Truth or Poe? You decide:
You couldn’t get fiction like this published.
Republicans in Maine voted to scrap the Republican platform and write a new one — not enough unholy discrimination in the old one, too much Eisenhower, too much Lincoln, or something like that. The convention spilled out into a local middle school for some of the platform writing shenanigans.
In one 8th grade classroom, the Maine Republicans found something they objected to, something they don’t want taught to 8th graders: The U.S. Constitution.
The Republicans were particularly incensed by a poster showing a collage used to open a project assigned to the Portland 8th graders. The 8th graders make poster collages elaborating on the Four Freedoms speech of Franklin Roosevelt, and the accompanying posters by Norman Rockwell. Norman Rockwell. You know. The guy who started his professional career as art director for the Boy Scouts of America . . .
“Brainwashing” the Republicans called U.S. history. Brainwashing.
Speaking of the children, they got into the act Tuesday after a note from “a Republican” was found in Clifford’s classroom. “A Republican was here,” it read. “What gives you the right to propagandize impressionable kids?”
Responded eighth-grader Lilly O’Leary, one of several students who sent e-mails to this newspaper decrying the behavior of their weekend guests, “I am not being brainwashed in his class under any circumstances. I am being told that I have the right to my own opinion.”
She added, “These people were adults and they were acting very immaturely.”
Remember when Republicans used to complain that we can’t jail flag-burning protesters? When did those guys get kicked out of the party, and who are these new thugs?
When did it become the Re-Poe-blican Party? When did they take up the Blackshirt tactics?
C’mon, Republicans. Come back to America. Repent now.
And — as for us Texans? This is the stuff Don McLeroy wants to see happen in Texas social studies standards — vandalism of the U.S. Constitution and American law and tradition.
As a Scouter, as a teacher, as a fan of the U.S. Constitution, I’m concerned. Should I be scared?
“I saw nothing in the room — and nobody pointed out anything in the room — that appeared to give a more balanced view,” [Knox County Republican Party Chairman William] Chapman said.
[Teacher Paul] Clifford and the school’s principal, Mike McCarthy, pointed out in media accounts that the posters were part of projects on freedom and free expression. [Bangor Daily News]
Maybe everyone should be scared.
Hmmmmm. Ken County, Maine, Republicans offer rewards to people who rat out others who vandalize campaign signs. How about they extend that to rat out the Republicans who vandalized Paul Clifford’s classroom? You know, in the interest of free speech and all . . .
- Maine Public Broadcast Network coverage of the story — Republicans have apologized. The main story notes that collages from Mr. Clifford’s classes will go on display at the Portland Public Library on June 4. Watch for Tea Party protesters.
- Joan Walsh at Salon wrote about the wacky platform and the schoolroom vandalism — and thought enough to quote from Roosevelt’s speech on the Four Freedoms (his State of the Union in 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor)
- Portland school board to explore new policies to protect public schools from rampaging Republican convention-goers
- “Four Freedoms” in an earlier post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub
Exercise your right to stand up for freedom and education — spread the word:
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Rod Dreher, the conservative editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, notes at his BeliefNet.com blog, Crunchy Con:
This just in from an irate reader:
If you ask me, what this country needs are better educated cranks.
If the political fellow travelers with the cranks notice these people are cranks . . . is that a good sign, or a bad sign?
If you had thought the God-centered math courses first exposed in the Bathtub to be the apex of Christian of religious folly, sit down; buckle up. Take a deep breath.
Dr. Pamela Bumsted of Grassroots Science alerts us to this website, God’s Geography, which should contain enough abuse of scripture to offend all Christians, and Jews and Moslems, too. The site steals good maps from good sites — but the accuracy in geography stops there.
This is the map God’s Geography borrows from the University of Texas Libraries (to their credit, giving close to proper attribution), Antarctica (small map) from the Perry Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas Library.
Argh: Here’s what the site says:
Why is Antarctica shaped like an elephant’s head? I believe it is to illustrate a global political system. Nations typically have an animal or bird as their national symbol (such as the American eagle), but no single country owns Antarctica, although about 40 nations have made claims. So let’s think of these 40 nations as one nation, living in peace, and their symbolic animal is the elephant because it is the largest beast on earth.
* * * *
A global government means all nations cooperating together for the benefit of mankind, and not for the benefit of God or the King of kings. And as the world’s largest terrestrial animal it makes a perfect symbol of the world’s largest government.
So the elephant gives us a visual clue as to what a global political system looks and acts like. It’s very formidable, and can not be defeated except by God Himself. It’s futile to fight against it, but we shouldn’t want to because it’s part of our heavenly Father’s overall plan. He’ll guide the elephant where He wants it to go, and He’ll take care of the ivory towers, as it’s written in Amos 3:
13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD.
It’s crazy enough to send you to the law books to see if you can find a loophole in Poe’s Law, ain’t it?
I don’t object to the use of mnemonic devices. Remembering Italy as the peninsula and nation “shaped like a boot” seems to cement the identity of country into the minds of students otherwise a bit weak on European geography.
God’s Geography passes over the line into pure fantasy, into false claims about geography. The religious claims also far exceed any rational claim from Christian theology. I can’t imagine serious Christians not being offended at the religious messages the author claims to find in the simple shape of geographic entities.
My second complaint is that the religious claims tend to obscure reality, also. Again, on the Antarctica page, we find a gratuitous note about Elephant Island, which is off the tip of the archipelago this guy sees as an elephant’s trunk:
Near the tip of the elephant’s trunk is an island called Elephant Island, although I’m sure it wasn’t named for elephants, but rather for the largest member of the seals, the Elephant Seal.
Elephant seals were sighted there in the year of its discovery. But every description of the island I’ve ever seen notes that the island’s profile resembles an elephant’s head, and that’s how it was named. The island provided scant refuge, but enough refuge for the crew of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship Endurance in 1916, so it is relatively famous among history, exploration and geography buffs.
So contrary to the history books, the author of God’s Geography claims Elephant Island is not named because it looks like an elephant’s head. Fantasy is just one egregious problem with this site; gross error is a second. In a game where one strike equals an out, this odd site has three strikes against it: Whole cloth invention, offense to scripture, and geographic error.
And may God save us from God’s Geography’s description of the island of Lesbos.
Watch out: This is the sort of stuff that might excite Texas Education Commissar Don McLeroy.
- Perry-Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas Library
- Welcome to Antarctica!, University of Chicago
- World Atlas.com entry on Antarctica
- PBS’s NOVA website on The Endurance
- BBC History: Ernest Schackleton
- South Pole.com, Ernest Shackleton
- Exploratorium site on Antarctica research
- National Geographic Society web page on Antarctica
- Zoom School on Antarctica (Enchanted Learning.com)