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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From Iran to Illinois, Religious Radicals Fail to Grasp Causality, Consequences

Bob Ellis will surely consider this post treason as well.

Among the documents in the latest Wikileaks release is this August 1979 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to the State Department. Deputy Ambassador Victor Tomseth, who was among the American hostages taken three months later, wrote home with some less than flattering observations on the Persian psyche. Tomseth remarked on the incompatibility of Ayatollah-style fundamentalism and reason:

Coupled with these psychological limitations is a general incomprehension of casuality [sic]. Islam, with its emphasis on the omnipotence of God, appears to account at least in major part for this phenomenon. Somewhat surprisingly, even those Iranians educated in the Western style and perhaps with long experience outside Iran itself frequently have difficulty grasping the inter-relationship of events. Witness A Yazdi resisting the idea that Iranian behavior has consequences on the perception of Iran in the U.S. or that this perception is somehow related to American policies regarding Iran. This same quality also helps explain Persian aversion to accepting responsibility for one's own actions. The deus ex machina is always at work [Victor Tomseth, Deputy Ambassador to Iran, cable to U.S. State Department, 1979.08.13, as published by Wikileaks].

Hmm... fanatic faith clouding grasp of causality and consequences... why does this sound familiar?

The earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. ... I do believe God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect [Rep. John Shimkus, quoted in David Gibson, "Bible Protects Against Global Warming? Energy Chair Hopeful Tells Us So," Politics Daily, 2010.11.27].

That's Republican Congressman John Shimkus from Illinois, whose Lutheran (?!?) faith apparently tells him human actions don't have earthly consequences. We can emit all the greenhouse gases we want without destroying the world. By the same logic, we could stop using crop rotation and no-till farming, or unleash biological weapons, or just throw a global thermonuclear war and not see crops fail or the world end.

Congressman Shimkus also wants to be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Expect policy based on rejection of the conservation of matter and energy.

Folks who fret that President Obama is related to Muslims are missing the point. Considering what Ambassador Tomseth said about our Iranian friends, it's the fundagelical Republicans who act more like the mullahs.

Bonus Causality Quiz: To restore your ability to recognize cause and effect, connect these dots.

...Shimkus and the Bible-believing skeptics of climate change have powerful allies in the emergent Tea Party movement, which in turn has extensive support for the oil and coal industry [Gibson, 2010].

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