Muller: The GOP’s dangerous brushes with crazy

Yoni Muller, Columnist

Congratulations, Republicans, you’ve done it again. You have stood tall, raised your heads up high and expressed your beliefs proudly and passionately. More importantly though, you don’t let anybody stop you — not the radical left-wing media, not scientific fact and observation, not even standards-of-humanity nonsense can hold you back.

For those who have not heard, two Republican lawmakers recently made comments that challenge even the fairest of us to stop likening the GOP to our racist uncles with dementia.

The first of these comments was made by Arkansas state Rep. Jon Hubbard. Hubbard, currently in his first term, released a self-published book filled with racially charged declarations. The book hits a lot of questionable points, but some of the most jarring include his insistence that slavery was good, integrating schools was bad (maybe Hubbard is dyslexic), a parallel is developing between white Christians in America and Germans in Nazi Germany and, because of that last point, war and extermination will eventually be necessary. Hubbard says that African Americans must “understand that even while in the throes of slavery, their lives as Americans are likely much better than they ever would have enjoyed living in sub-Saharan Africa,” and “knowing what we know today about life on the African continent, would an existence spent in slavery have been any crueler than a life spent in sub-Saharan Africa?” and even “American Christians are assuming a similar stance as did the citizens of Germany during Hitler’s rise to power.” These are just a few of the wonderful thoughts Hubbard found fitting to write down on paper and sell on Amazon for $17.95 — which is fitting as (with apologies to our Founding Fathers) it’s the year his views seem to have come from.

Seeing that he could not compete on the grounds of moral or ethical insanity, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) decided to stand out in the arena of factual lunacy. A video has surfaced of a speech he made two weeks ago, in which he says, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” He goes on to say he believes the Earth is 9,000 years old and was created in six days. Now, that in itself is not crazy; more than 40 percent of Americans share this creationist view, and I’m sure we have some creationists in this school. (I’m sure we have some racists, too, but we like to talk about them less). The takeaway of this speech is that Broun can believe this after he was educated as a physicist — and after he was appointed to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. That’s right; a man with these religious, non-scientific beliefs gets a vote in the committee that shapes our entire national policy toward science.

How can a man elected to represent his entire district in the state legislature suggest that exterminating those that aren’t like him is necessary? How can he look back on something like slavery and suggest that it was somehow better than Africa, where it must have been too hot to enjoy freedom?

How can a representative who sits on the House Committee concerning space think that the Big Bang theory is Satan’s April Fool’s joke? Or sit on a science committee and claim that embryology is illegitimate — not morally so because of its developments in stem cell research and relationship with abortion, but factually so?

It’s all too easy for mainstream Republicans to distance themselves, condone these statements and move on with their lives. “People at the fringes of any party are extreme,” they might say. True, but with each new incident this stops looking like a fringe problem and starts looking like a disturbing party transformation. If  members of the House Committee on Science can discredit evolution, can another one go ahead and say something equally crazy, like how if you got pregnant from rape it must not have been a real rape, because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”? Oh, hello, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.). If a man in Arkansas can bring to mind the horrors of slavery, the Jim Crow laws and Nazi Germany like they’re nothing, can other people nonchalantly tie in modern rivals with historical enemies, perhaps by saying 80 congressional Democrats are Communists? Pleasure to meet you, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

The Republican Party is one with a rich historical background and plenty to offer American voters. Small government, low taxes, and AK-47s for everyone are all great things the Republicans bring to the national agenda. Mitt Romney wants this election to be about the economy. For that to happen, his party needs to stop distracting from those issues. It’s up to the intellectual wing of the party (including College Republicans at Northwestern and around the country) to propose policies that can move the country forward. But until they are held accountable for the bigotry and dogmatic rejections of science in their party, Republicans will continue to fade in relevance to anyone that isn’t rich, white, older than 40 and Christian.

Yoni Muller is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].