Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NYT - Did we mention Jindal's Christianity?

The New York Times ran a profile of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in reaction to speculation that he might be McCain's Veep pick. In calling Jindal a "New (True) Champion of the Right", the NYT was none too subtle in calling attention to Jindal's faith.

The Times has approached Jindal and Louisiana as anthropological oddities, and took every opportunity to draw attention to "religion", the "Louisiana Family Forum", "creationism", and "stem-cell restrictions" (which was just zero funding, not a ban, by the way).

And that's just in the first two sentences.

But they also needed to mention Jindal's Catholic view that he should "give 100 percent of yourself to God"; that the school voucher program (gasp!) might be used to send kids to parochial schools; Louisiana Family Forum's "faith-oriented, anti-abortion" nature and its association with James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins; and so on and so forth.

Some proposed legislation "favored by Christian conservatives that opponents say is a stalking horse for teaching creationism" isn't quite as heavy handed as initially implied. Several paragraphs later the Times acknowledges "there was no mention of creationism or intelligent design in the bill." But not before pointing out that "Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a critic of the bill, testified that it was 'designed to permit teaching intelligent design creationism in Louisiana public schools' ".

The bill's purpose (as per the text of the bill) is to "[promote] critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." To this end, teachers "shall teach the material presented in the standard textbook supplied by the school system and thereafter may use supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, as permitted by the city, parish, or other local public school board." (emphasis added)

A reasonable compromise in my mind. In a climate of social conservatism, forbidding the teacher from discussing criticisms of evolution is an invitation for the students to ignore what the teacher is attempting to teach. Giving local officials the discretion of allowing some degree of dissent after the standard curriculum has been taught might be the only way to actually get the standard curriculum taught. And isn't that the most important thing?

The Times doesn't understand that in a rural middle school science class there might be a half-dozen kids trying to challenge the teacher's authority on evolution. Wouldn't it be easier to get the point across if the teacher could say, "That's an interesting point, Johnny, and if we have time after this unit we might discuss it, but right now we're learning about the standard scientific view"?

The profile of Jindal is couched in an objective tone, but the subtext to the NYT's core audience screams "This guy is a religious nut job". Rest assured that if Jindal is tapped for VP the Times will paint Jindal's political philosophy as something to be feared, well out of the mainstream.

Christian conservatives are a welcome part of the conservative Republican family, but to read this NY Times piece one would think that promoting the establishment of an oppressive Christian theocracy was a necessary and sufficient condition for being a conservative.

By the way, it isn't.

2 comments:

Samay said...

I'm whiter than Jindal, and I wouldn't last one day as the Rep. nominee, Crazy-end-of-Catholicism or not.

Jindal's probably a lot better of a governor than Landrieu was, but that won't help his lame-o trying-too-hard ass

Sockless Joe said...

I don't know that anybody is going to cut it as Repub VP pick. Outside of also-rans like Romney, Huck, and Giuliani, there's a lot of people like Jindal who are promising but not quite ready.

(I'm guessing you would need heavy psychoactive drugs to become a republican anything...)

Yeah, better than Blanco would probably not be hard. Louisiana has a long history of bad politicians, which is the biggest reason Republicans are starting to win in the state. Counter to the national trend even.