Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Thinking is not an activity that is popular in America. Personal research--hunting for facts and perspective--is practically unheard of. Americans often say they are too busy to devote time to reading newspapers and learning about what is going on in the world. This weariness is understandable in that many families have two working-outside-the-home parents, and there is a kind of national obsession among middle class parents to constantly haul their children to and from soccer, dance team, football, drama, and church activities.

Americans are indeed tired. Many of them are working more than one job. But life in America isn't harder than it is in, say, Italy, or Germany (if you don't count the fact that those people actually have health care). People in some other parts of the world appear to be more invested in thinking and understanding.

Many Americans like to read genre literature, watch so-called reality TV shows, and shop at the mall. There is nothing wrong with doing those things, if--like candy bars--they are not your main diet. But for thousands of Americans, mindless activities are their main diet. One of these mindless activities is also dangerous: the practice of "Christianity," the popular religion that has nothing to do with the teachings of Christ. In this religion, which has many variations, everything in the world is divided into good and evil, black and white (often literally), saved and unsaved, traditional (read "good") and modern (read "sin").

Beneath this manufactured religion lies a deep hatred of women, gay people, and those who are not white. Because there is so much internalized misogyny, homophobism, and racism among oppressed people, it is easy to actually recruit the "enemy" into the religion. These "Christian" churches are not interested in calling for justice and equality for all, nor are they interested in facts or scientific evidence about our world. They do not care that thousands of people are dying in Africa. They do not care that women and girls in Saudi Arabia live the lives of prisoners. They do not care that that millions of animals are tortured every day in America. They are the anti-thinkers.

Unfortunately, thousands more Americans who do not hold these extreme views have something in common with those who do: a refusal to search for facts and to make decisions based upon analysis. What Americans don't know could fill a library the size of a large planet. A small group of people decides what Americans should hear about, and since most Americans are content to hear no more, the ugliness goes on.

Sometimes someone else says it better than I can, and that someone else is often Margaret Cho.


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