Thursday, May 27, 2004

handling bollocks roughly

I interviewed Francis Wheen once for the China Daily about his biography of Marx, and met him later on at the old Briton’s Protection pub next to G-Mex. Nice bloke, and still fighting the good fight. Even if it is in Spiked and he has to fight his way through the inevitable smugness.

As a good God-fearin' atheist and some time contributor to the New Humanist magazine, Wheen is especially aghast at the apparent rise of the creationist movement. 'Those people', he says, as a full sentence, to indicate that he doesn't much care for the likes of the Christian fundamentalists who in 2002 took control of a state-funded school in north-east England intending to 'show the superiority' of creationist beliefs in their classes. 'Why don't we have schools that teach children there is a tooth fairy or put Santa Claus Studies on the national curriculum, and be done with it?'

Wheen was most struck by prime minister Tony Blair's response to revelations of a creationist takeover of a state-run school. When Lib Dem Jenny Tonge asked Blair if he was 'happy to allow the teaching of creationism alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in state schools', the prime minister said: 'In the end, a more diverse school system will deliver better results for our children.' 'A simple "no" to Tonge's query would have sufficed', says Wheen, 'and perhaps shown that the prime minister of the United Kingdom believes in reason.