I used to worry that Tennessee Republicans were conducting a slow train to fascism. But I think I gave them waaaaaaaay too much credit, because they now seem to have us on a fast train — barreling at breakneck speed — for the funny farm.
Things were bad enough when Republicans were practicing bigotry against gays, Hispanics and Muslims, while denying women the right to choose whether to have babies, or not. But now Republicans are targeting teachers (and thus students) with ringing battle cries. Take, for example, these excerpts from Sen. Jim Summerville's recent comments on SB330: “I want to talk directly to my fellow teachers ... we [presumably Republican politicians] are warriors ... we will bend public education to our awe, or break it all to pieces.”
Talk about over-heated rhetoric. Summerville was a dark-horse candidate who raised only $1,900 in campaign funds. He credits Tea Party activists for his election, and we all know how anxious they are to boil over with fierce indignation, then erupt into impassioned cries of “Armageddon or bust!” (Ah, the sweet joys of fundamentalism.)
At the same time, HB368 is a thinly-veiled attempt to teach school children creationism and discourage or suppress the teaching of evolution, despite the altogether obvious fact that modern-day elephants evolved from mastodons and wooly mammoths. Scientists have even found frozen mammoths preserved in ice, flesh and all, so no one can possibly claim that such animals didn’t exist. Now that we can analyze DNA, we can chart the genetic changes that occurred over time, and we know that human beings are very closely related to chimpanzees and other primates. We also know that the earth isn’t a flat platform with an immovable foundation and fixed pillars, as the Bible claims in multiple verses.
But let’s ignore global warming, pump and burn oil like there’s no tomorrow, fill our children’s brains with mush, and depend on Jesus Christ to return and save our stupid butts at the last possible second. That is, after all, the Divine Plan (at least according to the Keystone Kops running Capitol Hill these days).
But what if Jesus decides this isn’t the end of time, after all? Then we have to lie in the bed we’ve made. Do we really want to break public education “all to pieces”? Do we want first-term state senators who are so incredibly hubristic and overbearing? Didn’t Jesus advocate humbleness? What happened to “blessed are the meek”?
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.