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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Texas Education Chainsaw Massacre

Remember that movie in which a group of cannibals killed a group of friends who were around? Well, nowadays we have our own massacre in Texas. This time, the victims were the textbooks to be used in schools, and the cannibals that slashed them, the members of the Texas Board of Education.

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

In other words:
1. Capitalism is great, Amurricah is numbah 1!!!
2. The Founding fathers had no intention of making this a country with religious freedom
3. They were also republicans, the same kind of republicans we have today kissing big businesses asses and screwing the poor

I won’t say much about 1 and 3 (even though I should, but I’m pretty sure there are many out there who will do it better than me). But number 2 is important and must be addressed.

First of all, why is Texas so important when it comes to education and textbooks?

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks.

Which means that the editors will do what they need to do to sell to the biggest buyer. And the rest? Well, fuck the rest, Texas is bigger.

And also, more stupid:

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

First of all, it’s not a great idea to elect the board of education. When it comes to education, those who should be in charge are educators, the highest of the highest, meaning scientists, psychologists, mathematicians, linguists, etc. Not random guys that will represent the people. When it comes to policies it’s nice to represent the people, actually, it’s the best we have. But when it comes to education, people just don’t know. As a whole, they don’t know. Especially when these people will prefer to believe their favorite myth book than actual science.

This also apply when those nutjobs don’t want their bibles out of the state-given education:

“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”

I just found it, in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

No establishment of religion, as simple as that. If the founding father had meant this to be a “christian nation” the first amendment would have read something like this:

“The Congress of the United States of America, by the power given by the Almighty God and His Only Son Jesus Christ establishes that our country in God will not prohibit free exercise of religion as meant to honor our dear Lord; will not abridge the freedom of speech, as our Lord has given us the power to speak out, or of the press, or of the people to assemble, especially in order to pray to our Lord or to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

Remember that at that time there was no ACLU, or American Atheists, or Freedom From Religion Foundation, or U.N. If they had wanted to make of this a Christian Nation no one would have stopped them. But they didn’t. They clearly wrote down “No establishment of religion”. Is it that hard to understand?

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

It was defeated on a party-line vote.

After the vote, Ms. Knight said, “The social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”

Is it that bad that the government has a neutral stand regarding to religion, giving to all of them the same rights, in other words, giving equality to them?

To the normal mind, no. But to the religious zealots who are in power (and this also applies to the catholic church) it’s very important to keep the power, even if that means inequality right in our faces.

That seems pretty un-American to me. Yet those conservatives are the ones that claim to be “patriotic” and “all American”.

I bet the conservatives would be up in arms and forming Tea Parties if the Democrats had cut out some historical figure. But that’s what the conservatives just did:

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)

Oh come on. So these people just erase part of history, just erase part of a great idea so that their favorite myths book isn't displaced from education? What was I thinking when coming to this country and thinking I wound find a place in which knowledge and science and social liberties were cherished and respected? There is still so much work to do. Conservative ideas might have really good things to offer, but since they come usually entangled with such unscientific views and hypocritical positions, it is just hard to take them seriously.

Finally, Professor Eugenie Scott explains how Creationism is still crazy after all these years. Also she explains what is the position scientists have regarding this issue. She also talks about the influence Texas has.

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"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach