Tea Party and the Right  
comments_image Comments

10 Historical 'Facts' Only a Right-Winger Could Believe

Facts, including historical ones, are 'biased' against the right's worldview.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share

It has been  pointed out that Palin's version of history is confused on many points. But don't tell that to conservatives. Among them, Palin's charisma is so overweening that her bizarre POV is yet defended -- in some cases, on the grounds that her " larger and more important point about history" was misunderstood (which then mutated into "Palin was right"), and in others just because, as a poster at  Lucianne Goldberg's site put it, "The left will have puppies because of it."

Palin's ahistoricism has since metastasized among her following into an indictment of America's entry into the space race, which  National Review 's Jonah Goldberg described as "the government tells the people what to do, and it relies on a handful of experts to get it done according to government specifications."

(It should be noted that Sputnik revisionism didn't start with Palin; John Bircher  Cleon Skousen claimed in the '50s that the USSR built Sputnik with plans stolen from the United States.  It kind of figures Palin would follow in that tradition.)

8. Galileo was a conservative.

You may recall how conservatives made lifelong socialist George Orwell into a  neocon icon. Now they're trying to do the same thing with Galileo.

You may think Galileo's an odd choice, because he's history's most famous scientific dissident, having been forced by the Catholic Church to deny his heretical finding that the earth revolved around the sun. But it's not his devotion to truth that makes him attractive to conservatives -- it's his persecution. As they feel themselves persecuted by a liberal conspiracy, conservatives will easily adopt as their avatar any historical figure who suffered and was later shown to be right, regardless of the relevance of his cause to theirs. If you've seen  The Passion of the Christ , you know how it works.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, for reasons that should be obvious, has long  portrayed Galileo's ordeal as not so bad; why, the Pope didn't even torture him, he just  threatened to, and anyway the Church was only reasonably trying to "prohibit the circulation of writings which were judged harmful."

Scholarly apologists such as  Jonathan Weyer and Paul Feyerabend have amplified the theme, but their heady thoughts were brought crashing to earth by  National Review 's Jonah Goldberg, who in 1999 attacked the " ancient, pro-enlightenment, zealot spin" on Galileo with easy-reading versions of the Catholic argument. ( Dinesh D'Souza provided similar arguments at a slightly higher reading level.)

Galileo may have been prosecuted by the Church, said Goldberg, but he was persecuted by "jealous fellow-scientists," one of whom he compared to James Carville. Actually, Goldberg said, the Church loved Galileo. Admittedly they did try him, but that was "very complicated" -- the upshot being that "one need not look much further than then-Senator Al Gore's treatment of dissenters on global warming to see how modern inquisitions work."

Thus continued the rehabilitation of Galileo -- no longer the enemy of the Church, but the patron saint of global warming denialists. In 2001 the American Spectator called skeptic Lloyd Keigwin " The Galileo of Global Warming" and claimed he made a giant contribution to discrediting a movement that would impose a deadly energy clamp on the world economy...." More recently the "ClimateGate" scandal prompted a new wave of Galileo reclamation, with Daniel Henninger of the  Wall Street Journal  lamenting, "The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims...  evokes the attempt to silence Galileo."

Scan the blogs, and you'll see plenty more of this stuff (e.g. " The Great Global Warming Inquisition"). Next stop: J. Robert Oppenheimer -- Victim of a Liberal Conspiracy.

 
See more stories tagged with: