Over at DailyKos, Darksyde comments on the motivations of the Kansas creationists (italics mine):
It’s easy to get lost in the scientific or religious discussion, but this isn’t about evolution or science or even religion. It’s just another right-wing funded attack on behalf of the mega-rich, cleverly packaged to appeal to the very working families whose future it will devastate. The real goal is to undermine confidence in public education, maybe ultimately replacing those institutions with privatized versions (No doubt run by a recently acquired subsidiary of Neoconia Inc., suckling at the taxpayer teat). And it’s about eliminating property taxes on sprawling McMansions.
I would add a third motive: to undermine the legitimacy of all science. After all, if geologists, physicists, and biologists are all ‘wrong’, then global warming doesn’t exist.
Does everything have to be a right-wing conspiracy? I’ve seen no reason to believe that it’s about anything other than science vs. religion. Frankly, it appalls me that someone can come out with this sort of silly claim and have all the DK leftwingers nod their heads approvingly just because it suits their prejudices. I’m normally sympathetic to the opinions expressed on DK, but this just goes too far without any justification.
DS is absolutely correct and this has been documented before (e.g., the Wedge, as well as many writings by the leaders on the Right, both social and economic Right). The Right is quite open about this. Creationism is just one prong of the Rightwing takeover strategy, each prong designed to appeal to a particular constituency – in this case to the uneducated, religious people. Thus, this is a conspiracy, but one designed by the Right and only recently discovered by the Left, not something ivented out of full cloth by the paranoid Left.
In a recording I have of a presentation at an intelligent design conference in Minneapolis in November 2003, a commenter on the presentation made exactly the point that the target is public education, and the goal is to eliminate public education, replacing it with private (in their case) fundamentalist Christian) education.
(Oh, and I’m not a “lefty”. I’m a veteran old enough to have voted for Barry Goldwater, I still carry my dogtags more than 45 years after they were issued to me in boot camp (I was a volunteer, not a draftee), and have been an elected official of the Republican party. I am also a scientist, run a company that utilizes evolutionary science, and wouldn’t hire a creationist on purely competence grounds.)
I don’t see anything in the “Wedge Document” to support the initial claim. As I wrote in my comment to Darksyde’s post directly, my impression based on years of following creationism is that they don’t criticize evolution because they hate public education, they hate public education because it’s teaching their children things that contradict what they learn in church. Maybe there are some of them who think the way you’re suggesting (and who are using the True Believers to further their ends), but so far I’ve seen no evidence of it.
Apologies if my initial comment was excessively incendiary. I’m not feeling well today.
The connection between ID and anti-public schools is probably through common funding sources. The largest contribution to the Discovery Inst. is from the Howard Ahmanson Foundation and most of the rest comes from other foundations that support many hard right-wing organizations. These organizations and many of their primary fund donors are committed to the decimation of public schools in favor of private ones, most of which would adhere to fundamentalist views on science.
Kevin, I personally wouldn’t call it a conspiracy. In I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I can’t recollect ever even thinking it. Reason being, conspiracy usually implies secrecy and perhaps even illegality. Like most ultra right-wing opposition I’m aware of on any public policy, this was done in the open, and it was all perfectly legal.
But a big part of the reason this stuff isn’t a laughable side show is because it’s heavily funded by anti-public ed forces and openly endorsed by some of the most powerful people in the nation. And a big part of the reason they do that is because of money. As Mike rightly points out, it also serves to undermine any other inconvenient truths that science reveals.
This is an old conflict: Authoritarian elements perceive any challenge to their authority as The Enemy. One only has to perform a cursory review of infamous historical events to conclude that science has earned that authoritarian wrath many times in the past, and almost certainly will continue to do so.
The “Progressive” “Conservatives” up here in Ontario did conspire to create a crises in education to give a reason to push through changes that would in actuality cut funding. (Some of the reforms were for the best, but while they were at it, they did use the opportunity to cut funding). We know of the conspiracy because the Education minister told the civil service the plan, and it leaked. (Ooops!) So such conspiracies are plausible, but they’re unlikely to be very large; it’s hard to keep a conspiracy secret with conspirators too stupid to realize that conspiracies are supposed to be secret. I would agree with you that the right wing tends to be pretty open about what they do. (Now the ultra, ultra right-wing I could see going in for conspiracies big time; they certainly believe enough of them. But those losers are too unstable to organize themselves effectively.)
I am sceptical that the desire to cut funding to schools is one of the main motivations behind I.D.; teaching kids stupidity still costs money after all. I would note that the anti-intellectual authoritarians who were the “Progressive” “Conservatives” in Ontario weren’t actually big supporters of Social Conservative causes. So long as you didn’t commit any crimes, cost them any money, or challange their authority, they didn’t much care what you believed in or did with your genitals. On the other hand, many of their movers and shakers have moved on to the federal Conservative party, where “Flintstone history” is popular. It may not be so much of a case of I.D. being a means to lower taxes, as creationists being that means; creationists not being big fans of public schools or public school funding. As for creationists, I don’t think they see I.D. as being a means to lower taxes so much as a means to an anti-intellectual “sky daddy” ethos.
Now the politics in Canada are a bit different than in the ‘States. (We don’t have as many social conservatives for one. Well, except for Alberta). But our right wing is starting to act more like your right wing.
While one or two data points do not a conspiracy make, I’ll add one to my comment above about the ID conference. In Ohio, one of the two principal pushers of ID on the State BOE was Debbie Owens Fink. Among the largest contributors to her recent (unsuccessful) campaign for re-election was the wife of the operator of a chain of charter schools, David Brennan.
While there may or may not be a “conspiracy” in the sense of a covert system of coordination and planning, there’s surely a confluence of interests that lead to a fairly restricted set of people leading, funding, and supporting the same array of goals and tactics.