Friday, December 31, 2010

You Gotta Believe

Brian Trent, Utne Reader, January - February 2011

“Barack Obama won’t show us his birth certificate,” says Steve, a Connecticut resident and small-business owner, while he’s shoveling his walk. “He’s a Muslim terrorist. And you know what really bothers me? He is doing exactly what Hitler did.”

Steve has plenty of other opinions relating to the American president, culture, and society. He can rattle off the prized talking points of this country’s culture of belief without missing a beat: The moon landing was a hoax; the world is ending in 2012; 9/11 was an inside job; creationism is valid science.

A hardworking fellow and family man in a postindustrial factory town of a blue state, Steve does not come across as fanatical. Yet his adherence to raw belief—a position unassailable by factual counter-data—is more than an inherently dangerous American mind-set. It is a deadly challenge to the aim of humanism.

The “belief” mind-set is pretty common in the news these days. Much of the believers’ ire seems directed at the current presidential administration, and it’s now getting legal attention: The U.S. Army is set to court-martial a soldier who refused deployment to Afghanistan because the soldier—Lieutenant Colonel Terry Lakin—shares with Steve the belief that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Neither Lakin nor Steve nor thousands of other “birthers” can put forth any evidence, documentation, or data that withstands the test of scrutiny. They just, well, believe it.

Read more:

OK, I guess it's time to read a book I purchased some month's ago, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Movements, Eric Hoffer, Harper Perennial Classic, 2002. After I do, I will write abook review on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what these "true believers" have to say about their "afterlife". Isn't that usually a major part of a religion? Of course, if the world ends in 2012 I won't have long to wonder.