Friday, January 13, 2017

The Most Unpopular Cabinet Nominee

If you were asked to pick which of Donald Trump's nominees for cabinet secretary would be most likely to draw the most criticism and ire from his critics who would you pick? Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State)? Jeff Sessions (Attorney General)? James Mattis (Secretary of Defense)? David Klinghoffer makes a surprising prediction as to who he thinks the recipient of the greatest vilification from Mr. Trump's opponents will be when all is said and done. He predicts it will be Betsy DeVos, the president-elect's choice for Secretary of Education.

He thinks that the president-elect's political foes will pull out all the stops to embarrass and discredit her when her confirmation hearings begin on January 17th:
The accusation will be that she is "anti-science," an imagined thought crime that provokes elite loathing like almost no other. Of course, there's zero evidence for the charge. They will cite her husband's comment on teaching intelligent design, which I addressed already here when atheist cosmologist Lawrence Krauss pushed the panic button on it in an article for The New Yorker. They will ask her how old she thinks the Earth is, whether human beings rode on dinosaurs, whether she has visited Ken Ham's Ark Park lately. If possible they will seek to humiliate her and cast her in the role of a Neanderthal, which is to say a deplorable.
This may all be so, but why does Klinghoffer think she'll elicit so much hostility?
Why do I say that a special note of seething from critics may characterize her hearing? Well, if you don't understand this point about the cocoon of liberalism, then much of what goes on in politics, science, religion, and entertainment may mystify you.

Liberal elites can just barely tolerate the existence of the deplorables, so long as the latter do not aspire to reverse the power relationship of dominant to subservient. Being deplorable is not about being poor, or poorly educated. It denotes, instead, a whole alternative culture where the cream of the crop in the liberal world are no longer seen as the paladins of enlightenment that they imagine themselves to be.

Hence the fury I think will be aimed more at Mrs. DeVos than at any other Cabinet appointment. Why her in particular? Because science and education are peerless in conferring the prestige from which the cocoon draws its nourishment. Take control of those away from them and they are left in a fit of sputtering rage.

Sure, Mrs. DeVos has said not a word (as far as we know) about evolution or intelligent design. Yes, the Secretary of Education doesn't set curricula for local schools, and ID advocates never sought to push ID into schools. Granted, her critics don't understand what the evolution debate is about anyway. They couldn't care less about the huge distinction between intelligent design and creationism. But anything remotely tied, however unfairly, to the latter is demon spawn to them. Nothing could be more deplorable. Not even Trump.

Let the creationists worship their intelligent designer in their tacky megachurches. The cocoon can live with that, maybe. But install in government, with influence over science education, a woman whose husband once said a favorable word about ID? Never! Oh yes. Watch for it. Given the chance, they will burn her at the stake over that one.
Well, maybe. It's certainly true that probably none of her potential antagonists on the senate education committee who might challenge her commitment to darwinism, or her lack of commitment, are likely to know very much about either the science or the metaphysics involved, much less are they likely to understand intelligent design. Whether Klinghoffer is correct that she'll be the recipient of more opprobrium than any other of Trump's nominees, I don't know, but he's surely correct that the left sees a real danger in DeVos' nomination.

Schools are the most important institution, aside perhaps from the courts, to the success of the left's long march to their goal of a secularist, socialist society. Schools are the nurseries in which the young are inoculated against the perceived evils of market capitalism and Christian religion and in which the dogmas of radical egalitarianism, abolition of the traditional family, and a totalizing statism are most effectively instilled.

The success of this indoctrination requires uniformity of thought and suppression of dissent, particularly on matters vital to the secularization of society (like darwinism) and vital to increasing centralized state power (like climate change). To the extent that DeVos holds heterodox views on these issues she'll be seen as a threat to the attempt to catechize the young in progressive ideology and will doubtless be vigorously opposed.

How vigorously she'll be opposed, and how vicious the opposition will be, we'll find out on Tuesday.