Michael Medved

A misleading recent headline in the New York Times demonstrated the way that the left abuses the language to cement its continued control of our public discourse.

Under the banner “EVOLUTION OPPONENT IS IN LINE FOR SCHOOLS POST” reporter Cornelia Dean declared: “The National Association of State Boards of Education will elect officers in July, and for one office, president-elect, there is only one candidate: a member of the Kansas school board who supported its efforts against the teaching of evolution.”

The headline and the lead sentence conjure up the image of a prairie populist, perhaps bearing pitchfork and clad in Bib overalls, denying the existence of dinosaurs and opposing any suggestion that the work of creation required more than six literal days. The sophisticates who read America’s Journal of Record no doubt scanned this alarming article with considerable head-shaking and tsk-tsking at the knuckle-dragging yahoos who populate Red State flyover country.

If anyone bothered to read the article in its entirety, however, they ultimately would discover that Kenneth R. Willard, the school official in question, in no way qualified as “an evolution opponent.”

During his service on the Kansas school board he and his conservative colleagues merely fought “to change the state’s science standards to allow inclusion of intelligent design” by local school districts. Voters later rejected the conservative majority, but neither Mr. Willard nor the other members of his faction ever attempted to block schools or school districts from educating students about Darwinism. Contrary to the newspaper’s alarming report, they in no way launched “efforts against the teaching of evolution.”

As he explained later in the same article, the embattled candidate for president of the National Association of State Boards of Education merely “thought students should be taught about challenges to the theory of evolution, like intelligent design…‘Some people are mindless about their attacks on anyone questioning anything Darwin might have said.’”

The use of loaded phrases like “evolution opponent” and “efforts against the teaching of evolution” deliberately conjure up scary images of the Scopes Trial, “Inherit the Wind,” and religious fanatics who want to keep young minds ignorant and pliable. The Scopes controversy of 1924 actually involved a government ban on any mention of evolution in the classroom; ironically, liberals today desire a government ban on any questioning of evolution in the classroom. It’s leftists, not conservatives, who mirror the Tennessee fundamentalists of eighty years ago by attempting to stifle a teacher’s freedom of speech.

Michael Medved

Michael Medved's daily syndicated radio talk show reaches one of the largest national audiences every weekday between 3 and 6 PM, Eastern Time. Michael Medved is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Hollywood vs. America, Right Turns, The Ten Big Lies About America and 5 Big Lies About American Business
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