We posted a short bit on Rafael Cruz's rejection of evolutionary biology last week. For those without video-rendering capability, here's a snippet of his remarks:
"[You] need to understand, it’s just like evolution. You know most Americans have their head in the sand about evolution. I’ve met so many Christians that tell me ‘evolution is a scientific fact.’ Baloney! I am a scientist, there is nothing scientific about evolution. But you know something, Karl Marx said it, ‘I can use the teachings of Darwin to promote communism.’ Why? Because communism, or call it socialism if you think communism is too hard a word, necessitates for government to be your god and for government to be your god they need to destroy the concept of God. That’s why communism and evolution go hand and hand. Evolution is one of the strongest tools of Marxism because if they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist."There's so much wrong with that graf it would take an entire post to even begin to unpack it. For starters, communist nations have a checkered past when it comes to evolutionary biology, and even more fundamentally, pointing out a particular nation or leader accepted or rejected evolution is hardly an argument for or against it. I imagine many of the countries Cruz was railing against vicariously, including Cuba, also teach the Germ Theory of Disease or the Periodic Table of Elements. It's unlikely Cruz rejects those simply because they might be found in a high school textbook in a communist nation at some point in the past.
But what's really going on here, from a big picture political perspective, is a little more subtle. And would you believe it directly involves a handful of very rich people having a few more dollars at the expense of everyone else?
Follow me below the fold and we'll fill that in.
To put it simply, there has been an effort afoot for decades in the US to mortally wound the public school system. There are many fronts in this movement, from stoked controversies intended to turn middle-class families against schools such as creationism or sex-ed in school, to scapegoating teachers and teachers' unions, to private and homeschool options which the majority of working families either cannot afford or do not have the time or expertise to carry out. But there's only one crystal-clear beneficiary: zillionaires.
Most public schools and other public services are supported by taxes. In many locales, for K-12 public ed, property taxes often make up a significant portion of the revenue base used to pay for things like teachers, buses, and the schools themselves. Property taxes are generally either a flat percentage of the property owned, or a combo of percentages and brackets with breakpoints. Even when those tax brackets are tilted aggressively against the middle-class home or small-business owner, people with large estates or substantial commercial holdings usually pay considerably more.
And what do they get out of it? An informed person would conclude quickly that an educated public at large makes for better workers and better consumers. But for a handful of wealthy short-sighted clans, they see public schools as something they are forced to subsidize but don't use, and which further produce nothing but competition for their own offspring. Worse, in many cases they see their tax money being used to help those people. Where those people are any race or class or creed of Americans the usual suspects prefer to keep at arms length as much as possible.
That's not to say that creationists don't believe their own spiel, it's likely that many do, especially at the grassroots. But for the Big Money Boyz fueling the conservative movement who don't care one way or another, or who are well-enough educated on the basics of biology to know creationism is bunk, it offers one of many useful wedges. It can sour the middle class and poor against the very institutions they and their families will most benefit from.
Creationism is not isolated to the US. There are plenty of them all over, including in Westernized countries. But those folks don't get anywhere near the kind of financial support our homegrown creationists enjoy. As such they're more like a spectacle and less of a real threat to public education. That's the reason Ken Ham decided to open his Creation Museum at the nexus of the Midwest US Bible belt and Dixie south, instead of a large European city or in his own homeland Down Under.
So we can talk about biology, we can talk about religion, we can talk about the scientific Renaissance or the theological conundrum geology and Darwin both ignited concerning the need for a literal Garden of Eden and Fall of Man to relieve a benevolent Creator of the responsibility for decay, death, and evil. Those are all great topics, worthy of discussion and posts. But as long as a few rich conservative wackjobs and a handful of super-wealthy dominionist nutjobs are funding this nonsense, it may not do much good.