The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has been reading Ben Carson’s Golden Book O’ History. In addition to his claim the pyramids were built by Joseph to store grain, we are learning so many new things. Lincoln’s hat? A station on the underground railroad. President Taft actually weighed only 120 lbs. not 340; his support of immigration led him to house a family of Irish day laborers in his suits. Dr. Carson actually killed baby Hitler in a parallel universe, unlike Jeb!!!!!!! who just claims he would. Fascinating.
While we’re on the subject of Joseph and history, The Rant would like you to know Joseph learned exactly nothing from his ordeals, contrary to what your Sunday school teacher says. He treated his family like unenlightened rubes before his brothers tossed him in a cistern and he was captured into slavery, and he continued to do so when they were reunited in Egypt, hiding his identity and making them believe they might face imprisonment or execution, and then sending them all the way home under that impression to schlep their youngest sibling Benjamin back to his glorious presence.
The only real lesson to learn from Joseph is that if you believe God is on your side, you can treat people any way you like. Which brings us back to Carson and really most of the Republican candidates for president. Carson’s faith leads him to deny evolution, and Ted Cruz’s has him claiming if you don’t start every day with prayer you can’t be president. If you disagree, they have the right to say whatever nonsense they want about you. Any opposition to their views (including Carson’s mythology about himself) cannot be a disagreement or subject to a look at the facts. Such people must be wrong; they must be demonized; they must be less than.
Interestingly, the story of Joseph and the pyramids began in the Middle Ages, when everything in history had to jibe with the Bible and doctrine. When the Catholic Church needed a document proving some matter of dogma, they just wrote one and signed the appropriate apostle’s or saint’s name to it. Hey, the document existed somewhere, so there was no reason not to reproduce it. If you didn’t like it, you could go chat with the Inquisitor.
The explosion of the Internet, where you can find a place to verify any insanity (vaccines anyone?), coupled with the exploitation of people’s fears, has produced a bizarre return to the Middle Ages by a multiple of ten.
The Rant would like to blame the current madness on others, but we have all fallen prey to the idea that progress and empirical knowledge will always move in a linear, unbroken line upward to rational behavior and choices in society. Europe and America believed the same thing at the beginning of the 20th Century and fought two world wars for their delusions. We have to keep working to hold every bit of a more equitable society we achieve. Because there will always be those that claim God or some other formulation of transcendence and certainty makes them exempt from facts and manners and respectful behavior toward others.