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Rhetorical Excess of the Day [I]

John G. West

The Berkshire Eagle newspaper in Massachusetts is running an absurd editorial with the histrionic title, “Ayatollahs in the classroom”. To get the full effect, you might want to turn on a CD of some suitably melodramatic music from a horror film before you start reading:

A movement to drag the teaching of science in the United States back into the Dark Ages continues to gain momentum. So far, it’s a handful of judges — “activist judges” in the view of their critics — who are preventing the spread of Saudi-style religious dogma into more and more of America’s public-school classrooms.

According to this Berkshire editorialist, discussing scientific criticisms of modern evolutionary theory in the classroom is tantamount to turning America into a theocracy like Iran or a totalitarian state like communist China. If the forces promoting such policies succeed, the writer warns ominously, science teachers in America may have to flee for their lives:

This means the state’s public-school science teachers will have to choose between being scientists or ayatollahs — or perhaps abandoning their students and fleeing Kansas, like academic truth-seekers in China in the 1980s or Tehran today.

The most bizzare thing about this article is that the writer appears to have absolutely no clue about who the real dogmatists are in this controversy. Hint: It’s not the people who are asking for open discussion and critical analysis of all the evidence relating to neo-Darwinism. If the writer wants to discover the real source of dogmatism in the evolution debate, he might start by looking in the mirror.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

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