Oh, Don. How we have missed you.
State Board of Education member Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, is clearly not going to let the Senate’s decision to strip him of his chairmanship relegate him to the back-bench for the debate on social studies standards. This week McLeroy came out swinging on the question of religion’s role in U.S. history. Responding to an open letter to the state board by the American Humanist Association, McLeroy sent the group an essay he wrote way back in 2002 (when social studies textbook were last up for adoption) entitled “The Gift of Medieval Christendom to the World.” (Hat tip: Kate Alexander at the Austin American Statesman.) Some excerpts:
What is it about the development of the West that made it so remarkable and unique? Why in the West are all people important? What is the ultimate source of these ideals of freedom, equality and limited government?
I believe the best and really only answer to all the above questions is the gradual assimilation of Judeo-Christianity in the West. By arguing that humankind is “made in the image of God”, medieval thinkers developed the idea of the dignity of the individual, not something arbitrary– man-given, but a reality, inherent in every person — God-given.
This leads McLeroy — in his scholarly opinion as a historian philosopher anthropologist dentist — to the following conclusion:
Freedom is unique to the areas of the world that have been touched by Christianity.
And since McLeroy knows that correlation does not equal causation, he offers his take on why this is so:
I argue that the development of medieval political structures with their limiting of the power of the governments and the resulting freedom for commerce, and the freeing or releasing of human energy coincides with the assimilation of the ideas of the dignity of the human being—“created in the image of God”. This was a gift of the spread of Christianity in Europe, or as many call it “Christendom”.
McLeroy also directed the Humanist Association to his recent appearance on Fox News. Watch McLeroy banter with the Fox News host and explain his puzzling assertion that the U.S. Constitution “recognizes man as a sinner” after the jump.
Remember, this is the same board member who earlier this year went toe-to-toe with some of the world’s leading biologists and argued that they misunderstood their own areas of expertise. (Leading to McLeroy’s now infamous exclamation: “Somebody’s gotta stand up to the experts!”) I guess we can expect more of the same later this fall when real experts in American history appear before the state board.
Speaking of the social studies standards…
Yesterday, the Texas Education Agency released the initial draft of the new social studies standards prepared by the teacher writing teams. Though TFN has not completed a thorough review of the draft, we are pleased to report that — for the most part — the writing teams strongly pushed back against attempts by the board-appointed “experts” to politicize the standards. It is important to remember, however, that previous curriculum revisions for science and English/language arts have also followed this pattern — thoughtful, academically-sound drafts by teacher writings teams that were later mucked-up by the state board. This debate is really just beginning.
We promise a full breakdown of the writing team draft early next week, so stay tuned to TFN Insider. In the meantime, you can view the draft of the social studies standards prepared by the writing teams on the Texas Education Agency’s Web site.
28 thoughts on “Heee-eere’s Donny!”
“Self-evident truths” in the Declaration came from the influence of Descartes. Are the “ungodly secularists” the only ones who take the time to make such distinctions? Yes, religion played a major role in how Galileo and Descartes revolutionized science and thought. I am all for those relationships being taught.
It is ironic that McLeroy places so little faith in the independent observation of experts yet fails to comprehend what is meant by “self-evident truths.”
I read the “essay” the other day when Postcards came out with the story. Horribly written and myopic to boot. He apparently forgets (or perhaps ignores, since they don’t fit his thesis) the influence of the Greek and Roman republics as a model for our republic and the authors who influenced our Founders.
Is it a Christian principle in Article 1 of the Constitution that defines the value of a slave (for purposes of representation) as 3/5 of a free man? Is it a Christian principle in Article IV that declares that slaves fleeing to non-slave states must be returned to their owners?
McLeroy is such a morron! I’m begining to wonder if he’s not a Democrat insider sent to destroy the integrity of the Republican party because I find it hard to believe any elected official can be this consciously stupid. The amount of fecal mater spilling from this mans lips stagers the mind.
Mc Leroy said:
“What is it about the development of the West that made it so remarkable and unique? Why in the West are all people important?”
Why, I gess it musta ben about killin’ all em air Injuns. Em air Injuns were important. Ifin they’d nota ben important we wooodna had to kill ’em. What? You doan mean the wild west? You doan mean that western citicization crap do you boy?
This is going to be a long autumn.
Watched the video. Even Fox News thinks he’s nuts. What does it mean when the nuts thinks someone is nuts?
Mr. Byrd: Oh no, Mr. McLeroy is a True Red Republican. Just look at the stupidity emanating from G(od’s) O(wn) P(arty) recently. We’ve got the teabaggers, the birthers, the right-to-lifers, the gay-haters, the screamers of disinformation, lies, and fear-mongering all being the most representative face of today’s GOP.
One of these screaming Repugnik women – a woman on Medicare – screamed that she doesn’t want any “government-run” health system. Duh, the woman is a retard. What does she think Medicare IS?
This is the level of ignorance the GOP is sending forth in their army of screamers. The teabaggers don’t want to pay for roads or schools. Oh, but they want to pay for wars OF COURSE! (Just not for the care of the sick and wounded who return in shattered bodies). And I suppose they don’t want to pay for bridge repair either – just as long as the bridge THEY are on isn’t the one that collapses!
Such is the so-called “integrity” of the Republican Party.
Wow. McLeroy is such a wack job that I agree with a Fox News commentator over him! The commentator closes with a conciliatory, “Well, there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: that we want historical accuracy in the classroom.”
Judging by his writings and comments, McLeroy has no earth-based clue on historical accuracy.
He is a quote mineing strawman. But I can understand this. Picking and choosing information from various pages of BOOKS, he’s used to doing this. This is what he and others like him do with all books. They were trained this way because they do it with the BIBLE! Cherry picking through various pages, and then drawing a conclusion.
One of the biggest things that lead me to disbelief was a decision to actually read books, starting with the Bible. I barely got through the book of Judges before I was convinced it was the most EVIL piece of literature ever contrived. The cherry picking they do makes sense. It’s freaking WRONG, but it makes sense.
Hey Cytocop, lets not forget Erik Prince, founder and CEO of Blackwater.
Don Mc is a cherry-picking idiot. He ignores all the evidence that refutes his stance on this. The founders plainly recognized the dangers that loonies like McLeroy present.
America isn’t great BECAUSE of religious zealots like him; America is great IN SPITE OF religious zealots like him.
McLeroy’s rantings make me think that he has been abusing the nitrous oxide. It gives new meaning to, “Just say NO”.
Oh yes that’s very true: Erik Prince – that model Christian – literally got away with murder and is considered a hero.
Yep, the GOP – being God’s Own Party – is a master at cherry-picking because it consists of so many Christians, and Christian missionaries are masters at cherry-picking the Jewish “Old Testament” as I’ve written before. They read the “Old Testament” with a verdict already reached instead of reading it without any agenda. They carefully select verses that SEEM to point to their god, JC, (despite the fact that none of them actually do!). In turn, they ignore all the verses that contradict the divinity/”messiahship” of JC, dismissing those passages as insignificant.
This is the same tactic they use to deny all the mounting scientific evidence for global climate change, the validity of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the so-called “evidence” of wmd in Iraq.
And yes, I agree the “Old Testament” is chock full of problems. That’s why I’m a pretty agnostic and liberal Jew and why I don’t read the Bible literally. I have great difficulty relating any kind of notion of God with the Bible. Even when reading the Bible metaphorically, it still reeks of troublesome passages, passages that contradict each other, are really X-rated, not even suited for adults let alone children.
What the hell are these idiots talking about? Medieval Christendumb played a major role in the feudal system. It started the Crusades and the Inquisition wherein Jews and heretics – and any unfortunate the wealthy and powerful didn’t like – were burned alive for the enjoyment of those who chained them to the stake. In fact, I bet these perverts got sexual gratification out of watching people burn and hearing their screams. That, in addition to the knowledge and satisfaction that they were doing God’s Work.
The only benefit the Crusades brought was increased wealth for the wealthy and increased trade (in products but in slaves too). Otherwise, the Crusades were a blood bath.
And thanks to medieval Christendumb, Jews’ life in Europe became even more miserable.
And where in the world did McLeroy get the notion that the West holds all people important? You’re only important ANYWHERE if you have great wealth and property and the right friends. If you are unemployed and uninsured, you count for nothing. A bag of manure is worth more than you. These screaming teabaggers themselves are proving my words. They don’t give a flea’s fart about uninsured people. They want to continue the status quo where insurance companies can continue to deny coverage – even revoke coverage – in the name of the Almighty Dollar. Teabaggers hate poor sick and injured people and have nothing but contempt for them. They are sick, selfish SOBs.
The superior book is A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Contains excessive and disturbing violence but it should be required reading in all college-level history classes.
The sad fact – the terrifying fact – is that dumb people will read McLeroy’s essay and believe what he says lock, stock, and barrel.
McLeroy’s a fool, all right; but it’s IMO it’s important for the TFN not to get distracted by sideshows like this. Let the Christianists on the SBOE clown around in public all they want to; keep a close eye on the things they can do that seriously affect education in Texas.
The good news in the last few days is that the committees of teachers who were in charge of actually revising the TEKS social studies standards have by and large ignored the “experts” who want to establish the “America is a Christian Nation” view as dogma in Texas public schools. This raises the real danger, though, that the Xianist faction on the SBOE will try to do what they did with the ELA standards: at the last moment, toss out the committee recommendations entirely and substitute something they’ve cooked up on their own (with help from Barton & Co.)
I can’t even see the video, my stomach is churning.
Alan said: “McLeroy’s a fool, all right; but it’s IMO it’s important for the TFN not to get distracted by sideshows like this.”
Did you just negate yourself?
And while we are talking about the SBOE extremists like McLeroy, I think we need to say something about the poor folks who follow after them like “The Birthers” Has anyone here other than me been following these Congressional townhall meetings about health care reform?
The loud and angry protests are orchestrated by far right groups, but many of their rank-and-file followers actually seem to be convinced that the Obama adminstration plans to fund health care reform by massive euthanasia of old people, diabetics, palsied people, and other expensively sick people. Some of these poor people are showing up so angry and scared that I am afraid someone is going to get seriously hurt at one of these meetings. These poor people really think they are about to be euthanized—apparently.
Of course, the whole notion is utterly ridiculous. What scares me is that so many ordinary people can have total buy-in to this sort of nonsense. As for those right wing radicals who are preying on these poor souls and creating such irrational fears for personal gain, it occurrs to me that they have shed any and all moral moorings they might have ever had. They have stepped far beyond any line in any sand of reality and into the realm of the totally reprehensible and depraved. I hope that this outlandish, extremist overeaching shows the American people QUITE CLEARLY who these people are and that their cause is just as unjust as their actions, which are a whiff of bad breath from Hell itself.
Charles, I’m curious why you ask “Has anyone here other than me been following these Congressional townhall meetings about health care reform?”
I’ve been following the townhall screamfests, and I’ve already posted about them here several times; in fact, I referenced it in a post just three postings above yours.
It’s frightening to know how stupid the teabagging public is, having bought in to right-wing extremist propaganda. The “Right” spread exactly the same fears and lies when Medicare was being debated back in the early 1960’s. (“It’s deja vue all over again.”) A case of typical right-wing dumbing-down of a gullible public.
An ignorant public is so much easier to control, isn’t it?
No, I did not contradict myself. Read the second sentence of what I wrote, plus the final sentence of the second paragraph, and I think it’s perfectly clear what I’m saying.
I think my point was the part about TFN being careful to not get destracted by the SBOE sideshow. The entire SBOE show is a carnival sideshow. Therefore, if TFN decides to avoid such distractions, they would have to sit on their hands and do nothing, which is not a viable option.
Actually, gentlemen, the saddest thing of all is that people outside of Texas will read his comments and assume all of us take this stance. I think that is the rationale for the Humanist Association’s open letter to the SBOE; the underlying assumption in the letter is that unqualified people are writing the new social studies standards when quite the opposite is true. I hope, for the sake of moderation, that think tanks and special interest groups outside of Texas stay out of this. Trust the individuals on the writing committees to produce quality work.
This message isn’t related to Don McLeroy but, since the subject of health care reform has come up in this thread, I thought I’d post this new development – just in case any of you might be interested and didn’t know yet.
I received the following message today from AlterNet.org:
What do Rupert Murdoch, Senator Jim DeMint, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, anti-choice zealot Randall Terry and health-care industry executives have in common? They all want to kill health-care reform.
But you knew that.
What you didn’t know — until AlterNet uncovered it in an explosive article published today — is the extremes to which they will go to achieve that aim.
I rarely send special reader alerts, but I’m making an exception today, because this story is so important.
In a new article published today, AlterNet’s Washington Bureau Chief Adele Stan uncovers the links between establishment GOP figures and an extreme-right Web network, Grassfire.org, that is an organizing hub for town-hall protesters. While other astroturf organizations and Web sites, like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, Tim Scott’s Americans for Prosperity or Glenn Beck’s The 912 Project, marshal the anti-tax mob, Grassfire, through its sibling site, ResistNet, rallies the most extreme of the paranoid right.
In “Inside Story on Town Hall Riots: Right-Wing Shock Troops Do Corporate America’s Dirty Work”, Stan chronicles the ties between the Republican establishment and ResistNet, where one finds not only the usual set of conspiracy theories, but also threats of violence against the opposition, a videoed racist screed against President Obama and even a prayer for the death of the president. The coup de grace is a slickly produced video posted on the site that uses Nazi imagery casting Obama as the Fuhrer. (The video is embedded in the AlterNet piece.)
Stan draws together the conflagration of corporate and GOP interests that have coordinated to unleash the unhinged fringe to disrupt the nation’s civic dialogue, tracing pieces of the narrative back to Howard Phillips, one of the founders of the religious right, who served in the Nixon administration. She examines the tactics of the Republican right’s “inside-outside” strategy, using as a model Phillips’ theocratic Constitution Party, to which Sarah Palin has ties.
You knew it was bad. AlterNet’s must-read article tells you just how bad it really is.
Executive Editor, AlterNet.org
Considering the lies, propaganda, (and covert racism) we’ve heard in these townhall screamfests, and given Sen. DeMint’s goal to “crush Obama,” I give a LOT of credibility to the above message.
Wow, that letter Cytocop posted is just as bad as the garbage posted by the birthers. The two extremes are shouting past each other and ignoring the middle ground.
This health care reform debate needs to step back and enter a bipartisan discussion. Most Americans agree we need health care reform but many don’t want this power grab by the left to let big government be the whole show. Why can’t we take our time and let the democratic process work? Hopefully we will end up with compromises that create true health care reform the majority will accept.
The middle ground is often a good and balanced place to be. However, I would guess that this is not the case right now. Personally, just as an issue alone (no political party stuff), I am in favor of the Obama healthcare plan. Why is that you say?
1) I would like to see the uninsured become insured. As a Christian, I would have to do that even if it was not what I wanted to do, but I want to do this. I make under $250,000 per year. Nonetheless, if it were to come down to it, I would be personally pleased to pay more taxes to help these uninsured people.
2) Insurance companies are not in business to provide health care. They are in business for the same reason most other businesses are—to make money and as much of it as possible for their stockholders—and I am probably one of those stockholders. Back in the late 1980s, the health insurance companies duped American businesses into thinking that they could control health care costs by taking over virtually the whole system. No doubt some cost savings were achieved for a while early in the game. Nonetheless, the overall costs of private health care kept rising at a tremendous rate over time, and it is still rising fast. One of the reasons was health insurance company profits. These guys are AIG on steroids.
I recently read an article written by a man who was a manager in a health insurance company for 3 years. Most companies and small businesses feel fortunate to take home a 5% or 10% annual profit. The insurance manager said the annual profit for his company over those 3 years were 29%, 37%, and 49%. Where does that come from—your pocket and mine—while the cost of health insurance continues to skyrocket. Private health insurance is expensive because it is the only game in town. When you are the only game in town, you can steal ’em blind—and they are. They are stealing the company you work for blind, and they are stealing you blind. The government-run option in the Obama health care plan would create the competition and price control pressure necessary to put an end to this. If you despise the multi-million dollar executive bonuses at AIG, the health insurance rip-off should have your soul literally on fire. If it does not, you need to pinch yourself to see if you are still alive.
3) How soon we all forget. Many of us have selective amnesia, but I do not. I actually remember the time about 10 years ago when the health insurance companies were denying treatment and drugs to patients right and left so they could line their pockets with the proceeds from some child’s death bed. That all changed rather suddenly when the federal politicians started getting seriously interested in something called “health care reform.” The naughty boys at the health insurance companies saw dad reaching for his belt, coat, and the path to the woodshed. Collectively, the insurance companies decided they had better “cool it” and get real reasonable with their patients. They did. However, you folks out there have to understand that they did this only because of their fear of the looming fight ahead—the one we are in right now for real health care reform.
If the insurance companies win this health care reform fight we are in now, they will be King of the Hill–alone on top—no challengers—all enemies vanquished—in total control—answerable to no one—with absolute power over your health care. As the old saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If they win this time, the cancer treatment that is merely questioned today, will be denied next year. The expensive drug your son desperately needs to stay alive this year, will be denied next year. There will be, quite literally, no one to stop the health insurance companies, and they will do what they have always done—take maximum financial advantage of their wonderful situation while your loved one dies.
4) Be on the lookout for lies. The private health insurance firms and their cronies are in the BIG LIE business right now, just like the Religious Right. One of their biggest lies is that government health plans do not work. That is not true. There are some problems in Canada and Great Britain, but even those are being fixed. They made some bad planning decisions. You will hear alot about how Canada and Great Britain failed, so that must mean we will fail too. What they do not tell you is that Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Switzerland have universal government health insurance that works with near perfection and is a lot less expensive per person than our current private health insurance system. Taiwan actually studied what Canada and Great Britain did wrong at first so they could identify their mistakes an avoid them—which they did. It has been a tremendous success. If we can put a man on the moon, we can do what Taiwan did.
And now a related story. A friend of mine had a teenage son who was recently on travel in Great Britain. Somewhere in London, he had the great misfortune of getting his arm broken. Naturally, they rushed him to the hospital. He had American health insurance. Was he denied help because he was a foreigner. No. Did he have to wait for hours in a long line for care? No. They treated him right away. He flashed his American health insurance card at them, and they were laughably amused. “You don’t need that here,” they said. They fixed him right up and had him on his way to a full recovery in no time. What were the hospital and doctor charges? It is my understanding that they were ZERO.
AMEN to everything Charles wrote. He’s right on target.
Actually, the left is NOT the one who is “shouting past” the other. The problem with the left is that they are not shouting enough!
These Townhall screaming banshees are just as bad as the birthers. In fact, they may BE birthers. It’s like the Birthers and the Townhall screechers are both saying: “DON’T BOTHER US WITH THE FACTS, WE’RE ON A MISSION TO DUMP OBAMA.” In fact, some are calling for Obama’s assassination.
When I look at a lot of these screamin’ banshees, I notice a lot of them are senior citizens, probably receiving Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on. Yet they’re screaming about government “takeover.” Well, folks, if you’re so miserable with your social security checks and Medicare benefits, why not return them, eh? I’m still a few years away from enjoying Medicare. I’m still stuck in the for-profit system. And I pray to the God I hope exists that my health holds out for another few years until I’m eligible for Medicare.
It is said that 85% percent of Americans say they are “very satisfied” or “mostly satisfied” with their health insurance. Never mind how the pollsters actually worded the question, that’s a whole ‘nother topic. And “very satisfied” or “mostly satisfied” compared to what? NOT having insurance, of course! I bet most of those 85% are people like me: people who are pretty healthy and have not yet had a major illness or injury. But until you are sick or injured, how would you know if you are “very satisfied” or “mostly satisfied” with your insurance company? You can’t!
One woman, a caller on NPR today, said she resented the townhall protestors being described as “partisan” and “uninformed.” She then referenced a report by John Stossel. One of the things Mr. Stossel has reported was the “fact” that in Canada and Great Britain and other countries that have “socialized” medicine, is that people are denied care, have to wait long waits, etc. Well, lady caller, you ARE uninformed. Insurance companies deny care right here right now. And people wait long waits in ERs mostly because ERs are full of uninsured people. And John Stossel has been long known to shill for corporations. He’s being a good little conservative to side with insurance company lies and distortions. Also the strategy of linking the health care reform that’s now being discussed with the Canadian and British systems is a clever, well-orchestrated trick to shift attention. THE REFORM NOW BEING DISCUSSED IS NOT THE CANADIAN OR BRITISH SYSTEM. Not even close. Single-payer is off the table. The for-profit system would never have allowed it to be on the table. And that’s a shame because only single-payer ensures universal coverage.
And finally let’s get one thing clear: What the Canadians and the Brits have isn’t socialized medicine! It’s SOCIALIZED INSURANCE. There’s a big difference. Let’s call it what it is. DUH!
But, rest assured you can bet your life savings the FOR-PROFIT system will prevail and probably come out stronger than ever. Why do I say that? Because everyone on Obama’s “reform” team has ties to insurance companies, that’s why. Even Max Baucus. He and the rest of the team are there to ENSURE insurance company interests are protected. They are not there to ensure patient rights. That’s the last thing they want. They are all corporate puppets, and we are the suckers.
“These Townhall screaming banshees are just as bad as the birthers. In fact, they may BE birthers. It’s like the Birthers and the Townhall screechers are both saying: “DON’T BOTHER US WITH THE FACTS, WE’RE ON A MISSION TO DUMP OBAMA.” In fact, some are calling for Obama’s assassination.”
Yes. This is a sad state of affairs. It has been made worse by conservative talk radio and the worldwide web. I remember 10 years ago when, like in the early years of television, everyone was trying to figure out how to use the Internet. What was it good for? What is the best way to use it? Can we make money on it? Will we create the computer-based equivalent of the TV game show? There were 100 questions.
Well, I think two of those great mysteries (maybe two combined into one) is that each person with a blog or a website can become a journalist and broadcast what they thing or believe, quite literally, to the whole world. The second part of that is that the same website or blog can be a great propaganda machine for any “crank idea” that a person wants to push.
Many people would be surprised at the number of crazy people who have felt for years that they have no voice. The Internet gave them one. For example, there is someone out there (I feel like Pat Robertson: “There is someone out there with sores in their colon tonight. Please Lord…”) who has been watching the meat cutter at their local supermarket for many years, certain that he must be a deep mole Russian spy. Talk radio and conservative websites play on this unjustified paranoia and become tits where off-the-deep-end people can come daily and feed their fears. These are the people who are showing up as protesters at these townhall meetings. In fact, just last night as Senator Specter was getting an ear full from some guy, it occurred to me that a lot of these same poor souls are the ones who get “bussed into church” from all over town to create the one-sided audience at the creation vs. evolution debate at some local fundamentalist church.
You would think that the Internet “feeding stations” for these people are run by militia groups, Aryan Knights of Blah, Blah, Blah, and so forth. Well, that’s not true. Many of them are run by ordinary Americans like you and me who have a very different take on reality—like maybe your neighbor next door who thinks that people who need food stamps are part of a massive Communist plot to overhrow the United States “from within.”
Yes, Charles, that’s very true. In fact, it is a well-established belief among conservatives that people who lack insurance don’t have insurance because they don’t WANT insurance. Well, that may be true for a teeny tiny percentage of uninsured people. I’m willing to bet my life savings (such as it is) that by far the largest percentage of uninsured would like very much to have insurance. But they don’t have insurance because (A) they are unemployed, (B) their employer doesn’t (or can’t) offer insurance, or (C) they (the uninsured) can’t afford alternatives such as COBRA.
Yes, these calls for assassinations are most disturbing. Bill O’Reilly called for the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, and he got his wish. Now Lou Dobbs is calling for the assassination of Howard Dean. He may get his wish fulfilled.
Very interesting that the only people who seem to be calling for assassinations are those on the Right. Hmmm…..
If a “Leftie” made such a call, the teabaggers would assassinate THAT person! I saw a townhall protestor openly wearing a handgun in a holster on his lower leg. The police said he was perfectly legal. But it definitely makes a statement and serves as warning.
And yep, you guessed it: I am one of those who has no voice. My so-called representatives have been hijacked and bought by Corporateamerica. My representatives represent their biggest campaign contributors: Corporateamerica. Not the public. And the Supreme Court (the little guy’s last bastion of hope) has turned its collective back on us by equating money with speech; thus, those who have the most money have the loudest voice. So much for the Supreme Court. Having gone to the Dark Side, they’re even scarier than the elected.