Morning Report 3/14/05
They're Right. We're Not Evolving
Connect the dolts, and you'll see unnatural selection at work: the idea of 'President Condi Rice'
FASCINATING ROUNDUP IN this morning's Washington Post about the scope of the anti-evolution movement sweeping across the country. New institutes pushing "intelligent design," new laws branding evolution as "a theory, not a fact." Yet again, America's mullahs are trying to monkey with reality by replacing it with superstition.
Judging by the Contra evolution of our national government (the resurrection of cold warriors John Negroponte and John Bolton, among others), and the steady drumbeat of religious fearmongering in hotel-room churches in suburban Milwaukee and across the U.S., natural selection isn't working.
The evidence is in the concurrent stories about Condi Rice even being mentioned as a presidential candidate and about Bible-beaten Terry Ratzmann's horrific murder rampage. See yesterday's Bush Beat item "The Little Church of Horrors" for a photo synthesis of Ratzmann's twin obsessions with carnivorous plants and end-times theology.
The current religious-right wave of anti-science "science"our own brand of Lysenkoismis of course spearheaded by the likes of Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. (Come to think of it, the anti-evolutionists may be right in believing that ooze can be something other than primordial.)
It's hard to imagine that there was once a time when Barbara Jordan walked the Earth.
Way back in 1974, during the House Judiciary Committee's deliberations on whether to impeach Richard Nixon, the congresswoman from Texas intoned with all of her considerable powers of oratory:
"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.
"If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder."
Too bad she's not around to talk about the new U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, who was an infamous shredder during the Iran-Contra scandal.
Jordan's Watergate-era performance is recalled in a Houston Chronicle obit after her 1996 death.
In another piece, the Chronicle's Alan Bernstein recounts typical Jordan epigrams. She delivered this one at a 1976 citizenship seminar sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention:
- It's best if a politician says as little as possible, and then there will not be so much not to believe.
That doesn't mean that Jordan herself kept quiet. She got much flak for telling a group of women political leaders in 1991:
- "I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which a man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He's just incapable of it."
Bernstein chronicled the uproar that followed:
The statement led to Jordan being labeled a "sexist bigot" by a national men's group. . . .
Her response: "All I can say is, 'Fellas, get some calluses and let's work together.' "
Jordan was a politician, and a skilled one. But ill health brought an early end to her career: She suffered in private with multiple sclerosis. She also kept private the rest of her personal life. Only after her death did the press out her as a lesbian.
Her brains and voice were formidable. As the Bernstein piece noted:
Sociologist Chandler Davidson of Rice University, himself once a leader in the civil rights movement, recalled two particular things that characterized Jordan's political dealings.
One, he said, was that she was "deeply concerned about justice for minorities. The second was that she understood fully that to achieve that justice it was very important to build coalitions.
"I thought she was extremely effective in bringing around people who originally might have had serious doubts about wanting to help mainstream African-Americans in the political process. After coming in contact with her and seeing her charm, intelligence and seriousness of purpose, they were swept off their feet."
Compared with her, Condi Rice is a lightweight. Not that she's dumb; I'm sure she's smart. But she was merely appointed by the chief monkey. Rice's prime attribute is loyalty to her boss. In that sense, she's more like a secretary of the state.
Barbara Jordan, on the other hand, wasn't afraid to piss off her constituency. And her mettle was tested in the steel-death-cage arena of electoral politics, as a black woman in Texas. In her time, she was the only such creature in the Texas legislature. And she rose to become a national figure. Talk about survival of the fittest.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.