There's a very nice polite liberal reader who emails me his opinions from time to time. I don't know why he thinks I'll alter my views based on his arguments, but he's always charming and I can't take offense.
In response to this weekend's column on public schools, he wrote the following:
Hello Patrice! I think you've been misled by too much conservative propaganda. Our public schools, whatever their faults, aren't these horrible, evil, wicked Godless places where kids are being taught to be gay, to hate Christianity, and to be promiscuous etc.
If anything, the REAL indoctrination is by so many conservative religious parents who homeschool their kids. I'm sure this doesn't apply to you and your kids, but many of these homeschooled kids are being brainwashed by their parents to be intolerant of gay people, intolerant of others who don't share the religious beliefs they are being taught, and to be appallingly narrow-minded and self-righteous.
I'm not opposed to Christianity per se, and I don't condemn any one merely for being a Christian. I myself am a non-observant secular Jew, but not an atheist. And many unfortunate children in America are being taught creationist lies and have been hoodwinked into thinking that the world is actually just 6,000 years old, was created in six days, that human beings co-existed with dinosaurs and that Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, a talking serpent, and Noah and the ark actually existed. These people are just characters in an ancient allegory. They are no more historical figures than Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
And there is absolutely NO conflict between evolution and belief in God. None whatsoever. People who think that learning about Darwin and evolution in school will turn their kids into a bunch of Godless communists, sexual deviants, and "moral relativists" (what a ridiculous term, there's no such thing!), are not thinking clearly.
The notion that you can only be moral and good if you believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, and are Bible-believing, born again Christian, is one of the most idiotic notions in human history.
If people want to be Bible-believing, born again Christians, that's their right. But they have absolutely no monopoly of truth and morality. Our public schools are places for teaching, not preaching.
If right-wingers got their way, they would turn our schools into places of religious indoctrination. That's not what they were meant to be.
Best regards, Robert
I replied as follows:
Well actually....they are. Public schools are nothing more than change agents. Don't believe me? Try expressing a conservative Christian opinion or wearing an anti-abortion T-shirt and see where it gets you. So much for "diversity" of thought.
The funny thing is, I have a dear (and liberal) friend in Portland who couldn't have kids, so she and her husband adopted a girl from Guatemala. Now this kid is six, and suddenly Wendy is deeply concerned by...all the liberal propaganda rampant in the Portland public schools. And she's a liberal, too!
It is the RIGHT of all parents to "indoctrinate" their children according to their beliefs. If you want your kids to believe Gaia is a alive and you should worship it, fine. If you want your kids to believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, fine. If you want your kids to believe in creationism, fine. Whatever your views to the contrary, someone else does NOT have the RIGHT to indoctrinate MY kids into THEIR beliefs.
And so I will continue to homeschool our kids.
Besides, the public schools around us seriously suck...(smile).