Claremont Insider: The Dog That Did Not Bark

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Dog That Did Not Bark

We can learn from history. In Claremont, we learn that with the Claremont 400 and their fellow travelers, history doesn't necessarily repeat itself. There's no intellectual consistency. Part of the reason the Insider too often dredges up historical events is that these events are available to us. If we tried to show things using future events, that would be speculative and not too convincing.

In that vein, we want to remind folks about the mean-spirited and clearly orchestrated attack that took place against one particular school board candidate in the last election. An element used in the attack was the church-state separation issue we have examined the past few days with respect to 2007 candidate Beth Bingham.

On a single day, October 12, 2005, the Claremont Courier printed five separate letters, all from college faculty members (four from Pomona College, one from Pitzer College), all similarly attacking 2005 candidate Kris Meyer. One letter quotes Nobel Laureate James Watson--a fraught endeavor given Watson's recent fall from grace. One calls Meyer a "scary guy" and goes on, in quite rational and measured professorial tones to say that Meyer can "spout cockamamie creationist theory in the privacy of his own home..." Another refers to Meyer's writing as "an incoherent rant". Say what you will, these are at least passionate people and the Insider hopes they treat their students with more courtesy than they treat their political foes. (We provide the letters opposite these paragraphs because we think they are instructive. Click on the small images for a readable image. We did some cutting and pasting for continuity and coherence and we don't think we messed up anywhere; not intentionally in any event.)

What surprises us--well, it doesn't really surprise us--is that there is no such orchestrated and passionate defense of the separation of church and state this year with an ordained, active minister running for office. We are shocked--shocked! It's the dog that did not bark. So, with apologies to Professor John Seery at Pomona, we will write the letter he doubtless would have written had his vigilant citizen cabal brought this issue to his attention. (His original letter is the middle one in the group to the right, under the head VIGILANCE: Thanks.)

Dear Editor,

I'd like to express my gratitude to several vigilant Claremont citizens and the Claremont Insider for alerting the rest of us to school board candidate Beth Bingham's stealth agenda and deceptive tactics.

In a letter to the COURIER (and I join others in urging the COURIER, as an act of public service and in the spirit of full disclosure to reprint her letter), Bingham has taken very adamant stances on school issues (decrying, for instance, the use of business concepts in the management of the school district, and a concern for the wall of separation between church and state when it's someone else's religion), and yet she reveals none of these positions in her current campaign literature.

My own view is that we need to elect board members who will exemplify high standards of integrity, candor and transparency. My question: Do the Claremont residents now displaying Beth Bingham signs know the full story about her views and nonetheless support them and her campaign, or have they been misled into believing she is simply a straightforward "children's" candidate.

definitely not written by John Seery
Claremont, CA

The point here is not to pile on Beth Bingham--though she felt compelled in her letter of November 5, 2005 to pile on Kris Meyer (linked two paragraphs above and here also). The point is that these crudely- and transparently-orchestrated attacks are well-oiled parts of the Claremont machine. It is never enough to put forward your own positions--in fact, that is seldom done. Gathering testimonials and lists of the usual suspect supporters is their way. Better to demonize and smear your opponent than to engage. Think of Glenn Southard's smearing of Obie Landrum, or the queasy activities of Preserve Claremont.