“Progressive” religious group frames fight against Paul Ryan budget around Ayn Rand’s atheism
It’s the Melee for America’s Morons!
The Duel of the Demagogues!
An Altercation of Alliteration!
Tonight’s fight is authorized by the Nevada Framing Commission, promoted by the American Values Network, and brought to you by Jesus and Jesus Lite. Jesus and Jesus Lite: The King of Jews!™
In this corner: the challenger, weighing in at 37 lbs of rotting asshole, she’s been called the “Sultan of Selfishness,” the “Object of Objectivism,” the “Libertarian Lunatic”…Ayn Rand!
And in this corner: weighing in at 0 lbs of absolutely nothing, we have the “Terror of the Old Testament,” the “Jealous Jehova,” the “Preternatural Pugilist,” the “beardy space guy who is also somehow his son and a ghost or whatever,” and the reigning heavyweight champion of profoundly stupid American ethics…God!
Let’s get ready to intellectually stumble!!!!!
Yeah…this is a real thing:
The American Values Network was founded by Burns Strider. He’s a big Christian consultant, paid by Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi to help them connect with middle-Americans suffering under systemic religious delusion. He’s been involved with over 100 campaigns, founded the Eleison Group, he blags for the Huffington Post and does panel discussions at Netroots.
Strider and his clients represent the diseased intellect of the communications industry. It’s hard to tell whether Strider actually thinks this is a valid argument or if he’s just a panderer. Regardless, the message is clear:
In America, atheism is considered a valid counterargument to anything. TIME’s Swampland blog calls it “Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand Problem”. A columnist for a lesser Beast writes, “Thank God (pardon the expression) someone is pointing this out.” Benighted middle-Americans are now so outraged they are trying to give Ryan books:
Is it smart to talk about the immorality of the Randroids’ economic dogma? Yes. It may even be strategically smart to equate that immorality with atheism–in the short term. Atheists consistently rank as the least trusted group in America, after all. But it’s also incredibly stupid, overly cynical and a case of framing gone badly off the rails. It’s also pure asshole. In the long term, this hyper-religious framing is dangerous.
I recently attended a talk by science journalist Chris Mooney. He stressed that the ideals of the enlightenment are dead. Communication isn’t all about providing facts, reason and a sound argument. The prevailing trend in “progressive” communication is to pander to the lowest common denominator. This approach is surely valid, in some arenas, but it carries a risk. The risk being: everyone gets more dumber. It’s a kind of “stupidity blowback.”
Kathy Hochul pulled off an upset in NY-26 based solely on Ryan’s plan for Medicare vouchers. Voters saw this plan as inherently immoral, not because Ryan loves an atheist philosopher, but because it’s inherently immoral to take away health care for our elderly and replace it with a coupon. It’s also inherently immoral to cut taxes on the richest Americans while our income inequality is greater than any other industrialized country on the planet. Americans are dumb, but they’re not that dumb. Right?
And, of course, the actual argument is ridiculous. It makes about as much sense to slam Ryan and his hero based on this clip:
The difference being that “Charlie’s Angels” was a real thing–further proof against the existence of God. Atheism was Rand’s one rational position, and to presume that her tragically flawed approach to economics naturally follows from this one rational position is an example of the evil she attributed to religion. This type of moral absolutism is the stuff witch hunts are made of.
Maybe the ends justify the means for the Democrats with this despicable communication tactic. But what’s to stop them from employing this technique on a real progressive? Because, and I hate to be the one to break it to you, you cannot be both religious and progressive. You’re either progressive or you think an ancient and contradictory text, written by dudes who would have thought a light bulb was magic, has any fucking bearing on reality.
The point here is that employing and encouraging religious framing around issues like economics and global warming may be tempting, but will only serve to undercut a real progressive agenda because real progressive values are not rooted in bullshit. And that’s the ultimate irony here. The perverse economic leanings of Rand devotees smacks of cultism. That dogma has no basis is empirical reality. Its priests are the wealthy who are intent on justifying their superiority–their disproportionate share of America’s collective wealth. Like any religion, it’s a scam.
When you roll around in bullshit, it’s hard to remove the stench. Appealing to outmoded and fantastic myths to argue against an economic philosophy, which is egregiously dumb on its face, serves to reinforce the same type of magical thinking that the Randroids thrive on. And every time some Christian consultant helps a Democrat connect with middle-America via religious pandering, progressives dig the hole of irrationality a little deeper.
And, as mentioned, it’s pure asshole.