I hope that you do continue to post comments here at TFP. I don't think many Americans realize how vital high quality education is to this country's ability to survive the changes in the world economy. We have fallen too far behind in vital fields like math and science. Putting a religious concept like 'intelligent' design', for example, on equal par with sound scientific theory is ludicrous and just one example of how we have begun to devalue intellectual honesty. Placing proper value on our teachers is also an important part of this and needs to be reflected in their pay and their benefits.
I look forward to seeing more from you!
Thanks for motivating me to go on posting.
I follow Clay's cartoons since years, but never signed up for posting.
After 5 years in Alabama I came to the conclusion that the US is on a rapid decline in many aspects.
Of course, as you say, education. The level of high-school teaching is frightening.
And the public view towards science is comparable to the middle ages in Europe.
How is this possible in a country who brought people to the moon, or who built an atomic bomb within 2 years??
After the second world war, and after 69, science was valued highly in the public.
How come the reverse in the last 40 years??
My only answer is the influence of the religious right. Maybe I am biased, but I consider the religious right as severe "cancer" for the society in the US.
In Alabama, evolution is in the curriculum, so it appears in the books, BUT it is a secret agreement
between parents and schools that it is NEVER told in school, because it is in the last section of the books and unfortunately there is usually no time for this subject !!!
Still the US has in general the best scientists at US universities, but many of those I know,
are meanwhile thinking of moving to Europe, in particular those who are originally european,
because they cannot bear the politics any longer. If the intellectual class is moving out of the US then good bye and good luck.
Living in the US had its advantages, and I liked it in some sense, but it is great being back in Germany and realizing how relieving it is to live in a society that basically only consists of middle-class, were being a scientist is highly valued, and were people are suspicious if they show their religion (and not the other way round).
Let me tell you a nice anectode. Two days before my family left the US to return to Europe, I was sitting on our community pool talking to a dear friend from Alabama, who shared the same views, on a quiet sunday morning, with no conservatives around.
We were discussing how the US could be changed to the better.
Suddenly he says, making the link to Pakistan, that "drone-strikes" might do in fact the job,
"drone-strikes" on Baptist churches at 10 am on a sunday morning... (-:
Most of my family lives in Germany, and if my husband (who is also European) and I were not tied here by our children, we would return also. I could not bear to see them only a couple of times a year. I have been urging them to leave for a couple of years now, but so far they have not listened; I think they may be starting to consider it, though. The increasingly radicalized religious/political climate has caused many people that we know to flee as well. And like you, we have noticed that it is primarily "the best of the best", top graduate students, educators, medical researchers, climate scientists. Does anyone think about where this country will likely be at the end of this "brain drain"? One thing is certain: it will leave the US in an extremely disadvantaged position from which to compete in the modern world.
The books from Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins may help you in your recovery from the trauma of living in the middle of the Bible Belt. I found them to be very cathartic.
I enjoy your posts. When you write to me, I will receive it more quickly if you post it on my page; just click on my avatar anywhere you find it.
It is refreshing to read your posts, AIA and canary. I too am a fan of Dawkins because his science books are so good. I am not from the south so the last 33 years have been strange ones, to say the least. I find that my lack of belief puts some folks off here. The US is rather insular but the south takes that to an extreme, in my observation. The diversity of the NE and the west coast helps temper this a lot.
It was great to see your e-mail/post this morning. I can see you're still struggling with 'recovery'. Don't worry, it's only been 25 years for me and I'm still working on it! I spent my teenage years and early twenties in the south. Coming from Germany and a largely secular upbringing, it was a shock. I had never heard any racist sentiment until I arrived in the US. My parents' best friends were a mixed race couple and their daughter was my best friend. I couldn't understand why color would be a big deal to anyone. I did later discover that racism was not unique to the south, it mostly was just more out in the open.
In school I faced bigotry of my own. Classmates would make a big show of saluting me and saying "Heil Hitler!"; not fun for a very shy kid.
Whenever I would meet someone, invariably their first question would be "What church do you go to?". When I responded that I didn't go, eyes would widen and some would actually physically recoil as if I had just told them I had leprosy! I tried going to church with friends in an attempt to fit in, but I really didn't like what I saw. Preachers that were semi-illiterate former alcoholics who had suddenly 'seen the light' and were now leading congregations, screaming threats of hell-fire and damnation at their 'flock'. This while the bored parishioners seemed more interested in gossiping about the fashion choices of someone in the next pew than they were in the sermon.
The provincialism, xenophobia, and religious fundamentalism that seemed to pervade nearly every part of southern culture eventually became too much to take. That being said, the people there are mostly friendly, they try to help their neighbors, and the landscape is beautiful.
After two later attempts to 'give religion a chance', I finally came to the conclusion that I simply do not need to believe in the supernatural. I continue to study Buddhism a bit because I find it interesting, meditation is very helpful (when I have the discipline to stick with it), and it does not require any belief in a supernatural being. And medical research is finding meditation to have numerous positive health effects, including control of chronic pain. The Dalai Lama once said that "Buddhism is not a religion, it is a science of the mind".
The natural world is filled with infinite wonder, and science is explaining more of those wonders every day. For the mysteries that we may never understand, I'm OK with those. And to suggest that we can't have a compassionate, just, and moral society without religion is ludicrous.
I have been comfortably and happily insulated here in my very liberal community, but am suddenly realizing that while I wasn't looking, nearly the entire rest of the country has turned into what the south used to be. It concerns me ..... quite a lot.
It's unfortunate that you landed in a community that was so ill-suited to to you and your family. There are pockets of progressive thought in the US. In addition to the obvious, NYC, Chicago, Austin, much of California, Vermont, there are also lesser known communities some of which are listed in this Utne Reader article.
I look forward to sharing more thoughts on religion and related issues with you and with Ikeithlu. Non-theism seems to be the last taboo in this country,... not easy
Sorry, I was unclear; we were close friends with a mixed race family in Germany (we lived near a US army base). That's why the racism in the US south was hard for me to understand. I had never seen that in Germany.
You mentioned "secret Obama supporters". Evangelical friends of mine live in a nearby town that is much more conservative. The pastor at their church had an Obama campaign sign on his lawn. It caused such an uproar in the church that you would have thought that he was promoting pedophilia or something! Some members of the church waged an aggressive campaign not only to remove him from the church, but to destroy this pastor's reputation and have him barred from ever pastoring again. They made it clear that this was based primarily on his support for Obama. The congregation already was unhappy with the pastor because he was too 'intellectual'. My friend was not part of this and tried to intervene on the pastor's behalf, but she remained in the church.....sad. I don't see these friends very often because it takes a lot of effort to bite my tongue when some topics come up.
I too get funny looks, as I should because I work in an Episcopal school. My boss is fully aware that I am a non-believer, and has no problem with it. Some of my students also know; a few find it a bit uncomfortable, like I eat kittens or something. (I prefer babies, but hey, that's just me) I have great respect for religion and the religious in my workplace and community. I actually envy them for their passion on the matter. But envy can't create belief-I have never believed since, oh, believing in Santa. I discarded all of it at that age, but could not say so to anyone. At some level I didn't really understand why I didn't feel what others did, why praying meant nothing and neither did church. I just thought I was weird and perhaps too stupid to get it. Amazing what middle age can do!
Es war sehr gut für die Menschen im Süden zu hören, was Menschen aus weniger religiösen Ländern an sie denken.
Eines der Dinge, die ich am meisten hasse über das Leben in dieser sehr religiöses Land ist, wie die Menschen hier zu sprechen, als ob das Wort Christ ist synanomous mit den Worten tugendhaft, mitfühlend und großzügig. Es ist, als wenn man annimmt, dass sie aufgrund erfunden und halten ein Monopol darauf. Natürlich, wenn Sie nicht in ihrem Gott Sie müssen das Böse zu glauben. Viele Fundamentalisten glauben sogar, dass wenn man nicht an ihn glauben, genau so, dass sie dies tun, Sie sind ein Ketzer. Ich schlafe nachts gut zu wissen, dass wenn sie richtig und ich bin in die Hölle, gehen dann wenigstens das Gespräch in der Hölle wird viel interessanter als in ihrem Himmel. Wir werden von Spinoza, Einstein, Freud, Gandhi, Buddha, Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, und Carl Sagan verbunden werden. Wir können verbrennen, aber wir werden nicht langweilen!
Sie haben die richtige Entscheidung, bekommen Sie Familie aus den USA. Ich glaube nicht, dass die Dinge gut aussehen für die Zukunft hier. Dass der Tee-Party konnte von niemandem ernst genommen werden, ist unglaublich! Vielleicht etwas in das Wasser, damit sich jeder hier dumm! Auch das Leben in einer liberalen Stadt nicht genügend Schutz, wenn die Dinge schlecht zu machen. Ich wünsche, dass wir nach Deutschland, den Niederlanden, oder irgendwo in Skandinavien zu bewegen, aber es ist einfach nicht mehr möglich.
Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut nach all diesen Jahren. Ich nur nutzen, wenn meine Familie besucht aus Hamburg. Also ich bin mit einer E-Mail übersetzen Programm. Ich hoffe, es gibt keine Fehler.
Census estimates show more US blacks moving South By Hope Yen (February 16th, 2011)
Census estimates show more US blacks moving South
by Associated Press
(AP) WASHINGTON — The nation’s blacks are leaving big cities in the Northeast and Midwest at the highest levels in decades, returning to fast-growing states in the once-segregated South in search of better job opportunities and quality of life.
EUROPEANS SAY THEY ARE TOLERANT, BUT OPPOSE IMMIGRATION
Guardian five-country survey reveals 62% see themselves as liberal but many opposed to migration from outside the EU
13/3/2011- People in the EU's leading member states remain loyal to the organisation's founding values of openness and liberalism, the Guardian's five-country poll shows. Despite the economic crisis and the rise of extreme political parties, an overwhelming majority of Europeans describe themselves as liberal – even on issues such as gay rights. More also continue to support the right of people to migrate within the EU in search of work than oppose it. While the results reveal high levels of opposition to EU migration, – notably in Britain – a small overall majority of those polled in France, Germany, Spain, Poland and Britain approve. But attitudes in all countries questioned are less tolerant when it comes to migration from outside the EU. A quarter of Europeans list non-EU migration as the leading or second threat to Europe's future. The poll calls into question Britain's long-standing claim to openness and tolerance: opponents of EU migration in Britain outnumber supporters by two percentage points. In Germany, by contrast,the support for migration outscores opposition by 30 points, with 49% of Germans in favour of the right to move states. In France the net lead is 41 points, with 55% in favour and in Spain the lead is 57 points, with 67% in favour.
However, a narrow plurality are against migration from outside the EU. Across the countries polled opposition stands at 37% against support at 32%. Again, Britain is notably hostile to non-EU migration: 47% say they are against it, while only 20% are in favour – with 23% of Britons saying they are "strongly hostile". By contrast 46% of Poles are in favour against 25% who are against. Poland is the only state among those surveyed where approval leads opposition. In Germany, 30% approve while 37% do not. In France, the figures are 30% to 39% and in Spain 33% to 39%. Overall, 62% of the more than 5,000 people polled across Britain, Germany, Poland, Spain and France say they see themselves as "liberal" rather than "traditional" on social issues. While 24% of Europeans claim to be "very liberal", only 4% think they are "very traditional", in answer to a question specifically asking their approach to issues such as marriage, women's rights and gay rights.
EUROPEAN ANTI-SEMITISM AND XENOPHOBIA ARE LINKED, REPORT FINDS
13/3/2011- Anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia are closely linked among Europeans, and Hungarians and Poles are the most likely to hold extreme anti-Semitic views, according to a new report. The report, "The State of Intolerance, Prejudices and Discrimination in Europe," was released March 11 in the framework of a conference by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank associated with the Social Democratic Party in Germany. The foundation commissioned the new evaluation of a 2008 survey by researchers at the University of Bielefeld of about 1,000 people in eight European countries: Germany, Poland, Holland, Great Britain, Italy, Hungary and Portugal. Asked whether they agree with the statement that "Jews have too much influence in my country," 69.2 percent of Hungarians and 49.9 percent of Poles agreed. The lowest levels were in Holland, with 4.6 percent agreeing. Germany, with 19.6 percent, was in the middle, sociologist Beate Kuepper told JTA in a telephone interview. Kuepper, Andreas Zick and Andreas Hoevermann evaluated the data for the foundation. Scientists found that those with anti-Semitic tendencies also were likely to be xenophobic against other minority groups, including Muslims, as well as resentful of homosexuals and women, Kuepper said. Kuepper said she was most surprised by the fact that Germany's level of anti-Semitism was about average, given the strong public message against anti-Semitism, including the emphasis on Holocaust education. She also said that the results for Poland bore out those of previous studies, which show that religious-based anti-Semitism is extremely high there, at 70 percent. Researchers find, she said, that "lots of Poles will agree" with the statement that Jews today can be blamed for the death of Jesus, "whereas in the Netherlands people would jump out of the phone if you ask them something like that."
I see that you have also been visited by the local censor. Talk about hyperbole and fear mongering! Oh well, one has to consider the source, if you know what I mean. This is a good example of why atheists in this country are so afraid to be frank about what they think of the influence of the religious right. Schade!
Such desperate defensiveness is more than a little sad, don't you think?
I hope you and your family are well and happy.
I'm not sure, after reading comment boards like this one, that you can cure "teh stoopid". People seem more apt to parrot stuff rather than learn anything. In the evolution arena, I blame clergy for scaring people into rejecting reality in order to save their souls.
Thanks for making me smile this morning; I am sick with a bad cold.
Yes, moron is exactly the word that I often want to use when I respond to someone on the far right. These people have more educational opportunity than most of the world's population, yet they prefer to cling to their ignorant beliefs, even when good evidence to the contrary stares them in the face. Reading this forum, I am seeing exactly the type of attitudes that I left the south to get away from. I know that there are also open-minded intelligent people in the south, but reading this, they seem to be the minority. I don't know how they can bear to live there.
The only reason that I write at all is in hopes that those reading who may be more open but not very informed will be exposed to information and ideas that may prompt them to question the ignorant BS that they hear from their family, friends, and Fox 'news'. It is the hope of reaching those few that keeps me from telling some people on this forum exactly what I think of them. If we don't offer an alternative viewpoint to the 'patriots' (LOL) and the so-called 'libertarians', then those narrow ideas are all that some people may hear.
I have had to cut back on my participation and even my reading of the comments because the willful ignorance, bigotry, selfishness, and complete lack of compassion displayed here is really too much to bear; it's toxic. My time would probably be better spent interacting with people that have open minds, open hearts, and both feet grounded in reality. I guess there are just enough of those on the forum to keep me coming back.
BTW; I do think that there is some value in giving people a good kick in the backside when they need it, and I am greatly entertained when you provide that well-deserved kick.
Please see my November 17, 2011 4:34 p.m. post referencing Clay's November 16th cartoon "Occupy / Stupefy.
I couldn't help myself. Tally Ho !