Bobby Jindal must be kicking himself for letting Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, steal his thunder.
That could have been Jindal making the Limeys howl with derision by refusing to say whether he believed in evolution. But when Jindal was in London a few weeks ago, there was no time to address the issue, because reporters kept asking him where the hell were those Islamic “no-go zones” of his.
They saved the evolution question for Walker when he followed Jindal to London. Walker elected to “punt” and declare “that’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” If there is a contest among Republican governors with presidential aspirations to see who can get the biggest rise out of the British press, Walker must be regarded as the current leader.
The publicity can only stand him in good stead where it matters most. Views that are regarded as an embarrassment to America over there are evidently becoming de rigueur in a GOP primary. Of the likely contenders for the nomination only one, Jeb Bush, has dared to accept evolution, and he has said he is against teaching it in public schools, although there can be no grasp of biological principles without it. All these years after the Scopes trial, ignorance and superstition still rule.
Thus the likes of Jindal make hay over a false dichotomy between science and religion, presumably convinced that it would be political suicide to point out that the evidence for evolution is beyond rational dispute, and is perfectly compatible with faith in a creator. The pope can say so, but then he is not required to run for re-election in, say, Sabine Parish, where science students were taught that the Earth is 6,000 years old, every word in the Bible true and evolution “impossible” until the school board last year settled a lawsuit filed by parents.
Jindal’s obscurantist credentials are a match for Walker’s any day. Jindal and his pals in the Family Forum pushed legislation that enables teachers to introduce creationist dogma into biology lessons, and he, like Walker, refuses to say whether he believes in evolution. What to teach should be left to local boards, he says, noting he is not an “evolutionary biologist.” Neither am I, and I did not, as Jindal did, study biology at Brown. But the evidence for evolution is not hard to look up.
Local school boards in Wisconsin get to determine how they teach evolution, so there is wiggle room there too. But as a standard bearer for the anti-science brigade, Jindal cannot be bettered. Shame he missed a trick in London.
It is, perhaps, strange that Bible literalists are much thicker on the ground in the land of the First Amendment than they are in Britain, where the queen is head of both the state and the established church. The House of Lords, the unelected upper legislative chamber, includes 26 bishops.
Its powers, thank God, are limited, however. It can delay passage of bills, but the House of Commons rules the roost. No candidate professing doubts about evolution would be taken seriously in a parliamentary election.
It is highly unlikely that such a candidate could be elected president of the United States either, or even make it to the ballot. The last two GOP nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, both declared evolution proven to their satisfaction.
The current crop of candidates is not willing to take a chance on sweet reason, however. Chris Christie, for instance, says his views are none of our business, while Ted Cruz has been similarly secretive, so, if either takes his campaign to London, the media will have another chance to mock Republican politicians.
Cruz could even send his father, who is much in demand as a speaker in Texas and who recently allowed that evolution is not science, but a communist plot. Karl Marx and Charles Darwin admired each other’s work, so apparently dialectical materialism and natural selection are more or less the same thing.
Jindal really needs to look to his laurels. Calling the Obama administration “science deniers” for not approving the Keystone pipeline proved that he will not be handicapped by any sense of irony on the campaign trail, but he will need to find even goofier things to say if he is to stand out from this crowd.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.