Saw Bill Safire (along with Maureen Dowd) on a rerun of Meet the Press last night. It was interesting in a sort of academic way; two reasonable human beings, both well spoken, articulate, opinionated and funny, representing both sides in the election aftermath/wake/debriefing all journalists presumably must go through on some talk show or other.
But it got me thinking – which instead of weeping inconsolably was quite a feat – that this might be the first time I could remember listening to thoughtful, respectful disagreement. So moved was I at the notion, I started thinking some more (after wiping away the last tear and giving my nose a proper honk) wondering if perhaps I was getting too het up about this thing. After all, if soft-spoken smarty pants Bill Safire’s pooh-poohing of the blood-spattered electoral map can reduce my galloping fears to a measured trot, perhaps everything really IS okay!
(Even Maureen, whilst putting into words my every anguished thought and hopeless supposition, looked at Bill with all the admiring attention a gal generally reserves for her beloved dad, transforming her opposing point of view into not much more than a laundry list of half-hearted gripes.)
So I toddled off to bed with a little clot of hope plugging up my bleeding heart, only to awake to a story in my morning paper about Southern U.S. Bible Belt schools defending their right to include warnings in science books. That started the blood flowing as smoothly and smartly as Republicans through a voting booth.
“This textbook contains material on evolution,” begins the helpful sticker. “Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
Suddenly all thoughts of reasonable old Bill Safire and the possibility of a more measured and inclusive White House evolved themselves right out of my head. Here we go, I thought; now it begins.
To be fair, the story is actually detailing the trial brought about by concerned parents and the American Civil Liberties Union who feel the stickers represent a violation of the separation of church and state. Hopefully, by the end of the trial, the stickers will be removed and children can go about the business of learning about science in science class (studying material which is the result of hundreds of years of combined scientific knowledge, reaching conclusions agreed upon by virtually every sentient human being… outside the raw meat-coloured centre on the current US map) in their workaday world, and spend Sunday in church handling snakes, speaking in tongues and listening to imaginative tales spun by men with questionable grammar and bouffant hairdos. Excellent outcome methinks.
But maybe they won’t.
Maybe after the trial currently ongoing in Atlanta winds up, with law makers upholding the rights of the group that considers original sin a healthier lesson than those developed by folks like Aristotle and Darwin, concerned parents and ACLU representatives can hotfoot it over to Texas where that Board of Education recently approved new health textbooks that have changed their original wording to depict marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” and replacing worrying phrases like “when two people marry” with the legislatedly accurate “when a man and a woman marry”.
It’s little stories like this that give me pause; little tales of basic folks insisting with all the condescension the highest office in the land can confer, that the bible be the source of all truth and fact and that the evolution of not only thought but societal values, be as frozen in time as dinosaur bits and pieces preserved in amber.
It’s as though every cautionary tale from Orwell’s ‘1984’ to Wyndham’s ‘The Chrysalids’ has risen up to munch a big old bite of liberal ass – asses handed back as recently as last Wednesday – when in a post-acceptance speech press conference, the President announced his idea of heaven.
“With the campaign over,” the President shared, “Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I’ll reach out to everyone who shares our goals.”
And the rest of the country and the world? Presumably they can go to hell.