If Ann Coulter is now a RINO, can I take my checkers and go home?

In what I think is a very important post titled "Ideological War Spells Doom for America's Schoolkids," Zombie touches on an issue near and dear to my heart which I have ranted about for many years. That is the way the culture war tends to be exacerbated by increasingly extreme ideological positions at both ends.

As I keep saying, they fuel each other, and drive normal people away, leaving the playing field to themselves.

I won't live forever, and because of the nature of repetitive blogging, it sometimes feels as if I am preaching to a choir consisting of myself. (See my long collection of posts in "Sinners and scolds, feasting together in a cornucopia of collusion!") So nothing makes me happier than seeing an articulate blogger like Zombie saying what he is saying:

In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn't be more different. And the stakes couldn't be higher. Unfortunately, whichever side wins -- your kid ends up losing.

That's because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught -- and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world. Long gone are the days when classrooms were for learning: now each side sees the public school system as a vast indoctrination camp in which future culture-warriors are trained. The problem is, two diametrically opposed philosophies are struggling for supremacy, and neither is willing to give an inch, so the end result is extremism, no matter which side temporarily comes out on top.

Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable -- and yet they are currently the only two choices on the national menu.

Please read it all.

That this is happening in America is just awful. I have tried to joke about how the obsession with things like condoms on bananas serve as a distraction from whether children are getting a basic education.

The process is fueled by the unbearable old "you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem!" meme. Here's Zombie:

Innumerable liberal critics condemn the anti-science and partisan revisionist lunacy coming out of the Texas school board meetings. And you know what? The criticisms hit home. It's next to impossible for a sensible person to defend the TSBE's often ridiculous proposals.

On the other side of the fence, you'll find countless conservative pundits and angry parents increasingly outraged by the ever-escalating political correctness and equally egregious (but mirror-image) historical revisionism which dominates public schooling away from the Texas sphere of influence. And you know what? They're right too. Left-wing activists have basically taken control of the educational system and have for years been brazenly transforming it into a training ground for young radicals.

But what you won't find is anyone willing to say that BOTH sides are unacceptable. (Until now, that is. I'm saying it.) Either you're on the left and you bash the Texas standards, or you're on the right and you bemoan the progressive curriculum. Each published criticism only tells half the story, so the argument never goes anywhere, since each side refuses to even acknowledge the points made by the opposition.

The worst part is the way the two sides help each other win, by freezing out everyone else. So they end up engaged in a ridiculous tug of war, and the result is mutual enablement -- in this case a hodgepodge of Foucault multiculturalist drivel and Falwell anti-intellectual idiotarianism. Hey, but if those are the only "choices" because no one can stand being in the same room with shrill advocates, then the result is a triumph of the combined forces of authoritarian idiocy.

Another example of the way the shrillest of culture war nuts drown out common sense is over the gay issue. And I do not mean the debate over gay marriage.

For many years, I have tried to point out here that here is something that the gay left and the anti-gay right very much want in common:

anti-gay bigotry in the Republican Party.

Yet the majority of Republicans (and the majority I have seen in the Tea Party movement) are by no means anti-gay. Sure, they don't support the gay left and its ridiculous demands, and many disapprove of gay marriage, but where it comes to basic lifestyle tolerance -- simple acknowledgment of gays as citizens with a right to be left alone in their bedrooms, the overwhelming majority of conservatives have no argument with that. However, an increasingly noisy group of anti-gay conservative activists does have a major argument with that. They do not believe in tolerance for gays on any level, and they think gay conservatives are a "fifth column." They shrilly attack conservatives who disagree with them and call them "RINOS" not for being RINOS -- but simply for being insufficiently anti-gay, and for not toeing the line of the anti-gay right. Even Ann Coulter -- who is about as conservative as it is possible to be -- has now incurred their wrath. Why? Simply because she agreed to speak to a group of gay conservatives. Anti-gay leader Brian Camenker was apoplectic, and WorldNetDaily retaliated by canceling her appearance at their "Taking America Back" conference -- but Coulter didn't exactly take that lying down.

The mechanics operate in the same manner that Zombie describes in his post about education. Just as you're given the choice of being an anti-gay bigot or a homo-loving RINO, you also have to be either a Darwin hater or a Marxist multiculturalist!

Ditto abortion. The more extreme the activists get in their demands, the less likely reasonable people are to be heard. But I am repeating myself. Again.

I am hardly alone in noticing that like-minded, single-issue activists often associate with -- and tend to exclusively surround themselves with -- other like-minded, single-issue activists. The result is what many call an echo chamber -- or "the choir." But I think "echo chamber" and "choir" are less than accurate terms, because the implication is that people are simply getting together and agreeing with each other in groups. When group dynamics are factored into single issue fanaticism, a lot more happens than mere group agreement. Because people are naturally competitive, many activists want to prove to the group that they are not only devoted to the cause, but more devoted than the others. This leads to extreme hyperbole, and the taking of positions which normal people would consider laughable.
So the normal people tend to leave these people to have the playing field to themselves.

This is a big mistake. Normal people possessed of common sense need to be speaking up. But few will dare cross an ideologically extreme activist.

Which is why my hat's off to Zombie.

UPDATE (9/02/10): Wow, thanks everyone for all the great comments! And thank you, Glenn Reynolds, for linking this post!

(I've been outa comish the past couple of days, and I guess the title of this post reflects it....)

posted by Eric on 08.30.10 at 08:44 PM










Comments

Too many fundies have sort of spiritual dyslexia in reading the exhortation to be "wise as serpents, harmless as doves."

They seem as venomous as serpents and as about as smart as a hapless dove.

Joan of Argghh!   ·  August 30, 2010 9:00 PM

the theory of evolution is a theory no? like to see some repeatability like gravity.

newrouter   ·  August 30, 2010 9:09 PM

I'm no longer a RINO. I registered as a Democrat this year so I am now a DINO.

Donna B.   ·  August 31, 2010 1:35 AM

The same dichotomy that has a grip on our political parties.

I'm a tenther and I would like to see the federal government out of the education arena. If public education were turned back to state responsibility, we would likely see some desirable variation among states and families could do more home schooling.

Any legal education requirements mandated by the state should only be to make citizens who can function effectively within our society. Specific vocational and professional pursuits as well as broad liberal educations should be private individual responsibilities.

Bob Thompson   ·  August 31, 2010 3:30 PM

Eric, I don't think this kind of radical dichotomy exists as much in the "real world" as it does on the web. For some reason, blogs (and comments) tend to leave the vast middle on these issues out in the cold. It doesn't matter what the subject is; the radicals with always turn out.

On the other hand, I find that my friends and neighbors see a lot more nuance in these issues. That's a good thing.

Rob   ·  August 31, 2010 4:45 PM

Apparently it's not just zombies that need brains...

setnaffa   ·  August 31, 2010 6:33 PM

So Joseph Farah wants Ann Coulter to speak only to (his kind of) conservatives? But I bet he doesn't take steps to keep WeirdNutDrooly away from them God-hatin' libruls (meaning "everyone else").

Ann Coulter has the presence of mind to recognize she doesn't need his approval to validate her work. Too bad Farah doesn't have the same presence of mind.

gus3   ·  August 31, 2010 6:35 PM

If Farah's idea of America requires everyone to follow his religion, then he can count me out.

If people can't figure out how to govern by reason alone, then they don't deserve to be free.

brian   ·  August 31, 2010 6:43 PM

"I urge you to beware the temptation of pride --the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault..."

...or not. It does feel good to act Canadian once in a while.

DaveyB   ·  August 31, 2010 6:47 PM

Um, no. The costs of electronic text books will be quite low. Decentralize power, duh.

wizard61   ·  August 31, 2010 6:58 PM

The lefty nutjobs have control of the left half of the arena. The conservative whackjobs do not have anything like control of the right half of the arena. They are the loopy members of a big conservative tent and they don't bother me one bit because they don't have power and because they sometimes have something important to say, however monomaniacally they might say it.

The left is well-served by otherwise sensible conservatives' deciding to relegate themselves to moderacy because of an hegemony of nuttiness on the right. They will vote Libertarian or give up altogether, allowing you-know-who to win elections. Also, I don't understand "daring" to speak up. I feel I can say anything I like amongst conservatives. I rarely confront an intolerant bigot amongst them. Of course, there are a few nutjobs. So, what?

Jim Ryan   ·  August 31, 2010 7:07 PM

The obvious answer to all this is to give everyone (below a certain income) a voucher and let them choose the ideology they desire for their kids.

Beyond the ability to read and add/subtract, all information has some ideological content. So let the parents decide.

I don't know if I agree with everything the Texas board has done, but I bet they are more receptive to this idea than the left. That's because the left has been driving school ideology for far longer than the right - and been far more successful. Bill Ayres isn't a education professor for no nothing.

james   ·  August 31, 2010 7:12 PM

I don't see both sides as quite equal.

Some TSBE positions or members' statements may be nutty, but they at least want to teach facts and history (perhaps with a few nutty caveats).

"However, an increasingly noisy group of anti-gay conservative activists does have a major argument with that."

And this group influences who? The trajectory, as you note, is more tolerance than ever in history.

mockmook   ·  August 31, 2010 7:21 PM

You are so right! ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD RENOUNCE ALL CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE VOTERS!!! ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD TELL CONSEFRVATIVE CHRISTIAN VOTERS NOT TO VOTE FOR THEM!!! The author of this blog post should lead the way. He should promise never to vote for any politicians who are for restricting abortion. We've got to get these Conservative Christian voters out of politics. Our only chance is to exclude all voters and all politicians who believe in the principles of the Conservative Christian voters.

rrrrrroger   ·  August 31, 2010 7:33 PM

I wonder, do you people find it the least bit queer that the people who actually do stand up to liberal indoctrination in the schools, and fight back against it, are the ones opposed to Darwinism?

Don't you find it strange that on these school boards the champions of Darwinism, the people who wage cruel war against the will of the people and force it down the throats of impressionable children, are all liberals?

Doesn't that strike you guys as strange? Why do you think liberals, the kind that have taken over the education system outside of Texas and parts of the South, are so desperate to exterminate any and all opposition to Darwinism in the public schools?

Isn't it the least bit intriguing that the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, ooga-booga bible thumpers are the ones who are fighting for “free enterprise” to be taught in school? That they're the ones who believe in the innate goodness of this country and want the the school system to teach that to the younglings? While the people who hate this country, who think it is an inherently evil, racist, sexist, crypto-fascist hellhole and champion socialism, are the ones fighting to the bloody end to keep Darwin in the textbooks. They don't want the Founding Fathers to get more than a paragraph combined, but they can't get enough Darwin.

Isn't that interesting? At all?

DaveyB   ·  August 31, 2010 7:36 PM

There will be few takers for the appropriately-named Zombie and his approach. For one thing, it isn't true. Zombie relied exclusively on hard Left sources to make his case against those dastardly Christianists. I used to teach in the Texas public school system, and what he claims is flat-out false. I think he let his Darwin fundamentalism override common sense.

For another, Zombie is doing the same song and dance I have seen from "moderate" Republicans for years - actively courting the Left by playing upon their fashionable Christophobia. All Zombie will accomplish is to alienate potential friends without winning any concessions from the al Qaeda Left. Just ask Arlen Specter ask how well that approach worked.

If my choice is between the militantly secular Left's multicultural jihad and the only slightly less dangerous "A pox on both your houses!" approach being pushed by folks like Zombie, then I vote "Present".

Mwalimu Daudi   ·  August 31, 2010 7:39 PM

To HELL with Eric Scheie.

S. Levi   ·  August 31, 2010 7:48 PM

The author says he is fighting for "classical values" aka Judeo-Christian values.

Puh-lease.

brackworth   ·  August 31, 2010 8:01 PM

If people can't figure out how to govern by reason alone, then they don't deserve to be free.

A group of people claimed they were building a society like that once. They called it 'Scientific Atheism'. It did not work very well in the former Soviet Union and I don't want to try it here.

Dawnsblood   ·  August 31, 2010 8:05 PM

People are telling me that I am wrong. They tell me we should not get Christian Conservative voters (christers, christianists, fundies, as superior people call them) out of politics. They should stay in politics, and continue to vote, these people say, but only vote for candidates who oppose their political principles. They should vote only for people who support evolution taught in the state schools, unrestricted abortion and whatever rights gay Americans are asking for. If that plan would work I would support it. But how can you make them vote for things they don't believe in? Until somebody gives me the answer to that question, we must get tham a out of politics. ALL POLITICANS MUST RENOUNSE THEIR SUPPORT. All responsible voters, starting with Zombie and Eric, must publicly announce that they will never vote for any politician who supports their issues.

rrrrrroger   ·  August 31, 2010 8:09 PM

Just to answer rrrroger and DaveyB's assertions: I appreciated Zombie's piece and I think that he is on to something.

I know that you folks have a whole corpus of work detailing all of the "failings" of Darwinian Biology: a logical, airtight case that suffers only one problem - it isn't actually true because it ignores all evidence it cannot discount. I cannot fathom how you fail to see that you cannot throw out scientific biology without discarding almost the entirety of science - including that which feeds you, heals you, transports you and lets you type comments on the internet. It is one part of an integrated whole.

I am a religious man and, like you, I find the Lefty, PC intrusions on education appalling. But, sorry, you lose me as soon as you begin insisting that a scientific principle as solidly grounded as evolution is the exclusive province of Liberals and people who "hate this country." It isn't.

You are simply losing your way in the wilderness when you start seeing enemies behind every scientific textbook rather than focusing on those who are truly undermining education in the US.

Wildmonk   ·  August 31, 2010 8:13 PM

Eric. Your not entitled to your own facts. The Texas Board of Education drives liberals crazy because they are in the Right! This has nothing to do with the proposed standards and regulations, which the majority of Texans support.

norinos   ·  August 31, 2010 8:43 PM

What's ironic is that both Zombie and Eric are arguing for the exact same thing their evil Christianists are: purity of thought. The underlying proposal: The fundies should have no say unless what they are going to say agrees with Eric, who, by (his) definition, is a normal guy with common sense.

How convenient!

You know, it's easy to go find scads of people saying what Eric and Zombie are saying about the radical Christians. But since those Christians think they actually have a right to try to influence policy, Eric and Zombie are suddenly speaking truth to power.

Give me a break.

rrr   ·  August 31, 2010 8:47 PM

How about the correct url:

http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/105464/

M. Simon   ·  August 31, 2010 8:58 PM

The Godless Left...they want to change the founders ideal of freedom OF Religion to freedom FROM Religion...

jacksonspry   ·  August 31, 2010 8:59 PM

Libs bemoaned the fact that American History texts didn’t emphasize slavery and civil rights, while de-emphasizing the constitution.

DBCJR   ·  August 31, 2010 9:02 PM

The socialist education system forced upon us by Progressives and their Christian allies is the #1 source of intolerance in our country.

The Christians ought to be apologizing for having such despicable allies.

M. Simon   ·  August 31, 2010 9:08 PM

The thing with evolution is it's not something you can easily demonstrate, like gravity.

You take an apple, you drop it and it falls. You can use fairly simple math to calculate how it falls.

Evolution, well, how do you demonstrate it? You can't, you just point to the fossil records. Indeed, a lot of the things you can do, like say, dog breeding, seems to show otherwise.

I mean, you can breed a dog that looks like cat. But at the end of the day, it's still a dog.

Anyway, because of this, I don't see why people get so hung up on it. If it's wrong or right, how exactly does it have a practical application on everyday life? It doesn't. OMG, if people don't believe it, they are anti-science, like they want to live in a stone age hut. No, they just don't think it's proven. But even biological sciences is it's irrelevant, as it's mostly chemistry, which is proven.

It's something people should just agree to disagree on, and teach hard science. Like actual organic chemistry, not going into the why, but the how

JeremyR   ·  August 31, 2010 9:16 PM

That is the way the culture war tends to be exacerbated by increasingly extreme ideological positions at both ends.

And again, the mainstream mind decries a situation while missing its own role in bringing it about.

I'll just bullet it for brevity:

Zombie commits the error:

In one camp are conservative Christians and their champion, the Texas State Board of Education; in the other are politically radical multiculturalists and their de facto champion, President Barack Obama. The two competing visions couldn't be more different. (Bolding mine.)

Zombie than identifies the fact that these two visions actually share a fundamental trait (that means: they are not different, but alike in a key respect:

That's because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught -- and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world.

And then, walks right by that fact into the trap anyway:

"Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable -- and yet they are currently the only two choices on the national menu.

How can Zombie go on believing that there are any choices at all, when it's plain that what is there, is two variants of a single choice: dictators?

You also get so tantalizingly close:

The worst part is the way the two sides help each other win, by freezing out everyone else. So they end up engaged in a ridiculous tug of war, and the result is mutual enablement -- in this case a hodgepodge of Foucault multiculturalist drivel and Falwell anti-intellectual idiotarianism. Hey, but if those are the only "choices" because no one can stand being in the same room with shrill advocates, then the result is a triumph of the combined forces of authoritarian idiocy.

(All emphasis mine.)

So the solution is obviously: anti-authoritarian intelligence, yes? You're sooooo close!

But no, you get deflected from making that last step, by that thrice-damned meme which exists entirely for that purpose and no other: "extremism".

Extreme what?

The problem here is that the two "choices" are not different at all, but the same choice in different clothes. Their goals are wrong in principle.

They are indeed "extreme" (read: consistent where it matters: on their common pursuit of power), but the antidote is not a mealymouth pragmatism of compromises aimed at a "moderate" pursuit of power, but a principled opposition to the existence of that power at all.

To wit: abolish socialized education. Remove the mechanism of dictating anything.

Unfortunately, you have already taken yourself off the battlefield for fear of being "extreme" -- and thusly you are neutralized, taking your checkers home. And that's the whole point of the "extremism" meme -- to neutralize and morally disarm people who are smart enough to realize that something's wrong, via the threat of being labelled "extreme".

Should there be someone who sees through the fraud and still take a principled stand, the authoritarians simply flip the "extremism" sword around and use it as a shield. Suddenly, they becomes the ones wearing the "moderate" mantle, and will attack their actual opposition as "too extreme" in order to push them off the political table. (Nevadans will recognize Harry Reid's re-election strategy here.) They are assisted in this process by the "anti-extremists" and "moderates" until the latter are all that remain. Then, the authoritarians simply wring one compromise after another out of the "pragmatists" until they are empty, bereft of anything left to stand for... and all that will remain in the arena, once more, will be the uncompromising "extremist" authoritarians to fight over the spoils of all those compromises.

That's how this situation you are decrying got this way, and that's how the "extremism" meme helped bring it about.

That's how the notion of government control of your kids become "settled science", a non-controversial piece of the Machine of State that they need in common, the control of which can be fought over later.

If you want to see the situation change, snap out of your pragmatic fog. "Extremism" is a content-free meme, a logically unusable and meaningless concept; treat it accordingly and delete it from your mind.

Seerak   ·  August 31, 2010 9:23 PM

Wildmonk,
There is a difference in quality between the Science of Optics which I'm using right now for my eyeglasses, and is therefore proven to work, and say the comment made by a String Theorist who said that we would not have machines to test his theory for a hundred years. So too, between Fluid Dynamics and SETI, or between Gravity and Darwinism.

I can test gravity right now. And I can repeat my experiment. Others can repeat my experiment. Unexpected implications of this thing called Gravity can be tested, such as satellites falling around planets in an orbit, and they work.

On the other hand, I can't test Darwinism. And worse, most of the evidence that we do have, such as the Fossil Record, supports Special Creation. Notably, Darwin's biggest opponents in the early days were not churchmen, but paleontologists (although they were called something different back then.)

Damaging Anthroprogenic Global Warming, err, Climate Change, and Darwinism have some similarities. Both are pushed by the Left. Both have a history of hiding evidence, and hoaxes. Both rely on gov't cheese to stay afloat. Both are contrary to known science. Both are part of a conspiracy to create totalitarianism.

Eric A   ·  August 31, 2010 9:37 PM

And Seerak,
I'd love to get the gov't out of education (and Science!). I suspect most on the Right would love to, or would accept getting rid of socialized education. We were driven into politics as self-defense.

Eric A   ·  August 31, 2010 9:48 PM

A commenter at my place left a very interesting link along the lines of this discussion.

Joan of Argghh!   ·  August 31, 2010 9:52 PM

I guess the new creationist meme is that "darwinism" can't be tested or demonstrated like the theory of gravity - so therefore it is bad science. Wow.

I'm sorry, but the comments on this post are embarrassing. Who are these people and where do they come from?

mph   ·  August 31, 2010 9:53 PM

No, Joan. Evolution, at least in my eyes, does not qualify as science because it does not make any falsifiable predictions. Its explanations are always ex post - organisms look like what they look like because it was advantageous to look that way. It's eerily similar to the anthropic principle, which I also don't consider as scientific. But others disagree. You see, maybe you can be so sure of your enlightened position only because you're so darn ignorant...

Mike   ·  August 31, 2010 10:29 PM

Having just attended GECCO 2010 - the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference - and ALIFE XII - the twelfth international conference on Artificial Life - hearing people argue about Evolution is like an Astronomer working on Stellar Evolution hearing about arguments for a Flat Earth.
Yes, Macro-Evolution has been demonstrated in labs. And yes, we have a pretty good handle on pre-biotic evolution that explains biogenesis, how life can evolve from non-living material.
Can we prove that it did? No, no more than we can prove that diamonds took millions of years to form within the mantle. Can we prove that it could have? Oh yeah.
Consider the Brazil Nut effect. Take a bowl full of mixed nuts - cashews, peanuts, almonds etc.
Shake them slightly, randomly. The large Brazil nuts end up on top, even though no-one deliberately picks them up and puts them there. It's just a consequence of the laws of physics that some systems are self-organising.
One can argue that some External Power set up the Universe in a way where Life became inevitable, and would evolve. Certainly we have no reason to believe that the Universe had to have been set up this way - just that it was.
But as for Supernatural Intervention - it may have happened, and we can't prove that it didn't. Just that it's not necessary, any more than a Deity hurling thunderbolts is necessary to explain lightning.

Zoe Brain   ·  August 31, 2010 10:30 PM

Whether Darwinism is true or not is really irrelevant in this matter. On one hand we have the TSBE, whose curriculum--in Zombie's own estimation--is pro-American and written by people who genuinely care about the country and the values it was founded upon... but it waters down evolution.

On the other hand are the liberal social engineers who engage in the most vile anti-American propaganda to--again, taking Zombie's own words--destroy this country BUT they'll enthusiastically teach Darwin!

And for Zombie and Eric these are equally bad choices! A pro-American, pro-economic liberty & literacy curriculum with some evolution lite vs. a buffet of liberal hate-America-first revisionism with a heaping helping of socialist indoctrination, but it comes with all the Darwinism you can eat, and they need a minute to think it over!

It says something about them that Darwinism is more important to them than everything else. What the heck! That this is the hill they're going to die on is perverse. Even if Darwinism were true, to throw away everything else just for it puts the real issue with them into perspective. If Texas refused to teach “climate change” would Eric and Zombie agonize over it? What if the TSBE didn't want to devote a lot of textbook space to M-Theory? Would Eric and Zombie wail and gnash their teeth and cry out about those crazy Christians embarrassing them?

Why does Darwinism matter so G-D much to them. It really says a lot.

Anonymous   ·  August 31, 2010 10:34 PM

The Godless Right would like to be free from religion as well.

M. Simon   ·  August 31, 2010 10:42 PM

IMHO, what we're seeing here is another manifestation of the current power struggle between the GOP Establishment (the old coalition of social conservatives with Lindsey Graham types) versus the Tea Partiers, who are mostly concerned about small-government and fiscal issues.

Just like the libs, the Establishment GOP has had its way for almost 30 years now, and these folks aren't going to give up easy.

We may have to resort to tar and feathers.

Meanwhile, I would suggest that we ponder for a minute the irony of social conservatism, which seeks to use the sword of Caesar to accomplish the LORD's work.

Mike C   ·  August 31, 2010 10:50 PM

Eric, I usually enjoy your posts. In particular, I'm mostly in favor of the separation of school and state.

On this one post, however, I'm not sure what *specifically* (not based upon hearsay) is being objected to in the Texas standards. If you could spare the time, I'd appreciate your pointing it out to me. A link to the Texas Education Agency's curriculum standards:

http://tinyurl.com/27pnd2e

CBI   ·  August 31, 2010 11:12 PM

Sorry: I hit the "post" button to early.

Following is the High School curriculum requirements in Texas, from the official website; I'm not sure I see what the complaint is. I wonder how much original research Zombie did before posting -- or am I missing something?

"In the Biology course students study a variety of topics that include: structures and functions of cells and viruses; growth and development of organisms; cells, tissues, and organs; nucleic acids and genetics; biological evolution; taxonomy; metabolism and energy transfers in living organisms; living systems; homeostasis; ecosystems; and plants and the environment. Students learn how nucleic acids are involved in the formation of an organism and the inheritance of traits. Students learn to use Punnett squares and probability to find possible genotypes and phenotypes. Students understand the relationship between ecology, evolution and genetic principles. They understand differences between bacteria and viruses. Food webs and the cycling of nutrients in ecosystems are learned as well as the significance of structures and adaptations of both animals and plants."

CBI   ·  August 31, 2010 11:17 PM

There is nothing remotely "conservative" about accepting homosexuality. Homosexuality was not accepted by our forefathers, it is not accepted by Judaism or Christianity. Throughout America's (and Great Britain's) history it has been recognized as unnatural and against the will of God. The fact that Ann Coulter accepts it doesn't make it conservative. It makes in currently popular in certain quarters, and she belongs to one of those quarters.

Rick   ·  August 31, 2010 11:56 PM

Joan,
I read some of your link. Even taking its arguement seriously, there is a problem.

89% of Americans are Creationists in some form or another.
50% are Creationists, straight up. 39% are of the variety 'Well, Evolution happened, but it was God's tool.'
So, we have 11% Darwinian Fundamentalists who believe in a religious proposition called Materialism, and who almost all of them are Lefties.

Hmmm, what to do, what to do?

Eric A   ·  September 1, 2010 12:02 AM

39% are of the variety 'Well, Evolution happened, but it was God's tool.

Which would make them in part allies of the 11% materialists. Hmmmmmm. 39 + 11 = 50.

It seems that the 50% is ill represented. Of course Texas could be different.

But of course there are alternatives even for Texas.

Vouchers

I guess they are a threat to indoctrinators everywhere.

M. Simon   ·  September 1, 2010 12:11 AM

M. Simon,
I'd love vouchers, and so would most of the Conservatives.

Now the Left, OTOH...

Eric A   ·  September 1, 2010 12:19 AM

Umm, isn't zombie a girl?

nightwitch   ·  September 1, 2010 2:26 AM

The "purity arms race" is exactly what happened with Red Guard groups during the Cultural Revolution.

That didn't end well...

Foobarista   ·  September 1, 2010 3:58 AM

I weighed in on this topic of Zombie's articles at PJM. It's been a while since I been here; nice to be back:
As a former teacher administrator at a top notch public high school, I usually find discussions of the state of current public education hopelessly generalized and politicized. I have heard the uproar about the Texas standards on Jefferson removal and ID, but it SEEMS (if I can believe what I hear here) that some of the uproar is lefty spin. Zombie, it would be nice if we had a hard-nosed clear look at what the Texas standards do or do not say, although I will admit, that important stuff may also be in gray areas, where they might permit teachers to avoid teaching evolution…or anything else, if they chose not to. The point of standards is to insist what WILL be taught, and to be able to test it, with all the limitations of large scale high-stakes tests, notwithstanding.
People are right to insist on good teachers, but you also have to accept the fact that a good teacher does not necessarily share your religious or political beliefs. If the teachers are rigorous, challenge kids in appropriate ways, but also leave wiggle room for freedom of expression and belief, then go with them. You could do worse.
But as someone said earlier, it is unrealistic to expect that every, or maybe even most teachers are going to be excellent for your child, especially since the students themselves are all over the place with varying strengths, weaknesses, needs etc. As an administrator, I learned that some of my “worst” teachers by most objective standards, were the perfect teacher for at least a few of their students. That does not mean that I would hire them, had I been the one hiring and not inheriting, but it does show the complicated “reality” involved. Although a teacher’s job is to teach children and push them academically, teachers are also surrounded by the needs, breakdowns, abilities, neuroses, psychoses, special needs, and on and on and on that their students have. Good grief, just look at how many people have allergies, compared to fifty years ago and assume some similar phenomenon in many other areas of physical, mental, and emotional health.
I don’t know if it made me a better or worse teacher that I did not consider it my job to get a student to agree with me. It was my job to expose him/her to certain skills and knowledge, test him/her on those skills, and let the chips fall where they may. I knew that when I taught the Bible unit, that I had students who were essentially atheists, nominal Christians and Jews, and a few fundamentalist Christians and Jews. One could play with Genesis and simply say; some people believe this literally, some people think that it it completely mythical, and some think that it spells out a general design of how things evolved etc. I suppose that a science teacher could not be quite so open-minded about this. One would never say, Genesis can’t be true because it does not mention fossils and dinosaurs, but one would always plant the question; now about those fossils and dinosaurs?
Faith helps a lot of people keep on keeping on, and I can see why they would want their children to have it too, but as a public school teacher it was not my job to promote or destroy their faith, even as I knew that much of what I taught would of necessity call into question an absolutist view of things. So it goes.

Dwight   ·  September 1, 2010 5:52 AM

Someone please tell Mike that Joan did not make the comment about Darwinism.

I have no problem with teaching any subject matter. Physical evolution is a fact of our existence. That does not run counter to my particular ideology or creed. Indeed, no fact of existence does.

However, DarwinISM is itself an ideology, a carefully constructed one, that should be eschewed by thoughtful people of every stripe and creed. It is as political as Islam, and nearly as rabid. It is not based in the observational facts of evolution.

Joan of Argghh!   ·  September 1, 2010 8:36 AM

Funny how angry the commenters on this post seem to be. Isn't this post at least somewhat about people with calmer heads trying to prevail over the hot-heads? ...just don't gore my pet bull...

Gunga   ·  September 1, 2010 10:55 AM

How courageous to write under an alias ...

link bait for HuffPo and Kos ...

for all you Darminists out there ... take Darwin back to the begining. What created the matter for the big bang ? Guess what, you are at the same place as those that believe in God. You have to have faith that it was just there ... kind of like faith in the existance of God isn't it ?

Jeff   ·  September 1, 2010 11:01 AM

" nothing makes me happier than seeing an articulate blogger like Zombie saying what he is saying"


You and zombie are both cultural lefties. Am I supposed to be surprised they you agree with each other?


Unfortunately, whichever side wins -- your kid ends up losing.

That's because this war is for the power to dictate what our children are taught -- and, by extension, how future generations of Americans will view the world. Long gone are the days when classrooms were for learning: now each side sees the public school system as a vast indoctrination camp in which future culture-warriors are trained. The problem is, two diametrically opposed philosophies are struggling for supremacy, and neither is willing to give an inch, so the end result is extremism, no matter which side temporarily comes out on top.

Both visions are grotesque and unacceptable

Grotesque and unacceptable to who? Libertarian American Jews? That's a tiny, tiny demographic.

flenser   ·  September 1, 2010 2:45 PM

what we're seeing here is another manifestation of the current power struggle between the GOP Establishment (the old coalition of social conservatives with Lindsey Graham types) versus the Tea Partiers, who are mostly concerned about small-government and fiscal issues.


You're as screwy as ever, Simon. So the GOP Establishment is made up of "social conservatives with Lindsey Graham types"?

Let me see, how can I best describe your problem? Something like this, perhaps.

"I am hardly alone in noticing that like-minded, single-issue activists often associate with -- and tend to exclusively surround themselves with -- other like-minded, single-issue activists. The result is what many call an echo chamber -- or "the choir." But I think "echo chamber" and "choir" are less than accurate terms, because the implication is that people are simply getting together and agreeing with each other in groups. When group dynamics are factored into single issue fanaticism, a lot more happens than mere group agreement. Because people are naturally competitive, many activists want to prove to the group that they are not only devoted to the cause, but more devoted than the others. This leads to extreme hyperbole, and the taking of positions which normal people would consider laughable."

And nowhere is this problem more evident than in the tiny clique of Jewish libertarians.

flenser   ·  September 1, 2010 2:57 PM

flenser,

Go back and study the thread carefully. It wasn't me.

What a sad waste of vitriol. Order a couple more cases and get back to me.

M. Simon   ·  September 3, 2010 9:20 AM

BTW f. from your obvious straining I can tell us Jewish libertarians are punching well above our weight.

M. Simon   ·  September 3, 2010 9:22 AM

"If people can't figure out how to govern by reason alone, then they don't deserve to be free."

Counter-argument from "brackworth:"

"A group of people claimed they were building a society like that once. They called it 'Scientific Atheism'. It did not work very well in the former Soviet Union and I don't want to try it here."

So Communism was rational? Clearly you're not big on that "not being governed by reason" thing yourself. You obviously practice what you preach.

Bilwick1   ·  September 3, 2010 11:00 AM

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