The Taliban Blew Up Centuries-Old Buddhas;
Bush Blows Up the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
Over the weekend, the editor of BuzzFlash.com attended the graduation
ceremony at Brandeis University as a proud uncle. There were esteemed
speakers (the Prince of Jordan), notable honorary degree recipients (Tony
Kushner, among them), and dignified protests.
In many ways, our experience reflected those of thousands upon thousands
of Americans attending spring college graduations. One of the great accomplishments
of the United States has been the establishment of a vibrant, innovative,
and accessible public and private college and university system that
is unrivaled in the world.
Since even before its founding as a nation, America has been a leader
in research and scientific advancement in large part due to this vast
advanced educational infrastructure. Many of our scientific and technological
accomplishments (including the Internet) were discovered and created
in the academic world -- and then migrated to government and also privatized
for profit by corporations.
As we sat through the graduation ceremony at Brandeis and listened to
all the lofty words about going forth and doing good, preparing the students
to assume positions of leadership in the nation -- whether it be government,
business, technology, medicine or the arts.... As we sat there, we thought
about a sobering reality.
George W. Bush and his right wing religious zealots have turned their
back on the fruits and accomplishments of our academic system, shunned
the university world as if it is some sort of plague upon religious belief.
Bush is anti-reality, anti-reason and anti-science. His denial of the
catastrophic effects of global warming is just the tip of the iceberg,
so to speak. Throughout this administration, people have been appointed
to the highest positions who simply discard science and reason as a blight
upon their absolute faith in literal Christian scripture.
As surely as the Taliban destroyed, a few years back, an internationally
centuries-old image of
Buddha sculpted into a mountain because it "defiled" Islam, the Busheviks
blast away the Age of Enlightenment and Reason as exemplified by our
incomparable college system.
The second backbone of American innovation has been the lone inventor,
the common man or woman who created great things, given the climate of
inquiry and freedom to break with tradition that was a hallmark of this
nation before the Busheviks assumed power.
Now, we are led by a cabal of extremists who believe that all knowledge
comes from the Bible. We are led by a Christian version of the Taliban.
Bush and his base of "Dominionists" and "Rapture" disciples have more
in common with Islamic fundamentalists in terms of their view of scientific
inquiry and the pursuit of reasoned discourse than we have with either
of them. We, in reality, the believers in both a spiritual and enlightened
world are the enemy of both groups.
It is our misfortune that a believer in one of these extremist viewpoints
is sitting in the White House.
The young graduates at Brandeis and in the hundreds and hundreds of colleges
and universities around the nation represent a hostile force of reason
to the Bush Administration.
As at the end of most college graduations, families and friends gathered
around the graduates taking photos and wishing bright futures.
The class of 2006 in America will need our support, because the very
premise of the academic world -- open inquiry and sound science -- are
under direct attack from their own government.
In this respect, the people of Afghanistan faced a similar fate when
the Taliban, who are experiencing a resurgence, took over their country.
It will be a very challenging environment that these graduates face,
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
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