Could you make this up even if you tried REALLY hard?
A leader of the Texas House of Representatives apologized Friday for circulating an appeal to ban the teaching of evolution as derived from “Rabbinic writings” and other Jewish texts.
“I had no intention to offend anyone,” said the lawmaker, Warren Chisum, a Republican from the Panhandle who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Mr. Chisum said he had received the information from Ben Bridges, a Georgia legislator, and “I never took it very seriously.”
In fact, he took it so ‘unseriously’ that he wrote a personal memo about this drivel and circulated it to all the other Texas state representatives:
On Feb. 9, Mr. Chisum, 68, an 18-year veteran of the House and second in power only to the speaker, Tom Craddick, sent a memorandum to all 149 other state representatives in Texas.
The one-page memorandum, marked “From: Representative Ben Bridges,” declared that “tax-supported evolution science” was based on religion and therefore unlawful under the United States Constitution.
It continued, “Indisputable evidence — long hidden but now available to everyone — demonstrates conclusively that so-called secular evolution science is the Big Bang 15-billion-year alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion.”
“This scenario,” the memorandum stated, “is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings on the mystic ‘holy book’ kabbala dating back at least two millennia.”
The memorandum said that inquiries could be directed to the Fair Education Foundation, a group in Georgia, and gave its Web address, fixedearth.com. The site features items belittling the Holocaust and portraying Earth as stationary as depicted in the Bible, with Jewish thinkers like “Kabbalist physicist Albert Einstein” responsible for contrary scientific theories.
Representative Bridges, a five-term Republican from Cleveland, Ga., northeast of Atlanta, did not return calls to his legislative office on Friday.
I’ll bet he didn’t.
The president of the Fair Education Foundation, Marshall Hall, said he had sent the memorandum to Mr. Chisum at the request of Mr. Bridges, whom he called a longtime friend and supporter. Mr. Chisum, in a letter accompanying the memorandum, said he distributed the memorandum “on behalf of” Representative Bridges. He said he knew Mr. Bridges through the National Conference of State Legislatures “and greatly appreciate his information on this important topic.”
The memorandum was condemned by some Texas lawmakers and by the Anti-Defamation League.
In a letter to Mr. Chisum dated Feb. 14, Mark L. Briskman, director of the league’s North Texas-Oklahoma regional office, said, “We are shocked and appalled that you would share this outrageous anti-Semitic material with your colleagues in the Texas House.”
Questioned Friday about his apparent endorsement of the memorandum, Mr. Chisum appeared to back away from it. “I read it, but he didn’t ask me to edit his memo,” he said. “It does not reflect my opinion.”
Come to think of it, I’ve got a few questions about Darwin’s theory myself. It declares survival of the fittest, right? But wouldn’t you think someone who was dumb as a post wouldn’t be fit to survive? Yet apparently this guy’s genetic material has made it all the way from the beginning of time to this generation. It’s truly a wonder and gives me some doubt about ol’ Charles’ theory. I’m just glad he didn’t call it “survival of the dumbest.”
In a letter to Mr. Briskman, Mr. Chisum wrote, “I sincerely regret that I did not take the time to carefully review these materials and recognize that I may have hurt or offended some groups including some of my dear friends.”
Mr. Chisum said he had “engaged” a Jewish colleague, former Representative Steven D. Wolens, a Democrat, to intercede on his behalf.
Mr. Wolens, a lawyer who is married to the mayor of Dallas, Laura Miller, confirmed that he would [!!!!]. “I always found him respectful to me and people of the Jewish faith,” Mr. Wolens said.
–source: New York Times
To which I would say: “You MUST be kidding.” What self-respecting Jew would defend a piece of dreck like this??? And how, in heaven’s name can you call this “respectful to the Jewish faith???”
Josh Marshall notes that Ben Bridges is chair of the “retirement committee” in the Georgia legislature. Is that foreshadowing or what?
I do hope–though given the political landscape in Georgia and Texas it is unlikely–that by tomorrow or next week there will be an empty chair in each of the respective legislatures in which these two bozos sit. If their State Republican parties had brains in their heads they would rush these guys out of town by the back door and make sure they were never heard from again. I guess it’s more likely they’ll erect a statue in their honor.
I am Jewish and someone who has studied Kabbalah in a university setting. I’m offended on behalf of my religion and this wonderful sacred tract.
I know there are many good folk in each of these states, but since when does baiting Jews and those who support evolution amount to a political strategy for the Republican Party??
The Houston Chronicle offers the memo and cover letter for your delectation and in all their godly glory.
Jason Truesdell says
Just a minor quibble: “Survival of the fittest” is an economic interpretation of Darwinism, originating from Herbert Spencer. Though Darwin apparently accepted the phrasing at some point, it seems primarily favored by those promoting regressive, even hostile economic and social policies. Biologists tend to prefer “natural selection,” as it’s a bit less politically charged, and in some ways is more specific. More importantly, natural selection doesn’t imply that the poorly adapted SHOULDN’T survive, merely that over generations the better-adapted will thrive and the poorly adapted tend not to.
It seems that in many political districts it’s easier to survive by adapting to the prejudices and insecurities of the constituency… But I hope this crosses the line for them by embarrassing the Republicans. It’s incredibly bizarre to make the argument that evolution is a Jewish religious doctrine; I wonder how these nuts explain away Charles Darwin’s Christian upbringing (was losing faith some sort of Kabbalistic conspiracy?)
Richard Silverstein says
All points well taken. I wonder how much natural selection takes intelligence into account. Is being dumb a factor that would tend to work against one’s evolutionary continuity?
Jason Truesdell says
Clearly intelligence is a huge part of the evolutionary advantage that gave humanity the chance to rise to dominance… That’s a pretty substantial part of the story of evolution. but it’s also true that, in our complex society, intelligence is sometimes an advantage, and sometimes a disadvantage. Sometimes it’s important to be able to beat up the bad guy, and sometimes it’s better to outwit him. Sometimes smart girls play dumb. Sometimes being able to comparatively analyze the theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx can be useful to provide insight into a social problem, but it won’t necessarily be amusing at a party.
Besides, there are lots of kinds of intelligence. Being able to empathize with people is one kind of intelligence; analyzing complex mathematical problems is one kind; being able to figure out what kind of political posture will make you more powerful is also a kind of intelligence. Hopefully Mr. Chisum has figured wrong.
Dan Sniderman says
I love it – he went for the “Some of my best friends are Jewish” defense – is this the 1950’s or what (well in Texas….)
Rabbi C says
As a religious Jew, with a 5000 year link of transmission of Jewish thought, I must say there is really nothing progressive here at all.
There is no evidence at all of the truth of the theory of evolution as most leading evolutionists cannot explain the many missing links. Many leading evolutionist are quietly abandoning this belief system, as they cannot explain many fundamental questions. They do this quietly as the academic world holds them intellectually hostage to the theory of evolution.
Darwin, although he meant well, is responsible for a causing a very dark period in scientific history. By assuming that humans are just a more developed form of animal, he set off the world of moral relativism which we are now mired in. The world is too endlessly complex to have just evolved and formed somehow into the beauty we see around us. If you were to drop a bottle of ink down on the floor, how many times would you have to drop it for its contents to form just the word CAT? How about a full sentence? How about Shakepeare? This is essentially what one has to accept to celebrate Darwin.
Imagine the “accidental” formation of the human eyeball, the brain, or even an apple seed. This is such a stretch of logical thought, that I consider Darwinists to be more “religious” than non-Darwinists.
I would like to see Darwin placed in the dustbins of history as someone who was simply wrong. This does not negate our passion for and exploration of science and the natural world, but rather increases our intellectual honesty which will enable us to reach even greater levels of understanding in the future.
Richard Silverstein says
Excuse me, but you are a rabbi, not an evolutionary biologist. So aside fr. yr interest in theology precisely how do you claim the expertise to make pronouncements about the theory of evolution???
Like whom, precisely???
Once again making pronouncements on matters far outside yr sphere of knowledge. Darwin happens to be one of the most brilliant scientists of the 19th century and perhaps any century. And yet have the chutzpah to tell us “he meant well???”
Evolution does NOT posit that life is an “accident.” But it does posit that the forces at work in creating life and its development are not controlled by a divine hand, but by empirically observed rules.
I’d say it’s a lot more likely yr views will see the dustbin before those of Darwin will.
Which is precisely what you’ve just done. You’re so obtuse you don’t even understand the implications of yr own views.