Glenn Beck’s Paranoid Fantasy Novel Could Become A Textbook In Ohio

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The Republican distaste for science and fact is well-known and that they try to push this to dictate what is taught in schools says as much about the state of our schools as it does about the dinosaurs who refuse to step into the 21st century with the rest of us. We continue to see cases where creationism is being taught (to the detriment of the schools): in Louisiana, in Kansas, and in Mississippi we have seen right-wing ideologies treated as legitimate school curricula. If these incidents would remain limited to private schools it wouldn’t be a problem. That’s what private and parochial schools are for. But when this nonsense is introduced into the public system – which every citizen pays into – then we have a problem. Our country is governed by this piece of paper known as the Constitution and one of the very first things it says is that the government will not endorse any religion (aka the Establishment Clause). Public schools = government, ergo no sanction of religion. Any religion.

Yet we see it over and over again that Christians – and it is only ever one kind of Christian – push their viewpoint, dogma, rules and morality into the public schools. As often as these moves are attempted, and inevitably struck down, you would think that the social conservatives who continue to do this might get the message. Sadly, you’d be wrong. The American Taliban keep right on trying to enact their own version of Shari’a Law.

The latest school district to be caught in the crosshairs of the religious right is the Springboro Community City School District in Ohio. They are considering a “controversial issues policy,” which is really only a backdoor for the fundamentalists to getting their agenda into the public schools. They claim that this policy permits students to discuss “controversial” issues so that they “… think critically, learn to identify important issues, explore fully and fairly all sides of an issue, weigh carefully the values and factors involved, and develop techniques for formulating and evaluating positions.” That actually sounds like a good thing until you see what they consider to be controversial:

religion (when not used in a historical or factual context), sex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism,politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change, UN Agenda 21 and sustainable development, and any other topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion and/or likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community.

Many of the so-called controversial ideas on that list are actually nothing of the kind, except in the insular world of the evangelical right. Science and studies have shown that many of those are, in fact, incontrovertible. Evolution is an accepted fact, with 99.85% of American earth and life scientists agreeing that this is so. That is not controversial. Ninety-seven percent of scientists accept that climate change is real and that mankind’s activities are very likely the cause. That is not controversial. Dozens of studies show that abstinence-only education is a failure. That is not controversial. Other topics on the list are legitimately controversial and should be discussed by students: religion, drugs, gun rights, politics… these are things that high school kids should talk about as long as there is no agenda behind the materials provided.

But the most egregious example of what these ideological demagogues find to be controversial is Agenda 21. You may not know about this program supported by the United Nations, but even with that one piece of information, I’m sure you can see what the “controversy” is. Simply stated, Agenda 21 encourages member nations to take environmental factors into consideration when developing their resources, land, transportation, etc. It is not a treaty. It is not legally binding. It just asks that we be environmentally aware and not go blasting away mountain tops, damming rivers and such without consideration for environmental concerns. Even The Heritage Foundation has examined Agenda 21 and concluded that it is not a threat “in and of itself.”

But that didn’t stop our buddy Glenn Beck from scribbling a hysterical tome based on the program. His book is the worst kind of manipulative tripe and is badly written, to boot. It is set in a dystopian world – this is the place Beck fantasizes about when he’s worked himself up into a paranoid lather over unseen enemies and imaginary threats to freedom as he… I’ll stop there. I don’t have enough brain bleach. Anyway, it’s infantile propaganda. But a public school district wants to treat it as fact and use it in a curriculum that isn’t Bad Modern Lit 101. If they want to talk about dystopian futures in class there are plenty of better books to do it with (Brave New World, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale) that would provide more to discuss.

Thankfully, the ACLU has already challenged the policy. They have had much success in proving that these policies are unconstitutional, especially on the evolution/creation issue. In a letter to the school district, ACLU legal director James L. Hardiman wrote:

“… (the policy) appears to explicitly permit the teaching of creationism. It has been firmly established that this practice is unconstitutional, in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

This particular school board has been on this precipice before, having backed off from plans to teach creationism in 2011. Now, they are facing not only this challenge from the ACLU, but similar complaints from parents, as well. Parents, teachers and students packed a board meeting on Friday to register their displeasure and to point out that this sort of ideological sneakiness detracts from the actual job of educating students. The board has decided to deal with the issue next month. Let’s hope they do what’s right for the students and not bow to pressure from the religious right.


Photobucket      T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…