Rationality Now Rotating Header Image

Teaching ignorance and bigotry

In the comments section of an American Spectator article about Wikipedia, while there are some good, valid warnings against using Wikipedia as a reputable source for everything, there are some pretty amazing comments…. and by “amazing,” I mean “hyperbolic, right-wing, anti-science, anti-intellectual” comments. Though the article is related to the issue of climate change, that’s not where I want to focus, but I did want to convey the source for this post.

One of the commenters, Margie, responding to a long display of denier talking-points and conspiracy theories, posted that her advice, as a solution, was home-schooling. Here’s her initial comment [sic].

My advise? Home school your children. You have to re educate them anyway when they come home from public school anyway if you want them to learn the truth. The truth being that our founding Fathers were not racists, that God created man, that 2 +2 really does equal 4.. that man really cannot control the environment but God does in His loving kindness since the very beginning of this wonderful planet He has given us, that abstinence really does work, that homosexuality is really sin and God did not make us that way.. and I am sure I am missing some other things too.

Home school if you can!

What she is suggesting is to teach ignorance… to teach willful ignorance of reality… to teach that it’s better to not question, to be satisfied with not knowing, to be bigoted and intolerant, and to believe despite a complete lack of evidence. I’ll grant her the 2 + 2 = 4 part and perhaps the founding fathers part (though I’m not sure the relevance), but aside from that, she’s suggesting we keep children ignorant. Worse, actually… that we keep them misinformed with falsehoods and fantasies.

There is a response by William to her post.

If you want to advise people about schooling, it would be a good idea to learn how to spell “advice”.

Did you know that the bible forbids you to eat weasels?

Though I generally find spelling corrections in comment threads to be a bit obnoxious, in this case it was somewhat relevant. The “weasel” comment was amusing, and if you check his website, it makes sense why he included it. The verse to which he refers is Leviticus 11:29-30, which states (in the King James translation):

29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,

30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.

Of course, Margie responds to William’s comment with…

Picky, picky, picky. Typical Leftist picking on the spelling. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t home schooled..ha!

Judging from your website I’d say you definitely weren’t. An atheist, are you?

Now that would be the real issue here, wouldn’t it?

Another sign that you weren’t home schooled is that you don’t know your Bible. It forbids no such thing, as God declared to call nothing unclean as far as animals, to eat! (Acts 10:13).

If you don’t know God, you know nothing.

Even if you do know how to spell.

It’s a disturbing response, but not surprising, given her previous comment (and the venue). First, he’s automatically a “Leftist.” Then she continues by stating that she’s deduced he’s a scientist (based on his website… it’s true), he’s not homeschooled (also probably true) and he’s an atheist (also true). None of that is an issue except, based on the rest of her comment style, it’s a pretty safe bet that she means it all as a bad thing. Of course, the cherry on top is that she says that his atheism is the “real issue here.” I beg to differ and think it’s more likely her love of ignorance and her belief in ancient mythology that is the “real issue here”… the issue being the quality of education.

Of course, according to Margie, not knowing your bible is also a sign that you’re not homeschooled. Since she wasn’t homeschooled, either, it makes sense that the verse she lists doesn’t say what she thinks it says. Acts 10:13 says (again King James)…

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

Perhaps she meant to add verses 14 and 15, but it’s hard to say.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

That seems a bit contradictory to the Leviticus passage, but perhaps God changed his mind… and in context, it doesn’t seem to be particularly supportive of her claim, anyway.

In fact, there’s nothing about most of her claims that is supported by anything factual. She simply spouts unsubstantiated religious platitudes as if they are self-evident truths… in support of something that would be horrendously damaging to the intellectual stability (and development) of our country. In addition, she insinuates that being a scientist (and an atheist, though that’s not necessarily related) is somehow an indication of a poor education. That is a clear, cut and dry example of anti-intellectualism… the idea that the more education and training you receive, the less credible you become.

Margie displays a perfect example of the right-wing attitude that “well-educated” equals “untrustworthy.” She holds to her anti-education position by clinging to her religion’s dogma with pit-bull tenacity, evidence be damned, and decries anyone who doesn’t follow in her self-righteously pious footsteps as the “real issue here.”

Her attitude is one that, sadly, must be constantly challenged in this country. It’s an attitude that, unchecked, would lead us toward a theocracy full of ignorance, something that our founding fathers (something about which Margie makes a knowledge claim) would definitely have not wanted. Our purely secular Constitution is perfect evidence of that.

Of course, not all religious people are ignorant or bigoted or anti-intellectual… but the ones like Margie are. Unfortunately, they’re also loud and plentiful enough that their message tends to spread like wildfire, infecting the public discourse with disinformation, pseudo-science, blatant falsehoods, and vitriolic, spiteful indignation. Rational discussions and open, honest debates are nearly impossible in the environment they create. It’s frustrating. It’s sad. It’s pathetic.

But sadly, like Margie, it’s reality.

Leave a Reply