Discovery Institute Defends Betsy DeVos

We haven’t yet had much to say about Betsy DeVos, whom Trump has selected to be Secretary of Education. There has been much speculation — and even hysteria — about her supposed creationist tendencies. Your Curmudgeon has adopted a “wait and see” attitude, but we seem to be alone in this. Everyone else has already taken sides.

The only time her name came up in this blog was in the comments to this thread: Trump Rumor: Falwell as Education Secretary, after it was learned that Falwell wouldn’t get the appointment. We said: “although she seems to favor vouchers and charter schools, I don’t see anything about creationism. The usual creationist websites have never mentioned her.” We also quoted an article in the Washington Post that said: “She will not likely be one to focus on curriculum issues like evolution and creationism, which has been a concern in some conservative Christian circles.”

The anti-DeVos hysteria has grown since then, but we haven’t heard from the usual creationist websites. Today that silence has been broken, because this appears at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Prediction: Betsy DeVos Will Attract More Liberal Venom than Any Other Trump Cabinet Appointment. It’s by Klinghoffer. Like so many creationist writings, it’s a bit self-contradictory, but we’re used to that. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that of all Trump’s Cabinet picks, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education may attract more liberal venom than any other. We’ll see when her confirmation hearing begins on Tuesday, January 17. The accusation will be that she is “anti-science,” an imagined thought crime that provokes elite loathing like almost no other.

A few things are worth noting there. First, of all the appointments announced by Trump, DeVos is the only one (other than the Vice President) who has even a remote connection to creationism. Also, Klinghoffer speaks of “liberal” venom. That’s based on his assumption that anyone who has a scientific outlook is a political liberal. Well, in the 18th century sense, that was true, but in today’s politics, the Democrat party doesn’t always reflect the political beliefs of the Founders. (Nor do the “social conservatives” in the Republican party, but that’s another story.) Also, Klinghoffer speaks of the “thought crime” of being anti-science. That’s amusing, because Discoveroids always claim that pro-science people are “bullies” who run around committing the “thought-crime” of opposing creationism in public schools. Then he says:

They will ask her [at the confirmation hearing] how old she thinks the Earth is, whether human beings rode on dinosaurs, whether she has visited Ken Ham’s Ark Park lately. If possible they will seek to humiliate her and cast her in the role of a Neanderthal, which is to say a deplorable.

That line of questioning might come up. It’ll be fun to see ol’ Hambo’s reaction. Actually, we think all politicians should be asked those questions. After that he tells us:

Liberal elites can just barely tolerate the existence of the deplorables, so long as the latter do not aspire to reverse the power relationship of dominant to subservient. … Hence the fury I think will be aimed more at Mrs. DeVos than at any other Cabinet appointment. Why her in particular? Because science and education are peerless in conferring the prestige from which the cocoon [of liberalism] draws its nourishment. Take control of those away from them and they are left in a fit of sputtering rage.

Klinghoffer continues:

Sure, Mrs. DeVos has said not a word (as far as we know) about evolution or intelligent design. Yes, the Secretary of Education doesn’t set curricula for local schools, and ID advocates never sought to push ID into schools. Granted, her critics don’t understand what the evolution debate is about anyway. They couldn’t care less about the huge distinction between intelligent design and creationism. [Hee hee!] But anything remotely tied, however unfairly, to the latter is demon spawn to them. Nothing could be more deplorable. Not even Trump.

[*Groan*] To Klinghoffer, the biggest error of what he calls liberals is their opposition to creationism. To your Curmudgeon, however, it’s one of their few endearing virtues. (Go ahead, criticize your Curmudgeon for that. We’re used to it.) And now we come to the end:

Let the creationists worship their intelligent designer in their tacky megachurches. The cocoon [of liberalism] can live with that, maybe. But install in government, with influence over science education, a woman whose husband once said a favorable word about ID? Never! Oh yes. Watch for it. Given the chance, they will burn her at the stake over that one.

In other words, the Discoveroids like DeVos. Why? Because they hope she’ll be a champion of their Teach the Controversy campaign, described by Wikipedia as: “a campaign, conducted by the Discovery Institute, to promote the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while attempting to discredit the teaching of evolution in United States public high school science courses.”

Your Curmudgeon expects DeVos to be questioned about creationism, but we also expect — or at least hope — that she’ll be a disappointment to the Discoveroids. We shall see.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Discovery Institute Defends Betsy DeVos

  1. Klopperplopper tries to write:

    Let the creationists worship their intelligent designer in their tacky megachurches.

    And he’s railing against elitists???? “Tacky megachurches?” My, my, Klingy, your pettycoats are showing!

  2. It’s so cute when the IDists think the world revolves around them and their pet theories. Creationism has a large public following but that’s because it’s about religion, not science. As for government, it’s primarily about money and power, science enters only for funding research, and education policy. ID just isn’t that big of a deal, to anyone, not even to the IDists who only cared about it because they wanted to use it as a transparent trick to sneak creationism into the public schools. Dover proved the rest of us were smart enough to see through their trick, and they have never forgiven us for being smarter than them.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Klinghoffer claims “they” (whoever they is – the others, I guess?) will try to humiliate DeVos by asking her the age of the earth. If she answers 4.6 billion, then what? Does Klinghoffer believe this is debatable? Does he believe that any answer is acceptable? Why be relativistic when it comes to science, but not when it comes to morality?

  4. Of course, DeVos wants to take public tax money and fund religious schools. She also wants to take tax money and channel it into for-profit charter schools (whether or not these schools are effective.) Ideally, these schools also teach an ideology supported by the religious/political far right.

    Her association with the Kochs and their ilk is also troubling with their desire to bust unions, including teacher unions, and even worse, to do away with public schools.

    Sadly, their plans are based on ideology not evidence or facts, so expect to see her agenda promoted with high-sounding terms, such as school-choice, etc.

  5. Michael Fugate

    As with Rob, DeVos will be a disaster whether she is a creationist or not. The one thing to guarantee poor performance in schools is to pay teachers less than others with similar education and responsibilities. Without unions, education will be even worse than it is now.

  6. . . . Why would one need to take a “wait and see” approach to someone who has spent her public career that hasn’t been spent advocating the dismantling of public education on creationist causes? I mean, one might as well take a “wait and see” approach on whether or not those Castro boys in the hills of Cuba might be revolutionaries.

  7. I think it is interesting that Klinghoffer believes DeVos will “attract more liberal venom than any other.” Does he really believe that the Democrats in congress are more interested in DeVos’ religious beliefs than they are in health care, foreign affairs, the justice department, and the EPA (and almost every other agency)?

    We have a potential secretary of state who was given a medal by Putin, a climate change denier nominated to head the EPA, and bitter opponent of the ACA to head Health & Human Services, a senator with a racist history to head the Justice Dept, and on and on. Some are just goofy, like Ben Carson heading the dept of Housing and Urban Development – something which Carson has zero knowledge of, and zero knowledge of managing anything at all.

    For Klinghoffer to think DeVos will be at the center of attention from Democrats (or even Republicans,) is a sign that he truly lives in an alternate universe. I predict DeVos will pass without much drama at all.

  8. The Amway founders routinely employed fundamentalist religion in their sales pitches (a 60 Minutes episode covered that years ago) and even had Jerry Falwell give “pep-talks” to the Amway rubes. How can you possibly reserve judgment with all of the documentation that ties DeVos to anti-public school sentiments (neither she nor her children attended public schools and she rails against them all of the time) and pro creationism sentiments?

  9. “… and ID advocates never sought to push ID into schools.”

    The existence of ‘Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook’, whose three co-authors include the DI’s David K. DeWolf and Stephen C. Meyer, would indicate otherwise.

  10. Your Curmudgeon expects DeVos to be questioned about creationism, but we also expect — or at least hope — that she’ll be a disappointment to the Discoveroids. We shall see.

    Nothing to wait and see on, she’ll be a disaster like the rest of Trump’s merry band of billionaires he selected for the cabinet. Let the halcyon days begin for religious fundies!

  11. It is quite clear that DeVos’s agenda is too inject religion in education. She is dishonestly using the voucher system to undermine the public school system to further her religious beliefs. Follow the bread crumbs.