July 20, 2002 | David F. Coppedge

Depressed Kerry Supporters Find New Cause: Fight Creationism

A grass-roots group of Virginia liberal Democrats has found a new cause to lift them out of their depression after John Kerry’s defeat last fall, according to a Washington Post article reprinted by MSNBC News: “Keep Virginia evolving.”  Their chosen mission is to defend evolution from intrusions by the intelligent design movement and conservative Republicans and Christians.  Peter Slevin writes:

Evolution’s newest defenders, who came together in frustration after the November elections, have little political experience, apart from hoisting Kerry-Edwards signs in morning traffic.  They mostly are middle-class people with day jobs.  Some had protested the Vietnam War but had rarely felt inspired to undertake political activism since.  Together, they call themselves the Message Group and depict themselves as “determined and balanced” voters worried about social conservatives.
    “I fear for my country.  That sounds like a radical notion, something from the ’60s, but there is a pervasive fear, a scariness,” said Richard Lawrence, 63, a retired Environmental Protection Agency employee who voted for Nixon.  “We’re just a small group, maybe with a powerful idea.  We don’t have a clue, but we’re not letting go.”….
    The Message Group was created out of its members’ disappointment.  After President Bush was reelected and Republicans strengthened their hold on Capitol Hill, the group’s future comrades were among millions of demoralized Kerry voters who had invested fresh emotional energy and elbow grease in politics, only to fall short.
  (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

Starting from scratch about seven months ago, the group realized they shared a general angst but no mission.  After some discussion, they landed on the cause of defending evolution, especially after hearing that a Baptist pastor had predicted that if enough doubt could be cast on evolution, liberalism would die.  The thought of that prospect apparently provided the spark to lift them out of the malaise of depression and frustration over Kerry’s defeat and give them a new rallying cry.

Now, though their aim of defeating intelligent design is explicit, their strategy is, well, evolving.
    They selected evolution after deciding that other issues, such as Social Security revisions, were well-covered by bigger, richer groups.  The emerging duel over the teaching of science, they reasoned, was important, local and manageable, an area in which they could make a small impact – and if they got lucky, a big one.

They decided to take a stand in Virginia before ID advocates take up their cause in school board hearings.  Their first mailer, urging 75 like-minded souls to “Keep Virginia evolving,” failed to stir the masses to rise up, Slevin said; this draft leaflet “landed with an ugly thud.”  The cause did not resonate with Virginia Democrats somehow.  Those who even knew about it suggested that ignoring ID was the best strategy.  The Message Group tried again, this time with the approach of linking ID with the culture war and the Christian Right.  Fairfax County, which recently chastised a creationist teacher (see 06/14/2005 entry), might join their cause, they hoped.  They also planned to hold a mock Scopes Trial (see 07/19/2005 entry) with the roles reversed for effect, and plotted to link their efforts with the gubernatorial campaign next year.  Meanwhile, the Creation Mega-Conference that started Sunday at Liberty University has not seemed to notice these new foes.
    One of the leaders of the Message Group was a former Vietnam sit-in protestor who hasn’t been politically active for years, but was challenged by his wife, who said, according to Slevin, “You used to be so active.  You used to be so smart.  Why don’t you get off your butt and do something?”  Another was upset by what he perceived as hypocrisy among Christians.  Another feels the religious right is a “pernicious foe.”  Conservatives who have heard about this are laughing that it will backfire, stimulating Virginians “to come out and defend their beliefs and vote Republican.”  They think it will make liberals spend a lot of energy but accomplish little.  Slevin points out that the Message Group seems more interested in psychotherapy to alleviate their depression over the Kerry loss than any genuine concern about the truth of evolution: “The new activists describe the effort as a catharsis, no matter the outcome.”

This is really funny.  It almost makes you feel sympathy for these old Vietnam hippies with their tie-dye shirts and long gray hair.  There must be something they can do.  Ah!  Here’s a flag we can send up the pole to see if anyone salutes: “Keep Virginia evolving!”  Yes, Virginia, there really is a Charlie Darwin.
    One of the leaders said, “I’m just a citizen, not a scientist.  I’ve even had to do a lot of reading to catch up.”  We could suggest some books.  We could also suggest a strategy.  Forget the Scopes sit-in, the chants and incense, and come up with a plausible Darwinian mechanism to explain the origin of life and the molecular machinery of the cell.  Explain the explosively abrupt appearance of all the major body plans in the fossil record simultaneously.  Prove that mind is nothing more than an emergent property of brain chemistry (without committing a logical fallacy in doing so).  Explain the fine-tuning of the universe by chance.  Provide solid scientific answers to these and the other questions the ID community are raising, and you will steal their thunder.
    Doesn’t this story just nail the connection between Darwinism and political liberalism? (see 12/02/2004 entry).  When liberal Democrats, who supposedly emphasize free speech, look for a cause in science to land on, it is predictably pro-evolution and the stifling of dissent about Darwin and his materialist philosophy.  Historically, this has usually been the case.  The pro-evolutionists throughout the 19th century were predominantly leftist or radical in political ideology, whether German materialists like Vogt and Buchner, or Karl Marx in London, even Darwin himself and his most ardent supporters.  Liberalism and evolutionism are inextricably linked.  The question is, which is the cart, and which is the horse?

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