Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a supporter of Texas State Board of Education incumbent Ken Mercer is attacking his election opponent for having been a Fulbright scholar and a Peace Corps volunteer. Writing on the Republican website Texas GOP Vote, Sonja Harris has this to say in criticizing Rebecca Bell-Metereau, a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos:
“Bell-Metereau is a former Fulbright scholar which is a government sponsored program that promotes multiculturalism diluting American exceptionalism. She also taught English and American studies in the Peace Corp. I do not condemn these programs but point to the Left leaning agendas they provide to the participants. Peace Corp volunteer Senator Chris Dodd is quoted as saying, ‘that a great nation should send its people abroad, not to extend its power, not to intimidate its enemies,’ and of course the Peace Corp was instrumental in his role in the Senate. This is the kind of company Bell-Metereau keeps.”
Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious scholarship exchange programs in the world. The list of Fulbright scholars includes Nobel Prize-winning American economist Joseph Stiglitz, former UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering and composer Philip Glass. And the Peace Corps is one of the most successful, respected and inspiring international development programs in the world. But now a connection to those two programs is evidence that someone is unqualified — or inappropriate — for a seat on the State Board of Education in Texas?
The knee-jerk anti-intellectualism, anti-education bias and intolerance of the far right today clearly shows little signs of fading. Without a hint of irony, by the way, Harris begins her pro-Mercer screed with a Bible verse:
“Walk with wise men and you will become wise, but the companion of fools will fare badly.” – Proverbs 13:20
We couldn’t agree more. Which makes us wonder: will Ken Mercer publicly reject the kind of ignorance and hysteria Harris is promoting in support of his campaign? Well, we all probably know the answer to that.