“Where’s evil? It’s that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side. It’s that part of every man that finds all kinds of ugliness so attractive. It’s that part of an imbecile that punishes and vilifies and makes war gladly.”
-Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut
I have not spoken in depth on politics here at Julien Haller Responds. To be honest, I do not keep myself up to date on all the latest comings and goings of various bills, personas, and regimes. I tend to view the subject matter of twenty-four hour news channels to be clogged with much of the pointless detail and none of the substance, political speeches with empty rhetoric, and policy debates with disgusting appeals to mass prejudice. As a man of ideas, I certainly have those that are concerned with the betterment of human society, and a few of them are sprinkled throughout my blog; but as a whole, I find myself disinterested in conventional politics and their mundane treatments in the blogosphere.
However, to even someone such as myself, a disinterested writer of literature and philosophy without a single television to his name, the swelling aggression of right-wing extremists in recent years has become painfully obvious: the Tea Party Movement, increasingly combative dialogue, and, of course, the very existence of Fox News (and Conservapedia). I normally make light of these trends, having learned to treat men such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and women like Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin, with the laughter they deserve. But today I heard about an Alabama State Senator named Shadrack McGill who cited “biblical principle” in an argument against paying teachers a higher salary. In another article I read, he supported public schools allowing events with obvious religious overtones, telling those who criticized such affairs that any parents who did not want their children engaged in such activities could homeschool their children, basically upholding the “right” of the majority to oppress the minority.
Living in a major city, I sometimes forget such ignorance coupled with the force of government still exists. Maybe I should not laugh so much when I see it; maybe I would not if I were reminded of it more often. But I’m not laughing now, and I have something I need to say to Shadrack McGill and all men who think like him
You will lose. If the historical record proves anything, it is that. Since the advent of the first humanistic sentiments coming out of the Dark Ages, and the advancing Enlightenment that saw its great achievement in the revolutions it spawned, the forward momentum of progress has stood undefeated against those of you who would see the course of humanity steered back into a retrograde primitivism: in the eighteenth century, the power of kings was sanctified by the church, but the power of the people opposed them, and the people won; in the nineteenth century, the power of slave owners was justified by scripture, but the power of equality opposed them, and equality won; in the twentieth century, the power of governments to withhold the teaching of evolution was touted by the faithful, but the power of reason opposed them, and reason won.
And now, in the twenty-first century, your backs are to the wall. Intellectual freedom and liberty, those most necessary complements of peace and joy, have reached new heights, and though humanity is still far from perfect, we are evolving; and your rising tide of hate, of anger, of everything unbecoming of a decent human being, we know it for what it is: fear. You are going the way of the dodo, and none too soon.
But before you do, before your voice dies in a whisper upon the winds of change, I want you to know something: many of you have children, and one day they will have children of their own, and so will these children give birth to even more, and some day, somewhere down that line, there will come a generation that learns to despise you. Like the ancestors of former slave owners, they will be ashamed of the ideologies you bear today, and they will betray the immortality you sought in them. They will strive to see your name erased from the annals of history, and when they are finished, you will be no more than a blemish on the record of human progress, an annoying insect buzzing in the face of a giant.
And once the world has bred out you and your ideas, the most frightening prospect concerning life after death will come to pass: you will be forgotten. Lost to the shifting sands of time, you will be buried under the sea of a new generation, one that is a step closer to the joy and peace you stood in hindrance to; one that is a little less ignorant despite you; and one that is better for not having you.