Texas Creationism: The Press is Aroused

BAD government often goes hand in hand with an ignorant or compliant press. But when the press awakes and turns on those in power, there’s no way to ignore their potential to promote change. Press reaction to the news is often as important as the news itself.

But it’s not easy to judge these things. One needs to know whether the press’ praise or criticism is justified, because often they themselves don’t understand what’s happening. Harmony or discord by itself isn’t much of an indicator.

When the press is enthusiastically gushing over political events, it’s possible that they’re every bit as wrong as the politicians. And when journalists are all but unanimous in their criticism, it could be that the politicians really are on the right track and the press is being goofy.

But we know a thing or two, don’t we, dear reader? We not only know about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, but we also know about the philosophical principles that really matter in this world. Therefore, it’s with great interest that we note this editorial in today’s Austin American-Statesman. Austin is not only the Texas capitol, but it’s also the 15th-largest city in the US.

The editorial is titled When God was handing out brains …. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Between now and the November general election, Republican incumbents statewide and legislative are going to pound on Texas’ economic success. Voters need to ignore the sound bites and ask candidates whether they agree with curriculum standards pushed by a majority of the State Board of Education.

That’s going to be difficult. Let’s read on:

It’s not like the state’s top leadership could ignore the gales of derisive laughter the state board draw with its nasty, noisy fights about what and how Texas school children will learn. But so far, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have been mute while the state board has dragged science and history through a looking glass that reflects poorly on Texas.

Dragged through a looking glass? Like Alice? That’s a strange expression in this context, but let’s not focus on style. More importantly, we wanted to check out the intellectual leanings of the Statesman, so we looked at their Wikipedia writeup. There we learned:

The Statesman endorsed George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and Republican governor Rick Perry along with every other Republican incumbent in 2006. In the 2008 presidential election, however, the paper endorsed Barack Obama. The Statesman also provides coverage of the Libertarian Party and Green Party matters.

It’s difficult to figure them out, especially these days, but at least they’re alive. We continue with the editorial:

Firms base relocation decisions on a variety of factors, but access to a well-educated work force ranks at the top. A sound educational system is vital to building and maintaining a middle class, which in turn is the fundamental building block of capitalist society.

Oh, sorry, “capitalism” is a word that could be banned in Texas classrooms.

That was sloppy. And misleading. The editorial should have mentioned that the term was replaced by “free enterprise.” Here’s more:

Also to be banned is the “Age of Enlightenment,” a period in which influential political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson flourished.

Hobbes? Okay, he’s a name to know; but he died too soon for the Scottish Enlightenment. They probably should have mentioned David Hume, an even more influential philosopher, and who actually knew Ben Franklin. Hobbes, Hume … it’s all the same to a journalism major. Moving along:

Oh, did we say Jefferson? Sorry, the state board decided that the country’s third president didn’t meet its intellectual standards, and so the writer of the Declaration of Independence is a final vote away from being banished from the world history curriculum. The curriculum standard also wants to drop a reference to “Age of Enlightenment.” Oddly enough, it seems appropriate given that the board is on a crusade to return Texas to the age of darkness.

Actually, Jefferson was dropped (along with the Enlightenment) as a philosophical influence on the Revolution — which is utter insanity, analogous to dropping Henry Ford from a history of the auto industry. But the Board of Education defends itself because Jefferson is still listed as having been President. Great, so is James Garfield.

Anyway, after making a bit of a botch of things, the editorial finally gets around to stating its point:

The majority of the 15-member board went on a jihad against knowledge — despite having suffered reverses in the Republican primary in March — in adopting curriculum standards, and there was silence from the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker and leading legislators.

The editorial then recounts some recent atrocities of the Board of Education, and the fact that it was Governor Perry who appointed Don McLeroy as the Board’s chairman, and when McLeroy failed to win Senate confirmation, Perry then appointed Gail Lowe — yet another flaming creationist.

You know all that, so we’ll stop quoting the editorial at this point. The reason we’re mentioning this editorial at all is because we’re delighted to learn that the Statesman is keenly aware of these issues and is editorializing about it — on the right side.

That’s really the Texas news today — the press is waking up.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Texas Creationism: The Press is Aroused

  1. I live in Austin! Austin is a funny place. Lots of blue in a sea of red here. That might explain the flip-flopping.

  2. LRA says: “I live in Austin!”

    Yeah, but we know that McLeroy is your dentist.

  3. They probably should have mentioned David Hume, an even more influential philosopher, and who actually knew Ben Franklin.

    Furthermore, David Hume could out consume Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

    Also! You’ll be pleased to learn that Texas State Representative Richard Peña Raymond has started the Thomas Jefferson Movement in an effort to get Jefferson back where he belongs in the standards. I wonder if we could pick the most egregious amendment to the science standards (like differing ideas of the age of the Earth/universe or however it was phrased) and target it similarly?

  4. James F asks:

    I wonder if we could pick the most egregious amendment to the science standards (like differing ideas of the age of the Earth/universe or however it was phrased) and target it similarly?

    Sure. “Friends of the Universe” would be one possible name for your group. Go for it.