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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
There’s an amusing – if tragic – anecdote circulating the blogosphere at the moment about one of the newly elected teabagger darlings inadvertently whining about the lack of a public option he had so fervently derided. Republican Andy Harris lamented the fact that he would be without health care for an astonishing 28 days; the exchange with his aids was quite telling as to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of most teabaggers and other right-wingers:
“According to an unnamed congressional staffer quoted by [Glenn Thrush of Politico], [Andy] Harris stood up at the meeting “and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care.”
“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.” [ h/t Mock, Paper, Scissors ]
So this teabagger – a physician, no less – who in public rabidly denounces universal health care or anything even resembling it, then turns around and hypocritically demands why a public option is not available for himself. One wonders if he is even aware of his loathesome intellectual dishonesty, or whether he simply believes he is entitled to something more than ordinary plebes because he is an elected official.
But the fact is, we find such ludicrous hypocrisy with virtually every right-winger we encounter. I would wager that at least 90% of the people I know have some gripe to grind with the health insurance companies, and most of them have been burned in some way or another. I’ve commented previously that one of the underlying causes of these inconsistent beliefs about health care has to do with the doublespeak use of “socialized” as meaning “fascistic.” Indeed, this seemingly subtle impediment has thrown such a wrench into the works that meaningful dialogue on the issue is virtually impossible. But I’d like to address a slightly different issue this time around: Christians who oppose universal health care.
Now, religious fanatics in general are an odd bunch who live in a fantasy world of demons and goblins and millennia-old ethical codes. Ordinary logic simply doesn’t apply in their primitive and highly distorted way of looking at the world. But in the United States we have a phenomenon even stranger than a bunch of bearded zealots in the desert enslaving women, chopping off heads and riding camels. Here we have seemingly intelligent, relatively highly educated people living in one of the world’s foremost developed nations, enjoying the most succulent fruits of technology and all that science has to offer. And yet somehow – miraculously, one might say – these walking oddities manage to simultaneously adhere to an ancient belief system that revolves around human sacrifice, omnipresent spirits, and the notion of eternal damnation in a pit of fire.
Christianity is a strange religion, as all religions are. But at its core – if we exclude the barbaric Old Testament – the foundation of Christianity is love, compassion and forgiveness. Jesus didn’t walk around saying, “Shun the non-believers,” or “If they look intimidating, kill them first.” Even if one discounts the potentially more accurate non-Christian accounts of Jesus’s life, his message still remains clear in the Christians’ own Bible: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he said. “Whatever you do for the least among us, you do for me.” And so it is utterly puzzling and frustrating when we routinely encounter self-professed Christians who are so opposed to the notion of universal health care.
Let me offer a personal anecdote as an example. My parents are good people. They are relatively highly educated (both college graduates); my mother has been a teacher in the public school system for 30 years. They are reasonably intelligent and know how to utilize the tools of scientific inquiry and critical thinking when it suits them to do so. But they are also fundamentalist Christians. Now, because we hold such different views on social, political and religious issues, we very rarely talk about anything deeper than the weather. But occasionally a larger issue is broached, such as in the following exchange:
Me: Even though there are a couple of positive elements, overall I don’t support Obama’s plan – it’s basically a massive giveaway to the insurance companies.
Mom: I don’t think the insurance companies are happy about it.
Me: Why not? They’re getting 45 million new customers. Don’t you think we should cut the insurance companies out of the deal all together? Why should they stand to profit from human illness?
Mom: So you advocate universal health care?
Me: Of course. Don’t you?
Mom: Well, sometimes when people get older, they develop chronic illnesses which require constant medical attention, which can costs tens of thousands of dollars. Are we going to just keep paying and paying and paying for all of these people?
This was, more or less, an actual conversation I had with my mother – a teacher, a college graduate, and a Christian. But her last statement is so rife with logical fallacies and moral inconsistencies that it is hard to know where to begin. First, the reason our health care costs are so inflated is because we have these wholly unnecessary, bloated middle-men jacking up the prices.
Second, my grandmother – my mother’s own mother – is one of these people with a chronic illness who requires constant, expensive medical attention. Along with contributions from her children, my grandmother gets by on Social Security and Medicare. So was my mother actually suggesting that we should not continue paying for my grandmother’s medical care? And if not my grandmother, then precisely whose grandmother?
Third, and most pertinent to this post, is the contrast between the ideal Christian perspective on the issue of health care, and the perspective held by many – seemingly most – self-professed Christians. Many Christians are fond of asking the question, W.W.J.D.? What would Jesus do? Now, as I recall the Jesus of the New Testament spent much of his life wandering the countryside, healing the poor and the weak. “Do unto others as you would have done to yourself,” he said, and – as mentioned above – “Whatever you do for the least among us, you do for me.” So how do you think the Jesus of the New Testament would have responded to my mother’s seemingly rhetorical question? The answer is painfully obvious to apparently everyone but the Christians.
Christians and other religious adherents thrive on ignorance and intellectual laziness. Indeed, the latter is considered a virtue in many religions, but in true doublespeak fashion has been termed “faith.” It is impossible to reason with such people, for they are convinced that critical thinking, in certain contexts, is a grave sin. Our only remedy, then, is to cut such people out of the debate altogether, for they are parasites standing in the way of the march of human progress. Until they are prepared to throw off the shackles of their primitive, ritualistic belief systems and make a meaningful contribution to our national dialogue, they should be treated according to what they truly are: irrelevant.