Recently, I claimned nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism. One example is Paul Krugman’s recent observation:
It’s kind of shocking if you think about it. Here we have a huge, hard-won intellectual achievement [the recognition that depressions are caused by inadequate demand], one that accounts very well for the world we actually see, and yet it’s being thrown away because it doesn’t go along with ideological preconceptions. Once that sort of thing starts, where does it stop? The next thing you know, the theory of evolution will get the same treatment. Oh, wait.
Now Steve Benen joins the Sacrosanct High Order of the Shrill:
“Real Time” host Bill Maher asked Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) a fairly straightforward question: “Do you believe in evolution?” Kingston not only rejected the foundation of modern biology, he explained it this way: “I believe I came from God, not from a monkey.” He added, “If it happened over millions and millions of years, there should be lots of fossil evidence.”
Seriously, that’s what he said.
Let’s pause to appreciate the fact that it’s the 21st century — and Jack Kingston is a 10-term congressman who helps oversee federal funding on the Food and Drug Administration.
As part of the same discussion, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell tried to ask Kingston about the overuse of antibiotics. The far-right congressman had no idea how the question related to evolution.
At one point, Kingston, sarcastically, turned to National Review’s Will Cain, part of the same roundtable, and said, “Will, help me out anytime you want, buddy.”
The assumption, of course, is that Cain, a conservative, must agree with the confused congressman about modern science. Cain responded, “I’m sorry, I believe in evolution.”
Will, you’re not the one who should be sorry.
But I think Benen’s not quite all the way there. The point isn’t that Kingston is an idiot because he doesn’t accept the reality of evolution, since there are so many other ways to determine he’s an idiot. If evolution is the tell, then you haven’t been paying attention. Kingston’s creationism matters because it is a crystal clear example of how he approaches everything else. First, he hews to catechism and dogma. Second, he is willing to lie and dissemble to protect that dogma. Because when Kingston claims “there should be lots of fossil evidence”, there is lots of fossil evidence:
Kingston also demands a missing link. By which we can again loosely infer he means fossils demonstrating a mix of early and more modern hominid traits. As long as it’s not A. ramidus, A. afarensis, H. ergaster, or any of the dozens of fossils on exhibit in museums all over the world, all showing the exact set of anatomical traits and found in the precise place in the fossil record demonstrating a clear progression toward anatomically modern humans over almost ten million years. Thus Kingston struggles to convey the well oiled illusion of reason while pandering to willful ignorance.
(By the way, you know who else believes in evolution? The Koch brothers–the ones who helped fund the Tea Party: they donated extensively to the Hall of Human Evolution at the Smithsonian. Even those dolts get it. Just saying).
Keep in mind, no amount of evidence will change Kingston’s mind. I’m sure if you showed him a transitional fossil, rather than accepting that a gap has been filled in, he would then claim you have two gaps (on each side of the transition) that need to be explained. You’re not going to convince him (which is why I really don’t try).
The key point about creationists in politics isn’t the creationism (although when it applies to biology classes, it does matter). It’s that they use the exact same tactics and strategy when approaching other political issues.
Here’s the video: