It seems that the far right these days is increasingly populated by political propagandists (like David Barton) and unhinged talk show hosts (like Glenn Beck) who fancy themselves as historians and political scientists. Add to that list U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is joining with right-wing talk show host Mark Levin to teach an online course about the history of conservatism. The course is sponsored by the Leadership Institute (“Training conservative activists, students, and leaders since 1979”) and Free Think University.
Free Think University claims that it “promotes critical thinking, rather than popular ‘group think.'” Ummm, sure. Its online “courses” include titles like “Has Science Buried God?” and “Do Free Markets Promote Cooperation?” A course titled “Why Is the Constitution Important” describes the supposedly opposing sides on the issue this way:
“The Constitutionalists believe in the timelessness of the Constitution and seek to continue to uphold its original meaning and intent. Then there are the Progressives who believe the Constitution is an antiquated document that must constantly ‘evolve’ to meet the whims of the times.”
“To meet the whims of the times”? Yeah, THAT sounds like a balanced portrayal.
“No matter a person’s political leanings, Conservative, Liberal or otherwise, we think this collaborative project with Leadership Institute is an important contribution to a more civil dialogue about politics and the American experience,” Free Think University’s founder Jim Van Eerden says about the new Cruz/Levin course.
“An important contribution to a more civil dialogue about politics and the American experience”? Please. Cruz at least brings a solid academic background to this endeavor, but his acidic rhetoric as a new senator has reminded many of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Even fellow Republicans have harshly criticized his leading role in the shutdown of the federal government for more than two weeks this fall in a hopeless (and reckless) attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act. His co-teacher is even more divisive. Levin claims, for example, that President Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and that radical Muslims have “infiltrated” our government. Reviewing Levin’s 2005 book Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, a Slate writer explained: “[N]o serious scholar of the court or the Constitution, on the ideological left or right, is going to waste their time engaging Levin’s arguments once they’ve read this book.”
Instead of wasting time on this course, folks could just take in one of Glenn Beck’s rants and get pretty much the same “education.”