Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The good news is you will probably be more learned than the next generation. The bad news is you will probably be more learned than the next generation. Thanks to the conservative majority on the Texas Board of Education who wish to rewrite history to reflect the way our nation should have been founded, the Texas school curriculum will no longer include some of those inconvenient facts, like those in the US Constitution, that might cause students to think that our founders hadn't intended the US to be an ultra-conservative theocracy. They tried earlier to insert creationist dogma into the science curriculum without success, but they've achieved some of their goals by filtering out some of the extraneous and irrelevant characters like the author of the Constitution and third US president, Thomas Jefferson. “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley.
This might not be such a big deal if this enforced ignorance were only limited to the state of Texas, but this has national implications. Unlike most states, Texas buys the same books for the entire state public school system, making them one of the biggest school book purchasers in the US. All the textbook publishers want to win that contract, so they write their text books to cater to the desires of the TX BOE. For the rest of the country, the textbooks available for them to purchase will be slanted toward the bias of Texans. Parents at the other end of the nation may not even realize that their kids' school books have had historical facts replaced with evangelical conservative dogma.
The problem is, as Steven Colbert pointed out, "facts have a liberal bias." Ever since the conservative evangelicals have become a strong voting bloc, they have tried to insert their beliefs into the government and educational system in defiance of the Constitution and the laws. The result is a conservative political policy that reflects the fundamentalist mindset of, "If I believe it, it's true, and no amount of evidence can change my mind." The efforts to inject creationism and Xian ceremonies into the public schools has been part of this, as has been the need for politicians to flaunt their Xian credentials in order to get elected.
We are reaching a point in American culture where actual facts have no value. The dogma handed down by religious leaders and the talking points presented by politicians carry more weight and verisimilitude than all the observable data and documentation that can be presented. To a large percentage of the US population (for young earth creationism, some surveys suggest 40%), Pat Robertson, the TV evangelist, knows more about geology and biology than doctors who have spent their lives actually studying and testing the data, and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative pundit knows more about global warming than the scientists who've been measuring the increasing CO2 % in the air and the decreasing size and thickness of glaciers for decades. A lot of people are only willing to listen to information that reinforces their preconceptions. They rail against opposing views and may react violently to anyone demonstrating the invalidity of their beliefs. And they refuse to learn.
That is the legacy too many people are trying to insure we pass on to our children. Learning to think critcally and analytically is discouraged. Unquestioningly accepting the words of leaders is encouraged. Chastising the intellectually superior while canonizing the dull witted athlete is the norm. Then when the nation turns to crap and other nations become technologically and academically dominant everyone can blame it on the liberals with their elitist, commie, homo, atheist agenda, oh, and the need for more religious zeal.