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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism

    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism


    By Laura Ellyn Smith


    August 4, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. GMT+3


    After initially striking the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, covid-19 has spread throughout the country, and now the states with the highest new cases per capita are those across the South and Southwest. The Bible Belt, which stretches from South Carolina, through the Deep South, west across Texas and Arizona, has seen high numbers of cases.


    And although the United States has seen cases everywhere, these states’ early reopening plans and hands-off measures, most recently a ban by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on local mask requirements, reflect a cultural emphasis on prioritizing freedom from government dictate — and an anti-science bias rooted in the history of the region.


    Many people have resisted even simple measures — including social distancing and the now highly politicized wearing of masks — that public health officials indicated might be enough to contain the novel coronavirus. In some Florida localities, for example, opponents of requirements to wear masks claimed that the idea of their providing protection was based on “pseudoscience.” During a court hearing to consider mandating mask-wearing in Palm Beach County, opponents told lawmakers, “You are not God,” citing how those who support masks “want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out.”


    In June, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, openly warned of the risks resulting from this rampant “anti-science bias” and anti-intellectualism, which has only risen on the right during the Trump administration. And while this phenomenon is deeply historically rooted, covid-19 is exposing how dangerous it can be to public health when expert recommendations are ignored and undermined.


    Where did this anti-science bias come from? It became rooted in Southern culture and politics with the Scopes Trial, popularly known as the Monkey Trial, in 1925 in Dayton, Tenn.


    The trial stemmed from the modernism rising in the post-World War I era. Southern whites felt that these changes challenged their way of life, including seeing the teaching of evolution as an attack on traditional values. They moved aggressively to retain socio-cultural control in a time of transformative change by limiting modern influences.


    Tennessee accordingly passed the Butler Act in 1925, which banned the teaching of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in public schools. In demonstrating that all humans descended from apes, teaching evolution undermined the belief in white superiority that defined the Jim Crow South. A Dayton businessman emboldened teacher John Scopes to challenge the law in the hopes that the ensuing controversy would attract new business to town.


    An international media frenzy engulfed Scopes’s ensuing trial, which pitted three-time former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan — arguing on behalf of the state — against celebrated lawyer Clarence Darrow. Bryan also took to the stand as an expert witness, and he exalted anti-intellectualism, making America a laughingstock on the world stage.


    Scopes would be convicted of violating the Butler Act, but the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned his conviction on a technicality.


    Nonetheless, as had occurred around the turn of the century when the Lost Cause movement emerged to glorify the antebellum South, the Monkey Trial became mythologized in the Bible Belt. The intensity of the trial breathed new life into the anti-evolution movement, coupled with an emphasis on biblical literalism, which found a home among evangelicals who began to define Southern culture and, eventually with Billy Graham’s support of Richard Nixon, came to define Southern politics.


    Following the trial, anti-intellectualism became more acceptable. This was solidified with the establishment in Dayton of William Jennings Bryan College in 1930, where students and faculty must annually affirm their belief in the story of Genesis. Anti-intellectualism drew strength from the gathering of religious fundamentalists whose mission to spread their beliefs became more public as southern Whites responded to changes that occurred as the result of the civil rights movement.


    At the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, White southern evangelicals saw their long-standing regional dominance threatened by civil rights activism and federal legislation expanding Black civil rights. Exemplifying this trend, Tennessee repealed the Butler Act in 1967, and the Supreme Court ruled against a similar law in Arkansas the next year. During the same period, Congress and the high court shattered Jim Crow segregation and banned prayer in public schools.


    Their monopoly on political and cultural power seemingly under attack, White evangelicals clung to biblical literalism and embraced anti-intellectualism as a refuge. They successfully organized to stem the progress of the growing women’s movement and, in particular, to prevent ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, with their newfound emphasis on teaching female subordination. Outside of Tennessee and Texas, the Bible Belt rejected the amendment, providing just enough states to prevent ratification.


    In the 1980s and 1990s, egged on by a rising conservative media, southern White evangelicals, who increasingly became the base of the Republican Party, came to associate intellectualism and science with coastal elites who looked down upon them and scorned their values. Conservatives who flocked to Phyllis Schlafly’s campaign against the ERA saw a liberal elite centered in universities, the media, the arts and the Democratic Party determined to ram morally anathema things, like legal abortion, explicit and anti-Christian movies and music like “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) and “Me So Horny” (1988), and rights for LGBTQ Americans down their throats. Democrats also favored environmental policies that many Southern evangelicals saw as unnecessary and damaging to the economy.


    This political culture fueled ever-increasing anti-intellectualism that traced its origins back to the Scopes trial. In 1997 and again in 2005, the courts heard and later decided against biblical literalists in Louisiana and Georgia, respectively, when they sought to include an advisory on the teaching of evolution in science textbooks.


    When it comes to the latest covid-19 battleground, reopening schools, opposition to scientific experts, specifically guidance provided by the CDC, has been persistently displayed by the Trump administration, especially Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Republican allies at the state level. The administration has stubbornly insisted on getting children back to school without offering any advice on how to safely achieve this. Notably, DeVos has applauded Miami-Dade County’s plan for in-person learning, despite the region being a covid-19 hot zone. Substituting rhetoric and culture war politics for expertise is dangerous.


    Covid-19 is proving that an unwillingness to listen to doctors and scientists can do great harm. Religious freedom and public health aren’t actually incompatible. But countering the anti-science bias that has become a stalking horse for the culture wars is crucial to creating better policies and allowing citizens to make the best possible choices for themselves and for society.


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlo...mments-wrapper

  2. #2
    Hangin' Around cyrille's Avatar
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    Southern USA and why not in the COVID thread?

    We don't need dozens of threads on this.

    Or is the USA uniquely important?


  3. #3
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    Southern USA and why not in the COVID thread?

    We don't need dozens of threads on this.

    Or is the USA uniquely important?

    Because it is not about the disease, it is about the extrodinary reaction against common sense, scientifically rooted information.

    It starts to get to how the absolute fuck did masks become a political issue?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    Southern USA and why not in the COVID thread?

    We don't need dozens of threads on this.

    Or is the USA uniquely important?

    I don't think it fits in the covid thread.
    It's more about anti intellectualism. Quite an interesting, if scary, read.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrille View Post
    Southern USA and why not in the COVID thread?

    We don't need dozens of threads on this.

    Or is the USA uniquely important?

    That is your sole contribution?

    You silly old fart.

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    I don't think it fits in the covid thread.
    It's more about anti intellectualism. Quite an interesting, if scary, read.
    I had not heard about this "Monkey trial".

    I suppose it's a supreme insult to white supremacists to know that they are descended, albeit not very far in some cases, from apes.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I had not heard about this "Monkey trial".

    I suppose it's a supreme insult to white supremacists to know that they are descended, albeit not very far in some cases, from apes.
    But they are not descended from apes.

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    But they are not descended from apes.
    Praise Baby Jebus!

  9. #9
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    I had not heard about this "Monkey trial".
    .
    That shocks me.

    Go dig up the original of "Inherit the wind". Loosely based around the Scopes trial, but a fantastic movie.

  10. #10
    In Uranus
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    It starts to get to how the absolute fuck did masks become a political issue?
    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    I don't think it fits in the covid thread.
    It's more about anti intellectualism. Quite an interesting, if scary, read.
    These are valid points as to why this thread needs to stand alone.

    The key point of the OP will just get lost in the COVID-19 thread.

  11. #11
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    ^ agree. Hopefully the mods will see it that way also.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    I stuck here with the anti-intellectual Bubbas! Help!

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    That shocks me.

    Go dig up the original of "Inherit the wind". Loosely based around the Scopes trial, but a fantastic movie.
    One I haven't watched.

    Good tip, thanks.

  14. #14
    Pedantic bastard
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    One I haven't watched.

    Good tip, thanks.
    Spencer Tracey, Gene Kelly, Claude Atkins. Cannot go wrong.

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    Spencer Tracey, Gene Kelly, Claude Atkins. Cannot go wrong.
    Strange, for some reason I had it in my head that Gregory Peck was in it.

    Then I remembered I was thinking about a completely different courtroom drama, To Kill A Mockingbird.

    Doh!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg View Post
    Spencer Tracey, Gene Kelly, Claude Atkins. Cannot go wrong.
    Brilliant movies both. Gonna throw 12 angry men in that mix.

  17. #17
    Pedantic bastard
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    ^my bad on the copy post.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    But they are not descended from apes.
    We are all of us apes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shutree View Post
    We are all of us apes.
    You maybe.

  20. #20
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    You maybe.
    I'm not sure how far you think you have evolved and from what. Care to elaborate?

  21. #21
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    I'll give you a hint :

    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism-cujoface-jpg
    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism-pig1-png

  22. #22
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    ^
    You save photos of other posters on your computer? Fucking creep.

    Maybe Cujo posted that in a members only thread and you just made it public.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pickel View Post
    ^
    You save photos of other posters on your computer? Fucking creep.

    Maybe Cujo posted that in a members only thread and you just made it public.
    And he wonders why people give him shit and call him latinkaren etc
    And even then he's got it wrong. This is the evolved version

    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism-20200220_134932-jpg

    Don't know why it's sideways. Mods?
    Last edited by Cujo; 06-08-2020 at 09:48 AM.

  24. #24
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    By the way, about evolution and speaking of anti intellectualism, creationists say if we evolved from apes how is it there are still apes.
    The answer is, and a great way to shut down the creationist, that we didn't evolve FROM apes/monkeys whatever.
    We and apes/monkeys whatever evolved simultaneously from a common ancestor, neither ape or human.
    “If we stop testing right now we’d have very few cases, if any.” Donald J Trump.

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    We haven’t descended from apes.
    We have descended from earlier primates.

    The spread of covid-19 in the South shows the risks of anti-intellectualism-6eaa8aef-f5a2-45f9-9a0d-0fdb0727f29d-jpeg

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