It is not that I think his Saturday New York Times columumn, Dinosaurs and Denial is not well written or lacks substantial good information. It shines on both and I strongly recommend it. He begins by taking Marco Rubio to task, not so much for his original mess of a response on the age of the earth but for his flawed attempt to walk it back by acknowledging that the science is clear - the earth is at least 4.5 billions years old,
But then he hedged: “I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe. And that means teaching them science. They have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile those two things.”Blow acknowledges the problem that Rubio and other Republicans face in their base, citing data that shows "believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years." (you can go to the article for the links for the studies - the link I have provided is not behind a firewall nor does it count against your quota).
Consider also this data:
only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative.
just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.Please keep reading.
Blow points beyond Rubio - Bobby Jindal's attempt (declared unconstitutional) to use school vouchers in a way that allows teaching that Dinosaurs walked on earth at the same time as man and that the Loch Ness Monster is a living creature, Kentucky using state funds to help build a Creationist Theme Park to accompany the extant Creationist Museum which shows Adam and Eve in Eden with dinosaurs. . .
There is still more: on global warming
Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did.I realize there are limitations to how much one can put in a column. So I am not going to chide Blow for not pointing out how the fossil fuel industry has worked mightily to persuade people not to believe the science on climate change, and how politicians from states like Lousiana and Kentucky, as well as Virginia and West Virginia and Texas, in which coal and petroleum companies have an outsized influence, contribute to the problem. At a time of high unemployment it is easy to scare people with tales about how "false" science will take away their jobs.
Nor will I argue that Blow should have explored the implications of Rubio's statement that while children "have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile those two things.” This leaves open the entire issue of the teaching of hatred, of denial of the legitimacy of a Black president or that the Nazi's attempt genocide of Jews occurred. Those are each subjects for multiple columns of their own.
Why then do I disagree with Blow?
Allow me to offer Blow's two concluding paragraphs:
Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back.My problem is with his last statement. The issue is far greater than the continuation or extinction of the Republican party. Before they would die off the damage they are doing and can continue to do could mean that humanity and civilization would go the way of the dinosaurs.
If the Republicans don’t want to see their party go the way of the dinosaurs, they have to step out of the past.
Republicans like Jindal and others who control the mechanisms of many states are hell-bent on imposing an agenda that is destroying the economic future of many Americans - the initiative on destroying labor protections in Michigan is but the latest example of that. They are hell-bent on destroying public education through vouchers and uncontrolled expansion of corporatized charter schools. They have a history of attempting to destroy science education - remember the Kansas State School Board attempting to require the teaching of "Creation Science" or the Dover Independent School Board in Pennsylvania that of "Intelligent Design" or Oklahoma young earth creationism? How about distorting our history by including in Texas history standards the glorification of Phyllis Schlafley and New Gingrich while ignoring Thomas Jefferson, an action led by a man who was neither an educator nor an historian, but rather a dentist and a right-wing idealogue?
It is the distortion of the science that is most dangerous, because it means that we will NOT confront what is happening.
Blow rightly cites the data showing 2012 will likely go down as the warmest year in the history of our nation. But that pales next to the notion of the disappearance of the ice cover of the Arctic, the wold-wide disappearance of glaciers, the changing of ocean currents, and the increasing frequency and strength of severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy.
I applaud Blow for what he has written.
But I find his conclusion far from forceful enough.
Republicans still control the US House of Representatives.
As of this moment they can still use the filibuster in destructive ways in the US Senate.
They control the government in far too many states.
They are not yet going the way of the dinosaurs.
They are contributing to the kinds of climate change that eliminated the dinosaurs, and that can destroy much of human civilization, cause massive starvation, and worse.
Somehow even in a column focusing on the political implications of their pandering to a base that rejects science and to moneyed interests (Koch Brothers, anyone) who have a vested interested in the rejection of what the science clearly shows, the risk to the rest of us should have been acknowledged.
Perhaps we can persuade Charles M. Blow to follow up with another column that addresses this more clearly?
I hope so.