Sunday, August 2, 2009

Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land Dumbasses

Wonder Man had this on his blog "Maybe It's Just Me", so I had to mention it here.

As reported in The Washington Monthly, Steve Benen wrote:

A new Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos asked respondents a rather straightforward question: "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?" Since the president was born in the U.S., ideally, the results would be around 100%.

They weren't. There was, not surprisingly, a significant partisan gap. Only 4% of Democrats are confused about the president's place of birth. The number is slightly higher among independents, 8% of whom got it wrong. Among Republicans, though, 28% -- more than one in four -- believe President Obama was not born in the United States.

For a crazy, demonstrably false, racist idea, these are discouraging numbers.

But I was especially surprised by the regional breakdowns. In the Northeast, West, and Midwest, the overwhelming majorities realize the president is a native-born American. But notice the South -- only 47% got it right and 30% are unsure.

Outside the South, this madness is gaining very little traction, and remains a fringe conspiracy theory. Within the South, it's practically mainstream.

I'm not familiar with details of the poll, but it's probably representative for the most part. This would be even more depressing if I hadn't lived and taught school here for decades. I can be lulled into a false sense of reality because of friends and family members I'm around socially who are reasonable, intelligent, and informed. Others I come in contact with who believe everything they hear from FOX commentators and right-wing talk radio all parrot the same lines with almost no variation. It's so bad that I'm tempted to tell them, "If I want to know what you have to say, I'll watch FOX News."

Some if it is reinforced in fundamentalist and evangelical churches. (Karl Rove and Lee Atwater knew what they were doing when they targeted that demographic and designed "talking points" that pandered to them.) I've seen and heard too much of it with students, and schools are a microcosm of the society where they are located. Straw polls in schools reflect the votes during elections.

I didn't grow up hearing all that in the Methodist Church my family attended regularly and was involved in. Later in the Episcopal Church the emphasis was on helping people and being a better person without unrealistic rules and with forgiveness when we stray. I never heard anything racist, judgmental, and exclusionary in those churches but had positive experiences and guidelines to be the best person I could be. "Born again" is not a term used in those churches, either. It was a shock when I heard classmates from the Baptist Church and Church of Christ tell me I was going to Hell because I didn't go to their church.

We were taught that there was more than one way to get to Heaven and that other religions were valid and had their places. Unlike those churches, we were not forbidden to dance, sing with musical accompaniment, attend other denominations, and other restrictive policies that lead to intolerance, smugness, hypocrisy, and guilt. They don't promote positive mental health. I have been thankful to my mother for making sure I wasn't exposed to that and for being the kind of parent she is. My father grew up in the Southern Baptist Church but changed to Methodist after he married Mother. I was exposed to it with his side of the family and had a couple of experiences that Mother made sure never happened again. She got Daddy to handle it with them, and it ended.

These "birthers" are racists who are looking for any excuse to discredit and criticize Obama without just coming out and saying they don't like having a black man for president. It's ironic because then they say, "Hey look, we have a black President - racism is over in America!" Yeah, right. Racism is in all of the country but is more overt in the South. The good part of that is knowing where people stand and not being stabbed in the back as often as in other sections of the country. The bad part is that it's still going on.


frogponder said...

That study was alarming. Just the whole issue of the 'birthers' is alarming. Of all the things they can complain and they pick this? Being foreign born I wonder what is next?

Beth said...

You totally rock.

I'm fixin' to get ready to do a Birther entry. I've about had it with this bullshit.

As for dogma, I divorced my ex because he became a born-again, and believed that anyone who didn't go to his church (I won't name names, but it started with a B) was going straight to hell. I have no patience with such attitudes.

I am happy that you were able to break away from such dogma. I was raised in an Assembly of God church, so I know where you're coming from. Hugs, Beth

Al In The County said...

Usually I would say its so stupid we should just ignore it, but we've done that with things we thought were stupid before, and ended up with it becoming a problem.

I grew up in the Church of Christ and, like other fundamentalist denominations, the emphasis on rules is about the leadership being able to control people, not spiritual fulfillment. And because people in those denominations are conditioned to never question (or you'll go to HELL!) and taught to believe the scientifically indefensible, its easy to feed them conspiracy theories.

That's what I think, anyway...

miss alaineus said...

even though i, as a fallen lutheran, teach catholic school, the majority of our students are not catholic. most kids are some shade of baptist, and a pretty good number are also pentacostal with some witnesses thrown in for good measure. it makes mass days interesting, to say the least.

i agree and with the rest of y'all about the fundamentalist sects being more about control then about worship and it frightens me as well because it occasionally gets in the way of teaching and learning--have had parents complain about teaching 'prehistoric' history of my state because it happens before their god supposedly made the world in 7 days.



Dan said...

Hardball discussed this yesterday. One of the group, I forget who, said that there isnt anyone strong enough in the Republican party to stand up and say knock this shit off. Secretly they are hoping to be able to get this fear rooted by the next election.

G Gordon Liddy needs to go away, he is one of the biggest screamers.

Ms. Moon said...

I completely agree. These birthers are complete and utter asshole racists. There is NO other explanation.

Bob said...

"These "birthers" are racists who are looking for any excuse to discredit and criticize Obama without just coming out and saying they don't like having a black man for president."*

*Boiled down to a simple truth by Joy.

I hear lots of people in Smallville spewing this stuff, but won't admit it's because he's a black man. It IS racism, plain and simple.

Joy said...

Beth, I didn't grow up with that dogma. Methodists are pretty laid back about that and don't encourage making decisions based on fear. I'm proud of the way they are organized about helping disaster victims and others without fanfare and publicity. They just do it. I had a great childhood with loving, supportive parents and am grateful for that and know how lucky I am. I didn't have any organized religious abuse to overcome, either.

Growing up here, I was exposed to it, but it didn't affect me because Mother countered it when I asked her about it. We had rules, discipline, and boundaries which were reasonable. My mother is a children's advocate from way back and taught me how to be a parent by example. We've had our differences about some things (we're human) and still disagree about some issues. Daddy was involved in our lives and there for us, too, no matter what.

I thought everyone had families like mine and wish they had. I'm not saying I haven't had problems. Who doesn't? I'm just saying I had a solid foundation that helped me through them.

Joy said...

Miss A, I'm sure!!

Dan, that's how it seems to me that the Republicans don't have anyone to be their voice of reason, so these fringe groups are getting all the attention. I hope they can get control of their party and be regular conservatives again. The evangelicals don't need to be in charge. They do too much damage.

Joy said...

Right, Al!

FP, according to the Constitution one of the qualifications for president is being a natural-born American citizen, which disqualifies Arnold and Henry Kissinger but not Obama. I know! You'd think they could come up with something that can't be disproved. Sheesh!

Wonder Man said...

It's sad, really.

Anonymous said...

I saw one of their main spokespeople on TV. She is an eastern european dentist turned lawyer who is currently representing a soldier who is refusing to deploy to Iraq. He is refusing on the grounds that the commander in chief was not born in the US. This woman says that Obama cannot be president because his father was not a citizen. She was on the Colbert Report and I don't think she realized that Colbert is putting people on. Anyway, Colbert pointed out that president Chester A. Arthur's father was not a citizen. He did it with heavy sarcasm "Oh yeah, we don't want another Chester A Arthur on our hands." Went right over her head. it is very, very sad and ad really scary.