I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

It’s been a busy week here in the offices of ILYBYGTH International! Here are some of the stories that came across our desk that we thought you might find interesting:

Trump’s proclamation for Education Week.

What was the “city on a hill” really about? Not what Reagan thought, at WaPo.

Two insufficient ways schools teach WWI. At TC.

wilson addressing congress

This WILL be on the test!

School privatization takes a hit in the mid-term elections, at T74.

Freaking out yet about the Asia Bibi case? At the Guardian.

What do you do if you support teacher strikes but lose your bid for Congress? Run for President, at Politico.

More swings than a school playground: Hillary Clinton is back IN the Texas history standards, at DMN.

Are evangelicals cracking up? Eric Miller interviews Paul Djupe at R&P.

we can foresee almost no circumstances at this point that would intervene in the mutual love affair—the equally yoked relationship—between white evangelicals and Trump. But, that necessarily entails a crackup of evangelicalism.

More than double-secret probation on the line: Dartmouth sued for allowing “Animal House” antics by three well-funded professors, at IHE.

Are the real anti-Semites on the Left? At Spectator.

What can conservatives and progressives agree on? Deriding tax breaks for Amazon, at the Federalist.

Jill Lepore on her new non-textbook textbook, at CHE.

A former school superintendent describes his disillusion with testing at Chalkbeat.

We’re not playing the long game for our kids.

Rutgers changes its mind: It’s okay if a white professor is anti-white, at FIRE.

Yale White Student Union_1542397045372.jpg_62387087_ver1.0_640_360

This isn’t what he wanted…

Money-laundering Bible college busted, at CT.

Will the real populist please stand up? R.R. Reno at TAM.

When the ruling class ignores or derides the unsettled populace (as is happening today — deplorables, takers, and so forth), the restlessness jells into an adversarial mood. A populist is anyone who gains political power on the strength of this adversarial stance.


Mobbed Up

I’ll say it: Right-wing mobs are way scarier than left-wing mobs. It seems like the British government agrees, but are we all victims of our own biases? Or is there really something true about it?

The Asia Bibi story is terrifying. If you haven’t been following, it concerns a Christian woman in Pakistan who was convicted of blasphemy for drinking out of a water jug used by Muslim women. After surviving calls for her execution and serving several years in prison, her sentence was thrown out recently.

Under threats against her life, Bibi’s family has requested asylum in countries such as the UK. To the dismay of some critics, the government dithered, wondering if saving Bibi would harm UK/Pakistan relations.

So here is our question this morning: Are right-wing mobs like the ones calling for Bibi’s head scarier in general than left-wing mobs?

Consider the following recent examples: Last year, in Charlottesville, Virginia, a “pro-white” mob marched in support of neo-Confederate values. In the fracas, a right-winger killed a counterprotester with a car.

Of course, we’ve seen other frightening mobs recently from the other side of our culture wars. At Middlebury College, for example, protesters in masks accosted and physically threatened Charles Murray and a member of the Middlebury faculty. At Evergreen State College, protesters shouted down faculty who disagreed with their plans for a campus-wide boycott. Perhaps most dramatically, masked left-wingers swept through Berkeley last year to shut down a right-wing protest.

We could go on and on. Conservative pundits such as Tucker Carlson have lamented their abuse at the hands of chanting leftist mobs. From the other side, Christine Blasey Ford—the woman who accused new SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault—has had to move four times, hire private security, and give up her job.

To this reporter, though, the two sides don’t seem the same. Threats from the right seem far more deadly than those from the left. Maybe it’s because in the USA, the right is the side of guns and absolute values. The right is the side of “Fightin Side of Me.” The left, on the other hand, is the side of hippies and self-empowerment. It is the side of skepticism and postgraduate degrees.

I know those are just stupid stereotypes and we can think of plenty of counter examples. For instance, soccer hooligans cause far more mob havoc than do NASCAR fans.

Still…is it only my bias, or is there really something more frightening about right-wing mob violence?

If It’s Been Worse, Will It Get Better?

It’s not all that comforting, really. But as historians and old people with good memories know, today’s violent political climate is depressingly not new. With synagogue shootings and Trump-fueled mail bombings, it’s hard not to panic. Yet Andrew Bacevich thinks there is some grounds for wary optimism. Should we agree?

We don’t need to go all the way back to the earliest days of our nation when rebels took up arms against the fledgling federal government. We don’t even need to go back to the ugliest days of American political history, when a US Congressman beat a US Senator into a coma on the floor of the US Senate. No, we only need to remember events in our lifetimes (for those of us of a certain age). In the 1970s, political bombings were a regular feature of American life.

economis political violence

Comforting? …or terrifying?

Whatever your political beliefs, there’s no doubt that the left-wing violence of the groups such as the Weather Underground in the 1970s threatened the fabric of American civil life. As Bacevich points out, back then the left succumbed to a despairing, violent “nihilism.” The Weather Underground issued a call to

Amerika’s youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join forces in the destruction of the empire.


Public Enemy #1

They tried, but they failed. And Bacevich hopes today’s alt-right will sputter as well. As he puts it,

The ebb and flow of events in the 1960s should give us confidence that the center will ultimately hold. The market for ecstasy and violence will once more prove to be limited and transitory. Today’s alt-right is no more likely to win the support of ordinary Americans than did the Weather Underground during the infamous Days of Rage.

I’d like to agree, but I admit I’m skeptical. I get nervous when I see our President ejecting journalists from the White House on trumped-up accusations. I get nervous when elections return avowed neo-Confederates to office—in Iowa of all places.

What do you think? Do you share Bacevich’s cautious optimism? Or do you think that Norman Mailer’s ‘“subterranean river of untapped, ferocious, lonely and romantic desires,” expressing the “concentration of ecstasy and violence which is the dream life of the nation”’ will overwhelm its banks one time too many?

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Top ILYBYGTH-themed stories from the past week:

Wait…what? Can Trump eliminate birthright citizenship? HNN collected historians’ comments.

How have textbooks portrayed climate change? At TC.

It’s not college that frightens conservatives, it’s just the wrong type of college–a conservative plea for more evangelical colleges, at NR.

If anything, we should be sending more students to college — opening up further avenues of funding, both public and private, even as we pursue policies that might lower tuition or challenge the progressive domination of our campuses. Colleges will have to change, to be sure, but in the meantime conservatives would be wise not only to celebrate but to actively advance the interests of those institutions that are educating students properly right now.

Diversity training is good, says Eboo Patel at CHE. But why doesn’t it include religion?

What’s the deal with “messianic Judaism?” Neil J. Young describes the unique meanings at HuffPost.

When did evangelicals get involved in politics? Clyde Haberman tells the old myth about the 1970s at NYT.

The new digital divide, at NYT.

It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.

Atheism in America: A review essay in the New Yorker.

The radical-creationist view on climate change: It’s not a shame, it’s not a crisis…it’s a sin, at AIG.

How many people really believe in a flat earth? NCSE’s Glenn Branch takes another whack at the poll numbers, at SA.

Class war or culture war? The divide in the Democratic Party, at Politico.

Ocasio-Cortez, the young Latina who proudly identifies as a democratic socialist, hadn’t been all but vaulted into Congress by the party’s diversity, or a blue-collar base looking to even the playing field. She won because she had galvanized the college-educated gentrifiers who are displacing those people. . . . Energized liberals, largely college-educated or beyond, have been voting in a new breed of activist Democrat—and voting out more established candidates with strong support among the party’s largely minority, immigrant, Hispanic, African-American and non-college-educated base.

Have schools become a “Constitution-free zone?” Interview with Justin Driver at Slate.

Academia as a cult at WaPo. HT: MM.

Three Things that Have Nothing to Do with Evolution (that Have Everything to Do with Evolution)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just don’t care. Not just in a passive, lazy way, but in an aggressive, assertive, in-your-face sense. When it comes to creationism and evolution education, I insist on not caring if people think the earth came from Yahweh 6,000 years ago, a raven in the distant past, or a flying spaghetti monster.

Judy Garland Bfd GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

If we want to make progress in our tired old creation/evolution war, I’m arguing in my new book, we all have to stop caring about those things. We have to stop thinking it is our business if students have the correct religious beliefs about evolutionary theory. So if a conservative evangelical pastor tells me that he can put evangelical theology first and still embrace mainstream evolutionary theory, I’m all for it. Not because his theology is correct, because I don’t care about that.

In this case, the pastor is Todd Wilson. He took to the pages of the BioLogos Forum to explain his method for bridging the angry divide between young-earth creationists and evolutionary creationists. All evangelicals, the Rev. Wilson argues, can agree on some faith basics:

1. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God, inspired and authoritative. Therefore whatever Scripture teaches is to be believed as God’s instruction, without denying that the human authors of Scripture communicate using the cultural conventions of their time. . . .

2. Christians should be well-grounded in the Bible’s teaching on creation but always hold their views with humility, respecting the convictions of others and not aggressively advocating for positions on which Evangelicals disagree. . . .

3. Everything in creation finds its source, goal and meaning in Jesus Christ, in whom the whole of creation will one day achieve eschatological redemption and renewal. All things will be united in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

What do these ideas have to do with evolutionary theory? Nothing, in one sense. They are all about evangelical theology, not evolutionary science. On the other hand, these ideas might hold the key to evolution education in the United States.

The Rev. Wilson hopes that he can use these points to connect better with different types of evangelical creationists. Young-earth creationists, old-earthers, evolutionary creationists, intelligent designers…all of them disagree with one another, sometimes with great vituperation.

Is his theology correct? I have no idea, and this is where those of us watching these battles from the outside should cultivate an awkward and principled indifference. Speaking in terms of public policy, we just shouldn’t care WHAT people believe about creation. What we should always do is help people develop a thorough and meaningful knowledge about evolutionary theory. What they choose to believe about it is not a question public schools can care about.

It is not—it should not be—the purview of the public schools to encourage or discourage students from having any particular religious beliefs. It IS the goal of public schools to teach students the best of everything.

Combined, those two goals mean we should teach mainstream evolutionary theory to all students. And we should be painfully aware not to step into the regions trod by the Rev. Wilson. If his young-earth creationist congregants want to believe that the Bible is the “inspired and authoritative” Word of God, that’s fine. If they want their children to believe that their religion dictates a belief in a young earth, that’s fine too.

Is Wilson right? Not only don’t we care, we shouldn’t care. We should not involve ourselves in big-picture religious beliefs that touch on questions of speciation and evolutionary theory.

Jim Carrey I Dont Care GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

I don’t know how people had time to write stuff when the Brewers were in the playoffs, but they did. It has been a whirlwind week. Here are some of the top ILYBYGTH-themed stories from the interwebs:

What 81%? A new look at white evangelicals and Trump, at CT.

Some background on the new president of the Moody Bible Institute at RNS.

1940s postcard library

Getting those dispensations right…c. 1940s.

Trump, Pocahontas, and the Cherokee Nation: Senator Warren releases her DNA results, denied by both Cherokee Nation and Trump, at Politico.

Schools and the midterm elections: In Ohio, a failed charter network becomes a political football.

“He was clinically upset.” Rich parents reject Zuckerberg’s edu-plan, at NYMag.

Atheists keep sneaking in God through the back door. A review of Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism at NR.

What Christianity and secular humanism share is more important than their differences: No other religious tradition—Jewish, Greek, Indian, Chinese—envisions history as linear rather than cyclical or conceives of humanity as a unitary collective subject. The very idea of utopia—a place where everyone is happy—could not have occurred to people who took for granted that individuals have irreconcilable desires and ideals, and that conflict is therefore impossible to eliminate. Western universalism, Gray scoffs, is very provincial indeed.

It can happen here: A century after the Spanish flu, what are the chances of another worldwide pandemic? At Vox.

keep the faith vote for science

Hoosiers can love Jesus AND Bill Nye…

Finally! Indiana voters urged to “Keep the Faith and Vote for Science,” at IS.

How are America’s public schools really doing? It’s a trickier question than it seems, says Jack Schneider at WaPo.

America’s schools don’t merely reflect our nation’s material prosperity. They also reflect our moral poverty. . . . Reform rhetoric about the failures of America’s schools is both overheated and off the mark. Our schools haven’t failed. Most are as good as the schools anyplace else in the world. And in schools where that isn’t the case, the problem isn’t unions or bureaucracies or an absence of choice. The problem is us. The problem is the limit of our embrace.

Why is an academic life harder for women and minorities? Columbia offers its findings at CHE.

Conservative campus group restricts audience for Ben Shapiro at USC, at IHE.

New survey: America’s evangelicals tend to like heresy, at CT.

religion as personal belief

How school reform works, until it doesn’t. Maine tries a new approach, then retreats, at Chalkbeat.

Proponents of proficiency-based learning argue that none of this reflects flaws in the concept. Maine struggled, they say, because they didn’t introduce the new systems thoughtfully enough, moving too quickly and requiring change rather than encouraging it.

Atheist and creationism-basher Lawrence Krauss announces his retirement after harassment allegations, at FA.

Finally! The Right Strategy to End Creation/Evolution Wars

What can we do to promote better public policy about climate-change science and evolution? As one group has done, we can notice the blindingly obvious fact that religion supports good science.

keep the faith vote for science

Hoosiers can love Jesus AND Bill Nye…

Here’s what we know: In Indiana, a group called Class Action has posted billboards in the run-up to the midterm elections. The billboards link religious faith with mainstream science.

By and large, the goal is to encourage religious voters to vote in favor of savvy climate-change science, to support politicians who want to take action to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.

Too often, radicals on both sides have harped on the old myth that religion and science are enemies. Radical young-earth creationists like Ken Ham have warned, for example, that real religion needs to be skeptical of the fake science being peddled by today’s mainstream experts.

To counter this sort of unnecessary antagonism, it just makes sense to remind voters that mainstream science is entirely compatible with even the most conservative strains of evangelical Protestantism.

As one supporter enthused,

A vote for science is a vote for creation, for the most vulnerable of the Earth and for future generations.

As another agreed,

It is smart political tactics to try to build coalitions between religious and environmental voters. . . . If we are to truly tackle the climate crisis, these efforts will be critical.

Hear, hear!

Want to end the utterly unnecessary century-long antagonism between mainstream science and conservative evangelical religion? Don’t tell religious people they are dumb. Don’t accuse them of “child abuse.” Instead, reach across the trench to notice that we all want the same things.

D-D-D-didja Like It?

It can be nervewracking. With a new book out, it is difficult to wait for the academic reviews to come in. After all, with any luck, journals will find the toughest experts to weigh in on your book. Reviewers’ reputations are on the line, too, so they don’t want to go too easy.

Nervous Spongebob Gif GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants - Find & Share on GIPHY

For all those reasons and more I was ecstatic this morning to read the latest review of Fundamentalist U. The author is a top-notch historian I really admire. Not only did Professor’s Turpin‘s book, A New Moral Vision, win a hatful of awards, it profoundly changed the way I understand the historical landscape of American higher education.

So I was understandably nervous to see what she had to say in the new issue of History of Education Quarterly. Here are some of the highlights:

As a sympathetic outsider to the institutions he studies, Laats pairs depth of research and analysis with a commitment to rigorous fairness to his subjects. In Fundamentalist U, Laats does not merely explain the internal logic of an interesting, but isolated, group of colleges and universities; he also raises critical questions about the nature of broader American higher education and culture in the twentieth century. . . . Laats is an engaging writer, and the book’s chapters are filled with fascinating stories cleverly told. . . . Fundamentalist U reshapes our mental landscape of twentieth-century American higher educational institutions and is essential reading for understanding both their history and their present.

I Love You but You Didn’t Do the Reading

Lynching creationists, confirming judges, and much more. Here are a few of the stories that marched across our desk this week:

Creationist school board candidate runs a terrible ad, at FA.

swung by neck not tail


Sam Wineburg: New media literacy law won’t work, at WaPo.

Jon Shields on the decline of the conservative professoriate, at NA.

if one wants to be exposed to a broad spectrum of political ideas, it is still far better to attend Notre Dame or Baylor than Berkeley or Cornell.

More spoof articles get accepted by academic journals, at NR. HT: MM

a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviors, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.

Kavanaugh Karamazov? Comparing the trials of Brett and Dimitri at PD.

Trials are not the place for working out our social grievances and anxieties.

Call Obi-Wan: The US Navy now has real ray-guns. At Cosmos.

ray gun

>>pew pew<<

Did Common Core change teacher behavior? Larry Cuban says kinda.

Professor under fire for hateful comments about the Kavanaugh hearings, at IHE.

Does this flyer count asliberal indoctrination” by a public-school teacher? At PI.

pa liberal indoctrination

Civics ed? Or sinister indoctrination?

Taxpayers fund a school field trip to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, at LHL.

Mitch McConnell as Hindenburg, a “gravedigger of democracy,” at NYRB.

What’s the big IDEA with this fast-expanding charter network? At Chalkbeat.

Ah, fresh air! A pop history of baby cages at GH.

baby cage

You can forget those “free-range” child-rearing practices…

Penn Puzzles

Can anyone REALLY teach students how to know and understand something without believing it? That’s one of the questions that sharp students brought up yesterday at the University of Pennsylvania.penn gse logo better

Some context: I headed down to Philadelphia yesterday to talk about evolution, creationism, and the goals of public education. My friend and hero Jon Zimmerman had asked his class to read Teaching Evolution in a Creation Nation.

As usual, readers were generally more interested in the philosophical arguments of my co-author Harvey Siegel than with my historical chapters about evolution education. Is it really possible, students wondered, to teach students to know evolutionary theory in a deep way, to understand it, without insisting that they believe it?

Harvey and I make the case that it is, but as yesterday’s lively seminar proved, it is a difficult distinction to imagine in many cases.

For example, think about the reverse. What if a public-school history teacher wanted to teach students that American history should be understood as the triumph of “JudeoChristian” values? What if the teacher assured secular parents that he was not trying to force students to “believe” in any particular religious values, but only to “know” and “understand” the importance of Christianity in the forming of United States government and society?

Or consider the challenge for any person—especially a young person—of separating out her desire to please an authority figure from her personal religious beliefs. Is it really practical to tell teachers that they don’t want to influence students’ religious beliefs? That teachers should somehow be able to separate out such closely related concepts?

Most challenging, we considered yesterday other sorts of student belief that teachers DID want to challenge. What if a student in history class, for example, argued that her racist beliefs were acceptable, because they were her personal beliefs? Could a teacher really not challenge them?

I think a teacher not only can, but must. And I think a teacher can do that without therefore insisting that he must challenge every student belief with which he disagrees. As Harvey and I argued in TECN, and as I’m elaborating in my new book about creationism, even though such real-world challenges are intense, it is still vital to clarify our goals and our mission when it comes to creationism and evolution education.