Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back to the Past

I always have difficulty understanding why certain groups of people think as they do, particularly when their thought processes, in fact, cause them negative consequences.  The best example is the Tea Party old timer protesting government interference with his social security check.  (To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, if I need to explain this you may be a Tea-Partier).  But I digress.  My topic today is thinking.  An old parable comes to mind;  ‘We are what we think.’  (Buddha, BC).
It might be said that what we think is what we are taught; by our parents, peers or our schools.  There is a tremendous divide in this country about what type of information should be taught, or not taught, to the children in our society by our schools.  Sex education is perhaps the best example of this divide.  But, I submit there is an earlier stage in the process of thinking that is more important than the ‘what’.   How a person thinks about a topic or idea or belief system is vital to intellectual growth and development.  People in an earlier age grew up with the thought that the earth was flat.  Once this fixed belief was challenged and disproven, the world opened up to its citizens. 
It is with this brief background that I present the Republican Party of Texas’s 2012 platform plank on “Knowledge-Based Education” that reads:  We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
The plant also states that, “[e]very Republican is responsible for implementing this platform.”
As I read this, my understanding of why the old Tea-Partier decrying government interference with his social security check became much clearer.  My understanding was further clarified when I read about what is going on in some Louisiana private schools where apparently the question of the validity of evolution is still a hot topic.  Thousands of students across the state are eligible to receive publicly funded vouchers to allow them to attend private Christian schools where they are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real in a bid by religious educators to disprove Darwin's theory of evolution.  In an education program that began in Texas in the late 1970s are included claims in their science and history textbooks that: the Loch Ness monster, which “appears to be a plesiosaur” from photographs, helps to disprove evolution; apartheid was beneficial to South Africa; reasons include the claim that segregated schools “made it possible for each group to maintain and pass on their culture and heritage to their children”; and “unquestionable proofs” and “unarguable evidences” existed for creationism.   One of the textbooks states  
Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the `Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? `Nessie,' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.  Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it             may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils             have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.  Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all."

Another one of the textbooks also provides a somewhat controversial look at the Ku Klux Klan. "The [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross ... In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians"
Why does all of this matter?  I submit such anti-intellectualism has real world consequences.  As an example, a radio talk host based in Arizona referred to President Obama last week as “the first monkey president.” Barbara Espinosa made the remark on her show, “Hair on Fire,” after a caller described Obama as a communist with “rabbit ears.” “Well, I don’t call him ‘rabbit ears,’ I call him a monkey,” she told the caller. “I don’t believe in calling him the first black president, I call him the first monkey president….I voted for the white guy, myself,” referring to Obama’s 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)  Michelle Bachmann famously observed that she didn’t see any ‘monkeys turning into humans’ as the basis for her non-belief in evolution.   There are the countless, relentless, hate-filled e-mails received by me daily which are filled with ugly racist comments.  Finally, there is the hysterical reaction of the Republican party to the successful approval of the Affordable Health Care Act by the Supreme Court, even in the face of knowledge that the plan was initially conceived by Republicans, pushed by Republicans and established by a Republican governor in the state of Massachusetts.
Is this a quantum leap of an overactive imagination that allow me to finally see and understand the party of ‘no’ behaving in a countless number of ways against the public interests? Against their own  interests?  Think about it. 
Just saying . . .

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