Will They Ever Tell the Truth?

We’ll say this for the folks at the far-right Liberty Institute in Plano: they do a very good job of lying to their own members. The latest example is an e-mail blast to LI members today about the State Board of Education and the revision of social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools. The e-mail repeats a litany of distortions the far-right group has been pushing since last year, including that liberal curriuclum writers supposedly didn’t want students to learn about Christmas, important patriotic holidays and even astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Never mind, of course, that the manufactured “controversy” about Christmas was little more than a fundraising gimmick for far-right groups like LI, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family. Moreover, it was Peter Marshall — one of the absurdly unqualified evangelical conservatives far-right state board members put on an “expert” panel for the curriculum revision — who insisted that Neil Armstrong be removed from a key curriculum standard. We could go on, but you get the point.

But the LI e-mail trumps even that nonsense in a sneering rejection of the common-sense notion that the state board stop dismissing the concerns of academic experts who — unlike board members themselves — actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to history, government, economics and other social studies classes:

“Austin liberal groups (not SBOE members) and liberal academia think that Texans don’t know what’s best for their kids. . . . They say they only want ‘credentialed’ people to decide, which means parents and common sense teachers are not welcome.”

“Credentialed people”? Horrors. Can’t have that, right? (We like how LI puts “credentialed” in quotation marks, as if real credentials are somehow meaningless.)

Of course, no one has suggested that Texans don’t know what’s best for their kids or that parents “are not welcome.” Actually, we think parents are increasingly (and rightly) concerned by what’s happening on the state board. That’s a big reason why four of five religious-right candidates went down to defeat in Republican nominating battles for the board this year.

Parents realize that the real problem is too many state board members have repeatedly put their personal and political agendas ahead of the interests of schoolchildren. In fact, those board members have spent the last three years shredding the long, hard work of teachers, academics and education specialists in developing sound curriuclum standards for language arts, science and now social studies.

And what’s the line about “common sense teachers” all about? Truth is, LI and far-right members of the state board have shown little more than contempt for classroom teachers, suggesting that they’re “leftists” who want to undermine patriotism and attack Christianity. Moreover, the state board itself rejected a proposal last November that teachers (as well as academic experts) be on hand to advise board members as they debated the social studies standards in January and March. As a result, we saw the board make one reckless, ill-informed decision after another as they vandalized the standards.

Look, we long ago gave up expecting the Liberty Institute to stop lying to the public. But we can’t figure out why the group’s own supporters tolerate being manipulated and told the same lies over and over again — especially when the facts are easy to gather.

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15 Comments

  1. Cytocop
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    John Frick wrote: “It is not hard to detect a significant liberal bias in most social studies textbooks currently used by Texas students. This is particularly true in sections dealing with economic theory which portray capitalism and the free-market theory as evil while extolling the virtues of Marxism and socialistic policies.”

    First, what is a “liberal bias”? One that finds the poverty of exploitation? Capitalism is all about exploitation and profit. These things in themselves are not good nor evil; they just ARE. But who benefits from capitalism? The capitalists. I give you a present-day example: Check out what’s been happening in America’s mines over the past couple of weeks….and on the BP platform in the Gulf. These accidents were preventable but for corporate greed and government regulators looking the other way…probably thanks to corporate lobbyists. Of course, corporations must get profit in order to pay their employees! But at what cost is this profit gained? There must be a happy medium. But that old pendulum is swinging more and more to favor corporations.

    Just watch the hearings on financial regulations get watered-down softer and softer on corporations and banks.

  2. Posted April 29, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    “As a moderate Texan…”

    Just as soon as I saw those words, I knew the following would be conservative nonsense. I was not disabused.

  3. John Frick
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    As a moderate Texan (those are the folks between the liberals and the conservatives–and yes, we aren’t extinct), I am fascinated by the national debate about the changes to the social studies/history curriculum proposed by the Texas SBOE and its perceived effect on school textbooks in other states. Sure, Texas is a big state, but there are lots of different textbooks out there from different publishers. It is not hard to detect a significant liberal bias in most social studies textbooks currently used by Texas students. This is particularly true in sections dealing with economic theory which portray capitalism and the free-market theory as evil while extolling the virtues of Marxism and socialistic policies. I think a little conservative correction is clearly long overdue. Did they go too far? Maybe. But these are the same folks who defied the education experts promoting “whole language” reading instruction and shifted the focus back to phoncis as the fundamental basis for reading instruction. The result—massive improvement across the state in reading scores. Sure, there are folks on the SBOE with particular political objectives. But to think that a panel of “experts” will somehow manage to set aside their own personal subjective biases is naive. As recent elections have shown, the political process can be used very effectively to remove those SBOE members whose personal prejudices go too far to one side or the other.

  4. Posted April 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    “I’ve tried to comment at rightwing sites, and it seems like no matter how moderate I’ve tried to be, they can smell a lib from a mile away.”

    I think I see my problem; I should try misspelling a word or three.

  5. jdg
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    ********Charles Says:
    April 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm
    Liberty Institute?

    All I have experienced is this. In recent times, whenever I have posted a piece of truth on their blog, it was deleted almost immediately, even if the item came straight from a legal brief already filed with a court of law. In my honest opinion, I think they have a strong vested interest in hiding the truth from their followers.
    ******************

    Charles,
    They delete a lot of blogs when it doesn’t fit in their narrow-minded view. They’ve deleted a few of mine as well. I’ve called out Jonathan Saenz on it, saying that he censors. He then says that’s not true, i’m lying.

  6. Posted April 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    All valid inquiries, Charles. All I’ve ever gotten as answers were from Christians like you, who say they see it as wrong as well.

    As for the blatant scrubbing from their sites of anything smelling of dissension, this is an authoritarian impulse, shared by the far-right on almost all of their blogs and commentary. I’ve tried to comment at rightwing sites, and it seems like no matter how moderate I’ve tried to be, they can smell a lib from a mile away.

  7. Charles
    Posted April 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Liberty Institute?

    All I have experienced is this. In recent times, whenever I have posted a piece of truth on their blog, it was deleted almost immediately, even if the item came straight from a legal brief already filed with a court of law. In my honest opinion, I think they have a strong vested interest in hiding the truth from their followers.

    As a Christian, I guess I would like to know this. Pipe up TFN if you have an answer. Why would a supposedly Christian organization withhold or distort the truth? If I were the leader of such an organization, I would not be able to do that with a clear conscience. Therefore, one has to ask, who does its leadership REALLY SERVE (other than God). Who is it beholden to? Who or what higher power (other than God) has a vested interest in keeping the LI followers fat. dumb, happy, and lined up in single file? Inquiring Christians want to know.

  8. jdg
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    You guys know that Jonathan Saenz won’t tell the truth.

  9. eric
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “Will They Ever Tell the Truth?”

    Easy – NO!

  10. Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Oh this is of no surprise. The right follows the teachings of Frederich Nietsche and his proposition of Power not Truth. The concept is that if you say it and enforce a certain kind of thinking, it becomes truth. In other words the truth, for the right, is relative. Its a PR campaign and they feel if they are able to confidently say their ideas enough then they create the truth. The problem is that the rest of us live in the real world and the truth by itself is not flexible. Sometimes we don’t like it, but it is not something that can be solved by better public relations.

  11. Charles
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Trog and ForkBoy:

    Say the magic word. Yes, when we were kids and our moms would ask that question, the magic word was “please.” In fundamentalist and evangelical circles, the magic word is “Jesus.” All some two-bit swindler has to do is say the “J” word, spout some Bible talk, or get a local television news anchor haircut. Do it, and the people run into their bosom with no questions asked. They will believe anything the swindler says (blindly and mindlessly), do anything for them, follow them to the ends of the Earth, and even turn over their life savings. As evidence, I offer up the Idaho Baptists who went to Haiti to collect adoptable kids. You will note that their leader, who had a string of dubious financial dealings back home, is still being held in a Haitian jail. All of the blind followers were dismissed as blind followers and allowed to go home.

    In the Bible, Jesus says to watch out for “blind guides.” The fundies don’t do it. I don’t know why, but they just don’t do it. Maybe they never read those Bibles or are too dumb to remember what they say.

  12. Charles
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    “And what’s the line about “common sense teachers” all about? Truth is, LI and far-right members of the state board have shown little more than contempt for classroom teachers, suggesting that they’re “leftists” who want to undermine patriotism and attack Christianity.”

    Yeah. That’s really insane. I have an 8-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter in my local public schools. I would guess (pretty accurately I believe) that most of their teachers are at church and Sunday school just about every weekend. The principal at our high school left to do full-time work for his church.

    My Point: If you believe the LI people, Christianity is being undermined by Christian teachers and administrators in our public schools. Wake up Texas Christians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. James F
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    “Credentialed people”? Horrors. Can’t have that, right? (We like how LI puts “credentialed” in quotation marks, as if real credentials are somehow meaningless.

    Recommended reading: Charlie Pierce’s essay “Greetings from Idiot America.”

  14. forkboy1965
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Critical thinking is not part of the current right-wing Republican mantra. As long as Rush, Palin or some other dimwit says something is true, then it must be true.

  15. Posted April 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    “But we can’t figure out why the group’s own supporters tolerate being manipulated and told the same lies over and over again — especially when the facts are easy to gather.”

    Obviously, because they’re already programmed to only accept Conservative sources as credible. Anyone not espousing the Christian Conservative line, must be a liberal, and Liberal organizations and news sources are not to be trusted, ever.

    Oh, that was rhetorical, huh?

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