Education Icon Education

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.