Some election-related skepticism

There have been a couple of memes going around since the end of the election that have my skeptical hackles raised and my bullshit detectors buzzing. I’ve seen some folks even in the atheoskeptisphere acknowledging these points as though they’re necessarily true, and so I figured I might briefly call attention to them.

First, there’s the matter of Sarah Palin’s ignorance and emotional instability. Shortly after the results came in, Fox News Reporter Carl Cameron (among others) reported that Sarah Palin was unable to name the countries involved in NAFTA, thought Africa was a country rather than a continent, refused to prepare for her interviews with Katie Couric, and was prone to temper tantrums. On one hand, it’s easy to believe these things–as recently as a week or so before the election, Palin didn’t know what the job of the Vice President entailed. She couldn’t say what the Bush Doctrine was. She’s obviously not the most informed tool in the shed. The Africa thing parallels flubs made by the current President and his father’s running mate, so that’s not entirely unbelievable either. There’s nothing about the claims that are necessarily outrageous.

However, I have to consider the source. If a Fox News reporter told me it was raining, I’d look up to check. The fact that these claims are coming out after the election is not entirely surprising, but it’s a bit suspect, especially since the Republicans suffered such a bitter loss. There are many in the party who (probably justifiably) blame Palin for the loss, especially after her Mavericky tendency in those last weeks to get off-message and “go rogue.” I think the potential motives here–finding an easy scapegoat for the losses, sinking her chances of a 2012 run–are enough to call the purported facts into question. It’s okay, though: Palin looks bad enough without them.

The second point is one that I’ve heard all over the newsmedia, particularly from fundie godbots who are shocked–shocked!–that people would be protesting churches over Proposition 8. Why not protest the blacks/black churches, they ask, since 70% of blacks voted for Prop 8?

Besides the fact that the Mormons and Catholics–who are absolute paragons of the sanctity of healthy heterosexual marriage, since the former still acknowledges the perfection of afterlife polygamy and the latter shuffles around pedophiles under the orders of a man in a dress–pumped millions of dollars into the campaign for Proposition 8, trying to legislate their religious morals into our secular government, there’s the simple problem of the math. According to various sources, the numbers simply don’t implicate the black community in the passage of Prop 8. If anything, the numbers implicate older people, since the youth vote came in fairly overwhelmingly against Prop 8. That seems to be the silver lining to this dark cloud: given a generation or so, this shouldn’t even be an issue.

Anyway, I just thought I’d point that out. Food for doubt, you could say.

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7 Responses to Some election-related skepticism

  1. Wikinite says:

    Good point, just because something seems plausible doesn’t mean we should accept it out of hand.

  2. Question: Exactly how horrible is Fox News as a news source?I already realized black people weren’t the ones to blame for Prop 8; even with them around, the net gain for Prop 8 from them, based on the numbers I’ve seen, is around 4%.

  3. Infophile says:

    @King of ferrets: Notably, the margin of victory for prop 8 was 4% – if the black community had split 50/50, the proposition would have been at about 50%. By these numbers, you could make a weak case for them being at fault, though there are much better targets, such as the elderly, or the religious in general.Of course, I still maintain that I’m disappointed in them, whether or not you can blame the passage of the proposition on them. You’d think people facing oppression themselves would know better, but history tells us this isn’t so. All the oppressed want is to become the oppressors.

  4. Doubting Tom says:

    I don’t know if it’s that bleak, Infophile, but I do think it helps people feel better about their status to keep someone else down. In this case, though, I think it has more to do with the general religiosity and rigidness of gender roles in the black community. Listen to Graydon Square or Reg Finley talk a bit about African-American Atheists sometime, or read up on the down-low. Religious identification trumps identification with another oppressed group.

  5. Dunc says:

    You’d think people facing oppression themselves would know better, but history tells us this isn’t so.The oppressed almost always kick down. It’s not that surprising really – after all, if they could kick upwards effectively, they wouldn’t be oppressed. That’s the sort of thing that gets you beaten up by the police, or lynched. Survival trumps solidarity every time.

  6. Jon says:

    Historically, solidarity between oppressed groups is a myth. What is historically common is to see oppressed groups to look for every opportunity to join with their oppressors against another group. Of course, the reason black voters supported Prop 8 has more to do with the conservative theology of black churches (most being either Baptist or non-denominational evangelical), and the ease with with a black church can be organized to support a piece of “moral” legislation. But pushing the onus for Prop 8 on the black community is simply a cop out, designed to drive a wedge between liberals and blacks. While black voters supported Prop 8 at a 70-30 clip, black voters only cast 10 percent of the votes in California, making their support of Prop 8 less statistically significant than that of Latino voters, who essentially split on the issue, but made up 18 percent of total voters.The real division on Prop 8, and as it turns out, the reason groups like the Mormon Church and Focus on the Family are pushing so hard to get these passed now, is related to age. Remove all voters over 65 from the Prop 8 balloting, and the measure fails. Voters under 30 — a larger demographic in California — opposed the measure 60-40, the same percentage by which voters over 65 supported the measure.Seeing this, groups opposing gay marriage see a window of only one or two more election cycles where same-sex marriage bans are a winning issue. Their hope is that, while in four years they would likely be unable to pass this same bill in California, that the tables will never fully turn to the point where an amendment advocating same-sex marriage would be as popular as amendments banning it are now. Of course, California voters can and will overturn Prop 8, maybe even as early as 2010. But there are many states where same-sex marriage will have 50+1 approval among the population, but still remain too hot an issue to overturn through ballot referendum. We’ll see.

  7. Wikinite says:

    Well, from what I have read in Peoples History of the United States, the ruling class had to do quite a bit to drive a wedge between the various opressed groups, specifically the black slaves, the poor whites, and native americans.

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