Life in Kansas can be as surreal as the landscape of a Salvador Dali painting. Critical thinking is often a scarce commodity. "Scopes II " provided me with ample evidence that many Kansans are proudly waving the banner of anti-intellectualism. In May of 2005, the 6-4 Religious Right majority on the Kansas State School Board contrived a 21st Century reenactment of the Monkey Trial of 1925 to "prove " that Evolution is a flawed theory. As I contemplated this obscenely vacuous spectacle, I struggled to grasp how the Age of Reason could have by-passed my state.
The word farcical would bestow a generous description on "Scopes II ". Three moderate school board members and the entire mainstream scientific community boycotted the charade. John Calvert, a conservative Christian attorney who leads the Intelligent Design Network of Kansas, was the William Jennings Bryan of this circus. Calvert questioned "expert witnesses " in a quest to disprove Evolution. Most of the witnesses, who served the purpose of "validating " the board's desire to introduce the concept of Intelligent Design into the public school curriculum for the state of Kansas, were from a think tank. Founded and funded by Christian fundamentalists, this entity called The Discovery Institute was created to advance the so-called "theory" of Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design essentially purports that in merely observing the complexity of the world, one cannot help but conclude that there was an intelligent designer (in other words, God). Evidence, research, and peer review are irrelevant (and non-existent) to the purveyors of the ID "theory ", a thinly veiled form of Creationism. The Discovery Institute clearly stated their ultimate intentions in using ID in a leaked internal memo known as The Wedge Document:
"The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip ]ohnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."
Jack Krebs, the vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, ferreted out the true intentions of the six board members who pledge their allegiance to the Religious Right, the Intelligent Design Network of Kansas, and the Discovery Institute. He boycotted the hearings and said:
"It's clear from the beginning that this is not a real science discussion. This is a showcase for intelligent design. They have created a straw man. They are trying to make science stand for atheism so they can fight atheism."
On August 9, the Kansas State School Board voted 6-4 to adopt new science standards, which take a critical view of the Theory of Evolution, a scientific theory which is supported by volumes of evidence and has survived intense scrutiny and peer review since Darwin introduced it in 1859. After spending approximately $17,000.00 on their spurious hearings, the board will now send their newly approved standards out for external review by a Denver-based think tank. This will cost taxpayers an additional $20,000.00 so that the legalistic Christian majority on the board can point to another step in their "due diligence" before they strike a blow for "true believers" and open the door to bring faith back into the public schools (in science class of all places)! In October, the final vote which will "officially" implement the new standards is a virtual certainty. As a parent with a child in a Kansas public school, I simultaneously experienced perplexity, bewilderment, and frustration as this insane scenario transpired.
Only a Symptom
As I pondered, it dawned on me that "Scopes II" is merely a symptom of a much deeper disease gripping our nation. As Thomas Frank concluded in What 's the Matter with Kansas, American voters have been brain-washed into voting against their own economic interests in an obsessive drive to legislate "Christian values " into our nation. "Scopes II " validates his point. Integrating the observations of others and infusing my own analysis, I surmised that the root of America's decay is the insatiable lust for power and money by the ruling class. Our republic is crumbling while our standing in the world community has disintegrated to the point that America is feared and hated. During the Gilded Age, America experienced a similar period of laissez-faire capitalism, inequitable distribution of wealth, and imperialistic endeavors. While the ruling class of the late 1800 's lacked the propagandistic power to sustain its psychological stranglehold on the "commoner ", today's government media empire has the capacity to lull our citizenry into surrendering their individual freedoms in exchange for the comfort of the protective bosom of Big Brother.
Man of the People? I Think Not
Who is George Bush? Does the "aw shucks ", folksy persona he projects square with the real man? Is our beloved "W " truly a man of the people, as he would like Americans to believe? Old Hickory, who was truly "of the people ", would turn in his grave at that notion. Strolling through life with at least $9 million in inherited wealth, our current president could not begin to fathom the plight of the middle class, let alone the poor. He has failed or underperformed at virtually every endeavor of his life, but that has not been a problem for him. Wealthy friends and family have been there to bail him out nearly every step of the way. His alleged empathy for the plight of the common man is a fraud. With his MBA from Harvard, I strongly suspect that "W " is not nearly as ignorant as he portrays himself to be. He may be strong and resolute in his beliefs, but given his power, money, and support network, how difficult is it to be "strong and resolute "? While it was his perceived strength and resolution that captured the hearts, minds, and votes of many Americans after 9/11 rattled their psyches, what those same Americans failed to realize was that Bush would use those very qualities to advance a cause that under-mined many aspects of their well-being. Middle and working class Americans who support George Bush need to awaken from their intellectual slumber. Jozef Hand-Boniakowski has much more to say about this in his essay entitled The Fascist Ego and the Future at http://www.metaphoria.org/ac4t0505.html.
Reign of Bush II
Over three years have passed since 9/11, yet many Americans still dangle from the marionette strings of The Ministry of Truth. Rove's propagandists and the mainstream media have enabled "W" to propel the United States into an illegal, imperialistic invasion of Iraq to perpetuate the interests of the military industrial complex, including companies like Halliburton and Bechtel. Tax cuts for the wealthy have shifted the tax burden to the middle and working class. Under a crushing national debt of $7.5 trillion, America is now the reigning king of Debtor Nations, a title once arrogantly bestowed upon developing nations. How can we saddle our children and grandchildren with that burden? At the rate America is going, future generations will become the indentured servants of China and Japan.