Recent events have caused speculation that the current Republican Party is anti-science.
For a nation that values its traditional science and technology edge over most of the rest of the world, it is somewhat astonishing that so many Republican politicians treat science as unproven theory or disregard it completely.
When Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., made his now-infamous remark that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” won’t get pregnant, it was immediately noted that Akin, who is running for a Senate seat, is a member of the House Science and Technology Committee.
Akin, who is firmly against abortion for any reason, apologized for his appalling lack of knowledge about biology, but he immediately got $100,000 in campaign donations from sympathetic Republicans.
During a formal debate in 2008, GOP presidential candidates were asked if any of them did not believe in evolution. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and now a TV talk-show host, raised his hand. So did Sam Brownback, a former senator from Kansas and its current governor. And so did Tom Tancredo, a former member of the House of Representatives from Colorado.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was a candidate for president this year, boasted that his state taught creationism, as well as evolution, so students can make up their own minds.
Michele Bachmann, a House member from Minnesota and a former 2012 presidential candidate, insists that the theory of evolution is “controversial” among scientists.
No, ma’am, it is not. Evolution has been proven for centuries. No true scientist denies it. That does not mean there is no God, but to deny the theory of evolution is to have no respect for facts.
Many Republicans also disavow climate change, the source of extreme weather outbreaks around the globe, caused by man-made carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere.
Again, while this inexplicably has been treated as a political football, true scientists around the globe are firmly convinced of the reality of climate change and what is causing it.
But Mitt Romney, the GOP top dog who may become president, says he does not know what is causing climate change and, furthermore, is convinced that the government would be wrong to spend money to address the issue for future generations.
The Republican platform, the statement of what the party officially stands for, opposes abortion for any reason, including rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Thus, a 14-year-old girl who gets pregnant after being a victim of statutory rape (a serious crime) or incest would have no recourse but to carry the child to term, no matter the consequences to her or her family. And when that child is born, the party wants to cut spending available for infant nutrition, child care and medical care.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Romney’s running mate, co-sponsored legislation to ban abortion. Now he says he must accept Romney’s position that abortion should be legal only for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Ryan said this is a “step in the right direction” of banning abortion entirely.
Ryan and Romney, who want to cut taxes for the rich, also propose across-the-board spending cuts (except for the military), including drastic cuts in student loans and government safety nets for the poor and for unwed mothers.
The party platform also says the only government family planning tool that should receive tax dollars is the teaching of abstinence.
The party opposes same-sex marriage, an indication that it thinks homosexuality is a revocable choice, not a biological fact — another example of denying science, leading to a denial of equal rights.
Bill Nye the Science Guy told MSNBC that being “anti-science” at this point in history is very serious.
Yes, it is. And we thought we were going to have a serious discussion of the economy and how to provide more jobs, and balance spending, taxes and the role of government.
Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.