Wednesday, July 29, 2009

As with the Birthers, Facts don't Matter.

Everyone's favorite "protect both pre-born and post-born innocent human life" blogger, Jill Stanek, has her typing fingers on what is proving to be a full-fledged conspiracy theory. Facts be damned!

As I write here, the anti-assisted suicide wing of the "pro-life" machine has been stumping the euthanasia rumor ever since the Stimulus Bill was introduced in January. On Friday, Boehner threw them a bone with his statement (co-written with McCotter) that the health care bill will urge America down the path of state-coerced euthanasia. And Michael Steele harked the name of Terri Schiavo, to what effect I'm still not certain. But it's been a tizzy of media mawing ever since.

This is nothing new, this rumor that the government is out to get you and your grandma. It came up the last time health care was seriously discussed. Clintoncare drew euthanasia alarmists like Betsy McCaughey out of the woodwork (see prior posts).

As then, and as with the birther movement, facts don't seem to phase the alarmists. It's fabulous. It's a phenomena of our modern day that, despite easy access fact-checking resources, there is a segment of the population that refuses to believe what can easily be proven. Media has helped this to a great extent, but still?!

I think Elizabeth Castelli might have a key to it. As I wrote to an acquaintance today regarding the motivation of the "pro-life" folks on their anti-end-of-life planning position (and don't misunderstand, as terri c reminds us in comments, clergy, theologians, Christian medical workers etc. predominently understand the need for end-of-life planning):

...there is a persecution complex going on. "Culture of Death", the dramatic term given to personal choice, free flow of information, frank discussions of end-of-life and sexual issues, connotes the fear of outsiders, non-believers, facts, discussion.

Here's a great piece by Barnard Religion scholar Elizabeth Castelli from the now-defunct (by one of the founders of www.killingthebuddha). She talks about the "rhetorical project" that contemporary Christians have undertaken. The academic-speak is light and deft and I definitely recommend the article (Elizabeth's a friend). An exerpt:

Yet, I believe that Robertson's rhetorical excesses are more than mere theatre: they are an example -- albeit an extreme and even ridiculous example -- of a broader and growing trend in political discourse as it emerges from certain branches of right-wing political Christianity. This trend mobilizes the language of religious persecution to shut down political debate and critique by characterizing any position not in alignment with this politicized version of Christianity as an example of antireligious bigotry and persecution. Moreover, it routinely deploys the archetypal figure of the martyr as a source of unquestioned religious and political authority.

Does belief in things unseen also mean disbelief in things seen? In other words - and you really should read all of Elizabeth's piece - is political discourse being halted by the immediate labeling of nonreligious views as blatant persecution of America's Christians?



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