In case you thought that politics on America’s right wing couldn’t get anymore bizarre, Orwellian, disconnected from reason, and just plain drooling lunatic, Mike Huckabee has shared a vision where “all Americans … would be forced at gunpoint” to be indoctrinated with rabidly evangelical David Barton’s revisionist history and delusional rhetoric.
That really is the same Mike Huckabee who, if there’s a gnat brain worth of sanity left in the Republican Party, will now no longer be a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
It would be easy to pass off Huckabee’s remark as a pathetic, tasteless attempt at humor on the order of wearing a mask to walk into a ghetto corner convenience store at three in the morning, presenting the cashier with a twig held between your thumb and forefinger in a vertical position, and announcing, “This is a stick-up.” (Get it? It’s a stick, and it’s up? If you’re still not laughing, try cut ‘n pasting “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA” into your word processing program a few times.) Unfortunately, Huckabee forgot to smile pretty for the camera when he made his remark, and the few nervous chuckles from his audience were quickly overwhelmed with an appreciative round of applause after Huckabee hammered that last nail home by adding, “I think our country would be better for it.”
Whether or not Huckabee’s shoe leather feast was intended to convey a “serious” remark, and whether or not it was taken “seriously,” it certainly wasn’t the kind of diplomatic, educated rhetoric that might be expected from a US presidential hopeful. “Think like we do or we’ll shoot you, ha-ha,” isn’t usually considered the trademark of democratically elected leaders.
A few years ago Venezuela’s superstar president, Hugo Chavez, addressed the UN the day after America’s village idiot president, George Bush, had stood spewing in the same place. Chavez commented that the podium “still smells of sulphur.” Chavez was instantly demonized by a humorless press for metaphorically demonizing Bush, missing entirely not only Chavez’s intended irony, but also the subtle, probably unintentional irony of implying that in the Legions of Hell, Bush would be capable of being anything more than a pampered, yapping mascot.
Recently, Chavez satirically remarked in a World Water Day speech that if there had ever been civilization on Mars perhaps capitalism had gotten there long ago and “finished off the planet,” referring to the modern observation that Mars appears to be a lifeless desert. All the major media reports on Chavez’ speech were as dry as Mars itself, and as serious as Mars’ frigid red sand. Not one of the many headline articles were written in words that would suggest Chavez was to be taken any way but literally.
Yet, Huckabee’s humorous as a jack boot kicking in your door call for gunpoint indoctrination didn’t even make it into the official transcript released after his speech. If it hadn’t been for Kyle Mantyla publishing an independently recorded transcript, the world outside Huckabee’s room full of deluded, fanatical Christians might never have learned how he thinks we should all be converted to David Barton’s ideology.
If you’re the type that prefers real history instead of convenient fairy tales, thinking like David Barton might be a challenge for you. Barton would have us believe that Thomas Jefferson, an iconic deist, intended his “wall of separation between church and state” metaphor to describe a one-way wall, a wall to keep government out of religion, but not religion out of government. Barton invents words to put in the mouths of America’s founders to support ideas they would definitely not have found as “completely consistent” with their thinking as Barton claims. He cherry-picks obscure, minority state and federal court decisions to support bigoted, intolerant opinions that contradict the obvious trend of over 200 years of legislative and judicial history in America. But maybe his failure to know and understand history just demonstrates the effects on his own mind of another of his colon-view insights – he preaches how God guided him to discover that falling SAT scores, rising teen pregnancy rates, and increases in per capita alcohol consumption are all the result of banning mandatory prayer from public classrooms.
Writing for the New York Time Magazine in 2004, Ron Suskind reported that a senior advisor to Bush II criticized the “reality-based” community as living in a past that no longer had any relevance. In the fevered brain of the Whitehouse aide, the New World was one where America would decide what reality was going to be, and then America’s godly power would simply make it so. All those not drinking the same Kool-Aid could study and report on the world as they liked, but they wouldn’t make any difference in it.
If Mike Huckabee and David Barton are indicators, by the philosophical standards of the GOP today, that kind of old school mentality is mild. Today, the thrust of Republican ideology seems go beyond declaring science and reason to be obsolete in a world we should believe is determined by fantasy, hallucination, and the sheer power of the chosen wishing with all their economic and military might on the twinkliest star. Where the minions of power during the years of Bush II were content to let Americans have their reality-based dreams, now their intent is to stuff their madness into everyone’s head at the point of a gun.