White Male Conservative Christians Are Such An Oppressed Group

We have seen for quite a while how conservatives love to act like they are victims. Gary Bauer has written the most absurd variation on this I’ve seen in quite a while entitled, If Christians Were Treated Like Muslims. My first thought was that it was a plea from one conservative to other conservatives to end their Islamophobia. No, it is actually a claim that Christians in this country receive worse treatment than Muslims.

Among his many complaints, Bauer complains of how Christmas and Easter have become secular events stripped of their theological meaning. There is some truth to this, but it was Christians who have shown their preference for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The change in their holidays was not forced upon them by the Muslims or Jews. Besides, in the end these are all just stories to promote a lesson. The stories of Jesus may have some historical background (as may also be the case with Saint Nicholas) but any reality to these stories has been buried under layers of fiction. To me it doesn’t really matter which stories Christians prefer, but nobody is stopping people like Bauer from having a traditional religious celebration. Why are conservatives unhappy unless everyone else adopts their religious views?

It will hard to see this article beaten as an example of the absurdity of conservative thought. I imagine Bauer could top this by claiming that Southern slaves were treated better than the slave owners.

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Christine O’Donnell Under Investigation For More Than Witchcraft

It might be time for Christine O’Donnell to follow up her “I’m not a witch” commercial with a statement that “I am not a crook.” She is now under federal investigation for misuse of campaign funds:

Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation…

At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay her personal expenses in recent years as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006. The Washington-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission making similar allegations and asked Delaware’s federal prosecutor to investigate.

O’Donnell’s campaign has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged she had paid part of her rent at times with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.

Federal law prohibits candidates from spending campaign money for personal benefit. FEC rules say this prohibition applies to the use of campaign money for a candidate’s mortgage or rent “even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign,” although O’Donnell’s campaign maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency.

Quote of the Day

“Imagining Donald Trump flying on Jet Blue is like trying to imagine Sarah Palin flying on Air Force One.” –David Letterman

Biological Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

I think we’ve all noticed that conservatives just don’t think like us. I’m speaking of the hard core conservatives who buy the fictional worldview put out by Fox and right wing talk radio. There also conservatives who do reject much of the current nonsense coming from the right, many of whom have been ostracized by the conservative movement and who we can rationally discuss issues with even if there are differences of opinion. Other conservatives just seem to be incapable of rational thought based upon facts as opposed to repeating right wing talking points. There might even be biological evidence for the different type of thought seen on the far right according to a report in The Telegraph

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.

On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience…

The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.

Via Raw Story, an abstract on the report from October showing a difference in genetic makeup between liberals and conservatives can be found here.

There are many obvious limitations to this, and it will be interesting to read the entire study when published. I will assume for the sake of discussion that differences between liberals and conservatives in the UK are comparable to those here, but that is far from certain.

The most obvious example which supports this hypothesis in the United States was the 9/11 attack, with current divisions between American liberals and conservatives being largely redrawn based upon response to the attack and view of the Bush administration’s response. Conservatives were motivated by fear to the point of irrationality. This was seen in how easily they were manipulated to support an attack on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, as well as how easily they fell into line supporting restrictions on civil liberties.

If there are really biological differences, it would be interesting to see the degree to which this correlates with the subservience to right wing authority seen by the conservative movement. It is certainly easy to see the correlation between being driven by fear and their willingness to surrender civil liberties and follow their leader.

This might also correlate with other common characteristics of American conservatives such as religious beliefs. The best predictor of voting behavior in the United States  is frequency of Church attendance, which might be related to both more primitive thought processes and to a fear of crossing their god. Unfortunately, this commonly extends to the desire of conservatives to use the power of the state to impose their religious views upon other.

This might also extend to the racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and xenophobia which is common, even if not universal, on the right. Conservatives commonly fear and hate those who look or think differently from them. While it has become fashionable on the right to object to such characterizations, their denials are hardly taken seriously by those on the outside who observe how it influences many of their positions.

This propensity towards fear and hatred of those who are seen as different has been exploited by the right wing noise machine, regardless of whether these attitudes are biological or learned (and I suspect it is a combination of the two). Just look at the effective manner by which they have demonized liberals in the minds of many. They portray liberals as holding a wide variety of views which have nothing to do with the actual views of most liberals. I certainly would not support liberals or vote for Democrats if they held half the views attributed to them by the right. This promotes the opposition to liberalism and identification with conservatism among many of them, and even has some influence on non-conservatives. This leads to the frequent poll finding that a majority identify themselves as conservatives while supporting the liberal position on polls based upon specific positions as opposed to labels.

We have seen increased polarization between left and right in recent years, and I believe the panic on the right caused by 9/11 has exacerbated this. Part of this very well might be because liberals and conservatives are wired to view the world differently, making communication between the two more difficult.