Monday, March 28

Next Week We'll Be Covering the Crusades, So Remember To Bring Blindfolds and Earplugs

Money quote from John Leland's "Did Descartes Doom Terri Schiavo? in the Sunday New York Times:

...this idea that all life is sacred has exerted a powerful force in America, said Mark A. Noll, a professor of history at Wheaton College, a prestigious evangelical school in Illinois, and the author of "The Old Religion in a New World: The History of North American Christianity. " It fueled the abolitionist movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, which insisted on the humanity of slaves, against the prevailing views of social science. In the early 20th century, the same ideal stood up against eugenics, which advocated forced sterilization to prevent the weakest members of society from reproducing.

Okay, it's a cull-the-Rolodex article, get quotes from four people with some officially sanctioned standing to comment, and don't have anybody respond to anyone else's statements. Professor Noll does what he's called on to do, get his buzzwords into a single paragraph.

One is simply left to hope that the good Professor's students don't graduate with such a single-minded view of history. Let's hope they somehow are made aware that the pro-slavery forces in the US could and did quote their Bibles with equal fervor, that racial relations in this country worsened in the aftermath of the Civil War, and that many of the worst abuses of the eugenics movement occurred in Western, Protestant countries with little objection outside the Catholic Church. We'll leave aside, for the moment, religion-inspired opposition to birth-control information, let alone contraception, and what that meant for the "humanity" of women and the unwavering defense of the poor. But if you mean to tar your opponents with the brush of 19th Century science, you might want to gin up your defense of the Spanish Civil War, or the church's role in the genocide of the Americas, or a couple-thousand years of persecuting Jews, or...

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