Saturday, May 08, 2004

Squeal like a pig

Rick Salutin, who along with Heather Mallick is about the only non-right-wing columnist in the Globe and Mail, wades into the contretemps between the Globe's television columnist and Fox news thug Bill O'Reilly about O'Reilly's assertions that the Globe is a left-wing newspaper. The whole article (or here) is very good, but I found this quote to be particularly revealing:

"I thought of the Fox network's Bill O'Reilly when I heard about the recent prisoner abuses in Iraq. Not because of the normal abuse you get on his show. But I was on The Radio Factor With Bill O'Reilly last week and in the intro to our discussion he referred often to The Globe and Mail as left-wing. I said I had to defend it against that charge, since The Globe has always been a conservative, business paper here. Oh, come on, he scoffed, noting that The Globe is 'secular.'

We sparred and it was only when he repeated the term that I realized that in the United States, the main political divide now runs between Christian fundamentalism and 'secularists.' I said I was grateful for this insight: that the U.S. may be the only nation that defines politics in such religious terms."

Under O'Reilly's definition, which probably represents a fairly mainstream view in the United States, you are left-wing if you are not espousing the views of fundamentalist evangelical Christians. This leads to the important problem for Americans: what do you do if your country has been taken over by a relatively small, but very organized and very determined, group of religious fanatics. I keep hearing that elitist liberals are supposed to be more understanding to these people, but how can you moderate the opinions of people who are religiously insane? Liberal attempts to meet them half way, which is what John Kerry is trying - and failing - to do, are doomed to failure, because their religion will not accept compromise. Looking at the pictures of the torture of Iraqis, I see a group of Americans who look like extras from the movie 'Deliverance' ('squeal like a pig'; you can almost hear the banjo music). They like George Bush because he is so obviously a moron. What is a modern democracy supposed to do with people like that? The extreme ostentatious in-your-face religiosity is just a symptom of the general and profound absence of intelligence and curiosity about the world. Rather than have to think, they prefer religious fairy tales. The problem is all over the country, but the main Axis of Stupidity seems to run from West Virginia, through western Virginia, and on through Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas. Is it possible to just cut that part out, call it Evangelica or Stupidia, and carry on with the rest of the country? The United States would actually be a nice country, with people as smart as people anywhere, but it is being dragged down by the anchor of this mass of stupidity.