By Joe Yates
The year is 2018. We eavesdrop on a seventh grade history classroom in Anywhere, Kentucky:
“A long time ago we had a wicked king who lived across the ocean. He wanted to take all of our guns away and make everyone say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ So when Paul Revere was walking to his shop one day, a burning bush spoke to him and told him to ride his horse (Trigger) down to Boston Harbor and while the British were distracted by the Tea Party, steal the Declaration of Independence that had been carved onto a stone tablet and take it to Philadelphia for the Continental Congress to vote on. By the time Paul Revere got there, Jesus had already delivered the Constitution to Thomas Jefferson, so everybody voted on and passed the Declaration and the Constitution, except they left out the parts about Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare.”
Far-fetched? Stay tuned.
But first, let me share a few words with those of you who have absolutely no sense of humor. I’m not making fun of our Constitution. It may well be the greatest political document ever written. Nor am I making light of the founding fathers, remarkable men who were not—bless some of their agnostic little hearts—the saintly crew that some would have you believe. But I am angered by those who sanitize our nation’s history into a fairy-tale for political purposes.
Our revolution was not some romantic struggle sparked by the oppressed masses. It was a conflict between rich people and richer people—prosperous merchants and landed gentry against the ultra-wealthy English nobility. George Washington was the richest man in North America. “The men who engineered the revolt were largely members of the colonial ruling class.” (Carl Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern America.) But what about the common citizens clamoring to join the Continental Army, you say? Didn’t really happen, if you care to dig into it.
When it comes to the Disneyfied version of the American Revolution, please… as the song says—just “Gimme Some Truth.”
Now, let’s turn to the ‘hard sciences.’
The 2009 Kentucky General Assembly unanimously mandated that our Department of Education implement new K-12 standards directing our schools to teach what colleges expect high school graduates to know upon admission. After a four-year process, these new standards have been finalized; they are the Common Core State Standards for English and Math and the Next Generation Science Standards.
Guess what? Only in Kentucky would the chair of our state Senate Committee on Education question these standards. On a recent Courier-Journal opinion page, Senator Mike Wilson of Bowling Green doubts that climate change is caused by human activity, noting that “16 scientists” contradicted the prevailing findings.
Wilson makes this statement even though every year more and more peer-reviewed scientific papers have concluded that global warming is a reality and a direct result of our actions. Meanwhile, the numbers of papers that disagree have remained tiny by comparison. Ninety-seven percent of published climate papers with a position on human-caused global warming agree: climate change is happening—and we are the cause. I have a question: What big energy company is the esteemed Senator shilling for?
Senator Wilson also opined that “there is no factual evidence that (one species may evolve into a different species) and to suppose that it happens is counter to the beliefs of many Kentuckians.”
My very cursory amount of research indicates that the view that populations of organisms do, in fact, change over time and evolve into new species is widely accepted and—hey, wait a minute—what did he just say?
“Counter to the beliefs of many…” Huh? Does he mean that if ‘many’ Kentuckians believe the moon is made of green cheese, then that notion is now debatable? If I could find three guys down at the poolroom that would swear that the earth is flat, would that be up for reconsideration too?
If we allow opinion and majority rule into the realm of science—formerly known as “facts”—no telling what might happen to our history books.
But don’t take my word for it. Look it up. Feed your head.