I'm reading a fascinating book on the early history of migrations in America. The thesis of the author is that Native Americans took a shoreline route from Asia to Tierra del Fuego, and not the land-bridge route that was formerly the received wisdom. When he talks about opposition to the shoreline route, he makes it clear that they are wrongheaded, pigheaded, and headed for a fall, but he is still respectful. Only one time does he blow his stack, and that's when he's talking about a group of people who think at least some of the Native Americans were Caucasian (an idea that has been around for a long time, by the way). He speaks of their arguments as "spewing venom," and gets kinda nasty about the whole thing.
He's right, I think. The "Europeans in America in 13000 BCE" idea is a little much. But why the fury? Why the names, the insults, the rancor? After all, they are no more wrong than the land-bridge people.
It's because these people have hit one of the froth-at-the-mouth buttons: race. The author of the book can't help himself. He has to come unglued. There are a number of such buttons, on both left and right sides of the aisle. Race is one, of course. Abortion, guns, sexual identity are three more. When folks light on these topics, they cease being rational beings and become robots. As soon as the topic of guns comes up, people rush to the ramparts to do battle on one side or the other. Our own Salt Lake Tribune weighed in today on guns, for example. They decried a move to make Utah's concealed carry permits good in other states. "Oh, sure," they opined, "that will make us safer." Well, actually, it will. And that's not just me talking. That's dyed in the wool, rock solid, brass plated, academic research. More guns equals less crime. Or, as Robert Heinlein put it, "An armed society is a polite society." Have I quoted that before? I'm having a burst of deja vu here. But that's not the point. The point is that if I rubbed the corporate nose of the Tribune in the facts, smothered them with data, their editorial position wouldn't change. Guns are the devil and that's all there is to it. Gays are perverts and that's all there is to it. All races are entirely equal and that's all there is to it. Sex except to make children is evil and that's all there is to it. Don't be smug, liberals, you do it too. Don't be cocky conservatives, you do your fair share. And me, so do I.