Friday, April 1, 2011

Shout Out to Stupid- Newt Gingrich

This month’s “Shout Out to Stupid” goes to republican candidate Newt Gingrich,  for his latest straw-man/ad hominem, fear mongering attack on the Democratic "Anti religious bias".

Earlier this month, he stood in front of thousands of evangelical Christians to warn them about the loss of the christian identity of America. An identity that he asserts is one of the founding principles of his country (we'll touch on that later).

"I have two grandchildren - Maggie is 11, Robert is 9, I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Where does the stupid even start?
Is this really a man that is potentially a presidential candidate?


Let's start by saying this;

There is no struggle over the nature of America. A struggle is defined by two sides opposing. Each attempting to impose its own vision of victory over the other.

There is no opposition. Only Christians attempting to redefine America to fit their ideology as a "Christian Nation". America was founded by secular humanists and deists (for the most part) who believed strongly in separating the religious from the political.

And rightly so.

They also stated very clearly that the US was not founded on Christian values or any theistic ideology at all. This is clarified many times by different men amongst the founding fathers. It is simply not a matter in question by any but those who are not well read on the subject.

So it is clear that there is no struggle amongst opposing sides in this "redefinition" of America. Only Christians trying to reshape a secular country to fit their own narrow held beliefs to the exclusion of all others. So in referencing this "struggle", Gingrich is only attempting to incite the emotions of the religious right, and attempting to START such a struggle so that his America can better fit his personal beliefs.

But I digress. His stupid (or most of it) is not found in that statement.

It is found in the slippery slope argument that he passes off as fact.

" the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American"

THIS is where his stupid lies (at least the stupid that we are talking about today. I won't mention when he supported impeaching the president for sexual misconduct while engaged in his own extra-marital affairs.)

Mr. Gingrich has engaged in a culinary/literary practice known as creating "word salad". This is where you throw a bunch of words or ideas together that will incite emotion, but have no real connection to each other or logic itself.




Loss of American identity.

These words and ideas are emotionally charged and capable of raising the ire of a large portion of the population....

....if they suspend critical thinking (at its most basic) altogether.

The terms just don't relate!

A secular country is not the same as an atheistic country.

An atheistic country can't be dominated by religious extremists.

An Islamic country can't be secular OR atheistic.

And the “loss of identity” can't be had from any of these things.

National identity is a living thing. It changes from generation to generation and is never wrong per-se. We could say that the rise of the religious right has changed what it was to be "American"  but, although it is true that America has changed, it is not a valuable thing to say that we should wish our identity to remain stagnant. America was once a secular country. Is the someone trying to change that?


The religious right.

They have been doing this for years, starting with the Pledge of Allegiance (adding "Under God"), to the country’s motto (from "E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) to "In God We Trust"), to the inclusion of God on US money.

But again, I digress. There is just so much wrong with what he is saying, it is hard NOT to go off on a tangent!
He is clearly trying to incite fear and hatred.
It is just as clear that he doesn't have any clear understanding of the terms that he uses.

His response to being called out on the conflated issues in his speech?

He forgot an "or" in his statement.


How would the inclusion of an "OR" make it any better?

They are not parallel paths. They are all diamtrically opposed paths.
Any path that we are on that might result in a more secular country, will NOT result in an islamic state, nor will it result in the abolishment of all religion to make it an "atheistic" country.

Secular is, by definition, unconcerned with god. Am atheistic country would be one that is, by and large, VERY considered in it's approach to religion. It is hard to be an atheist if you haven't considered religion at all.

Secular could be the rest of an atheistic country of course, but to say that a secular govt could result in an atheistic country is akin to saying that a republican govt will result in a conservative country.

Which considering the swing back and forth between political parties in power, I would say is a stretch to say the least.

How would a secular govt would lead to it's constituents abandoning all religious faith?

How does Islam play a part in this secular country? How does Islam end up as a result of any singular path that might also lead us to secular govts, or the abandoning of religion by its constituents?

How does the abandoning of all religion by its constituents lead to an Islamic extremist state? Further how does any path that might result in its constituents abandoning all religion have an alternate ending that it extremist islam?

The answer?

It doesn't.

It is just throwing buzz words out there. Ones that frightens uneducated voters.

But one that he equates to "enemy" more than all others.


He is trying to intimate that Muslims (and by extension, with his logic, atheists and proponents of a secular govt) are attacking America and trying to ruin the fabric of what makes it great in their eyes.

After 9/11 it is an easy thing to say and elicit the desired response with such a statement. But it is not a true (or even logical) statement to make. There is nothing inherently evil about Muslims. Their book, the Koran, sure it's full of awful things. It's terrible and immoral and filled with hateful and evil things, but then so is another book which Gingrich would place as a very important one to North Americans.

The Bible.

We can't mention ones evils without at least referencing the others and we can't judge the character of the entire group based on it either. Just as we don't do that for Christians.

So how does the abandoning of all religion by its constituents lead to an Islamic extremist state? Further how does any path that might result in its constituents abandoning all religion have an alternate ending that is extremist Islam?

It makes absolutely no sense in any logical context.

The only way that we can make sense of it is to understand that it is a statement borne of ambition. An ambition that is best served by a country in fear.

With him as its knowing saviour.

The only result of his statement is a collective lowering of IQ of anyone who lends his words credence, and to the collective heightening of the level of paranoia and hatred towards the completely unconnected groups that he unjustly vilifies.

Those groups are those who support a secular govt (which includes many religious groups), atheists, and of course Muslims. He is trying to paint them as the destroyers of America, instead of as partners in it's future. In short he is manipulating a country that still quakes from the attacks of 9/11 and using that fear to his own ends to garner cheap political favour.

He is trying to instill not just fear, but fear and hatred.

He is trying to forget that he shares his country with those people, and that by forgetting them, he betrays a large portion of his constituency.

Does he forget that those people make up a large percentage of his voters? Maybe not a loud percentage, but certainly a large one.

Maybe it is HE, who should be careful.

For if America puts on its thinking cap to assess foolish and destructive statements like these ones, his stupidity might be exposed for all to see.

I have gone on too long on this, suffice to say that he is my "shout out" this month for his fear mongering, hatred and irrational comparisons between unrelated groups merely for his own selfish gain.

Well done Newt. Another in a long line of foolish statements and acts.

One has to wonder, how much longer will even the "new" Republicans put up with you?

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