Labor Week
Manufacturing Ignorance
By Jessica MacGilvray
May 29, 2011 - 8:54:19 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Name an idea, and ideology, a scientific discipline or mythology and there is someone out there who does not want it taught in schools. Teaching evolution in America has a history of controversy going back four generations. It is a staggering fact that only three nations in the world have laws on the books to limit or prohibit the teaching of evolution: The Unites States, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

It is quite amazing how radical fundamentalists from all kinds of religion come to agree on so many things like telling people what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say, and what to believe and what not to believe.

Naturally, the same people who object to evolution object to a whole laundry list of other things, like teaching students about:

  • Sex Education
  • Abortion Issues
  • Human Rights
  • Comparative Religions
  • Factual History

In the last category, be sure to include anything about the women’s movement, the peace movement, the civil rights movement, unions, gay rights, transgender rights or just about any progressive rights movement, issue or legislation.

So, what is it about history, human rights and the rest that the religious zealots object to? Well, for a start, they think that history is in the eye of the beholder, that different things happened in the past just because we want them to have happened that way.

For example, take separation of church and state. When I was an elementary school student, in a private school affiliated with a major Christian religious sect, I was taught that the Founding Fathers did not want the state to be affiliated with any religion and that they passed very strict laws intending to prevent the adherents of any religion from making that religion official, required or even preferred.

Today, mainstream “historians” such as David Barton are teaching that the Founding Fathers were, in fact, highly religious Christians who promoted and required religious beliefs in every aspect of their lives. Because Thomas Jefferson’s writings are entirely secular and indeed often hostile to organized religion, “historians” like Barton conveniently leave him out of the narrative. The history textbooks adopted by Texas avoid almost every mention of Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Walter Reuther, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Roger Baldwin, Thomas Paine, or Gloria Steinem. It’s really easy to rewrite history to say what you want it to say, if you eliminate from history everybody who disagrees with you.

And people know when they’re getting a second-rate education that’s been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. That is one of the principle reasons why intelligent, thoughtful children drop out of school in droves.  We’re ruining education by making it inoffensive. Education is by its very nature antagonistic to the status quo, the power elite. It is antagonistic because, if done properly, it teaches people to think for themselves, to come up with their own answers and to make decisions based on rational facts.

That kind of free thinking is always contrary and dangerous to the simple-minded fundamentalist. The danger posed by fundamentalists is very real. They threaten the core values of democratic institutions and seek to replace representative government with a theocratic plutocracy.

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