The P-D headline Sunday morning read “‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ on global warming?” I chuckled, thinking that the Scopes trial is the perfect analogy for the “I’ll believe whatever I want; logic and science be damned” school of … thought? But the chuckle was premature, for starters because the headline was misleading. The proposed trial is not about showing that we are causing catastrophic climate change and that anyone who denies it is as ignorant as the creationists in 1925. Rather, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants the EPA to hold public hearings on the evidence of man-made climate change, in hopes of stalling clean energy legislation. The Chamber, apparently as ill informed about history as it is about science, pointed out, without a trace of irony, that such hearings would be “‘the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st century.'”
Um, dear Chamber people: the creationists may have won on a technicality at the Scopes trial, but everybody knew that science was the real winner. Not only is it disingenuous of you to pretend that you have sufficient data to refute the overwhelming scientific consensus, but, more important, it is deceitful of you to act as if such hearings would have diddly to do with reason or science. They would be nothing more than town halls with screaming mobs writ large–much like the evangelical hoopla that engulfed Dayton, Tennessee during the Scopes trial. The EPA knows that and is having none of it.
The Teabaggers would have frothed at the mouth during any such hearings. Now they will pop their veins at not getting the hearings. Dana Loesch’s passionate tirade about Tea Partyers being ignored comes to mind:
“They’re tired of calling their representative and ‘leaving a message.’ They’re tired of going to their representative’s website and pouring their hearts into an e-mail form, only, several days later, to get a form canned response back.”
So? It’s not as if, when I call Lacy Clay’s office, his staff calls him off the floor of the House to speak to me or even tells him to call me back. And when I e-mail him, I do not receive in return an engraved invitation to a … tea party. Look, we on the left all fumed through the Bush years without threatening–much less a mere nine months into it–the second American Revolution.
So why do these clowns think they have a right? It’s more than just having had those blissful years of total Republican control under Bush and then losing it. They are not so much facing the consequences of a lost election as they are facing a new world order:
But if you listen [to the ruckuses at town halls] as though deciphering pig Latin and realize that this demographic is speaking from a well-managed, near-hypnotic looking-glass world where every word from the mouth of a Democrat (or a liberal, or a Latina, or a Canadian) is a lie, a betrayal… then it all makes sense. Their world truly has been turned inside out, by the election, by the economy, by the precarious conditions that threaten us all. But for those whose sense of identity has been premised on a raced, masculinist, conservative Christian hierarchy of American power, the world must seem even more emotionally terrifying than any actual facts would indicate.
All of [our current problems are] complicated but surely, with a bit of listening, comprehensible to the average citizen. So how do we connect the reality of our dismal life-expectancy and health-cost statistics to the hysterical sobbing of people who come to town-hall meetings furious that “the insurance companies won’t be able to make a profit”? Much of the epic woe is not about healthcare or public options. It’s about roiling resentments that need to be dressed up as something else, the coded mummery of Halloween monsters hybridized into new chimeras of hate. It’s about fear that precious resources are being transferred to “alien” others. Fear that the gains of others are ill-gotten, leaving the lonely patriot survivalist as victim, “thrown away,” trash. In these fiery monologues, even our president is figured as conspiratorially alien-birthed, from a galaxy far, far away, who’s just pretending to be one of “us.”
This morning I saw a picture of President Obama dressed as Hitler, complete with little mustache, tacked high on a tree trunk. At first it seemed jaw-droppingly ridiculous, sociopathically paranoid. But if the rule of reversal is what’s encoded in that image, all people of good will must worry that what’s really at stake for some of our gun-toting, demagogic fellow citizens is nothing less than America’s very own Weimar moment.