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Academic Bias, Accuracy in Academia, Recent News, U.S. Politics

Media Bullies and Creationist Agendas

Many of America’s institutions have been overcome by the liberal establishment and serve as mouthpieces for their agenda, argues author Ben Shapiro in his latest book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America. The left has “decided the the political debate is worthless,” he said at a recent Heritage event.

“They are not going to debate policy, they are not going to debate what is the best way to solve the nation’s problems, they are not going to provide evidence,” he continued. “They are going to label us morally deficient human beings unworthy of debate.”

“We see it in virtually every arena of American life.”

By searching for agendas behind political debates, liberals are able to set up straw men which can be attacked instead of discussing the issues at hand. Shapiro pointed to President Obama’s recent second inaugural address, saying that it insinuates that the right hates old people and would leave children with disabilities out in the cold. That’s because the left’s philosophy is based almost completely on standing up for victimized groups, Shapiro said. Don’t let them use these groups as shields, he urged.

The media, in particular, engages in “character assassination,” argues Shapiro. Organizations like Accuracy in Media, America’s oldest media watchdog, point out inaccuracies in media coverage. (Full disclosure: This blogger used to work for their sister organization, Accuracy in Academia.)

“When you watch the media, and you see the questions they’re asking, you’ll see underneath there is a patina of character assassination–always,” said Shapiro. “There is not a single question that they’re asking where underneath is not character assassination.”

“Our job is to debunk what they’re saying,” he argues, “and I think that too often we mistake debunking what they’re saying for civility.”

A recent article by The Guardian’s Paul Harris demonstrates this thinly-veiled attempt at character assassination. The UK article discusses how four U.S. states have introduced academic freedom legislation but barely discusses the legislation itself. “Four US states are considering new legislation about teaching science in schools, allowing pupils to to be taught religious versions of how life on earth developed in what critics say would establish a backdoor way of questioning the theory of evolution,” opens Harris (emphasis added).

“Fresh legislation has been put forward in Colorado, Missouri and Montana. In Oklahoma, there are two bills before the state legislature that include potentially creationist language” (emphasis added).

Harris cites the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) as a watchdog group but doesn’t identify it as a proponent of evolution in schools. NCSE is also a proponent of climate change and a critic of creationism, vital information not mentioned by Harris. “For more than two decades, the National Center for Science Education has been opposing efforts by creationists to weaken or block the teaching of evolution,” states their website.

In Oklahoma, “The Senate bill would oblige the state to help teachers ‘find more effective ways to represent the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies,’” reports Harris. “The House bill specifically mentions ‘biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning’ as areas that ‘some teachers are unsure’ about teaching.” The origins of life and global warming, at the very least, remain topics of scientific debate. However, Harris’ hit-job characterizes these bills as creationist ploys rather than calls for balanced teaching–or inquiry–in the classroom.

“Over the past few years, only Tennessee and Louisiana have managed to pass so-called ‘academic freedom’ laws of the kind currently being considered in the four states,” he writes. “Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and close observer of the creationism movement, said that the successes in those two states meant that the religious lobby was always looking for more opportunities” (emphasis added).

Through the course of the article we learn that such laws as those proposed in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma are the product of a religious lobby, further the creationist agenda, and would be a feather in the caps of these two if these laws were to pass. “The moves in such a wide range of states have angered advocates of secularism in American official life,” comments Harris. In other words, these laws may even endanger the country’s separation of church and state (at least in schools).

Readers also learn that these states could be boycotted for their creationist educational laws. “The Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology has even launched a boycott of Louisiana and cancelled a scheduled convention in New Orleans,” writes Harris. And, such laws are damaging to students because they call into question the broad scientific consensus in these subjects. “Others experts agreed, arguing that it could even hurt future job prospects for students graduating from those states’ public high schools,” writes Harris.

“… [Andrew Breitbart] used to talk a lot about how the left were a bunch of bullies, how what the left really does is try to shut down the debate, how their sole goal is to avoid a solid policy discussion by trying to label us bad human beings: racist, sexist, bigot, homophobes,” argues Shapiro. For Harris, you should probably add creationist to that list. (It’s also interesting to note that Harris’ source, Barbara Forrest, equates intelligent design with creationism).

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