By Robert A. Vella
I can only imagine what sensible people around the world must think of America when they see stories like the following ones hit the airwaves. Have Americans lost their minds? Are they devolving as a culture? Why are they so seemingly determined to jump off the cliff of sanity and into an intellectual morass of religious extremism?
I’m sure the world has many other questions about the U.S. these days as well. Answering them comprehensively, however, may not be so easy. What I can offer, from an American perspective, is that several negative sociological trends are occurring simultaneously – the confluence of which appears to be impacting the internal cultural stability of the nation:
- Economic inequality, driven by globalization and other factors, has put Americans of all persuasions in a very surly mood.
- Secular public education, suffering from decades of mismanagement, budget cuts, and privatization efforts, is failing to properly prepare American children for the difficult challenges of the 21st century.
- Political dysfunction, resulting from the systemic corruption of monied interests, has caused ordinary Americans to distrust government and large institutions in general.
- White Americans, aggressively pandered to by unscrupulous leaders since the Civil Rights Era, are fearfully rallying around a nationalistic, militaristic, xenophobic, laissez-faire, and fundamentalist Christian identity movement.
In other words, most Americans are becoming poorer, insufficiently educated, misrepresented by their political leaders, and increasingly hostile towards cultural diversity and tolerance. Now, on to the stories…
From Daily Kos – Mississippi House passes ‘Jesus Take the Wheel Act’:
Mississippi lawmakers are once again tackling the big issues in the state. The highest poverty rate of any state in the country? Hahahaha … no. The second-highest high school dropout rate in the country? No, no. The second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country? Awww, hell no.
What is more pressing than extreme poverty? Well, the Mississippi House did pass a bill (HB 132), nicknamed the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act”, that would exempt churches from commercial driver’s license requirements:
An obscure, two-page opinion by an Alabama Supreme Court justice contains an ominous warning. If marriage equality remains the law in Alabama, Justice Glenn Murdock may vote to abolish marriage in his state altogether.
Justice Murdock’s opinion is attached to a brief order from the state supreme court as a whole declining to offer further guidance to Alabama probate judges regarding whether they must comply with a federal court order holding that same-sex couples are entitled to the same marriage rights as straight couples. In a brief opinion concurring in that order, Murdock hints that, if this federal court order is permitted to stand, then his own court should strike down all marriages within the state of Alabama.
An Oklahoma bill banning Advanced Placement U.S. History would also require schools to instruct students in a long list of “foundational documents,” including the Ten Commandments, two sermons and three speeches by Ronald Reagan.
The bill, authored by Oklahoma Rep. Dan Fisher, designates a total of 58 documents that “shall form the base level of academic content for all United States History courses offered in the schools in the state.” Many of the texts are uncontroversial and undoubtedly covered by the Advanced Placement U.S. History course, such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Gettysburg address. But the bill also has an ideological and religious bent. In addition to 3 speeches by Reagan, the curriculum as includes a speech by George W. Bush but nothing from any Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson.
Governor Sam Brownback took out the Governor’s pen today to issue an executive order revoking prior policies issued by Governor Kathleen Sebelius. The Executive order, EO 15-2 turns back protections against discrimination against those who are LGBT.