Unlikely Allies

Who knew evolutionary science had such an ardent defender in former (and infamous) Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams?

According to a letter from Williams to Gov. Rick Perry unearthed by the Austin American-Statesman, Williams tried to intervene with the governor at the outset of the State Board of Education’s contentious science curriculum revision in 2008:

“If Texas enters into a debate on the teaching of fundamental religious beliefs in public schools, it will tarnish our strong academic reputation, set our ability to attract top science and engineering talent to Texas back decades and severely impact our reputation as a national and global leader in energy, space, medicine and other high tech fields… Governor, this is a very important issue for Texas. I urge you to quell this issue quietly, firmly and permanently.”

Of course, Perry decided to go a different direction. His handpicked chairman, Don “Somebody’s Gotta Stand Up to Experts” McLeroy, led the state board in an embarrassing, drawn out public fight over the legitimacy of evolution — just as Clayton feared.

3 thoughts on “Unlikely Allies

  1. Perry did not listen because he is “The Anointed One.” I do not live in Texas, but I do read the op-ed page in my local newspaper most days at lunch. I cannot tell you. I cannot tell you. I cannot even begin to tell you how many little old ladies wrote letters to the editor about the election of George W. Bush as President of the United States in 2000. They came at first, and it seems to me that even more came as some other letter writers began expressing dissatisfaction with his performance. The early letters went something like this:

    Dear Editor,

    I was so glad to see our nice Mr. Bush elected as President. I just know that he will do well because he is God’s “anointed one” to lead our nation in these times of trouble. Yes, he is a special vessel separated out from all other human beings and set aside by the Lord himself to be our very special leader. We must do all that we can to help him and support him so he will be successful, continue to be favored by God, and bring down a cornucopia of blessings from on high to this great nation.


    Nellie Owens Ferble

    Shortly thereafter, the newspaper hired a local, regular op-ed columnist by the name of Don Williams. Don became unhappy with “Dubya” very early on and started writing columns that TFN’s Ryan would no doubt call a “screed.” Even I thought the columns were a bit too intense, but there was a lot of truth in them—or so we learned later. My area of the country has been intensely Republican since the end of the Civil War. Apparently, best anyone could guess, the local Republican powers that be, assorted conservative millionaires, and numerous outraged rhubarbs informed the newspaper publisher that Williams had to go—and he did. Everyone is expected to tow the party line in this area or be openly accused of what the Russkies used to deride as “Anti-Soviet Behavior.”

    Well, after Don showed up, the letters to the editor from the little old ladies changed to look something like this:

    Dear Editor,

    You have just got to do something about that awful Mr. Don Williams. How dare he criticize our nice Mr. Bush? Does he not realize that Mr. Bush is the “anointed one” of God to lead our nation? He is the chosen one—a special vessel set aside. The Lord must be very angry at Mr. Williams right now for so regularly attacking his and our beloved one in such an unfair and awful way. If he continues, I fear that the Lord may withdraw his blessings from this great land of ours. Why, that Mr. Williams must be God’s own enemy. Whatever else could it be? I tremble for us all.

    Nellie Owens Ferble

    And what were Don Williams’ great sins against the Lord that had all of the little old ladies so upset? Here is an example from one of the op-ed columns Don wrote:

    “The release of film footage showing Americans inspecting Saddam Hussein for head lice is a classic study in how to dehumanize a man. And, even though Saddam is a very bad man, such imagery should have been avoided, I thought then and I believe now.

    It doubtlessly inflamed old Baathist loyalists and resulted in the deaths of American soldiers, just as recent images of a few Americans abusing Iraqi prisoners will lead to more untold deaths. Most soldiers will tell you that attitudes of commanders trickle down to influence soldiers in the field. The horrible human rights record of Saddam’s government is a case in point. The gassing of the Kurds, the torture chambers and mass graves couldn’t have happened without Saddam’s approval.

    That’s because respect for human dignity – or the lack thereof – begins at the top. One wishes our president – the current ruler of Iraq – had taken this lesson to heart when assessing the situation there.

    Reports of American soldiers sodomizing Iraqis with brooms, hooking them up to electrodes, posing them in positions of sexual lewdness in front of American women, torturing some of the prisoners to death so that bodies had to be carried out of prisons packed in ice – all these might have been prevented with a simple strong presidential directive that torture and humiliation would not be tolerated. It’ll be interesting to see whether coming inquiries reveal any such hands-on involvement by the president.

    Don’t hold your breath. Bush’s lack of interest in prisoner abuse has been evident for some time. He’s pointedly neglected the issue even though a report detailing such abuse has been floating around the Pentagon for weeks now, according to CBS, the New Yorker magazine and many others.”