The Revisionaries Are Coming!

Good news for folks in the Binghamton, New York area!

We will be screening The Revisionaries for those of us who can’t travel to NYC or elsewhere to see it.  This documentary examines the intellectual world of Dr. Don McLeroy and his allies, c. 2010.  In that year, Dr. McLeroy used his control of the Texas State Board of Education to make some changes in the requirements for Texas textbooks.  Included in those changes were a renewed emphasis on the Christian nature of the Founding Fathers, a skeptical attitude toward evolutionary science, and a host of other conservative favorites.

For more on the 2010 Texas hearings, see Russell Shorto’s great article from a couple years back in the New York Times.

Or, for those in the scenic Southern Tier of New York, come on down to our free screening.  Thanks to Binghamton University’s Evolutionary Studies Program and its Graduate School of Education, we’re showing the film a few times in coming weeks.  All of the screenings will be free and open to the public.

The first showing will be on Monday, November 26, at 5 PM.  We’ll show the film on Binghamton’s Vestal campus, Academic Building A, G-008.  Yours truly will be leading a brief informal discussion before and after.

The campus will also be showing the film a few other times in coming weeks, details TBD.

The Revisionaries

I don’t often wish I lived in a bigger city.  But with the limited release of a new documentary, I’m wishing I had a chance to see it.

The Revisionaries has been released in a few cities and film festivals.  According to its producer, this documentary focuses on the intellectual and political worlds of Don McLeroy.

A short review in the New York Times emphasizes the “startling” way conservatives such as McLeroy and Cynthia Dunbar injected partisan and sectarian ideas into the curriculum of Texas in 2009-2010.

As I noted in an article in Teachers College Record a little while back (behind a paywall, unfortunately, but the executive summary is public), Dr. McLeroy cared about more than just creationism.  As Russell Shorto pointed out in a New York Times article, McLeroy insisted that Texas schoolchildren be taught “two basic facts about man.  He was created in the image of God, and he is fallen.”  According to amendments proposed by McLeroy, Texas students should also learn more about Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence”
and about the positive contributions to American history from such conservative icons as “Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

I am looking forward to seeing the film.  I have a couple of worries.  Though this morning’s NYT review insists that producer Scott Thurman is “admirably evenhanded,” the clips available on the film’s website suggest that the documentary is yet another breathless expose of the deeply conservative ideas of McLeroy and his allies.

I hope not.  I think those of us outside of the intellectual world of activists such as McLeroy and Dunbar will benefit from a sincere attempt to truly understand their worldview.  After all, it is a vision of American culture and education that is enormously popular.  Another piece of journalism or filmmaking that hopes simply to mock or deride those ideas won’t help at all.  We KNOW we don’t agree with these ideas.  We don’t need to be reminded that some people hold these ideas.  What is really interesting, in contrast, are the arguments folks like McLeroy might make to support their beliefs in a young earth.

So, for those in Pasadena, NYC, Denver, Sarasota, or other screening locations, make some time to check out the film.  Be sure to send your thoughts, reviews, and comments to us here at ILYBYGTH.  Out here in the boonies, we’ll only wait for the film to get around to our neck of the woods.