Don McLeroy is a dentist in suburban Texas with the geeky, earnest manner of an American guy who has educated himself, however imperfectly, on a wide variety of topics. With his balding pate and high-waisted, pleated slacks, he makes Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” look like Mick Jagger, circa 1969. I found myself utterly unable to resist McLeroy, who is likable and 100 percent sincere. He’d be a great neighbor, in large ways and small; the kind of guy who’d pull over on a busy highway to help a stranded motorist, while everybody else zoomed past. But as we see in the documentary “The Revisionaries,” it’d be a mistake to consider him harmless just because he’s a nice fellow.
Here’s a bit more about McLeroy and the movie (funded through Kickstarter!):
As a Tea Party zealot, fundamentalist Christian, young-Earth Creationist and, for a while, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, McLeroy became nationally notorious for his efforts to undermine scientific education and sneak covert religion into textbooks. One of the great things about Scott Thurman’s film — a low-budget but thoroughly watchable documentary, largely funded on Kickstarter – is that it helped me see the world from McLeroy’s point of view, which I might previously have considered impossible. He feels almost painfully oppressed by arrogant experts with fancy university degrees who insist on a difference between scientific evidence and faith-based personal opinion, and he genuinely believes that the half-baked, cherry-picked “weaknesses” in evolutionary theory expose the ideological underpinnings of modern science.
Scary, eh? The theme of the documentary is interesting as well:
On one hand, “The Revisionaries” is clearly meant to support Miller’s argument, which is that liberals and progressives need to focus harder on fighting at the granular level of school-board elections and other lower-level political bodies that actually set policy, as opposed to electing the lesser of two evils every four years. That’s true and all, but I can’t help feeling that on a larger scale people like McLeroy and the vastly more sinister Dunbar are trying to fight back the tide of demographic and social change. Non-Hispanic whites are already a minority in Texas – and a rapidly shrinking minority among those under 18. What’s keeping the state reliably red are the lower rates of citizenship and voting among minorities, both of which will normalize over time. Yes, the right can edit Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks out of the textbooks, and concoct tortured phrases meant to undercut Darwinism. But how long can that extend their hegemony? I’m left with the vision of Don McLeroy wandering around a soccer field with a handful of Sunday school kids, pacing off 300 cubits by 50 cubits and explaining how Noah got those caribou and beavers and scorpions and T-rexes in there. The lower of the three decks, he tells the kids, was for all the poop. I always wondered about that!
Here’s the trailer: