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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Yay! It's time for another kolumn from Katherine Kersten. Today, it's all about how ignorant Americans are about their freedoms. The horror, the horror.

Wingnuttia Level: 4 (Hidden agendas and bending of reality ahead)

Yes, it is pretty sad that lots of people don't know the first thing about the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and so forth. Every year, surveys come out that demonstrate how ignorant people are. Jay Leno makes part of his living off of it, I hear. Something needs to be done about it, but Kersten doesn't mention one thing: turning off Fox News. After all, lots of surveys show that people who get most of their news from Fox News are the most ignorant about it. Ditto for programs like Rush Limbaugh. When people listen to the evil, liberal NPR for their news, though, they tend to be a bit less ignorant that Fox News viewers.

Passing over the obligatory potshots at the Profile of Learning (it's dead, get over it), Kersten moves on to ignorance on college campuses. Again, it is true that this a problem. As a fairly regular reader of the Minnesota Daily, the U of M's student paper, it pains me to see that there are real college students who are so stupid they don't know what science is and erroneously think that it applies to Intelligent Design. These people can get into a university? Pathetic. Anyway, Kersten points out that big, evil, liberal universities are so ignorant of the Bill of Rights that they aren't letting students be good little Christians.

Typically, she completely ignores any subtleties and shades of gray in her black-and-white world. Take the University of North Carolina, where "administrators threatened to deny official recognition to the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because it required its leaders to be Christians." Interfering with the free exercise of religion? Maybe. But should the university grant its blessing of recognition to a group that requires its leaders to be white? To be heterosexual? To be male? To have blue eyes? Universities also have the duty to reach out to all of its students in the quest for knowledge. That means being non-discriminatory. Had the IVC not been officially recognized, no students would have been prevented from being Christian. Officially recognizing exclusionary groups, however, shows that the university is not entirely welcoming. Do these finer points elude Kersten's grasp? Yes, each and every one of them.

I'm getting a bit sick about how conservatives like Kersten argue that Christians are so oppressed in the world. Remember last weekend how there was a front-page story in the Star Tribune about how Christians are evangelizing in the workplace? Yep, I sure do. Remember how many atheists have been elected president? I know that one, too. Yes, it's dangerous that Americans don't understand their freedoms. But the danger is of fundamentalist Christians exerting a greater and greater influence on our public and private lives, something that Kersten herself seems to believe in.

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