Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The golden age 

This Newsweek article about evangelical debaters - Cut, Thrust and Christ - made me think about the overall goals of the religious right.
When you look back over the last hundred years or so, the 20th Century, you see the larger picture, I think -- basically, how the rise of the progressive left in the western democracies helped both individuals and society make a lot of social and economic progress.
Progressives supported unions, to end sweatshops and help working people get paid what their labour was worth. And medicare and access to education and workplace safety regulations and old age pensions, to make people's lives safer, more secure and to protect people against economic catastrophe. With these advances also came so-called "liberal" courts which brought us things like the privacy rights, birth control, abortion rights, affirmative action, and equal rights, which ended anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and discrimination of all kinds.
These left-wing advances were not just theoretical constructs. People today may not remember, but men and women died fighting for these 'liberal' ideas -- union organizers were killed in the early 20th century; civil rights workers in the South were beaten and hung. And millions of people have benefited directly and personally from these changes -- they were paid decent wages for their work, they could save money and buy their own homes, their working conditions were made safer, their children got educated in decent schools, they got health care when they were sick, they had enough money to live on when they got old, and they had the right to pursue happiness without being held back by discrimination.
Now the right seems to think it is their turn -- the pendulum has swung their way, they think.
The problem I have is that I cannot discern what the right wing wants to do with all their new-found power, except to somehow turn back the clock and dismantle everything the liberals created.
This Newsweek article about how right-wingers are training their young to rule the world gives us some insight into right-wing goals:
. . . the religious right figure that if they can raise a generation that knows how to argue, they can stem the tide of sin in the country. Seventy-five percent of Liberty's debaters go on to be lawyers with an eye toward transforming society. "I think I can make an impact in the field of law on abortion and gay rights, to get back to Americans' godly heritage," says freshman debater Cole Bender.
Godly heritage? What is that, and how does it help a working person qualify for a mortgage? Well, its a mythical golden age, back to when America was founded, when men were men and women were women and "God's in his Heaven. All's right with the world."
So what would a society based on a "godly heritage" look like? Well, forget about using the Constitution to protect anybody's rights, forget about government entitlement programs, forget about those burdensome government regulations (except to outlaw abortion). Such a society starts to look like this one or this one.

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