And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The Book of Genesis, 2:16-17I don't spend much time wondering about who will head the Republican National Committee, but I did happen to glance through this article. And was rewarded with these utterly stupefying remarks from former ambassador to Luxembourg and would-be RNC Chair Ann Wagner:
I left after four years of living in and around socialism. What it really did on a daily basis for me and my children, and my husband...it deepened our love, our appreciation, and our respect for America. I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe in the soul of America and the things that make us, not better, but unique.Think about this for a second. Four years as the American ambassador to one of the smallest and most easily traversed countries on the continent, and she can't tell the difference between socialism and a constitutional monarchy.
The half million people living in Luxembourg would no doubt be surprised to discover that their application of democratic capitalism is in fact a socialist worker's paradise. Many of them, though, might wonder exactly what Ms. Wagner finds so threatening about an unemployment rate of 6%, a deficit of 5%, the 16th-best health care system in the world, the third-highest GDP per capita in the world, and an income per capita of nearly $61,000. If this is socialism, we should welcome it with open arms.
Not that I really think that Ann Wagner or any of these fools know what socialism is. (But an ambassador? Even a Bush appointee?) It's become one of many meaningless catch-alls for "not like us," another casualty in the right's assault on the English language -- in its assault on meaning itself. That is, I think, at the root of right-wing paranoia: The fear of knowledge and the dread places it might lead. To them, knowledge is not a path to enlightenment, but the road to uncertainty and doubt. What to any sane person is the signal trait of humanity is to them the devil in disguise, with the black president nothing less than the beguiling serpent in the Eden of America.
They'd like nothing more than to return the apple to the tree. Try as they might, though, it's been plucked and we're the better for it.