I agree with some of your points, but must respectfully agree to disagree on others. My post was, as stated up front, a bit off the wall. (Never try to be intelligent with a raging headache after a bad day; I aimed for the "clear fields"and hit “submit” instead.)
Anyway…the US as the last melting pot?! To be sure, there is a long human record of various groups integrating, with various degress of suceess, into established cultures. But the US was the joke nation, destined to fail, a mongrel conglomeration of no-accounts of no background from anywhere at all. As late as WWII the idea was still in currency that the US (not to mention assorted “colonial” nations) would not be effective on the world stage because, after all, there just wasn’t a sufficient historical depth or unifying cultural identity to make them cohere.
The reference to racial relations is tough. To be sure, the racial history of the US is disgraceful, due to the terrible, immutable fact of slavery. Slavery left a blot and a curse on this country, and we’re still dealing with its legacy, more than two centuries later. On that issue, I would prefer a separate discussion, because it merits more than being a side issue. (No snide slam intended. I think I raised the issue, but I did it badly, as a poorly explained example.)
My point, however badly made, was that the religious fundamentalist bent in the US is just our symptomatic response to insecurity. (With apologies to jti; that was your original question: why?) The previous posters raised some great food for thought, and further reading. So the answers are probably somewhere in the directions they pointed.
But I do maintain that people, any people, retreat into comfortable constructs when they feel insecure of frightened. Islamic fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, rabid nationalism, ethnic purity, “green” extemism, paranormal,; they’re all expressions of the same impulse. People retreat into a tight but “safe” shelll of beliefs the way a turtle retracts into its shell. No need for thought; the answers are obvious.
My point, very badly made, was an attempt to broaden out the view of the issue. The creationist flap in Kansas is just another face of the Monica fiasco. (A politician had a youthful mistress; now THAT one was a shocker. The sound of rapidly hoisted zippers in Washington could be heard all the way to Seattle.) But, as expensive and silly and loud as the whole thing was, the underlying stability remained. It caused a lot of hilarity and ridicule, here and abroad, but it all settled out.
Perhaps because I live in the middle of this particular stage of human theater I don’t get too upset over it. (Okay, complacency, willfull ignorance; take your best shot. You may be right.) The creationist idiocy in Kansas will be reversed, and probably relatively soon.
Politicians are scared spitless of confronting vocal Christian groups. Banning the teaching of evolution does not enjoy great mainstream support. Sooner or later the moderate majority will get sick of the ridicule and nonsense and speak up, then the politicians will wrap themselves in the warm, fuzzy blanket of the polls and reverse themselves.
As far as damaging or limiting kids, I doubt it. Until this whole ludicrous flapdoodle blew up, I’d bet even money that a lot of those tender, impressionable young minds would have let the whole issue of evolution drift in one ear and right out the other. It would have been one more bit of wallpaper in the curriculum. BUT the religious extremists put big neon signs on the whole issue, marking it as hot, dangerous and forbidden. Even the dutiful kids who accept the prohibition will–if not now, sometime–start to wonder. Sometime, as their long lives unfold, a lot of them will question WHY they were prohibited to learn. I doubt if there is a more potent means to encourage thought.
Anyway, my thanks to the posters for some food for thought, and apologies to jti for side-tracking his excellent question. Living in the middle of this bit of human street theater, I had never occured to me to ask, “why?”. (smacks heel of hand, hard, to forehead.)