Conservatism vs. Extremism

Texas State Board of Education member Terri Leo, R-Spring, apparently has decided that she is the arbiter when it comes to deciding who is a good conservative. In telling the Christian-right Web site that she opposes legislative efforts to rein in the state board’s authority, she says:

[B]ack in 2003, conservatives on the State Board of Education lost most of the battles — and we didn’t go over and whine and seek legislative go-a-rounds or end-a-rounds. You know, we just went to work and elected three more conservatives and [now] the Board is almost evenly balanced. There’s [sic] seven conservatives out of 15 board members. We do not have a majority.

Of course, Ms. Leo doesn’t acknowledge that one of those seven is the board chairman, who sets the agenda and controls the debate. Moreover, those seven have often succeeded in gathering at least one or two votes from other board members on key issues the last two years. How they have succeeded in doing so is an open question — for now.

But this sentence in Ms. Leo’s response really stands out: “There’s [sic] seven conservatives out of 15 board members.”  Just seven conservatives? Really?

Ms. Leo clearly doesn’t see fellow Republicans Bob Craig of Lubbock, Pat Hardy of Fort Worth or Geraldine “Tincy” Miller of Dallas as sufficiently conservative. After all, they wouldn’t vote to force students to learn phony “weaknesses” of evolution in their public school science classrooms. So it means nothing to Ms. Leo that all three are longtime Republican officeholders.

Mr. Craig? Last we checked, Lubbock voters weren’t in the habit of electing liberals. He has had a solidly conservative voting record. So has Ms. Hardy, who still brags about her Barry Goldwater pin, which she got back when voting Republican in Texas was a very lonely affair.

And Ms. Miller? The same Ms. Miller who, with her husband Vance, has donated for decades to conservative Republican candidates? Who Republican Gov. Rick Perry appointed twice to serve as state board chair? Who Anne Newman of the hard-right Justice Foundation in San Antonio has praised as helping “build conservative leadership in Texas”? Who William Lutz of the far-right Lone Star Report has also proudly called a “conservative Republican”? Yes, that Ms. Miller.

All three are conservatives — but they are not extremists who want to use public schools to promote their own religious views over everybody else’s.

Ms. Leo’s words echo those of the current board chairman, Don McLeroy, who told a Sunday school class that he was one of only “four really conservative, orthodox Christians” who in 2003 opposed the adoption of new biology textbooks that didn’t attack evolution. And board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, has said he is praying for Craig, Hardy and Miller because they have come under the influence of “prominent atheists and secular humanists.” Fellow board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, has called on Republicans to vote Craig, Hardy and Miller out of office because of their votes on the science standards.

The reality here is that people like Leo and her creationist compadres on the state board are extremists who seek to destroy anyone who doesn’t share their narrow religious views and ideological agenda. That faction began its rise to power in the early 1990s by viciously attacking the faith and morals of their Democratic opponents. Then they turned their guns on Republicans who resisted their efforts to drag public schools into the culture wars. Now they want to destroy Craig, Hardy and Miller.

Yet we have Republican state legislators who look the other way while this faction undermines the education of millions of Texas schoolchildren. Well, how long do those lawmakers think it will take the forces that back the Leo-McLeroy faction to turn on them? Will they pass the “conservative” test in the eyes of extremists? We’ll see.

14 thoughts on “Conservatism vs. Extremism

  1. Don’t you know that you can be conservative on many issues without being a creationist? Your attempt to polarize people into a black or white choice between conservative and liberal is unrealistic and disgusting. Bob Craig and Pat Hardy have been pretty good supporters of science and Tincy Miller has been an inconsistent supporter, so we should support them and encourage them to increase their support of science, not trash them. A couple of the Democrats don’t have a very consistent record of supporting science either. You might as well trash them too while you are polarizing people.

  2. I think deo misread TFN’s blog entry. It is Terry Leo, one of the Biblical literalist zealots on the SBOE, that is trashing the three rational and conservative Republicans (Craig, Hardy, Miller) on the board. TFN has praised Craig, Hardy, and Miller for their thoughtful and informed votes in support of modern science.

  3. I read Ms. Leo like this:

    “Whoever disagrees with me is an enemy of the Lord. All enemies of the Lord must be destroyed. Who are the enemies of the Lord? The enemies of the Lord are whoever I say they are.”

    Note the exact definition of ORIGINAL SIN in the Bible. It is the desire to be God, to push him out of the way, take over, and become the sole arbiter of all things.

    For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3: 5)

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis3: 22)

    How about it Terri? What fruit are you going to eat next?

  4. And while we are talking about Christian Neo-Fundamentalist extremism, let us look at its fruits. It’s like the Lord says in the Bible, “ye shall know them by their fruits.” They like to claim that it is evolution that runs kids away from their churches. As it turns out (surprise, surprise, surprise), it is fundamentalists who run their kids away from their churches by engaging in “stupid stuff:” Get a load of this and be sure to look at the reader responses at the end of the article:

  5. Dear jdg,

    Although I do not live in Texas, you have my support. Run. All I ask is that you leave religion and faith to us people of faith and do your best to ensure that Texas school children learn sound science, social studies, and whatever else. We will do the rest in church and Sunday school. With any luck, by burning that cigar at both ends, we will end up with children who will be able to love Jesus and their neighbor—and recognize both intellectual and religious “tommy rot” when they see it.

  6. Where are you JDG? If you’re in Ken Mercer’s district I know a bunch of folks who’d love to hear from you. We’ve found two potential candidates but nothing is set in stone. We hope to support anyone who’ll stand up for quality education in the face of extremist ideologues.

  7. JDG, its a shame you’re not from around San Antonio. If you district is represented by one of the extremists please contact the local democratic party, I’m sure someone there would love to hear from you.

  8. jdg,

    Just FYI, El Paso is in District 1, represented by one of the most pro-science members of the board, Rene Nuñez. In light of this, it might be worth getting a local school board seat under your belt in the meantime – you never know when an anti-science challenger will arise.

  9. I can’t because if I were to win, I would have to loose my teaching job. I just watched a video about Cargill and SBOE voting on the age of the universe??? Nunez didn’t say a word!!! I know he is pro science but maybe saying “the age of the universe is not votable” would of helped. “When the age of the universe is known to be 12-14 billion years old, their is no other ages of the universe, you would be lying to the students of texas, creationist” He could of said that as well.

  10. Voting on the age of the universe? Good grief. Beam me up Scotty. It’s gettin’ a little crazy down here.