Thursday, March 4, 2010

The truth as a votable issue. . .

Reconciliation looms, as we struggle to reform health care. Somewhere in this messy process, political talking points such as "government takeover of health care" have gained the heft of legitimate concerns. The same politicians who passed pretty massive tax cuts and for seven years paid for wars (or rather did not pay for them) through supplemental funding are now railing against deficit spending. Go figure.

What makes a lot of contemporary politicians run? The truth? The greater good? Their own internal ethics? Greed? A hunger for power? A desperate desire to pander their way to re-election? You tell me.  I'm in a rare gloomy mood this morning, it seems, when it comes to issues of governance.

What I do know is that it takes a critical mass of well-educated voters for the American political system to function effectively.  That's why I was alarmed to see on the front page of this morning's New York Times (amidst news of election strife in Iraq, what's happening in health care, and Hollywood's latest payment structure), an article headed Darwin Foes Add Warming to Targets. 

The article goes on to detail how conservative Christian critics of the Theory of Evolution  run up against separation of church and state in their attempts to require schools to teach Christian creationism as a viable alternative theory. So in the last year or so, they have begun to link their issue to the issue of global warming.

According to the article:
The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.
Okay, let the debate rage, say I. Academic freedom is a good thing. But then I read this:
Last year, the Texas Board of Education adopted language requiring that teachers present all sides of the evidence on evolution and global warming.
And this:
In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week.
“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” the resolution said, “but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life.”
The measure made no mention of evolution, but opponents of efforts to dilute the teaching of evolution noted that the language was similar to that of bills in other states that had included both. The vote split almost entirely along partisan lines in both houses, with Republicans voting for it and Democrats voting against.
And it was brought forcefully home to me that our state legislatures have begun legislating our schools' curricula.

If you believe, as I do, that a good education doth an open-minded person make, do we really want what our kids are taught in school dictated by politicians?

It's a fair question, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. It is a fair question indeed. Restrictions on curricula legislated by politicians is pretty much the definition of brainwashing. Whether from the right or the left of the political spectrum, the argument for "balanced" debate can include references to the religious view of scientific phenomena. Where the Religious Right goes off course is to attempt to legislate religious views into the curriculum or to legislate a particular set of religious morals.
    Theocracy is and always has been a messy and sometimes bloody business.

    As we've seen with the abortion clinic bombings and small plane attacks on government buildings, right wing radicals are very willing to kill you to save you. The politicians who are promoting radical conservative views are literally playing with fire. Legislating radical right wing view into the curricula of our public schools is just one brick in the wall.