrediting his candidacy on the basis of his Mormon faith:
“I think the attempts to attack me on the basis of my faith are un-American” -- Romney 2007
 On November 16th the Romney campaign registered an official complaint with the New Hampshire attorney general’s office. Their preliminary report was published on January 3rd 2008. The NHAG found that the polls were conducted by ‘Western Wats’; a company based in Orem Utah. Provo-Orem is the home to Brigham Young University, which accounts for most of what Provo-Orem is. BYU is Romney’s alma mater and also of great importance to Ron Lindorf who founded Western Wats. Many employees at Western Wats were campaign contributors to Romney’s 2007 campaign.

Accusations that Romney’s 2007 campaign had push polled itself to raise sympathy were published before the January 2008 report (which came less than a month before the Republican nomination had been decided). These were firmly denied by all parties involved. Who really did the push polling? According to the Romney campaign we may never know. Perhaps the push pollers were just disgruntled atheists?

Atheism will be on the front lines in the coming election whether atheists do anything or not.

1 comment:

The Moose said...

"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."

Apparently freedom only applies if you want to commune with god. Otherwise, freedom is not something you should experience. He could not have said it better.
I'm of the opinion that the "religious right" and people like romney want their own version of Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan in the USA. Their religion of choice will be their warped version of christianity and they will set up their own version of sharia Law... by simply saying: you have no freedom unless you say and do as we tell you to according to our beliefs of christianity and how society should be run.