Saturday, April 22, 2006

Liberal Tolerance Watch

BatesLine blogged about this article Liberal Tolerance Watch by Brandon Dutcher

Intolerance and Prejudice at the State Capitol

Living in the Bible Belt, and working as I do in the public policy arena, I see it all too often. People, often with good intentions, try to use the political process to impose their views on everyone else. They are intolerant of other viewpoints, they try to stifle diversity, and sometimes they can be downright bigoted.

I’m telling you, the left is really bad about this.

Consider, for example, the issue of school choice. As Cato Institute scholars Marie Gryphon and Emily A. Meyer pointed out in a recent study, America has a grand tradition of educational freedom. In fact, it’s a tradition that predates and is longer than our current tradition of delivering education through a government-owned-and-run monopoly. Many people today are trying to regain a measure of that freedom, mainly through policies which empower parents to choose the safest and best schools for their children, whether those schools are public or private.

These school-choice advocates celebrate diversity. They want parents and children to be able to choose from charter schools that emphasize core knowledge, specialty schools that focus on the arts, magnet schools that specialize in science and engineering, and more. Let a hundred flowers bloom. After all, students have unique needs and preferences.
That is absolutely correct.
What’s more, school-choicers celebrate religious diversity. They want to empower parents to choose Jewish day schools, which provide a rigorous faith-based education and help preserve Jewish continuity. Or classical Christian schools, which begin Latin in the third grade and logic in the eighth and equip children to love the Lord their God with all their minds. Or inner-city Catholic schools – often more racially integrated than their public counterparts – which turn at-risk kids into scholars.
That is much better than the Secular Humanism that the public school pushes, where Christianity is something to be feared, and Judiasm something that is ignored, and where the only faith that might even be given any consideration is Islam, and then only because it is in the news.
The nation’s 27,000 private schools (nearly one in four U.S. schools) “by definition help fulfill the ideal of pluralism in American education,” says the Council for American Private Education. “They serve diverse populations, and are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.”

But the left, for all its professed tolerance, cannot tolerate this sort of diversity, especially religious diversity. The defenders of the status quo prefer secular uniformity. Indeed, they insist upon it religiously. For some reason, school choice is OK for 18-year-olds (Pell Grants at Notre Dame, federal SEOG grants at Oral Roberts University) but not for 17-year-olds.

One journalist, a member of the religious left here in Oklahoma, is particularly hostile to school choice. He often puts derisive quotation marks around “Christian” when referring to Christian schools, and once lambasted a pro-school-choice governor, saying his “tortured rightwing brain” is all too “typical of brown-shirted rich kids privately educated.”

Remarkably, this ugliness goes unpunished. Indeed, the National Education Association has given its highest award to this man who calls Thomas Sowell “a disgrace to the human race,” and he is still a popular speaker at education workshops and conferences.
Education workshops and conferences are held by Education Schools, where teachers are brainwashed to only consider left wing ideas and techniques.
One essay, in which he sniffs at “mantras and Hail Marys” and warns of ominous attempts to “construct new forms of theocratic education,” is featured on the welcome page of the Oklahoma Education Association’s web site.

I suppose none of this should surprise us. After all, Gryphon and Meyer remind us, it was religious prejudice – specifically, anti-Catholic prejudice fueled by an influx of immigrants in the 1830s and 1840s – which inspired the establishment of public schools in the first place. In addition, state constitutional Blaine Amendments, “adopted during the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in the 19th and early 20th centuries” and now enshrined in some three-fourths of state constitutions (including Oklahoma’s), prohibit tax money from flowing to “sectarian” schools. The left, apparently without embarrassment, defends these amendments heartily, as they are among the most significant barriers to school choice in the states.
Their real opposition to school choice is that they know they are doing such a bad job that given a choice most parents would take their children out of state schools, and the state money would go to those schools, and not to the failing state schools, and they might lose their jobs (and certainly would lose the chance to brainwash children into their liberal secular philosophy)
The Arizona Supreme Court pronounced that state’s Blaine Amendment “a clear manifestation of religious bigotry.” Justice Clarence Thomas has opined that “hostility to aid to pervasively sectarian schools has a shameful pedigree that we do not hesitate to disavow. … This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.”

Many of our friends on the left are working tirelessly for a more just and tolerant America, one that respects diversity.
Diversity is suppost to involve many different schools of thought, but they only want to allow left wing ideas to prevail.
They would do well to recognize that educational freedom, as Gryphon and Meyer say, is “critical to an intellectually diverse and tolerant society.”

Rhetoric Insults Thousands of Oklahomans
In last year’s legislative session, Senator Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow) co-authored a tort reform bill for teachers. When the bill was being considered in the House, a Democrat attached an amendment which would require a disclaimer to be placed in all textbooks in which evolution is discussed. The disclaimer would state in part that evolution is “a controversial theory which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things,” although “no one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 92-9, and was being reconsidered on the Senate floor May 6. Sen. Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), a Unitarian with a graduate degree in theology and a prominent member of Oklahoma’s religious left, was offended by the bill and argued against it. According to a transcript posted on the Web site of KFAQ, a talk radio station in Tulsa, Sen. Cain made the following remarks:

“I just resent people continually, every time they bring a bill out here, trying to force their religion down other people’s throats. Now, this is what this is coming from. … Because he [Senator Pruitt] believes, basically, that his religion ought to be the dominant religion and that his religion ought to say to the rest of the religions what should be in the textbooks of our public schools. … We should not continue to let this religious, far religious views, try to force their way down on us.
Actually students should be exposed to many different religious views, and let them make up their own minds, taking into consideration input they also receive from their parents and their religious leaders.
“I got a quote the other day that I got from Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler. And I don’t have the exact words, but here’s basically what it says. He says, in our government we are going to put Christians in key positions of responsibility because there has been too much liberal access going on out there and we are going to straighten up and make sure that the Christian culture is back in control. Now folks, they took Jewish people and they took them out and they strung them apart, they killed them, they mass murdered some of those people, and all of the ideas that were behind that were, and they were doing this while they were having Christian music going on, while they were having hymns. They killed thousands of Jews while they were doing hymns. That is what happens when you let the right wing of the Taliban come in and try to dictate to the State how we should run our business.
Just because Hitler may have said he was a Christian does not mean that all Christians approve of what he did.
“We should try as much as possible to keep ourselves separate from the religious group. I am telling you, we have got this new mindset that you can be a Taliban, you can be a religious fanatic, and you can bring it to the Senate, you can bring it to the House, you can bring it to the government, it doesn’t matter, it’s all right, we just turn our heads, it’s not that bad. That’s what they did when Hitler came along. They let him come in and he brought in his ideas, he said we’re bringing Christian values back. But was it all Christian values? No, it was everything against Christian values. And that is what I am afraid of from these extreme right-wing religious fanatics who want to bring their religious viewpoints and bring them into the Senate. …

“But no, this is another one of Senator Pruitt’s bills trying to take the religious idea and force it down on the rest of us. … I say we ought to reject this thing and say it right now, we’re not going to let extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.”
We have done that. They are called Secular Humanists.
Don’t you just love it when liberals engage in nuanced, responsible discourse? They’re always so careful to be tolerant of the viewpoints of others.

It’s interesting to note that the amendment was not ambitious at all. It merely said evolution should be taught as a theory. It did not mandate the teaching of intelligent-design theories or creationism.

After all, we can’t have “extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.” And certainly Sen. Cain, known for his mainstream views, can recognize an extremist when he sees one. An extremist is one of those far-out people – “the right wing of the Taliban,” if you will – who actually believes a Creator made the world. Fortunately, according to a Tulsa World-sponsored poll in 2000, this fringe element is limited to: a majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics; a majority of people in every income level; and a majority of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. “A strong majority of the state believes in creationism,” the Tulsa World reported. “The poll showed that support for creationism was solid in almost every political and demographic subdivision.” Indeed, belief in creationism was higher among registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of those “fanatics” whose religious convictions lead you to a particular view about abortion, or the death penalty, or the lottery, or taxation, or sex education in the classroom, don’t bother bringing your “religious viewpoints … into the Senate.” Unless you’re a member of the religious left.

How’s that for tolerance?


ellenweber said...

Thanks for the thoughtful ideas here Don... It seems to me that choice would come to far more of us in far more settings... if we learned to hear, value and work with one another's ideas more. That acumen is easily taught -- if one makes the decision that it counts... What do you think?

Don Singleton said...

It is easily taught, but unfortunately most of the teachers today would prefer to teach only what they think, rather than teaching students to think for themselves