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Bobby Jindal Objects to Correctness, Political or Otherwise

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Bobby Jindal, Republican Governor from Louisiana, is rumored to be near or at the top of the McCain Vice President list. But in the past week, Jindal has flip-flopped on pay raise legislation (perhaps in response to a recall petition mounted against him in response to his original support of the bill) -- and perhaps more importantly, he's signed legislation allowing for the inclusion of so-called intelligent design in state public school science curriculum. (See him talk about the topic in the video below.)

Amazing how the term "intelligent" can be applied to so many things having little to do with actual intelligence, isn’t it?

The passage of this bill, with vocal support by Jindal, is something that should interest everyone. Americans who still believes in rational thinking and the scientific method, no matter if they self-identify as Democrat or Republican, owe it to themselves to take notice. And it’s obviously of interest to those who encourage the increasing melding of church and state (so long as it’s their church, mind you).

So chalk up another win for the god-squad in the battle between faith and fact. And the religious intent of this bill, though long denied by its backers, is obvious in comments from the Louisiana Family Forum, who led the charge in this issue. They described this as a "mission" to "persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family." Not much gray area there. And what’s next? Will six times six be redefined to equal whatever God wills? Will the religious symbolism of Moby Dick be tossed overboard in favor of the idea that the Great White Whale represents the evils of liberalism? How far are we really from ridiculous examples like that if we’re letting faith-based parables masquerade as scientific theory in public schools?

But maybe this is just Bobby Jindal running for Vice-President of the U.S. and being the religious nutjob and racial minority that McCain needs him to be. After all, Jindal’s real first name is Piyush. I point that out not because one should be suspicious of such a name or associated origin (though it certainly didn’t hurt his chances of being the first non-white Governor of Louisiana that he converted to Christianity in high school), but because his nickname was inspired by Bobby Brady of the associated TV Bunch. And as much as I loved that show, I don’t want it or anything associated with it having anything to do with national politics. I don’t want to replace the national anthem with "Sunshine Day," nor does it seem rational to hire Sherwood Schwartz as press secretary. We’ve already had Sonny Bono and Gopher from Love Boat in Congress. Seventies television has already had its day in the political sun.

But the real trepidation should come from the continual dumbing-down of American education. Conservatives wonder why public schools struggle -- well, part of the problem is the strain caused by continual "fixes" offered up by education opponents. Forcing the "persuasive" presentation of religion in public institutions. Prayer in schools. CSAPs and No Child Left Behind. These are some of the hairballs that clog up the pipes of our American education system. And they’re continually introduced as solutions to sometimes real, sometimes non-existent problems. They weaken the system, perhaps so that conservatives can do to it what Grover Norquist said he wanted to do to government overall: "drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Bobby Jindal dismisses the opposition to the religious invasion of public education by calling it "political correctness." But make no mistake -- when Jindal and other religious conservatives attack political correctness, they’re shooting imaginary fish in a made-up barrel. No one’s standing up and defending political correctness -- certainly not the Democrats, who, to be fair, use the same buzzword sometimes to attack the Republicans. That’s just all argument-framing, and while it’s annoying and empty, it’s just talk.

What’s more disturbing is that this isn’t an attack so much on political correctness, but on correctness itself -- or as close to correct as science dares get. What the religious right calls intelligent design isn’t a theory in the same way that evolution is a theory, no matter how many times they try to equate the two. Once again, religious conservatives are using their agenda to attack science using terms that the average American doesn’t fully understand. And if all that the children of America ever get from school is conflicted, politically-influenced information -- what chance do they have to ever understand it well? -- Teague Bohlen


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