In this week's installment of Sir Harold Evans' BBC radio show, the man of Tina Brown's house asserts himself as a forward-thinking soul, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during even the dark days of American politics. Or, you know, he could just be completely nave. Henry the Intern withholds such judgment and, after the jump, reports on Harry's musings on the intelligent design of Americana.
With the third installment of Harold Evans' audio guide through history on BBC Radio 4, the formula becomes clear. He starts with an enthralling opener about a current political topic favored by the Gang of 500 but unfamiliar to everyone else, then adds boatloads of historical minutia and name-drops intellectuals. Midway through the piece your mind is pained by the journey. Where's the hipness? Do we really need to hear about Clarence Darrow and Darwin? As the sentences wind on, faith in Harry is restored by his conclusion, which explains not only why the issue matters, but also projects future political and social implications. In other words, tuning in is not a waste of our time.
Our faith in Harry, though, no matter how intense, is nothing compared to his relentless optimism. We're sure it helps that his reports originate from the heart of "I Didn't Vote For Him" country and he faces no pressure to attract Nielsen families. No wonder Tina didn't have him as a guest on "Topic [A]."
The topic was Bush's belief that public schools should teach "intelligent design" theories next to evolution. "President Bush is down in Crawford doing what he likes best for relaxation, attacking timber with a chainsaw," Evans began. "In a nutshell, the [intelligent design] activists maintain that many forms of life are too complex to be the result of any random, indeed mindless, natural selection. A highly intelligent super-force must have designed, say, the human eye or the neurology of the brain." Still following? Time for the history lesson:
"The founding fathers thought they'd settled the question of the role of religion in a free and plural society," Evans said. "They were Godly men, the founding fathers, but they were determined not to confuse religious authority with earthly power, as was the case they felt in the Britain they left behind."
Harry swooped around for the ending: "Once this argument is really joined by the scientific, education, and legal establishments in America, I am sure Darwin will continue to prevail in court and classroom, but science altogether is in trouble with the Bush administration. Indeed, of rather more concern to thinking Americans than where we came from, is where we're going to." Sure he's concerned, but he's optimistic, and trust me, those long, winding, thoughtful sentences are easier to read than to hear.