Pessimistic liberalism

I contributed an essay — “Such is the Human Race: A Pessimist’s Defense of Liberalism and Fact-Based Public Education” — to Ig Press’ Proud to Be Liberal anthology.

Here’s an excerpt:

Common sense suggests that even if 51% of the country supported a second Bush term, the majority of Americans would not favor scientifically inaccurate textbooks for their children — particularly not scientifically inaccurate textbooks purchased with their own tax dollars. Unfortunately, if recent polls are to be believed, common sense is not borne out in this case. A clear majority of poll respondents say they believe that “intelligent design” should be given equal weight with evolution in science textbooks.

As Mark Twain said, “Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat.” But miss the boat, according to the Bible, they did not. And if intelligent design makes it into our science books, how long before alternate versions of history must be offered as well? I can just see it now: Noah’s flood presented as civilization’s starting-point; Moses and the burning bush taught alongside Egyptian history; Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection given equal weight with what we know of Ancient Rome.

I identify myself as a liberal (to the extent I identify myself as a member of any political group), not because I have some pie-in-the-sky belief in the fundamental goodness of humankind, but because I do not….

Other contributors include David Rees, Eric Alterman, Laila Lalami, Tom Tomorrow, Neal Pollack, Jen Sorenson, and Matthew Yglesias.


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