Republican Party self-destruction is on display in Virginia as the E.W. Jackson, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, is looking foolish for his assertion in a 2008 book that biological evolution is disproven because chimpanzees can’t talk :
“Scientists have made much of the fact that chimpanzees have been trained to use sign language. They take this as proof that primates are our ancestors because they, like us, have ‘language capacity.’ It is amazing the length to which people will go to prove what is so palpably false.”
Scientists don’t claim, as Jackson implies, that humans evolved from chimps, nor do they prove the laws of evolution based on chimps’ use of sign language.
Is Jackson purposely distorting the findings of over a century-and-a-half of scientific inquiry? Or is he just ignorant? Possibly a bit of both! But is this a media-manufactured “gotcha!” moment?
The kook quotient in the GOP is high.
Jackson isn’t alone in his beliefs. A 2012 Gallup survey found that 58 percent of Republicans believe God created humans pretty much in their present form within the past ten thousand years, while 5 percent believe humans evolved but with God guiding the process. So chances are most GOP candidates and officeholders buy into Creationism. If so, they’re mistaken.
But the real issue is whether these GOPers drag these and other religious beliefs into the political arena. Many don’t. They’re concerned foremost about high taxes, out-of-control government spending, skyrocketing debt, and the intrusion of government into our economic lives. Their religious beliefs are personal matters and they can stand with individuals of different denominations as well as secularists in the fight to restore liberty and to limit government.
Last year, for example, Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, dodged a question about Creationism. He didn’t want to offend his religious supporters but said the question “has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow” and he called for “a pro-science and pro-technology” party.
But others, the hard-core social conservatives, reveal different priorities and mindsets when they inject such issues into campaigns and policy discussions. This might mean mandating that their faith-based views about human origins be taught in schools as if they stand on equal footing with the hard-won truths garnered through the scientific process. But in any case, it makes conservatives look foolish. And it often means losing elections by scaring away voters both sectarian and secular.
In 2010, Delaware GOP senate candidate Christine O’Donnell wouldn’t distance herself from her assertion that evolution is a myth, asking, “Why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?” This was one of a string of stupid statements, including an admission that she dabbled in witchcraft. She lost.
Speaking of which, Jackson in Virginia has also claimed that yoga makes one susceptible to satanic possession . And of gay and lesbian pride he tweeted “Yuk!” So his evolution assertion seems one of a string of stupid statements.
The kook quotient in the GOP is too high and the result in the fall could be an election loss in Virginia.
For further information:
*Edward Hudgins, “ Rubio, GOP Stumbling Away From Creationist Nonsense. ” December 4, 2012.
*Edward Hudgins, “ Webinar: An Objectivist Guide to Evaluating Candidates. ” February 27, 2012.
*Edward Hudgins, “ Tea Party Candidates and The ‘Crane Rule’. ” September 28, 2010.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.