Pugliese’s neo-McCarthyism has no place in District 51 classr

I seldom find myself completely aligned with the Sentinel’s Bob Silbernagel and Denny Herzog, but on Tea Party activist Rose Pugliese’s petitions to District 51, we are united. On the merits of Pugliese’s case against teaching global warming, or for imposing new political speech restrictions on teachers, I agree with their conclusions and the reasons for them.

It is unfortunate that this issue has once again projected Grand Junction into national and international news for all the wrong reasons. As in the recent flare-ups involving prayer at public meetings and Darwinism vs. intelligent design, the Pugliese petitions have brought in big outside players, at least on the Pugliese side, to promote their position. If the School Board does not reject the petitions outright, we can probably expect the other side to weigh in soon.

Pugliese’s heavy hitter is the recently formed Balanced Education for Everyone (BEE) organization. Though Pugliese told FOXNews that she was unaware of BEE when she started the petition drive, she now seems to have embraced their position fully. At the end of her interview on FOXNews, she plugged their film, “Not Evil But Wrong” (NEBW).

For a woman who says she personally disapproves of films in the classroom, and who believes that global warming should not be discussed in the classroom at all, Pugliese has thrown in with an organization devoted to both. It just wants a piece of the action.

A visit to the BEE website shows that the sole purpose of the organization is to promote this film. BEE was apparently formed by the producers of the film and the conservative Independent Women’ Forum for this purpose. Grand Junction has been selected as a national test case to get the film into schools, but the movement is beginning to spread elsewhere in Colorado and other states.

“Not Evil But Wrong” is a Michael Moore style pseudo-documentary made as a counterattack to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” The “balance” sought by BEE is that, if Gore’s film is shown, then NEBW should be shown also. The DVD is offered free to schools, along with curriculum materials.

Unlike Gore’s Oscar-winning blockbuster, NEBW never found a commercial distributor. After being presented in several film festivals, it was shown on a religious channel, and presented by conservative groups. Last fall, Tea Party groups organized a “record-setting international Cinematic Tea Party” to debut the film. They claim to have reached 400,000 viewers.

An invitation to a screening in Escondido, Calif. read, “Join the Resistance against the extreme environmentalism that threatens the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in the developed and developing world; this is the new road to poverty in America.”

As in Moore’s films, class anger is aroused by NEBW, but in this case the heavies are not Moore’s villainous corporations. They are evil environmentalists who pass legislation that harms ordinary working people. The film promotes the view that global warming evidence is inconclusive, and that climate legislation will cause more harm to people than benefit.

Mostly the film restates the claims deniers of global warming have been making for years. As summarized by Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer, NEBW “rehashes the familiar talking points of climate change deniers — global warming as bad science; climate concerns as hysteria akin to that over killer bees, etc.” Much the same is true of the sources used in the film. Most are well known and widely discredited.

This is not to suggest that Gore’s work is without fault. The High Court in London found nine significant ones. Nevertheless, the judge concluded that “many of the claims made by ...  [An Inconvenient Truth] were fully backed up by the weight of science.” The judge also agreed with Gore’s conclusions that climate change can be attributed to human activity, global temperatures are rising, unchecked climate change will cause serious damage and governments and individuals can reduce its impacts.

That leaves adequate room for scientific debate, but not for Pugliese’s neo-McCarthyism, which she hopes to expand to other curriculum. The District 51 School Board should assure teachers that they will be free of Tea Party interference in the classroom by a quick and firm rebuff of these petitions.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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