Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Polarization of Truth

This incident with social studies textbooks in Texas is symptomatic of the polarization of truth in America right now. The Republicans in Texas have the power to put their perspective in the textbooks, just like the Democrats in Washington may have the power to put at least part of their vision on health care into law.

We are going to destroy ourselves from within if we keep this going. The only solution I can think of is for us to have real debate over these sorts of issues, not one-sided rhetoric. We have to surrender to a notion of truth that is bigger than what we currently think. We have to be willing to change our point of view if we are presented with enough evidence. And if we are not competent to judge the evidence, we must surrender to the consensus of those who truly are experts.

Both liberal and conservative perspectives should dialog together in social studies textbooks.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't see any problem with conservatives valuing Hayek, or upholding conservative family values, but dismissing the philosophical need to separate Church and State, as a cultural phenomena, seems a little ingenious to me.

Our culture is so over-ridden by diversity, that it becomes hard for educational boards to agree about what is of importance for the student to learn. I think this is of primary importance in the increase of home-schooling.

Because I don't know enough in any field, I cannot speak authoritatively, but it does seem that the conflict between religious liberties and "State responsibilities" are at odds.

Some have resolved the issue by de-centralization such that the Federal government has less influence on State's laws about educational standards.

When each State's differences in educational endeavors becomes policy or the social norm, with no accountablity to the federal or centralized standardization, then it is just a matter of time before the States will no longer be diverse,or appreciate diversity, but uniform in their values and understanding of subjects and America, itself.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Maybe the questions should be more basic. Who is ultimately responsible for the education of children? Conservatives would say that parents have the ultimate responsibility, while the disintegration of the family has run rough-shod over all institutions in our society. Thus, the State is by proxy been the "educator" of the young. Social needs have changed and have afftected how we can do or understand the needs in society.

Social mores have changed our society from a "landed and eduated nobility" that were our nation's leaders, to a nation that has valued diversity because of our civil rights.

American's who value liberty most, no longer sanction slavery within our 'gates". But, discrimination is of necessity a "must" because there must be decisions and commitments made about how organizations or social structure must 'live' or "survive". But, there are protections about such discrimination being about one's race, age, or gender.

Nowadays, we live with diversity, but not without personal values. And these personal values are what make for the distincitions in or nation's diverse or pluralistic climate. So, our laws, should represent these liberties, which they do. It just becomes highly ineffective to "do business" in education when there are such diverse views ideologically.

Ken Schenck said...

I have been really struck these last couple years at how much the dynamics of the civil war are currently in play. The South has risen again, especially in Texas, as individual states are once again questioning the right of the federal government to govern them. The idea of "state nullification," also in play in Texas, is particularly frightening to me. It is doing with federal law what the Bush administration did with Congressional laws it disagreed with--it wrote a note to itself disagreeing with the rule and then ignored it.

Again, I could hear those like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh decrying establishing the public school system as socialist in a different day. Indeed, I was thoroughly shocked a few years back when a political science major, a libertarian, actually took the position in philosophy class that children should not have to be educated at all.

This tension between what is in the best interest of society as a whole and the individual freedom of the individual is an inherent tension in our system, and there is a range of possibilities in the middle. For example, it probably would be possible within our system not to require public education, but I think it would be suicide, would sabotage our future if we made education optional. Similarly, our system wouldn't work without governmental systems like the police, which Beck and Limbaugh would probably oppose as Fascist in another time (why anyone would oppose some basic controls on the use of guns, for example, seems ludicrous to me--and probably will seem ludicrous to all Americans fifty years from now looking back into history).

Taxes are a reasonable and appropriate way to provide for these common goods. The Tea Party is represented today--they cannot complain of taxation without representation. I agree that the lower taxes are, the better it is for the economy. But how much is too much is a relative issue. Certainly ours are lower than most Western countries.

Martin LaBar said...

These actions remind me of 1984. (I know, some equivalent revisions of history have been made by people with other ideologies to push.)